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Undergraduates ‘Surprised,’ ‘Hopeful,’ As College Advances into Level Three of Campus Reopening

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Harvard undergraduates residing on campus said they were surprised and excited after the Dean of Students Office announced the College would move into “Level 3: Yellow” of its campus reopening plan Monday.

In December, the College announced a color-coded system to indicate the different phases of campus reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the most restrictive campus guidelines occurring under “Level 0: Purple” and the least restrictive under “Level 5: Green.”

In Level Three, students can reserve slots for individual use at common spaces, such as the Smith Campus Center, Memorial Hall, Malkin Athletic Center, and the Student Organization Center at Hilles. In addition, each student can host another on-campus student in their suite and will be allowed to travel within a 10-mile radius of campus.

Sydney V. McDonald ’21, a Lowell House resident, said she was happy to be able to invite guests to her suite under Level Three.

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“It’s really great to be able to have people over to watch TV and kind of try and proxy what senior year might have been like normally because that way, it feels like we’re really not missing out on as much,” McDonald said.

“Even though classes are online, this is a really great way to kind of feel like we’re getting the real experience,” she added.

Katherine Y. Zhu ’23, who is currently residing in Quincy House, said she was “surprised” the College reached Level Three this early in the semester.

“I always feel like Harvard was always on the more cautious side,” Zhu said. “But at the same time, I do feel like everyone on campus has been really careful. I see everyone wearing masks. We’ve all been doing testing.”

Other students said they were not surprised by the update in campus status.

Gabrielle J. “Gaby” Pesantez ’24, who lives in Wigglesworth Hall, said she saw on Instagram that the campus would undergo a phase change and “didn’t think too much” of the status update.

Alyssa N. Klee ’22, who lives in Eliot House, said she was unsurprised by the announcement due to consistent updates from her community health lead — a tutor, proctor, or faculty dean who supports a group of students in following the College’s Covid-19 guidelines.

“Our community health lead kept us pretty well-informed,” Klee said. “This was pretty much on-time with what he said.”

Some students said they anticipated taking advantage of the new common spaces open under Level Three.

Elias E. Q. DeLeon ’23, a Kirkland House resident, said he’s looking forward to getting some of his readings done in Cabot Library “for the first time in a long time.”

“On the second floor, there are these really cool sort of chair-pods,” he said. “They’re very colorful, charges your laptops — that’s probably my favorite study spot.”

“I was actually here on campus last semester as well, and I think that they really got the Mac reservation system going quite smoothly, so that’s something I really want to take advantage of,” McDonald said, referring to the reopening of the Malkin Athletic Center on a reservation basis in the fall.

Zhu said she is looking forward to using the music rooms in Quincy House to practice violin without fear of disrupting her suitemates or hallmates.

“I couldn’t really feel like I could practice in my room because just playing instruments is really loud,” she said. “I’d always be feeling like I was possibly disrupting my roommates, or other people that were living in the building.”

Some students said they were optimistic about future campus status updates.

“The fact that we’ve moved to Yellow so quickly, I feel really good about getting to Lime,” McDonald said. “I would say as long as the case numbers stay low and people are filling out Crimson Clear, we’re doing our tests and all that, that could lead favorably into Lime for us.”

DeLeon said he was “hopeful” that the College would progress to the less restrictive phases by the end of the semester.

“I’m surprised, but not in a way that comes from fear,” he said. “I feel pretty hopeful that the student body can keep this going to get to Lime Green — even Green — by the end of the semester.”

Zhu said she trusts the College to “make the right decision” about the timing of campus reopenings.

“I trust Harvard to have looked at all of the data and the scientific knowledge that we have and make the right decision, so I’m excited that we are in Phase Three,” Zhu said.

CORRECTION: March 11, 2021

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the most restrictive level of Harvard's color-coded reopening guidelines is "Level 1: Purple." In fact, it is "Level 0: Purple."

—Staff writer Hannah J. Martinez can be reached at hannah.martinez@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @martinezhannahj.

—Staff writer Sixiao Yu can be reached at sixiao.yu@thecrimson.com.

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