Social and Community Aspects

The following questions and answers are targeted at the Harvard School of Engineering and FAS Division of Science communities.



We noticed the safety guards at the entry of SEAS Mckay building coughed a lot yesterday. We wonder if the safety guards get the weekly Covid test as Harvard employees? They travel and inspect lots of different places and they are more exposed to different people.

Yes, the security staff participate in weekly testing.


Will there be less spots available in the class of 2025 because of the amount of incoming freshmen deferring their enrollment because of COVID? Does this mean that the class of 2025 will be unfairly disadvantaged and have more competitive admissions?

Please direct undergraduate admissions questions to the Harvard College Admissions team: The Admission Application Considerations for the Class of 2025 may be found here:


Is there any information about how flu shot clinics managed by HUHS will be handled this year? Will staff needing covid testing as part of their return to campus be given the opportunity to get their immunization at the testing site? What about staff who are currently not scheduled to return to campus?

We are awaiting HUHS updates about the 2020 Flu Clinic. Please check the HUHS site for the new dates and procedures:


Hi, I am a MDE student. I wonder do you still provide the printing service in SEAS building? If I would like to print something in Maxwell-Dworkin, for staying maximum 10 minutes I think, is there any procedure such as applying ahead of time that I should follow?

Please follow-up with the MDE staff if you have specialized printing needs.


Is it true that graduate students working regularly in labs will have viral testing twice a week, while others who work on campus are expected to have weekly testing?

Yes, once the routine repeated testing is implemented, that is the University’s plan. We suggest you direct questions about this policy to Harvard University Health Services,


Commuter pass order for August are coming up (have tobe ordered by July 10). Any update on parking policy after July 31th? (currently the parking website is still only indicating free parking until July31st).

There are [NEW] deeply discounted parking rates available, please check the Harvard Transportation & Parking site for more info:


The new return-to-work policy states that, “Harvard is not registered to do business or employ workers in states other than Massachusetts and California. Therefore, if you wish to continue to live and work outside of these states after the end of 2020, and your manager agrees to this arrangement, you may need to resign and become employed by an outside, third-party payroller. This company would provide your compensation and benefits for your work for Harvard. Benefits offered to payrolled workers are not the same as those provided to those directly employed by Harvard.” Should remote work policies be extended after 2020, will Harvard be changing this rule?

Employees will need to directly consult with Human Resources:

I am a faculty member and I work from home. I need to access my office one time to pick up some books. Is this possible?

Yes it is, with approval from your department/area chair.


I hear there is new guidance on testing, where can I find the details?

The new Testing Policies for the Fall Semester become effective on August 16th and can be found here:

Please note: Testing will only be available to Harvard affiliates who are authorized to be on campus.


Is GRE waived for 2021 fall admissions due to COVID 19 situation? who exactly is eligible for fee waiver

  • Please refer to the graduate school admissions office website, where you will find application requirements and staff contact information.
  • For the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) - The admissions timetable, requirements, etc. can be found here:  Application questions: 617-496-6100 (Please call between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday) or email,

Starting in August, Massachusetts appears to be changing its rule on quarantining after travel. If you get a negative test 72-hours before returning or get a negative test upon return, you do not need to quarantine for 14-days. Will Harvard also adopt this policy.

I have a question concerning parking for those current commuting to campus. Given the number of precautions taken on campus by researchers, the expectation that when parking is no longer available on August 15 researchers begin taking public transportations seems paradoxical. I was wondering whether the school might offer a remedy to this?

This is not a school-level decision, please continue to visit the transportation & parking website for updates & discounts:


If we're invited back to campus, will we be required to bring boxes of our own masks, or will they be provided?

  • Masks will be provided (although you will need to wear one en route to campus and upon entering Harvard buildings).
  • Mask distribution to FAS and SEAS lab groups will occur on a monthly basis at Northwest B104, you may find the schedule here,

For people who are on an alternating weekly schedule, it is ok if they are just getting tested only on the weeks that they are on campus (i.e. every other week)?

Yes, that is permitted.


Can we assume there will be no in-person seminars, meetings, events, or trainings of any size this fall?

Yes, that’s right. All meetings, trainings, and seminars should be conducted remotely this Summer and Fall.


Can researchers arriving from out of state quarantine in on-campus Harvard housing, or do they have to stay off-campus during their quarantine period?

