Harvard has gathered resources and help guides for students, faculty, and the University community after its Tuesday announcement that students should not plan to return to campus after spring break ends March 23, and that classes will move online for the rest of the semester amid the mushrooming outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
The material, much of which is available on the University’s coronavirus page, includes information for students about moving, storage, shipping, and booking travel, as well as help for faculty and staff on remote learning and workforce planning, and meetings, events, and travel guidance for the entire community.
“Please know the College is working hard to support you and respond to the needs of our community in the midst of this rapidly evolving situation,” said Rakesh Khurana, Danoff Dean of Harvard College. “We are committed to sharing as much information as possible with you as we learn more.”
The University made its decision as the number of cases in both the U.S. and across the globe continued to surge. In the U.S., there are about 1,000 cases, according the Centers for Disease Control. That number is expected to rise as more testing is implemented. There are currently 95 known cases in Massachusetts. Globally the World Health Organization puts the number of cases at more than 118,000.
Harvard’s decision is consistent with the recommendations of leading health officials on social-distancing and slowing the spread of the disease. More than 100 other colleges around the nation have opted to adopt remote instruction, according to published reports. The Ivy League Council of Presidents has canceled all athletic events through the remainder of the spring semester, and the NCAA has banned spectators from its famed March Madness men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
“These past few weeks have been a powerful reminder of just how connected we are to one another — and how our choices today determine our options tomorrow,” wrote Harvard President Larry Bacow in a letter to the community Tuesday morning.
Harvard College students have been asked not to return to campus after spring break and to move out of their Houses and first-year dorms by Sunday. Remote instruction is set to begin March 23.
Currently, Harvard has no documented coronavirus, but today the University announced two community members are being tested.
“The decision to move to virtual instruction was not made lightly,” Bacow wrote. “The goal of these changes is to minimize the need to gather in large groups and spend prolonged time in close proximity with each other in spaces such as classrooms, dining halls, and residential buildings.”
Khurana said the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has decided that all major academic deadlines, including Senior Thesis due dates, will be extended by one week in order to allow students to focus on moving and making other necessary adjustments. He also noted that room and board will be prorated for all students who move out and that the University is reviewing a small number of applications by students seeking to remain on campus longer because of difficulties related with returning home.
Harvard College is providing students on financial aid with up to $200 to ship items home. Students should email the Registrar’s Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, to receive prepaid shipping labels. Students should include their name, local or campus address, the address to which the boxes will be sent, contact information for both sender and receiver, dimensions of the boxes, and date they will be leaving campus.
Students can also forgo shipping and store items through Olympia Moving and Storage. The University’s storage instructions page has pricing and detailed instructions. Students on financial aid will receive a $200 credit for storage if they choose this option instead of shipping. If the bill exceeds $200, or the student does not receive financial aid, costs will be applied to term bills.
Students can print labels for boxes at any Crimson Print location.
For students who need help booking travel, the University has staff at all of the dining halls, the Smith Campus Center, and Dudley Community in DeWolfe. Times vary, so students should check the schedule regularly.
The University has also posted several coronavirus update and FAQ pages, which are refreshed regularly, including pages for the University as a whole, the College, and other parts of the University from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to the Extension School. These pages have answers to community-specific questions — like how to keep research and labs going remotely.
College and graduate students with questions about financial aid should visit the financial aid FAQ page. It has information on room and board, student fees, stipends, and what to do if a student can’t afford travel.
With the move to online learning, Zoom training is available to faculty members. Faculty have been asked to sign up for a Zoom account and complete training no later than March 20. A number of training sessions are available online and in person, including a video tutorial, a workshop, office hours, and one-on-one help. Harvard University IT has been working with Zoom to ensure the system can handle the high demand.
“We are committed to residential education and appreciate that the classroom experience cannot be fully replicated online,” said Claudine Gay, the Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, in an email to faculty. “However, remote teaching is an important and powerful tool in our contingency planning as we look to maintain the continuity of our teaching and the academic progress of our students.”
Over the past few weeks, Harvard has asked staff who are able to work remotely to begin preparing to do so. Those preparations include bringing laptops home every day and taking steps to ensure personal devices are secure, and reviewing the general information about getting ready to work remotely.
The University has also issued travel and meeting and event guidance to the community. It has banned all work-related travel until at least April 30 and is strongly discouraging nonessential personal travel. University events or meetings of 25 people or more are discouraged.
For the latest information, please visit www.harvard.edu/coronavirus.
Since the initial outbreak of the coronavirus, the Gazette has been providing regular updates from Harvard specialists in epidemiology, infectious disease, economics, politics, and other disciplines. You can find these updates here: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/series/coronavirus/.