Teaching and Learning Support - Spring 2023

The FAS remains committed to in-person instruction, which means that no lecture, seminar, section, or lab should be taught online. (You may hold office hours either in-person or remotely). If you would like to request an exemption from in-person teaching for pedagogical reasons, please contact oue@fas.harvard.edu. 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 regarding accommodations. For more information about the University Disability Resources office, please see: https://accessibility.harvard.edu

Frequently Asked Questions

The below information can also be found on the FAS website

General

What happens if a student tests positive for COVID?

As of Thursday, December 22, HUHS has retired the use of the Contact Tracing Team and Crimson Clear application. This means that students are no longer required to report a positive COVID-19 case to HUHS. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should manage their isolation and discharge independently by referring to the HUHS website, which reflects and provide links to current CDC guidance. Medical and symptom questions should be directed to the individual’s primary care physician clinician as needed.

Students who test positive should continue to follow the local guidance about whom to contact for academic or residential accommodations, but they do not need to notify HUHS unless that infection affects the 90-day timing of a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.

What happens if I test positive?

As of Thursday, December 22, HUHS has retired the use of the Contact Tracing Team and Crimson Clear application. This means that faculty are no longer required to report a positive COVID-19 case to HUHS. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should manage their isolation and discharge independently by referring to the HUHS website, which reflects and provide links to current CDC guidance. Medical and symptom questions should be directed to the individual’s primary care physician clinician as needed.

Faculty and staff who test positive should notify their manager of their positive case and their anticipated return-to-work date. Employees and their managers should work together following standard HR policies.

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 tests positive, the instructor should follow these guidelines from HUHS regarding COVID-19 exposure.
  • If the child is in CDC-recommended isolation for COVID-19, the instructor may teach remotely for the duration of that isolation.

What are Harvard’s current COVID testing protocols?

Harvard no longer requires routine testing for COVID-19, however all affiliates with an on-campus presence are encouraged to test before/after travel and when there is increased risk or suspicion about COVID-19 infection. Anyone with symptoms or known exposure should test and follow Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) guidance.

Rapid Antigen Tests are readily available, can be done at home, and provide results in minutes. HUHS encourages all Harvard community members to be prepared by obtaining antigen test kits and having them accessible in the event that you might need to test. Tests can be ordered for free at COVIDtests.gov, and are also offered by many local health departments. Individuals may also buy tests online or in pharmacies and retail stores, which may be eligible for reimbursement by private health insurance providers. Harvard affiliates covered by Express Scripts can order 8 free antigen tests per month.

As of Thursday, December 22, students and employees are no longer required to report a positive COVID-19 case to HUHS. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should manage their isolation and discharge independently by referring to the HUHS website, which reflects and provide links to current CDC guidance. Medical and symptom questions should be directed to the individual’s primary care physician clinician as needed.

What are Harvard’s current requirements regarding vaccines?

Vaccines and boosters are the best defense against severe illness from COVID-19, and are critical components of the University’s multi-layered health and safety measures. Staying up-to-date with current COVID-19 vaccinations help protect our community from severe illness, hospitalizations, and enable in-person learning, research, and other activities that are critical to the University’s teaching and learning mission.

Harvard requires all students to be up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations per CDC definition. Students who are not up-to-date on their COVID vaccine, or other required vaccinations, will have a hold placed on their enrollment. For Harvard paid-employees, Harvard highly recommends being up-to-date with your COVID vaccinations per CDC definition. Harvard will continue to require and monitor compliance with primary seres vaccinations. Documentation can be uploaded via the HUHS Patient Portal.

More information about Harvard’s current vaccination requirements is available online.

Why are most inside spaces “mask optional” in the FAS?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Suffolk and Middlesex counties have a low COVID-19 community level. COVID-19 is still circulating among us—but the risk it poses for the health of our community can be managed. Given the current low level of community risk, high levels of vaccination in the Harvard community and Massachusetts as a whole, wide availability of COVID therapeutics, upcoming covid vaccine boosters, the cost to our educational mission of mandating masking outweighs the marginal benefit to our community.

