|Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
The start of the fall semester will bring many of us to campus for the first time in more than a year, joining others who have been on campus working and learning throughout the pandemic. With the Delta variant driving a rise in COVID-19 infections, we acknowledge the increased anxiety across our community. The steps we have taken throughout the pandemic have helped us keep infections from spreading on campus. We continue to monitor the public health situation and will continue to update our protocols, with the health and safety of our community being our top priority.
Campus-wide vaccination is the best weapon against the coronavirus, including the highly contagious Delta variant. Although it is very unlikely to cause severe illness if you are vaccinated, the Delta variant can still infect vaccinated individuals.
Currently, the vaccination rate for University employees is 93% and for students is 87%. That calculation is based on the number of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and researchers authorized to be on campus for the fall semester. We will provide updates on vaccination rates on the University’s COVID Dashboard in the coming weeks as we begin the fall semester.
Some members of our community, for example international students, will not have access to vaccine until they arrive on campus. They will be able to receive vaccine through Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) upon arrival.
Verify Your Vaccination Status
A small percentage of individuals in our community have not yet submitted verification of their vaccination status to HUHS. Students who are not yet compliant with this requirement are subject to registration holds (the deadline for immunization compliance was in June). Faculty, staff, and researchers who are not yet compliant have until August 31 to submit their verification. If they fail to submit verification of vaccination status, they will be subject to disciplinary measures. Please note that unvaccinated individuals, including for medical/religious exemption, will have more frequent COVID-19 testing requirements and may be subject to additional public health measures.
COVID-19 testing requirements remain in place for every member of the community who is authorized to be on campus, including those who come to campus infrequently. Regular testing will help reduce the spread of the coronavirus on and off campus, help us avoid severe illness in high-risk community members, and limit further mutation of the virus. HUHS will continue to conduct contact tracing for all positive cases and will inform close contacts, as appropriate, and provide guidance to those individuals on next steps they should take.
Testing cadences and information regarding pick-up and drop-off of testing kits are available on the University’s Testing and Tracing webpage.
Masks work. They are highly effective at limiting spread of the coronavirus. The University’s indoor mask requirement remains in place, regardless of vaccination status. It is important that each of us carries a mask at all times and wears it indoors, covering our nose and mouth unless actively eating or drinking.
If You Feel Sick, Stay Home
Stay home if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Use Crimson Clear to inform us if you are experiencing symptoms, have tested positive outside of the University’s testing program or HUHS, or have a known COVID-19 exposure. HUHS will reach out to you to provide advice on next steps you should take.
Prepare for Your Return to Campus
As many of you prepare to return to campus in the coming weeks, whether you are a student, faculty member, staff member, or researcher, please take a few minutes to visit the University’s Return to Campus webpage, which offers checklists, FAQs, and links to resources.
Over the past several months, we have been able to resume lower-risk University-related travel and once again pursue our academic, research, and professional interests around the world. We recognize how critical travel can be for our community members and their pursuits, and we are committed to enabling lower-risk travel.
Please review our current policy on the University’s Travel Guidance webpage. CDC assessments of country-level COVID-19 risk change frequently. We will continue to make changes to our travel guidance as necessary, but we also ask that you monitor these assessments for anticipated travel destinations.
Dependent Well Care Days
For employees, the University is extending through December 31, 2021, its emergency excused absence for dependent well care benefit. This additional paid time off benefit can be used if needed for care of members of the immediate family or household who are well but whose schooling or care arrangements have been disrupted by COVID-19.
Be Kind to Each Other and to Yourselves
We encourage everyone at Harvard to remember our core institutional values, among which are inclusion and mutual respect. While we work to confront the pandemic with tenacity and resolve, we must remember to be kind to each other. Almost everyone has suffered some trauma and loss over the course of the pandemic. Please be mindful of your own reactions to these many pressures and take the time to care for yourselves—and for each other. By doing these things, we will help to propel our community forward in fulfilling our mission of transforming lives through education and research.
Over the last 18 months, our community has taken steps with two priorities in mind: first, safeguarding the health and safety of our community, and second, ensuring that teaching, learning, and research continue at the highest levels of excellence. With your care and commitment, the measures and protocols we have instituted throughout this pandemic have seen us through great uncertainty. As we embark on the fall 2021 semester, we can continue to Keep Harvard Healthy together.
Lawrence S. Bacow
Alan M. Garber
Executive Vice President
Giang T. Nguyen
Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services