The public health crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented social and economic disruption worldwide, in the United States, and in the Boston/Cambridge area. Anticipating that continued in-person, on-campus instruction would increase the risk of infections in our community, the University acted promptly in March to “de-densify” its campus and transition to online instruction. Harvard reached this decision after careful (but time- pressed) deliberation, drawing on insights and expertise from public health experts worldwide — including on the Harvard faculty.
As we look ahead to the fall and beyond, we are planning for several contingency scenarios that would protect the health and safety of our community, preserve our ability to adapt to evolving circumstances, and ensure the continuity of our teaching and research mission. Harvard Medical School continues to retain the discretion to apply its considered judgment to the question of how best to pursue its educational programs during the COVID-19 crisis, which may include, among other things, making recourse to online instruction and instituting compulsory testing and tracing programs as required conditions for accessing the Harvard campus or Harvard facilities.