COVID-19 FAQs


PREPARATION

 
Take preventative measures to protect yourself, such as those listed on the Harvard University Health Services website here; see also https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html

On Monday, March 23rd, Governor Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide essential services to close their physical workplaces and facilities as of Tuesday, March 24th, at noon. At Governor Baker’s direction, the Department of Public Health also has issued a stay-at-home advisory. The order will stay in effect for two weeks until noon on Tuesday, April 7th, though of course it may be extended as circumstances evolve. Only those staff who are designated as critical personnel in the context of this public health crisis should come to work if they are well. Managers will communicate with staff regarding essential personnel designation letters and any long-term service adjustments as needed.

Please see https://www.harvard.edu/coronavirus/work-remotely for more guidance. 

[From Friday, 3/20] all members of our community (faculty, staff, students, postdocs, fellows, researchers, visiting scholars, etc.) except “essential employees” (e.g., animal care, select food service, custodial, and security staff, etc.) should be out of their buildings/offices/labs and working at home, and this mode of operation will continue indefinitely. 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

To non-teaching members of the university, as classes ramp up next week please be considerate in your use of Zoom; see https://huit.harvard.edu/when-zoom.

Page updated 03 April 2020.

[edited 3/16] Information Sources

Q: Where can I find reliable information about this virus?

Q: Where can I find up-to-date information about Harvard and FAS policies?

[added 3/16] When do I need to self-isolate?

[added 3/17] Accounts Payable

Q: How do we send paper invoices and non-employee reimbursement paperwork to Accounts Payable?

You don't have to! Please follow their detailed guidance at https://oc.finance.harvard.edu/files/controller/files/covid-19_invoice_p...

For information about Cash Receipts and for any future updates, visit https://oc.finance.harvard.edu/coronavirus-covid-19-accounts-payable-ope...

[edited 3/24] Employment paperwork

Q: How do I verify and submit I-9s for new employees?

See guidance from the Office of the Controller at https://oc.finance.harvard.edu/guidance-regarding-i9-collection-during-c...

This has been updated as of 3/24. 

[edited 3/23] Remote Instruction

All instruction should be conducted remotely, including sections and exams. Remote instruction must take place off campus (Harvard classrooms are not available for this purpose).  If you need items from your office, please remove them by Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Note that a Zoom link exists already on Canvas for all courses. You can use that to schedule online sessions, and to distribute the appropriate link to students registered for the class. We are confident that Zoom will be able to handle the increased traffic. There are good resources for getting started below:

  1. https://teachremotely.harvard.edu/ (VPAL)
  2. HUIT: https://huit.harvard.edu/zoom-training
  3. Getting online and optimizing your connection (HUIT)
  4. Academic Technology Group: https://atg.fas.harvard.edu/zoom
  5. See also ATG contingency planning: https://atg.fas.harvard.edu/contingency-planning
  6. Office for Undergraduate Education: https://oue.fas.harvard.edu/resources-faculty
  7. Updated 4/6 OUE Policy FAQs
  8. Sign up for practice teaching opportunites (OUE)
  9. Bok Center: https://bokcenter.harvard.edu/teaching-remotely
  10. Sign up for consultations with the Bok Center
  11. FAS Libraries: https://library.harvard.edu/how-to/use-library-resources-remote-teaching, and librarians continue to provide chat, reference and consultations through online venues.
  12. The Science Division & SEAS FAQs: https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/coronavirus/remote-instruction
  13. See this "chalkboard instruction with Zoom" video from SEAS/Science: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQZvxqFUSSo&feature=youtu.be
  14. VPAL also has a "learn remotely" site for students
  15. Rob Lue's labxchange.org, workshop on Mar 19th (geared toward life sciences, but may be helpful)

[edited 3/23] I'm having problems with my Zoom connection - what do I do?

  • Wait 90 seconds. Zoom will automatically try to reconnect you.
  • Move closer to your wi-fi router.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Connect by ethernet (you can buy long cables and plug directly into your modem).
  • Likewise, try a wired headset instead of Bluetooth wireless.
  • Install a wifi booster/extender if ethernet is not an option.
  • 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.
  • 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).

[added 3/19] What do I need to know about Zoom recording?

You need to know that your video isn't guaranteed to be private, because anyone with the URL can access it. Therefore, do not share the URL in email, but post the link to the video only on your Canvas site (making sure your site is open only to class enrollees and staff, not to the public). Ask the students not to share the URL or make copies of the video.

Save your Zoom videos to the cloud, not your local harddrive (which will fill up quickly). There is no limit on storage in the cloud, and videos will remain available for one year.

You can set up your Zoom meeting and recording from within Canvas, and this is recommended.

You must let your students know they are being recorded; allowing them to turn off their video is an option.

The two sites below are extremely helpful:

 

[added 04/03] How can I make my Zoom meeting more secure?