The University has updated guidance on self-quarantine requirements for those returning from out-of-state. This guidance is accessible on the Harvard University Health Service's FAQ website,  For long-term harvard housing options, please visit:


My glasses keep fogging up due to my mask, what can I do to prevent this?

There are also affordable products you can purchase:

Can we clarify the exceptions (aside from eating/drinking) to the requirement of wearing a face mask ("single occupancy offices")? Is wearing a face mask required in rooms that are occupied by only a single person at any one time, but by different people at different times?

Sole-occupancy spaces are OK for taking off face coverings. If the office is shared, please wear your face covering and you will also need to carry the face covering with you as you move around campus; you must wear a face covering in all public spaces and common areas.


I have heard there is a plan to soon allow individuals from across the university who do not work in labs to return to campus and work in their office spaces. Can I return to my office or do I need approval from my department/division/school first?

Individuals are encouraged to continue to work remotely if they can do so effectively. If you feel that you cannot work remotely and need to return to campus, you need to contact your supervisor or faculty member to request access to return to campus. Your access request must be approved by your department/unit and submitted to the Science Division or SEAS for approval before you are authorized to return.


Are libraries going to be open for curbside pickup? It’s hard to figure this out on that Hollis website.

We suggest that question be directed to Univ. Libraries. You can start here:


Our group has a shared water dispenser. Since microwaves, refrigerators, etc. are not allowed, does this shared water dispenser also have to be removed before reopening?

No, but be attentive to shared surfaces including the valve on the dispenser.

How do I know my registration for the viral testing worked?

To learn more about scheduling a test, testing protocols, and receiving results, visit HUHS' Testing Information webpage.


Can you provide guidance with respect to social distancing/COVID-19 given recent events? For example, should I get tested for COVID-19 and/or self-isolate if I recently attended a public event? Also, if it is OK for people to gather together in public, then does that also mean that it is OK for me to travel? I fear that social distancing guidelines are being applied inconsistently, and this is causing a lot of confusion.

Please read the “Steps for a Safe Return to Labs”,  University-related travel, both international and domestic, is prohibited until further notice and we strongly discourage personal travel, both international and domestic: schedule a testing appointment you can go directly to the Harvard Training Portal here.


Is there a shuttle to the testing location?

As of June 11th, there will be a Daytime Van Service to cover the testing hours of 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday. This will be a similar “general service” transportation to what was offered prior to shutting down the daytime van service at the end of April. The service will be available for faculty, staff and students who request rides through the app (only): Note, although it says evening van app, it is meant to be used for this service at this time.

What is the expectation for people, notably postdocs, who do not have childcare but need to be on campus to perform their job?

We are keenly aware of this challenge, and hope that the re-opening of childcare in the Commonwealth will help.


Are we (a theory group) allowed to gather (with less than 10 people, face masks, and social distancing) on the lawn around the science buildings, even if we don't have permission to return inside the building yet?

We discourage in-person meetings for any meetings that can be held remotely.


Will LHTs (less than half time, non-Union staff) who are returning to campus or continuing to work on campus be required to get viral testing?

To learn more about scheduling a test, testing protocols, and receiving results, visit HUHS' Testing Information webpageTo schedule a testing appointment you can go directly to the Harvard Training Portal here.


Will there be additional HUHS viral testing facilities available besides Harvard Stadium Allston?

Not yet. For now, testing will be completed there. If you are driving, you will be directed to a parking area and then you will walk to the nearby testing area. The facility is ADA accessible. As of June 11th, there will be a Daytime Van Service to cover the testing hours of 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday. This will be a similar “general service” transportation to what was offered prior to shutting down the daytime van service at the end of April. The service will be available for faculty, staff and students who request rides through the app (only): Note, although it says evening van app, it is meant to be used for this service at this time.


Will HUIT support be available to assist labs with desktop or IT issues as they resume research on campus? 

Yes, for support, please contact the HUIT Service Desk at 617-495-7777 or visit the IT Help Portal at to “browse knowledge”, chat with a technician, or submit a ticket. There will also be a limited onsite HUIT technician schedule for laboratory IT support. All HUIT support requests should be made by contacting the service desk.


How will the long-term effects of COVID affect working in Allston when there are alot more shared offices?