While optional in all settings—except for healthcare—we encourage carrying a mask at all times and recommend voluntary masking in crowded settings, especially indoors. The availability of N95 and KN95 masks allows those at the highest risk—and their loved ones—to effectively protect themselves.

To reduce risk, wear a high-quality, well-fitted mask in crowded indoor settings, including on planes and public transit. Be prepared; always carry a mask. If you feel the need to wear a mask for your own protection, or to protect someone close to you, you should do so. Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or marginalized because they choose to wear or not wear a mask in a mask-optional setting. Remember that some members of our community, or their family members and other loved ones, are vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 and should continue to wear a mask. Anyone with symptoms or known exposure should continue to test and follow Harvard University guidelines for COVID-19 exposure.

Faculty with a disability or other physical or mental health condition that they think will impact their ability to be present on campus should contact their Faculty Affairs representative or University Disability Resources (disabilityresources@harvard.edu) as soon as possible to request an accommodation or an exemption to the requirement to be present on campus. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Teaching

How do I support College students while they are in isolation?

Students must inform their instructors of their situation and take some responsibility themselves for staying on top of their work, as best they can. Academic continuity remains an important principle in such cases but given the shorter COVID-19 isolation period now in effect, any measures taken by instructors to help students out can probably be relatively simple and follow the normal processes in effect prior to the pandemic. 

Education Support Services (ESS) does not recommend using Zoom as means to include an absent student in class sessions; many Harvard classrooms do not have the requisite installed AV equipment to support the equitable, effective inclusion of students in a class session or discussion.  Rather, instructors should: 

  • Encourage students to identify a “study buddy” with whom to exchange notes and information at the beginning of the semester. 
  • Use their discretion to provide alternative assignments or other ways for a student to stay caught up in class if they need to isolate. 
  • 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 guidance and instructions for self-service lecture capture by TFs or students assigned to this task, which are available at https://ess.fas.harvard.edu/ad-hoc-lecture-capture-best-practices.   
  • Information for faculty who are recording their class sessions themselves can be found at https://ess.fas.harvard.edu/instructional-continuity-diy-class-session-recording
  • If the class takes place in a room already equipped with lecture capture technology,  ESS can assist you to record the class and make the recording available on Canvas.  ESS policies and a list of classrooms with lecture capture installed can be found at https://ess.fas.harvard.edu/lecture-capture-and-class-recording.   Contact us at ess@fas.harvard.edu for more information.  Please note that ESS has limited capacity to support staffed lecture capture. 

Classrooms with installed lecture capture equipment include: 

Harvard Hall 101, Harvard Hall 105, Harvard Hall 201, Harvard Hall 104, Emerson 105, Emerson 210, Biolabs-1080, Northwest B-101, Northwest B-103, Northwest-B108, Pfizer Auditorium, and Sever 113. 

If you choose to record your class, please be mindful of Harvard’s privacy policy on recording lectures.  

Do College students still need to provide HUHS documentation?

No, to reduce pressure on staff resources, HUHS has lifted this previous requirement. Faculty should instead ask students to email them and to copy their Resident Dean (in their House or Yard). If concerns exist about the excused absence, the Resident Dean will be in a position to raise them directly with the student.

NOTE: Per the Harvard College Student Handbook, if a student misses a final exam for medical reasons of any sort, COVID-related or otherwise, the student is still required to show a doctor’s note.

Will students exiting isolation mask in my classroom?

All students who have completed a five-day isolation period must wear a well-fitting mask in all public spaces, including classrooms, for an additional five days. Students who are healthy are no longer required by the University to wear masks in the classroom.

Face coverings are optional in all indoor and outdoor spaces on Harvard’s campus. 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. Please contact your department administrator for additional information.

The University is closely monitoring local conditions in Cambridge and the greater Boston area and will revisit masking guidelines as appropriate.

Is it okay to ask students in my class to mask?

No. With few exceptions, face coverings are optional in all indoor and outdoor spaces on Harvard’s campus. 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. Masking is a personal decision, and we ask that you not request or direct students to mask or unmask. However, if a student is not masking in your class within the 5 days following isolation for COVID, as currently required, please contact the student’s Resident Dean.

