Dear Harvard College Students,
It is a pleasure to welcome you back for the spring semester, whether you have returned to campus or are learning remotely. When I wrote to you last August, I encouraged you to embrace the idea that Harvard exists everywhere that you are despite the distances between us. And while the fall semester was certainly challenging, I was so inspired by the energy and grace that you were all able to bring to this community from around the world. Our mission of educating citizens and citizen leaders is more critical than ever, and I continue to be optimistic about what we can accomplish together.
Before we begin the semester, I want to take a moment to emphasize what each of us can do to support each other and the communities around us throughout the spring. As we enter a new stage of an era that is sure to be marked as much by challenge and sorrow as renewal and opportunity, let us collectively take a moment to reaffirm our commitment to these values:
- Respect for the rights, differences, and dignity of others.
- Honesty and integrity in all dealings.
- Conscientious pursuit of excellence in our work.
- Accountability for actions and conduct in the community.
- Responsibility for the bonds and bridges that enable all to grow with and learn from one another.
In addition to paying close attention to the public health guidelines where you are living, I want to reiterate the following Faculty of Arts and Sciences guidance:
- Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) has established policies and procedures to provide the community with protection against the transmission of COVID-19; social distancing, occupancy limits, public hygiene, regular viral testing, daily attestation of lack of symptoms, and face coverings are each important ingredients in this community protection program.
- Face coverings perform two functions- they reduce the amount of exhaled viral particles, and they help filter inhaled air. Using an appropriate face covering protects both the community and the wearer.
- The Faculty of Arts and Sciences distributes 3-layer ‘procedure masks’ to members of the FAS community who work or reside on campus, free of cost. These face coverings are distributed through building managers and through workplace safety teams. We require that FAS community members who are in shared campus spaces, both indoors and outdoors, use FAS-compliant face covering at all times, except when eating or drinking. Individuals who wish to use face coverings other than the FAS-issued masks are welcome to do so, at their own expense, as long as the filtration protection is greater than or equal to the FAS-issued face coverings. Suitemates can remove face coverings when in their suites, as can a sole occupant of a private room.
Those of you on campus have been asked to commit to the Residential Community Compact and the shared responsibilities it outlines. Whether you are living on campus or elsewhere, I trust that you will take seriously the values that animate our learning and standards of student conduct that are outlined in the Handbook for Students. Wherever you are living, you are an ambassador and representative of our community, which is why our Harvard Community standards apply to all enrolled students. Our individual and collective success in adapting to the reality of the pandemic will inform and shape our decision making for subsequent semesters. For students living on campus, a Community Council has been established by the College to follow up on and address any concerns that may arise with regard to the Residential Community Compact.
All students who are residing off campus are also reminded that you must update your current physical address in my.Harvard if you have not already done so.
Whether you are spending the spring on campus or off, we ask that you continue to adhere to public health guidelines. We want you to keep yourself and those around you healthy as we wait for the vaccines to be widely distributed. While we have all grown more used to the demands of living in a pandemic, there are still difficult days ahead of us, and I hope you will all take good care of yourselves and seek help when you need it.
There are many health and wellness resources available to you from Harvard University Health Services, including remote or onsite medical services, Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for mental health support, and the Center for Wellness and Health Promotion for virtual wellness opportunities. Reach out to your informal support network – in addition to all of the resources on campus and remotely – and don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us if you need help of any kind. I also hope you will reach out to your advisors, deans, and our College staff if you need help navigating the challenges ahead.
While I never imagined starting yet another semester with our students connecting remotely from all over the world, I am so proud of all of you for continuing to make the best of these challenging circumstances. I continue to believe that better days are ahead, and I look forward to experiencing them together.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College