COVID Updates

Below you will find guidance and resources to support your return to campus.


The Faculty of Arts and Sciences continues to be guided by the following core principles as we return to campus-based teaching and scholarship -- put health and safety first, protect the academic enterprise, leverage our breadth and diversity, and preserve access and affordability


Thank you for everything you do to advance the FAS research and teaching mission.

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID Exposure

What happens if a student tests positive for COVID?

Students who test positive for COVID-19 will isolate for at least five days; they are responsible for letting their instructors know. Details on student quarantine and isolation procedures can be found here.

What should I ask a student to provide if they ask for an excused absence due to illness?

In order to preserve the valuable HUHS appointment times that could be used for those in need of clinical services, Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) asks that faculty and instructors no longer require students to show a doctor’s note to be granted an excused absence in their courses.  Faculty should instead ask students to email them that they are unable to attend class due to a Crimson Clear designation, copying their Resident Dean. If concerns exist about the excused absence, the Resident Dean will raise them directly with the student. 


Per the Harvard College Student Handbook, if a student misses a final exam for medical reasons, the student is still required to show a doctor’s note.

How do I accommodate students while they are in isolation?

The Office of Undergraduate Education has created a helpful document to support instructors during the pandemic.


Here are some ways instructors can help students maintain academic continuity while in isolation:


  • Encourage students to identify a “study buddy” at the beginning of the semester.
  • Use your discretion to provide alternative assignments or other ways for a student to stay caught up in class if they need to isolate.
  • If the class takes place in a classroom already equipped with lecture capture technology, use that to record the class and make the recording available on Canvas.
  • For other instructional spaces, create a Zoom link for the student on your own device in the classroom, set Zoom to record, and share screen so that the student can follow along with slides or other presentations as you speak (note: you should not try to provide a fully interactive experience for the student but rather use zoom as low-tech way to record class), or
  • Have a TF or fellow student they have identified use a smartphone to make a simple recording that can be uploaded to Canvas, along with any slides or presentations from class. ESS has compiled instructions for self-service lecture capture, which are available on their website.
  • Bring a laptop to class and utilize Zoom to include your student in the lecture.
  • If you choose to record your class, please be mindful of Harvard’s privacy policy on recording lectures. Education Support Services (ESS) has provided helpful guidance on best practices for recording your class sessions.

Students can receive course materials in isolation through University Mail. The instructor should address mail to a student’s regular address if they are in their rooms and follow these guidelines if a student is in an isolation location other than their dorm room.


Can I send a package (i.e. materials) to a student in isolation?

Yes. If you are a faculty member, please bring the package to Yard Operations (in the basement of Weld Hall) with the student's name and Harvard mailing address. For more information, check out the Dean of Students Office's website

Should students share their COVID test results with others?

Students who test positive have the option to share their individual status with those they identify as close contacts though there is no requirement for them to do so. HUHS will discuss with individual students who test positive that they do have the right to medical privacy and should feel no pressure to share their positive status with anyone other than HUHS. HUHS, in their interactions with those identified as close contacts of the positive individual, will not share the identity of the person who has tested positive.

How do I know if a student is in isolation and cannot attend class?

Students are responsible for letting faculty and instructors know when they cannot attend class because they are in isolation. Students will receive an email confirming their isolation status that they may forward to their instructor.

If a student tests positive, am I a close contact?


When a student tests positive for COVID-19, they receive a message from HUHS alerting the student that they have tested positive and providing detailed guidance on isolation protocols and close contact notification. COVID-positive students are instructed to identify and notify close contacts as soon as possible. A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of the student indoors for 15 minutes or more over 24-hours, during their infectious period (48 hours before test kit activation date). If they do not meet all these criteria, they are not considered a close contact. If they do meet all the criteria, they are a close contact, and the student is responsible for notifying them of their exposure. HUHS provides an email template to facilitate notification. In the case of an individual who tests positive and has recently attended class, HUHS will not reach out to the entire class. It is highly unlikely that an entire class would be considered a close contact.

Close contacts should review the exposure guidance and quarantine requirements and follow the applicable guidance to help decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19. Specifically:

Individuals who are fully vaccinated and boosted will not be required to quarantine provided they have submitted proof of vaccination and booster to HUHS and are not experiencing symptoms.

Individuals who have not received their booster shot must now quarantine for 5 days when they are exposed.

If you are unvaccinated and receive a notification to quarantine, it’s incredibly important to minimize your movement and exposure to others. HUHS will notify you about your quarantine requirements and your ability to self-quarantine.