The Science and Engineering Complex and 114 Western Avenue will be managed the same as Cambridge when it comes to COVID-19. Specifics are still being developed. Note, there are not more shared office spaces in Allston.


If I plan to drive to campus and I don't currently have a parking permit what should I do? Do I use the current parking permit portal?

You can find this information on the Harvard transportation and parking page, here: and here:


If we have our own N95 mask, which are much better than surgical mask, can we use our own?

We prefer that N95 masks be held in reserve for where they are required. There are, for example, research teams on campus whose laboratory work requires N95s and so we urge you to contact them, share, and use the university-supplied face coverings.


I foresee Cambridge heat/humidity will hinder productivity for those of us who can remain at home to conduct our research this summer yet live in older Cambridge apartments that do not have central AC. Will there be a possibility of Harvard renting/reimbursing individual AC units for the summer to maintain productivity?

No, we do not expect that Harvard will pay for AC augmentation in private residences.


Is there a possibility of resuming the evening van in the near future, with say one person travelling at a time for shorter routes? It would be helpful for at least reducing the walk time for people who stay far and heavily depend on public transport.

You can find this information on the Harvard transportation page:


My lab is starting to construct a re-start plan. It seems that one of the directives is to avoid public transportation when possible and to drive a personal car/park (I live too far away to bike or walk to campus). Will parking continue to be free? Is there any additional funding available to offset the higher cost of driving v. public transit? I was getting a bus pass that Harvard offset the cost of to make it quite a cheap way to get to campus and it would be much more expensive for me to drive now. Will there be transportation subsidies? If parking is not free on campus this will be a much bigger expense but even with free parking an added expense.

The current flexibility around parking has been extended through July 31, 2020. See the Parking Services website for updates and more information:


Given the current situation, will credit/no credit course options in the current term period negatively impact applications for non-Harvard undergraduate students intending to apply for graduate programs?

Please see GSAS FAQs:


I'm concerned about a colleague's well-being, since in my communications with them they have seemed increasingly upset and isolated. What can I do?

The health of our community is our top priority. We realize the extraordinary social distancing measures and the ongoing uncertainty of COVID-19 are incredibly challenging. Harvard's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers free, confidential help for all Harvard employees and their adult household members. You can reach the EAP any time for personal or work-related concerns at (877)327-4278. The service offers immediate support for any type of emotional issue. Employees can call any time -- seven days a week, day or night -- to speak with a trained counselor.


Will summer classes be recognized by ABET for credit?

Please contact your academic advisor within SEAS.


Will SEAS/sub departments within SEAS consider changing the PhD course requirement? As experimentalist, many of us need to be physically in lab to make progress on research. The months of suspension of research activities mean we have to make up for the lost time in lab in the future, and thus reducing some of our already heavy course-load (10+ courses for some subfields) seems a reasonable measure.

At this time there are no plans to modify graduation requirements. Visit GSAS to stay updated: and


I am a caregiver to an elderly parent, and as such, I have been trying to minimize my own exposure to COVID-19. Like many of us, I normally rely on public transit to commute to Harvard. In the event of a partial opening or staggered return to campus, can I opt to continue working from home for an extended period of time? I feel this would help me to limit potential exposure to COVID-19 (and also prevent me from infecting my own family).

We are awaiting additional policies related to this and will update the FAQs as soon as we know more.


I am wondering whether funding/budget cuts will affect the extension of contracts for postdocs like me?

Postdocs, being paid by either PIs or outside agencies, should ascertain the extension of their contract with the entity supporting their fellowship.


Now that I can't take a GRE test due to Covid-19, will GRE requirements be waived?

Please refer to the graduate school admissions office website, where you will find application requirements and staff contact information.


When are we going to hear back about our Harvard acceptance if we are accepted?

Please refer to the admissions office website for the college or graduate school, where you will find notification dates and staff contact information.

Concern about Zoom user privacy: Zoom has been found to route many of the calls through servers in Beijing, which have access to the calls encryption keys, as Zoom does not use end-end encryption but their own. This raises a huge security vulnerability. Harvard should reconsider using Zoom platform, particularly for meetings that contain sensitive and personal information.

