COVID-19 FAQs

coronavirus graphic

Q: Where can I find reliable information about this virus?
      • CDC
      • MA Dept of Public Health
      • Harvard University Health Services (HUHS)
      • HUHS guidance on when to self-isolate

Q: Where can I find up-to-date information about Harvard and FAS policies?
      • Harvard website (see also community messages)
      • FAS website (community messages on main page)
      • FAS Administration and Finance FAQs

Page updated 15 April 2020.

The work from home guidance remains in effect indefinitely, and the travel ban has been extended through May 31st. In addition, summer international travel programs for students are prohibited (see more in Travel tab below).

Harvard Gazette Coronavirus Update series

Work Remotely

General guidance

Harvard's Work Remotely website has links to numerous tips, policies, and best practices.

Internet connectivity issues

If the problem is new/intermittent:

  • Restart your modem, router, or computer. Most routers and modems have a reset button (or you can unplug them for at least 10 seconds). If your computer isn’t connecting but other devices are still working online, reboot your computer.
  • Upgrade your WiFI router firmware. Check your WiFi router vendor support site for firmware upgrade availability.
  • Close other programs and limit streaming/large downloads while you work. Other programs on your computer may consume processor or network resources. Try disconnecting or limiting use of other non-essential devices on your network.
  • Contact your internet service provider to determine if there are any known issues; this will help you learn if the problem is widespread in your area or specific to your home.

If the problems are ongoing:

  • Try moving closer to your wi-fi router.
  • Use ethernet cables to plug directly into your modem/router.
  • Install a wifi booster/extender if ethernet is not an option.
  • Many collaboration services work best with broadband, defined as a download speed of 25 Mbps or greater. You can check your speed here, and request your ISP to upgrade your service (but many ISPs are doing this already during the crisis). The FCC’s “Keep America Connected” initiative pledges to suspend common penalties and expand internet access in the US.
  • Use a mobile hotspot if all else fails. A hotspot lets you share your phone’s data with other devices, such as your laptop, so they can access the internet. Some providers allow you to use your phone as a hot spot. Search the web for “[your data provider] + hotspot” to see the options available to you.
  • Connect to Eduroam. Eduroam is a global internet roaming service for education users. You can use your Harvard credentials to log in and access internet connection in schools, colleges, and libraries around the world. Download the app to locate Eduroam hotspots near you [iOS / Android], and connect to Eduroam by visiting https://getonline.harvard.edu  Note: consult local guidance on COVID-19 containment measures before heading to a hotspot facility.
  • Contact HUIT Service Desk or your local IT support for help. HUIT can help order a 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot from our preferred vendors, AT&T and Verizon (but note that they are back-ordered through late April). Goto https://harvard.service-now.com/ithelp?id=sc_home, click on Phones and Mobile, then Mobile New Service Request, and fill out the form (which will require a billing code and authorization from your purchasing approver).

Zoom (tips, tricks, and troubleshooting)

  • Improving Zoom securityhttps://huit.harvard.edu/files/huit/files/zoom_security.pdf
  • Zoom recording guidance from HUIT
  • IQSS and HUIT in-depth Zoom guides
  • When to Zoom.
  • Zoom connectivity/quality issues
    • Wait 90 seconds. Zoom will automatically try to reconnect you.
    • Turn off your video. Video uses more bandwidth than audio only.
    • Sign out and sign back in again. Leave the meeting and join it again. If you’re the host, end the meeting and start it again.
    • Join by phone. You can dial into Zoom (audio only) from a mobile or landline phone using access numbers provided in meeting invitation. You can also download the Zoom app for Apple iOS and Android OS mobile phones.
    • Try a wired headset instead of Bluetooth wireless.
    • Zoom makes particularly heavy bandwidth use of the "host" of a meeting; ask a colleague with a better connection to serve as host.

Device and data security (including VPN)

Q: How can I make my at home devices more secure?

A: See https://security.harvard.edu/personal-device-security-guides

Q: When should I use VPN, and how do I install it?

A: If you are using a Harvard-owned computer, use VPN for all Harvard business. If you are using a personal computer, use VPN to access applications that require it (partial list below). Accessing network file-shares is prohibited except via a Harvard-owned computer and VPN. HUIT has instructions for installing the VPN client and accessing the virtual private network.

  • Advance
  • Citrix
  • Giftwrap
  • Harvard Art Museums systems
  • Harvard Data Warehouse (Database)
  • HarvardPhone portal
  • I3 Contact Center
  • IIQ
  • MIDAS
  • PI Dashboard
  • QlikView
  • Various Library IT and IT specific apps including CyberArk, TWS/Maestro, Informatica

Remote Instruction Resources

Information for Students

Undergraduate students should consult with the Dean of Students Office for guidance.

Graduate students should consult with the GSAS for guidance.

All students may find the VPAL Learn Remotely site helpful.

Research

In an effort to minimize the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 in human participant research interactions, Harvard Schools and Departments are requiring that human subjects research involving direct interaction with study subjects *at Harvard University* be paused until further notice and that no study subjects should travel to campus. For more information, including guidance for modifying your protocol, please review the CUHS FAQs.

OSP has guidance and FAQs for both federal and non-federal sponsored research.

The Office for the Vice Provost of Research has provided the following guidance on physical experimentation at home: The University cannot approve the use of private residence for research purposes. Such work at home raises a number of health and safety, and potential building and fire code related concerns that are subject to routine health and safety inspections and mitigation measure at the university laboratories and cannot be verified in a residential setting. Remote research using computers for data driven analytics, social behavior type studies that can be conducted by audio/video conferencing, etc. is allowable.

Travel

FAS policy, consistent with University guidance, is that all Harvard-sponsored international and non-essential* domestic travel is prohibited through at least May 31, 2020. This applies to staff in international offices as well as to staff in the U.S.

Additionally, there should be no Harvard-organized or Harvard-funded international travel for students that is scheduled to start and end between now (April 6) and August 31. Review the Vice Provost for International Affairs' memo for detailed information on students' international summer travel funding. (Students already outside the U.S. at the time of this memo may be funded for research or other activities in their present location, provided that such activity is in accordance with local/domestic travel restrictions, self-isolation/quarantine requirements, and lockdown orders, but they may not travel across a national border as part of a Harvard program or with Harvard funds except to return to the U.S.)

Harvard travelers who are currently abroad should follow Global Support Services (GSS) guidance.

For general information regarding cancellations and reimbursements as well as future trip planning see:

*“Essential” travel is vital to the functioning of the University, and very few trips meet this condition; examples might include legally required depositions, or travel by Harvard leadership to meet with federal government agencies to discuss coronavirus plans. Academic exchanges such as conferences, seminars, invited lectures, student field trips, meetings with collaborators, etc., are (in this context) non-essential activity and the travel ban applies.

Financial Administration

Human Resources

Harvard International Office

Note: In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State has temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates, causing a significant backlog in visa processing.

The Harvard International Office (HIO) has compiled a comprehensive FAQ list for any visa-related issues connected to COVID-19, including general travel and visa concerns, student issues, work authorization applications, etc.

Building access / Campus Services

The FAS is implementing a restricted access plan for offices, classrooms, laboratories, and other research facilities, and will undertake a necessary and important effort to review daily access logs (building swipe data), consistent with steps provided for in Harvard’s Policy on Access to Electronic Information. See Leslie Kirwan's and Claudine Gay's messages here

Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) FAQs

Harvard University Mail Services (HUMS)

Parking is available for essential personnel who are required to be on campus

Harvard University Housing office FAQs

Wellbeing