Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
Last week saw the end of spring semester classes. Thanks to the sustained efforts of our students, staff, faculty, and researchers, we are completing the academic year with remarkably little transmission of the coronavirus on campus. We are preparing now for the online celebration honoring the Class of 2021, while we also proceed with plans for a full return to campus in the coming fall semester.
Masks and Outdoor Activities
The University has updated its guidance for mask use when outdoors on campus. In alignment with state and local guidance, masks can be removed when outdoors if 6-foot distancing is maintained. Community members should have an acceptable face covering on their persons at all times when on campus. More details are available in the University guidance for on-campus activities.
Looking Ahead to the Fall
Prompted by favorable public health trends, the state and the cities of Boston and Cambridge have begun to ease occupancy and other restrictions. We hope to be able to offer a less restricted, robust on-campus experience for all our students this fall. These plans, however, depend on low infection rates in our community and across our region. To repopulate campus in the summer and fall, we expect to continue to draw upon health and safety protocols that have helped to keep our community members safe during the current academic year. A key feature will be continued regular coronavirus testing, which will enable us to monitor the status and impact of the virus on campus. Updates regarding testing requirements, frequency, and other specific guidelines will be forthcoming.
Schools and Units across the University will continue to update their plans for a more robust return to campus in the coming weeks and months. As those plans move forward, the latest information can be found on the University’s coronavirus website.
Vaccination at Harvard
It has been just over two weeks since all adults in the US became eligible to receive the COVID vaccine at no cost. Since then, vaccine appointments have become more readily available as the supply of the vaccine has ramped up considerably. In fact, nationwide supply is expected to outpace demand soon. With millions of doses given and an accumulating body of evidence, we have also gained even greater confidence in the safety and efficacy of the three FDA-authorized vaccines, especially against the common strains of the novel coronavirus.
To reach the high levels of vaccination needed to protect our community, Harvard will require COVID vaccination for all students who will be on campus this fall. As with existing student requirements for other vaccines, exceptions will be provided only for medical or religious reasons. Students should plan to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus for the fall semester, meaning that at least two weeks have passed since the final dose of an FDA-authorized or approved vaccine (currently Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) or vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (e.g., AstraZeneca/Oxford). You can read more about the requirement and how to submit documentation on the Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) website.
For international students and any others unable to access an FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine before the fall, the University plans to offer vaccination on arrival. Please note, however, that these students may be subject to additional requirements, such as more frequent testing, until they are considered fully protected by a vaccine. Students may contact HUHS with questions.
We expect that faculty, staff, and researchers working on campus will make every effort to be vaccinated as well. Further guidance regarding vaccination expectations for faculty, staff, and researchers is under consideration and will be provided in the near future. After you get vaccinated, please remember to send a copy of your completed vaccination card to HUHS at firstname.lastname@example.org. Harvard Microsoft 365 users can send securely using message encryption in Outlook, and all users with a Harvard Key can send securely using Accellion Kiteworks. HUHS keeps this information secure and confidential.
Harvard Vaccine Clinic Appointments Available Friday
We are pleased to announce that as a result of our close academic relationship with Mass General Brigham, HUHS will receive a supply of Pfizer vaccine this week and will hold COVID vaccine clinics beginning on Friday, May 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the Murr Center. Vaccine appointments are open to all students, staff, faculty, researchers, and HUHS patients and can be scheduled through the HUHS patient portal with your Harvard Key. Additional information including instructions on how to schedule an appointment, dates and times for future vaccine clinics, and FAQs can be found on the HUHS vaccine webpage.
For those who will be leaving in mid-May, we encourage you to seek vaccination in the Boston-Cambridge area, including through the HUHS clinics, even if you can only receive the first dose of a two-dose vaccine (i.e., Pfizer or Moderna) before you leave the area. The first dose of a two-dose vaccine offers partial protection. You should, however, confirm that at the appropriate time you will be able to obtain a second dose of the same vaccine at a clinic or pharmacy near you.
Staying Safe this Summer
We are encouraged that so many staff, faculty, students, and researchers have already been vaccinated or have appointments to do so. As the CDC has announced, if you are fully vaccinated, you can resume many activities, particularly outdoors, that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. This summer will be a time to take advantage of warm-weather outdoor activities. In certain indoor settings, you should continue to take additional precautions like wearing a well-fitted mask. On campus, please remember to have a mask readily available at all times, even if you are outdoors.
This past academic year has proven what we have known all along—that no matter how daunting or overwhelming a challenge our community faces, we will come together, support each other, and find a way to overcome and thrive. We are proud to be members of the Harvard community, which time and again amazes us with its hard work, creativity, resilience, and fundamental humanity. Thank you for everything you do.
Lawrence S. Bacow
Alan M. Garber
Executive Vice President
Giang T. Nguyen
Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services
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