Privacy and security remain of utmost importance to us. We have, and will continue to, work with Zoom to address any concerns regarding this critical tool for online meetings and classes. We are pleased with Zoom’s response so far, including quickly fixing reported vulnerabilities. On April 8th, we activated two enhanced security features that will become default settings on all Harvard Zoom accounts (password protection & disabling certain permissions). If you have specific concerns, please contact the HUIT Service Desk.


Are there any restrictions on paying undergraduate summer researchers who are working remotely (e.g. outside MA, or out of the country)?

They can be paid as usual if paid as “stipendees.” The Office of the Controller has provided Interim Payrolling Guidance During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, for more information visit:


Would you be extending the deadline for graduate applications for Fall 2020?

Applications for the 2020-2021 academic year are closed. The timetable for acceptances and additional info can be found here:


I need an "employment confirmation letter" from SEAS, which I need for my job application documents. Can you issue this kind of documents?

Please contact SEAS Faculty Affairs if you are a researcher, or HR for staff employment verification and other requests,


I've been analyzing all the data from the recognized/trusted sources and the overwhelming evidence shows the vast majority [not all] of the serious cases requiring hospitalization and possible ICU treatment are from our elderly population and those persons with underlying health issues [heart disease, diabetes, compromised immune system, heavy smokers, etc.]. Why don't we shelter in-place those individuals and practice common sense social distancing with the remainder of the population? This way we can really concentrate our resources on the group that really has the most need, our fellow Americans who are actually at the highest risk of infection and hospitalization?

We appreciate you considering these issues and many research opportunities are emerging to help tackle these complex topics (see NSF). As for our social distancing practices, we have instituted policies in order to keep the community safe and to abide by governmental guidelines.


Will SEAS department still move to Allston in 2020 Fall as planned? Because I need to rent an apartment for next academic year and this information is important.

The move will likely be affected, but currently no decisions have been made.


I have a technical problem with Zoom. Where can I send my question to get an answer?

You may contact the HUIT Service Desk at 617.495.7777 or by submitting a ticket. Zoom also provides helpful information here:


Can some people with Covid-19 experience symptoms so mild that they recover without ever knowing for sure if it was Covid-19 or just a cold/flu?

Please refer to the resources provided by the CDC,


Can the virus be absorbed into the body through a small cut or abrasion such as one from dried out hands that are being frequently washed?

Please refer to the resources provided by the CDC,


Will the offer deadline for grad programs be extended due to the ambiguity of the schedules afterwards, for example in case the remote lecturing continues until Fall semester?

GSAS can provide you with more information on deadlines.


Up until now, I have been pretty calm and not too worried. Recently, however, I’ve really started to feel concerned and upset. What should I do?

Harvard’s health plans offer comprehensive coverage for both physical and mental health care.  In addition, all employees are invited to contact the Employee Assistance Program at 877-EAP-HARV (877-327-4278) for help with feelings of stress or anxiety about these events. Harvard fully supports and encourages self-care in these stressful times.

I seem to have offended someone whose hand I didn’t shake. Why are they reacting this way?

Not everyone appreciates our community’s opportunity to attenuate the transmission of germs by avoiding person-to-person social contact. You might explain that your action is not a reflection of your relationship, but rather just following current guidelines from experts (some of whom we are proud to have on the faculty at Harvard).

Should we worry about adverse effects on ethnic or national groups?

We should all be aware of the possibility that individuals might be apprehensive of possible biases as a result of nationality or ethnic origin, and any such bias is clearly inconsistent with the values of the Harvard community. We will work together to slow the spread of this disease, using an evidence-based appropriate response that draws upon the advice of experts.

Is Health Services still open?

For specific HUHS department information, visit here:

What about snail mail delivered to university addresses? Any provisions for getting it stored, forwarded, scanned, etc?

We are accepting deliveries as usual for now; our loading docks and shipping/receiving are open normal hours until we receive further instructions to shut it down or limit the hours. Starting early next week, we will be paring down our staff to only 1-2 building managers a day for limited hours to patrol the buildings in my portfolio, so we are actively trying to line up deliveries with the times we will be onsite and asking everyone in our building to limit non-essential deliveries while the university is closed.

My understanding is that construction projects will still be taking place and that contractors will still be entering our buildings to work. That seems to send a mixed message. Will work on some of these projects be paused?

Decanal approval is needed for access to the building for essential personnel.