Dear Harvard College Students,
I am writing to follow up on President Bacow’s email about Harvard’s response to the current challenges posed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Although no one on our campus has been diagnosed with the virus, the University has a responsibility to take proactive measures in order to protect the health and well-being of every member of our community. That is why we are announcing today that Harvard College students will be required to move out of their Houses and First-Year dorms as soon as possible and no later than Sunday, March 15 at 5:00pm.
We realize that leaving campus at short notice will be challenging for some of you. If your home is in a country designated level 3 for COVID-19, or if your home is in a country subject to the federal government’s travel ban, you should consult with your resident dean as soon as possible for further information. If you have other concerns about leaving campus, you should also consult your resident dean as soon as possible. We have posted a list of important FAQs (e.g. moving out, storage, financial support, etc.), which we have also shared with parents and families.
We are committed to ensuring that you will all be able to finish your spring term courses, and that you will remain on track to graduation. We are working with faculty to make sure that all courses will be offered remotely, and you will receive specific information about how to access them. If you have questions about specific courses, please be in touch with your instructors.
In making this difficult decision, we have been guided by our commitment to the health of our community and by our responsibilities to the larger community. We have been fortunate to be able to draw on the wisdom of professionals in the Harvard community who have devoted their careers to responding to health emergencies. Public health experts have advised us that the best way to delay the virus transmission and to contain any breakout is to decrease the number of people on our campus. They believe that taking these actions will make it easier to maintain social distance and slow virus transmission.
I do not take lightly the apprehension and disappointment you will experience with this news. In the coming days our faculty and staff will be working diligently to implement plans to best support you during this transition. As you deal with the uncertainty of these unexpected challenges, I hope you will be gentle and respectful with others and with yourselves so that we can meet these challenges in ways that will reflect the College at its best.
Though circumstances will require us to physically distance ourselves from each other, we are going to be innovative in finding ways to continue to engage as a community and to draw strength from one another. I have seen us come together and support each other with compassion during difficult times, and I am confident that we will do so now as we meet this new challenge.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College