Social and Community Aspects

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



Where can I find the updated parking rates?

Please visit the Harvard Transportation & Parking services site and review the “FY22 Annual Parking Permit Rates (April 27, 2021)”, found here: Please note, "If you cancelled your annual parking permit this year, you will need to reapply before you return to campus".

Have there been any updates as to when the university will reopen?

Yes, President Bacow, Provost Garber, and Executive Vice President Lapp sent a message to the Harvard Community on March 22nd, you can read it here:

The University is targeting Monday, August 2, as the date when staff, faculty, and researchers will all be authorized to return to campus. This means that Coronavirus Workplace Policies remain in place and the University will continue reviewing its policies heading into this transition period.


Where can I find the latest Mass. Travel Advisory

You may review it here:

“Effective March 22, 2021, all visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts are advised to follow the Commonwealth’s new travel advisory…The Commonwealth has made great progress to slow the spread of COVID-19 and gradually re-open the economy, and all visitors and returning residents have a responsibility to help us keep transmission levels as low as possible”.


A vendor that is planning to come to the SEC in early April will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-March (> 2 weeks before coming). Can we accept vaccination documentation in lieu of COVID-19 testing documentation for individuals who have been fully vaccinated? And presumably we would still ask the vendor to wear a mask and maintain social distancing for everyone else's comfort, right?

No, the current plan is to retain our testing program, regardless of vaccination status. Moreover, all visitors to our buildings should continue to wear masks and social distance irrespective of their vaccination status.


Should we start advising our staff to wear 2 masks?

We are not mandating the use of 2 masks, but our procedure masks in conjunction with cloth masks can provide a better seal, so staff are welcome to wear both. The procedural mask should be worn underneath the cloth mask.


Can we assume there will be no in-person meetings this spring?

That’s right. Current plan is to work remotely (at least) through June 30, 2021, therefore all meetings, trainings, and seminars should be conducted remotely.


I am over 75. Am I on the list to be contacted when vaccine is available?

You may find answers to common questions Harvard University Health Services has received to date by visiting: Please visit the website regularly as information and availability of the vaccine are rapidly changing. They have also recently launched a COVID telephone line to answer your questions, which you can reach by calling the main number at 617-495-5711.


Should we start directing our lab users to wear double masks after the latest statements from Dr. Fauci and Prof Joe Allen at the School of Public Health. The latest shipment of masks that we received this past Monday are very loose with the masks constantly sliding down our faces.

Our procedure masks in conjunction with cloth masks can provide a better seal. The ear protectors (available at mask pick-up) can help to tighten the fit.


I work from home. Can I have one-time access to my office and take my office computer home?

Yes, you can. Please get approval from your supervisor, then complete Crimson Clear at least 15 minutes before you enter the building and the COVID-19 Training in the Harvard Portal. You will have 4 hours to enter & exit your workspace. Once you have taken your computer home, please send the make & serial number to your supervisor for HUIT tracking purposes.


I did my COVID test and the results in Color were "inconclusive." (Yellow). Color said that unless I had symptoms, I should not take another test until I was scheduled to 1 week later. When I went to do Crimson Clear during that week however, I got a message that I was behind on my viral testing. What should we do if we get an inconclusive test? Retake immediately or wait until next scheduled test? Crimson Clear and Color seem to have contradictory information.

Please contact HUHS at (617) 495-5711 and follow the prompts for the COVID line (press * key).


I work in Cambridge and I’ve heard that there are new rules about wearing face masks? 

The City of Cambridge exemptions and additional guidance may be found here:


I am concerned about mask compliance amongst security guards in indoor spaces. At multiple instances, I have observed them either not wearing a mask or wearing it on the chin (not covering the nose or mouth). Most recently, today, Sept 30, at 11 am, the security guard at the entrance to the McKay building was exhibiting cold-like symptoms (sneezing, wet sniffling) but was not wearing a mask while sitting at the entrance desk. How should we handle or report such violations?

To report violations and other COVID-19 related safety concerns, please contact your building manager and/or complete the Anonymous Reporting Hotline (submit a report using the Risk and Safety Matters category.


Is there guidance available that discourages faculty/staff/University leaders from organizing in-person off-campus work-related meetings? (not talking about social gatherings) On-campus is clear that they are not allowed and it's easy to say that. However, there have been individuals organizing off-campus meetings and inviting their students/staff who in turn feel pressure to attend because it's their boss & they don't want to disappoint or miss out on something.

Yes, per FAS Dean Gay, we ask that all members of the community continue to interact with students & each other virtually. While Harvard’s required public health practices are largely focused on campus-based activities, we encourage everyone to follow the spirit of our approach and to do everything they can to reduce transmission of the virus, on campus and in the greater Boston community. That includes practicing masking, distancing, handwashing, and avoiding gatherings. This guidance supports the overriding goal of putting the health and safety of our community first.


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:


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,



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,


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 testing protocols and receiving results, visit HUHS' Testing Information webpage, and please review the policies and frequencies for unobserved self-administered testing.


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:

Each Harvard affiliate’s testing requirements vary based on whether you live on campus, work in residential housing, work elsewhere on campus, or have a regular presence (4 hours or more per week) on campus. Our testing plan is subject to modification if the public health situation indicates changes in community risk. Please review the policies and frequencies for unobserved self-administered testing.


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?

Each Harvard affiliate’s testing requirements vary based on whether you live on campus, work in residential housing, work elsewhere on campus, or have a regular presence (4 hours or more per week) on campus. Our testing plan is subject to modification if the public health situation indicates changes in community risk. Please review the policies and frequencies for unobserved self-administered testing.


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:



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:



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 HUHS Operations & Hours, 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.