Just days ahead of move-in for the fall semester, 93 percent of Harvard employees and 87 percent of students are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, University administrators wrote in an email to affiliates Wednesday.
Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow announced in May that all students living on campus this fall will be required to receive a Covid-19 vaccine unless a medical or religious exemption should apply. The University subsequently extended the mandate to include faculty, staff, and researchers, some of whom returned to the office in early August.
As Harvard prepares for a full campus for the first time since March 2020, the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant has driven a surge in cases nationwide. Harvard extended its indoor mask mandate in late July as a result of the Delta variant.
In Wednesday’s email, Bacow, University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76, Executive Vice President Katherine N. Lapp, and University Health Services Director Giang T. Nguyen acknowledged that the Delta variant has “increased anxiety across our community,” but said campus-wide vaccination remained the “best weapon” against the coronavirus and its variants.
Students who have not completed the vaccination requirement will be subject to registration holds, while faculty, staff, and researchers who do not comply by Aug. 31 will face disciplinary action, the administrators wrote. International students who are unable to obtain a Covid-19 vaccination in their home countries will be able to receive a vaccine upon their arrival to campus.
The University will also extend its emergency paid time off benefit through Dec. 31, allowing employees to care for family members whose care arrangements are disrupted by the pandemic.
Still, those on campus can expect reduced Covid-19 testing requirements compared to the summer and previous semester. Vaccinated undergraduates living on campus will be subject to testing once per week following three initial negative tests upon arrival.
Harvard has also relaxed restrictions on University-related travel since early May. Fully vaccinated affiliates may travel domestically and to international destinations assessed as Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 for Covid-19 risk by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The College is pushing ahead with plans to hold all classes in person and open dining halls for sit-down dining, Dean of Students Katherine G. O'Dair wrote in a separate message to undergraduates Wednesday. Masks will be required while picking up food in dining halls, but can be removed once seated.
The College is also not requiring a full quarantine upon arrival, but recommending that students minimize social activity until they receive their first negative result. Following that, they host up to 10 people in suites, though outdoor gatherings are recommended.
O’Dair also wrote that the College will maintain its Community Council — a group of students, faculty, and staff members formed in fall 2020 to enforce Covid-19 guidelines — to review violations of the current University guidelines.
Bacow, Garber, Lapp, and Nguyen urged those returning to campus to be mindful of both public health guidelines and each other, noting the pressures and trauma inflicted by the pandemic.
“We encourage everyone at Harvard to remember our core institutional values, among which are inclusion and mutual respect,” the administrators wrote. “While we work to confront the pandemic with tenacity and resolve, we must remember to be kind to each other.”
—Staff writer Kelsey J. Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kelseyjgriffin.