HUHS contact tracers are an available resource to close contacts to:

  • Educate, support, and identify close contacts’ needs and barriers to self-quarantine, if applicable
  • Connect and refer close contacts to additional resources
  • Refer close contacts to additional testing as appropriate
  • Provide close contacts with return to work/school clearance and instructions (only if requested)

Do I need to take steps to prepare for contact tracing?

HUHS may contact you in some cases if class registration or seating charts would be helpful in assisting with identifying close contacts. Seating charts can be of assistance though it is understandable that some teaching methods do not allow for consistent or assigned seating on a daily basis.

What do I do if I become sick or test positive for COVID?

If an instructor does not feel well, you should:

  • Use Crimson Clear to notify HUHS of your symptoms.
  • Come to campus to take a Harvard PCR test. NOTE: If you test positive on an antigen test at home, you do not need to confirm the result with a Harvard PCR test. Rather, you should inform HUHS of your positive result through Crimson Clear and begin your isolation as described below.
  • If you are able, you may teach remotely while you are waiting for the results of this test.

(i) If a COVID-19 test is negative and HUHS has cleared you to return to campus, then the FAS's usual practices apply when an instructor feels unwell, including teaching in person if the illness is not severe, finding a substitute instructor, or rescheduling class.

(ii) If a COVID-19 test is positive, then the instructor is required to isolate for at least 5 days. Some instructors with a positive COVID-19 test will have mild symptoms and will therefore be able to continue teaching. In this instance, instructors may teach remotely for this 5-day period.

For individuals who test positive for COVID-19, HUHS will:

  • Provide you detailed instructions on isolation
  • Offer you contact information for phone and email to answer any questions you may have
  • Check in with you during isolation
  • Clear you to return to campus at the conclusion of your isolation

What do I do if my kids get sick?

We advise parents of children who are sick to:


  • Talk to their pediatrician about their children's symptoms.
  • If the child is likely to have COVID-19, the instructor may teach remotely.
  • If the child tests positive, the instructor should follow these guidelines from HUHS regarding COVID-19 exposure.

Classroom Guidance

Are classrooms safe?

Harvard is taking important precautions to make classrooms safe. The university requires COVID vaccination for all students, faculty, and staff. Harvard is also employing high-cadence viral testing to quickly identify and isolate positive cases and limit community spread of the virus. In addition, classrooms are operating with enhanced mechanical ventilation and filtration.


The University announced that, with limited exceptions, face coverings on campus are now optional in all indoor spaces on Harvard’s campus. All instructors have the option of teaching without a mask, regardless of room size. In keeping with University policy, the FAS has granted instructors discretion to require masking in their classrooms. For all students, masks will be optional in the classroom unless they are required by the instructor. Students are expected to comply if asked by their instructors to mask in the classroom. If you feel the need to continue wearing a mask for your own protection, or the protection of someone close to you, you should do so. Wearing a high-quality mask that fits securely over the face without air gaps is an effective way to reduce your own risk.


In FAS spaces, building managers are working with their custodial supervisors to ensure that all high-touch surfaces within spaces have been identified and added to the regular cleaning and disinfection procedures. All high touch surfaces will be regularly cleaned 2 - 3 times, per day. You can also visit the EH&S FAQ on cleaning protocols for more details.

What if a student or instructor is uncomfortable with masks being optional in the classroom?

As noted in the FAS Academic Year 21-22 Plan, instruction will be held in the classroom. If a student or instructor feels the need to continue wearing a mask for their own protection, or the protection of someone close to them, they should do so. Wearing a high-quality mask that fits securely over the face without air gaps is an effective way to reduce personal risk.

Students affiliated with the Houses can obtain high quality masks from their Building Managers. For Dudley and first-year students, they are available at Yard Operations.

Faculty and instructors can obtain KN-95 masks through your FAS School or department, upon request. Please contact your department administrator for additional information.

What if I have health-related concerns about teaching in person?

The Harvard community benefits from near-universal vaccination. Among people who are fully vaccinated and boosted, early data indicate that the Omicron variant causes less severe symptoms than infections with previous variants. The diminished severity of infection means that on-campus activities pose less health risk than before, enabling us to advance the University’s teaching and research mission while continuing to protect the health and safety of our community.

Over the course of the fall semester, Harvard was able to resume academic activities, while seeing no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in the classroom. Although the transmissibility of Omicron presents new challenges, we are confident that by minimizing contact, masking, distancing, and testing regularly, we can maintain a safe academic, research, and work environment for everyone.  By doing so, we also protect those in our community who are most vulnerable to complications from the virus.