While optional in all settings—except for healthcare—Harvard encourages carrying a mask at all times and recommends voluntary masking in crowded settings, especially indoors. The availability of N95 and KN95 masks allows those at the highest risk—and their loved ones—to effectively protect themselves.

What if I need an accommodation due to a disability?

Faculty with a disability or other physical or mental condition that they think will impact their ability to be present on campus, should contact their Faculty Affairs representative or University Disability Resources (disabilityresources@harvard.edu) as soon as possible to request an accommodation or an exemption to the requirement to be present on campus. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you were approved for an accommodation last year, and you are seeking another accommodation this year, you need to reapply.

TFs with a disability or other physical or mental condition that they think will impact their ability to be present on campus, should contact University Disability Resources (disabilityresources@harvard.edu) as soon as possible to request an accommodation or an exemption to the requirement to be present on campus. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If they were approved for an accommodation last year, and they are seeking another accommodation this year, they need to reapply.

The current phase of the pandemic is significantly different compared to its early phase and requests for remote participation in work or classes will be assessed on this different basis, compared to how such requests were assessed during the acute phase of the pandemic.

Will the OUE continue to grant pedagogical exceptions for remote teaching?

Most teaching can now be effectively accomplished without any need to move to a remote platform. Exceptions, to the degree they are granted, would be on a very limited basis. If you want to discuss an extraordinary situation that you think warrants an exception, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Education at oue@fas.harvard.edu.

My TF lives in another state. Am I allowed to hire them remotely and have sections offered remotely for my class?

No, TFs and TAs are expected to teach in-person, no less than faculty. If a TF or a TA has a disability-related reason for seeking a teaching accommodation, they should contact University Disability Resources.

NOTE: If a TF or TA had a disability accommodation in the past, they will need to reapply for accommodation for the Spring 2023.

Can I accept auditors into my classes?

Yes. Students and others wishing to audit courses may do so, but only with the permission of the instructor. Courses which exclude auditors are noted as such on the Course Descriptions.

Can I take my class on a field trip?

Yes. Please consult the OUE guidance on field trips for more information.

Can I invite outside guest speakers to my classes?

Yes, you may have either in-person or remote visitors to your classes. Please see the guidance developed by the OUE, the Bok Center, and the ESS team for some options for hosting visitors.

Can I offer my students cookies or other treats in class again?

Yes, so long as there are no other restrictions on eating in the classrooms where you are teaching.

May I hold office hours online?

Yes. Faculty have always had flexibility with the ways that they maintained an advising relationship with their students. Many met with students in person, but others connected by phone, or responded to questions via email. We welcome the use of online platforms like Zoom as an additional tool for connecting with and supporting individual students.

I'm an FAS faculty member teaching a cross-listed course in another Harvard School. What public health policies should I follow?

If you are teaching a course in a classroom at another Harvard School, please follow the public health policies and practices of the School where the classroom is located. School and program information is available online.

Can I provide antigen tests to my students and ask them to use them?

No. For Fall 2022, rapid antigen testing was required upon arrival on campus for all residential students and highly encouraged for arriving students who live off-campus. Additionally, Harvard recommended that students complete a pre-arrival antigen test before travel. Anyone with symptoms or known exposure should continue to test and follow Harvard University guidelines for COVID-19 exposure. For all members of the Harvard community, HUHS recommends that you stay home if you feel unwell.

Research

Are all campus libraries and archives open to researchers?

Yes, all libraries, archives, museums and other collections are back to normal hours and operations. Please check the relevant websites for information about procedures for accessing materials you might need.

What are the current university policies for domestic and international research travel?

Students, faculty, staff and researchers who are traveling internationally must register their Harvard-related international travel with International SOS, the University’s emergency response provider. More travel guidance is available online.

Community Life

Are there any restrictions on social gatherings for faculty?

No, all previous restrictions on social gatherings have been lifted, and physical distancing is no longer required indoors or outdoors. Should public health conditions change, the University will adjust as well, and this document will be updated. For more information on current policies, click here.

More Information

For guidance on health and safety in classrooms, please visit the Environmental Health and Safety website.

Harvard College Weekly Update 
News and announcements sent to undergraduate students.  

Harvard University COVID Information
Local COVID-19 data.