Dear Harvard College Parents and Families,
I hope you are doing well and that you had a pleasant and relaxing weekend. I am writing to share a message that was sent to our students earlier today. With so much troubling news in the world, I felt it was important to remind them of the many resources available to them, and of the people who are there should they need someone to talk to.
I am also pleased to report that our fall term has been largely successful so far. We have had only a small number of positive cases of COVID-19 reported on campus, and our students have successfully adapted to a model of online learning, allowing for academic continuity. While we must remain vigilant and continue our efforts in the weeks and months ahead, I am so proud of what we have achieved together so far, and as always I am grateful for your partnership.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College
Dear Harvard College Students,
I hope that this message finds you well and that you are finding a routine that works for you during this unique semester. Now that we are more than a month into the fall term, I wanted to take a moment to check in and reflect on our journey so far.
This semester we have asked more of you than ever before, and you have met the challenge. We have had only a small number of COVID-19 infections here on campus, which means we have been able to reopen some spaces across campus, and we hope to open more soon. This is a credit to our on-campus students, and I am so grateful for their partnership. Our community has also adapted to a model of remote learning that seemed unimaginable just a few short months ago. While I recognize the ongoing challenge of sustaining our community from afar, I am impressed by your efforts to do so.
While we have plenty to be thankful for so far in our community, it is hard to avoid the sense of despair about what is happening around us. The last several weeks have been anything but ordinary. We have seen the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country and world; calls for racial justice and equality that stem from centuries of systemic oppression; the loss of a Supreme Court justice; and a presidential debate which shattered any pretense of civility or decorum. But we cannot give in to despair. We must find ways to move forward, embracing actions and efforts that will help our communities, our families, and ourselves.
The troubling news that the President and First Lady were diagnosed with COVID-19 should serve as a reminder that a virus has no boundaries, and I am hoping that they and all those who are ill will soon recover. We must not let our guard down. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to watch this timely and important video in which Executive Director of Harvard University Health Services Dr. Giang Nguyen talks about what we should all be doing to keep ourselves and those around us healthy.
No matter how hard we are all working to move forward with our lives during this difficult time, I know that some of you may be feeling isolated right now. At the same time, these distancing measures were taken because many people, including your tutors, proctors, Resident Deans and Faculty Deans, care immensely about your health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of us if you would like to talk with someone during these challenging times.
I have found inspiration and strength seeing your masked faces on campus and your smiles during Zoom meetings. I have been awed by the grace you have shown each other during one of the most stressful moments in recent history. I believe that one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and for those around us right now is to simply be decent to one another. Whether you are on campus or far away, I hope you will find moments to greet someone, to ask how they are doing, or to offer to lend a hand. While we may not be able to see the smile behind the mask of our friends and neighbors passing by, there are countless other ways that we can embrace those around us and make everyone feel welcome. Simple acts of kindness reverberate across great distances and over time, and serve to strengthen our community.
Please remain vigilant in taking every precaution you can against this virus, and be just as vigilant in building bridges and creating a sense of community for yourself and those around you. Better days are ahead, and we will reach them together.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College