If you have particular concerns about teaching on campus due to your health or the health of someone in your household, please reach out to the assistant dean for your division/SEAS or the GSAS. Individuals may be eligible to receive a reasonable accommodation concerning teaching on campus if they have a disability that increases their risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. According to this “Reasonable Accommodation Fact Sheet” from the University Disability Resources office, “Under the ADA, a person is considered to have a disability if (1) he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity such as, but not limited to, hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking, caring for oneself, learning, or the operation of a major bodily function; (2) has a record of having such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.” Not all disabilities increase a person’s risk of becoming infected or severely ill from Covid-19.

Your assistant dean will discuss your circumstances with you to help determine if you may qualify for a reasonable accommodation. As appropriate, the assistant dean will ask you to obtain medical verification of your condition. As needed, they will also discuss your request for accommodation with your department/area chair and/or may consult with University Disability Resources before granting an accommodation.

If you do not qualify for a reasonable accommodation on the basis of a disability that increases a person’s risk of COVID, you may possibly be eligible for a “courtesy” accommodation. Here too, please start by contacting your assistant dean, who can discuss possible options with you.

Department/area chairs should not make the determination of whether a modification or courtesy regarding in-classroom teaching is necessary. The process for making this determination is overseen by the assistant dean.

Assistant Deans:

For more information about the University Disability Resources office, please see:

Can I teach virtually?

The Office of Undergraduate Education has expanded guidance for the spring term to help faculty prepare to return to the classroom, including increased flexibility for instructors at times when significant proportions of their students are in isolation. The OUE website provides guidance for supporting students in isolation and guidance for maintaining academic continuity should faculty or course instructors themselves need to isolate. To be clear, instructors are not obliged to offer hybrid instruction (teaching both in-person and online at the same time); other adaptations are likely to be more straightforward and just as effective. Additional information is available on the Faculty Affairs COVID updates page. Of note, University policy now offers instructors in designated classrooms the option to teach unmasked, provided additional safety criteria are met.

How does contact tracing work when someone who tests positive has recently been in the classroom?

When a member of the campus community tests positive for COVID-19, Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) initiates contact tracing to identify close contacts. In the case of an individual who tests positive and has recently attended class, HUHS will not reach out to the entire class. It is highly unlikely that an entire class would be considered a closet contact. However, HUHS may contact faculty or instructional staff if class registration would be helpful in identifying close contacts. More information on contact tracing can be found on the University’s coronavirus website.

Can I serve food in the classroom?

No. Eating and drinking are not permitted in classrooms but, rather, only in designated areas. For more information, see the Harvard University Guidance for On-Campus Activity.

Are short-term visitors allowed in classrooms?

Short-term visitors, such as prospective students sponsored by Harvard Athletics, are permitted at the instructor’s discretion, provided they are in full compliance with the university’s vaccination policy, show a negative COVID-19 test, and follow the university’s required public health protocols while on campus. Learn more about welcoming visitors to courses here.

Can someone audit my course?

Auditors are permitted only at the instructor’s discretion and may not attend remotely. Faculty have a responsibility to protect student information that Canvas may provide, and they are responsible for informing auditors of University and FAS policies governing access to student and course information (Resource: FAS Information for Faculty, 2021-2022)

It is strongly recommended that faculty limit auditors to HUID holders only so that the individual is already included in the university’s COVID testing protocols. If a faculty member chooses to permit a non-Harvard auditor, the faculty member must work with their home department to establish the auditor as a “Person of Interest” (POI) in the university identity management system, and then facilitate the auditor’s registration into the Color testing system. COVID testing for non-Harvard course auditors will be billed to the instructor’s department. (Resource: FAS Registrar’s Office message to instructors, August 23, 2021)

Of note, high school student from Cambridge Rindge and Latin will not be permitted to audit courses for the spring 2022 term.

Can Cambridge Rindge and Latin students audit courses?

No, unfortunately, we're not able to support CRLS auditors for the spring 2022 semester.

Are field trips permitted?

Local field trips, such as day trips to the Museum of Fine Arts, are permitted as long as they are conducted in accordance with current city and state public health guidance.

Public Health Practices

Am I required to be vaccinated?

Yes, all members of the Harvard community are required to be vaccinated. All members of the Harvard community as also required to receive a booster shot no later than January 31. Individuals who are not yet eligible to receive a booster shot must receive a booster within 30 days of becoming eligible. More information is available on the University’s “Verify Your Vaccination” webpage. 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.

How do I obtain KN-95 masks?

