Return to campus for spring semester

Dear Members of the Harvard Chan School Community:

We are following up on last week’s message with further details on the planned return to campus for the start of the spring semester on January 24. Given that we are in the midst of a surge in positive COVID-19 cases at Harvard, regionally, and worldwide due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, we have continued to consult with the University and our own experts to update our plans and protocols accordingly. With our continued multilayer system of controls in place—including required vaccinations and boosters, testing, masking, as well as high quality air ventilation and monitoring—we feel confident that our campus remains a safe place to convene. Our focus remains on keeping our community as safe as possible while ensuring that we continue our educational and research missions.

Return-to-campus plans and updated guidelines for Harvard Chan School:

Administrative staff who do not directly support education or research should continue to work remotely: To keep density on campus as low as possible for the first few weeks of spring semester, staff who can work remotely should not plan to return to campus until at least mid-February. This will provide time to ensure that educational and research activities are given top priority. If you have questions about your work schedule, please discuss them with your manager.

Testing: We will follow the University’s return-to-campus testing protocols for students, which require testing three times the first week back on day 1, day 4 or 5, and day 7 or 8. After that, students will return to their regular cadence. We also ask that all faculty and staff test on their first day back on campus. After that, faculty and staff may resume their regular testing cadence, per University protocols. Faculty/staff who do not come to campus regularly should not come to solely drop off a test.

Spring courses: When classes resume, we will be ready to accommodate individuals who test positive, are concerned about symptoms, or are otherwise unable to attend classes in person because of COVID-19. The IT Department will have all hands on deck to provide support for instructors, including Zoom and streaming options as needed. More specific information will be sent to instructors in the next day or two.

Food: Sebastian’s Café will reopen on January 24 for grab-and-go food options. Given that the highest risk of transmission occurs when people are unmasked to eat in crowded areas, we will be opening up our larger classrooms and the FXB Atrium as schedules allow to use as designated eating areas during high-volume times such as the lunch period. Ongoing monitoring of air quality by Joe Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, and his team confirms that our classroom spaces are well-ventilated and using them for eating will allow us to reduce density in any single eating area during mealtimes. We ask that people eat their meals, mask up again, and move to other areas as quickly as possible so that others can eat with comfortable distance.

Information on designated eating areas will be posted at the School. Per prior guidelines, eating will not be allowed in classrooms during classes.

COVID-19 boosters: The University announced in December that all Harvard community members are required to get a booster; the deadline for verifying your booster with HUHS is January 31. If you are not yet eligible, your deadline will be 30 days after you become eligible so please schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If you are unable to get a booster before you return, you will not be barred from entering campus. You will, however, be expected to arrange for the booster as soon as possible. HUHS plans to offer booster clinics in the coming weeks. Further information can be found on the University’s Vaccine Information page, which is continually updated.

Masking: We strongly recommend double-masking when you return to campus. Options include wearing two of the three-ply masks that the School provides upon entry into our buildings or wearing a surgical-style mask or cup-style mask such as a KN95, KF94, or N95 layered under a form-fitting fabric mask that can ensure good filtration as well as an effective seal. Guidance from Harvard Environmental Health & Safety can be found here.

Thank you again for your ongoing efforts to maintaining the vitality and safety of our campus as we weather this latest pandemic surge. We will continue to be in touch as conditions and protocols change.

Katie and Jane

Katherine A. Hope
Executive Dean for Administration

Jane J. Kim
Dean for Academic Affairs
K.T. Li Professor of Health Economics