The FAS supplies three-ply, disposable surgical masks that comply with the FAS Masking Policy to all community members. In addition, KN-95 masks are now available through your FAS School or department, upon request. Please contact your department administrator for additional information.

I cannot activate my Color account, what do I do?

If you are unable to set up your Color account, first check Crimson Clear to ensure you you are eligible for testing. If you are listed as ineligible and are returning to campus, please refer to the following guidance: Science, Social Science, all others.If your testing eligibility is correct, but you do not have access to your Color provisioning email address, please contact All other issues should be directed to Color Support (844-352-6567 or

Is it possible to test twice a week even if you are vaccinated?

Yes. The surveillance testing cadence is based upon advice and modeling from our medical and public health experts. We recommend maintaining your assigned testing cadence unless you have been directed to test additionally by a medical professional, but those with unvaccinated children or high-risk family members at home have the option of increasing their testing to twice per week.

What happens if someone doesn't follow safety/testing protocols?

It is expected that everyone follows health, safety, and testing protocols every day they come to campus. Continued failure to comply with protocols will lead to your access to campus buildings being revoked.

  • If you do not follow health and safety protocols, you will receive automated emails about instances of non-compliance.
  • If you believe such messages to be in error, please contact:
    • Color Support at 844-352-6567 or for questions/concerns about testing reminders, results, and compliance notifications.
    • CrimsonClear Support at or HUIT Service Desk at 617-495-7777.
  • Monitoring of compliance will take place at the departmental/area level. However, non-compliance issues will be addressed by the Divisional Dean/SEAS Dean offices in conjunction with your department/area.

What do I do if I miss a test?

If you miss your testing date, you will receive a testing reminder from Color. While you are expected to generally maintain your assigned testing frequency, you do not need to come to campus just to submit a test. Instead, please plan to test the next time you are on campus. If you will be away from campus for an extended period of time, or your campus access has changed, please contact your testing coordinator to be moved to a different testing group.

I received a notification from Color that my test kit has not been received, what do I do?

If you receive a notification from Color that your activated test kit has not been received, it is likely just a delay at the test facility. This delay will not affect your results or your testing compliance. Please do not submit another test kit if you get this message, rather continue to test according to your assigned testing cadence. 

Return to Campus

Are visitors to campus permitted?

Visitors must be notified that Harvard requires both COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters and that they must be up-to-date before coming to campus. Visitors who will be staying overnight while visiting campus must be notified that they are required to follow the University’s isolation protocols should they test positive during their stay. Entering isolation may result in changes to travel plans, and units should also communicate what, if any, support will be available to underwrite costs associated with those changes (including extended hotel stays, food, and changes to airline tickets).  

How do I reserve one of the tents on campus?

Tents are available in several campus locations and may be reserved for faculty, researcher, and staff meetings of up to 90 minutes, any time, through October 24. Tents may not be reserved for course meetings at this time. Please follow the guidance below to reserve a tent.

SEAS: Email to reserve the tent outside of Pierce Hall.

Arts and Humanities, Science, and Social Science: To reserve a tent outside of an Arts and Humanities, Science, or Social Science building, visit RoomBook.

Can food be served at Harvard FAS-sponsored events?

For the most up-to-date information on FAS-sponsored events, please visit the Keep FAS Healthy campus status webpage.

Are in-person youth internships/employment permitted on campus?

No; minors (other than registered Harvard College students) will not be permitted to work, intern, volunteer, or job-shadow in-person on the FAS campus, including in labs, this fall. However, remote internships and youth programs are permitted, as opportunities exist and in accordance with Harvard’s Minors in Labs Policy and Policy for the Safety & Protection of Minors more broadly.

Does my research staff need to be on campus this spring?

Researchers are expected to return to normal campus schedules, as deemed appropriate by you and your unit and/or division/SEAS. We encourage you to speak with your research group to develop spring plans.

Principal Investigators: If your researchers have concerns about returning to campus for health reasons, please direct them to UDR,, or to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, Director of the Postdoctoral Office, Stephen Kargère,

What if I have researchers working with me who are out-of-state?

Please contact Bob Daley, Associate Director of Payroll Services,, for payroll in the United States and Krister Anderson,, or Blagomira Ovcharova,, in Global Support Services for payroll abroad. You will be responsible for any additional fees associated with out-of-state payroll services.

Will departmental/area staff be back on campus?

Your department/area leadership are working with faculty and staff to develop a plan for in-person and virtual staffing. Please be in touch with your department/area chair or department/area administrator for answers to any questions about the specifics of this plan.