[added 3/25] What else should I know about Zoom?

IQSS has a very helpful guide, not only for teaching but also running meetings and conferences, at https://css.iq.harvard.edu/using-zoom-teaching

[added 04/03] When should I use VPN and how do I install it?

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

[new 3/12] Undergraduates

 

Q: Can you say more about why undergraduates are being asked to move out of the dorms at the end of this week?

A: “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. Our actions are consistent with the recommendations of leading health officials on how to limit the spread of COVID-19.” (Larry Bacow’s message of 3.10.20)

 

Q: What accommodations are going to be made re: midterms and senior theses?

A: All major academic deadlines, including Senior Thesis due dates, will be extended by one week.  In addition, faculty and instructors have been asked to rearrange assignments, deadlines, and exams as appropriate given the need for students to focus most immediately on moving out of their residences.

 

Q: Where should students store their belongings? Can student possessions be stored in empty classrooms or with faculty or staff who are willing to hold onto them?

A: Please see the bullets under “Student Move Out” on the College FAQ page (https://dso.college.harvard.edu/coronavirusfaq). Students should utilize these resources (including financial aid if necessary) to meet their storage needs. Personal belongings should not be stored in empty classrooms or individuals' offices.

 

Q: I have a student who is worried about a life circumstance that makes returning home problematic. How should I advise this student?

A: Please see the bullets under “Student Move Out” on the College FAQ page (https://dso.college.harvard.edu/coronavirusfaq). The Resident Deans are the designated points of contact for all undergraduate students, so the first point of contact for all concerns of this sort should be the Resident Dean. For those issues that are financial in nature, students should feel free to go directly to the Financial Aid Office (<617-495-1581; faoinfo@fas.harvard.edu).

[edited 3/16] Research Programs

3/16 Note that CUHS and OSP have published guidance relating to human subjects research and to federally sponsored research programs in general.

  1. https://cuhs.harvard.edu/news/questions-about-covid-19-and-your-research
  2. https://osp.finance.harvard.edu/covid-19-research-related-information-an...
  3. https://osp.finance.harvard.edu/faqs-covid-19-sponsored-guidance

FAS Social Science Division policy is that, as with all campus visits, in-person human subjects testing should be suspended. Visitors, even for research purposes, should no longer be coming to campus. Research that can be conducted remotely can continue. Those who might have human subjects contact in settings outside the University (e.g., a hospital) should first and foremost move to a remote mode of data collection, if that is not possible consider suspending the research for now, and in cases of unusual necessity to continue, follow rules in place at the host institution, and closely observe COVID-19 strictures regarding avoiding crowds of any kind, social distancing, hand washing, avoidance of touching one’s face, etc.

Please note that, per OSP, research operations during implementation of COVID-19 precautions must maintain compliance with required controls. If your research data use is covered by a data use agreement (DUA) or other contractual obligations or if an IRB has determined the data contain elements that are high risk (DSL4), please submit a protocol modification through the appropriate module (Agreements for DUAs or ESTR for IRB protocols) and ensure the modification is approved before moving data sets to a new technology platform. Harvard's research compliance teams will expedite reviews to the extent possible to support continuity.

[edited 3/16] Postdocs, Fellows, and Research Appointees

[edited 3/16]

Q: What is the guidance for postdocs, visitor scholars, and other fellows?

A: Like all staff, faculty, and students, postdocs/fellows/visiting scholars should be planning to work from home starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020. 

[edited 3/16] Travel

General Travel Notice

FAS policy, consistent with University guidance, is that all Harvard-sponsored international and non-essential domestic travel is prohibited. This applies to staff in international offices as well as well as to local travel to meet colleagues in the Boston area.

Travelers who are currently abroad should follow Global Support Services (GSS) guidance: https://www.globalsupport.harvard.edu/news-advice/coronavirus-advice-travelers.

For general information regarding cancellations and reimbursements, consult https://travel.harvard.edu/coronavirus-reimbursement-faqs; OSP has guidance on sponsored travel cancellation and reimbursements at https://osp.finance.harvard.edu/faqs-covid-19-sponsored-guidance.

More Travel FAQs

[edited 3/16]

Q: Can you help me understand the definition of "university-related travel", and "essential" versus "non-essential" travel? For example, if I am giving a seminar or a public lecture, is that considered "university-related" and "essential"? What about attending a meeting? 

A: Giving a talk or attending a meeting would be considered both "university-related travel" and "non-essential" and therefore prohibited. “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.

[added 3/12]

Q: Is the prohibition on domestic professional travel limited to *air* travel, or does it include *all* domestic travel, including local destinations reachable via car?

A:  *All* University-related non-essential domestic travel, regardless of destination or mode of transportation (i.e., including planes, trains, automobiles, buses, etc.), is prohibited until at least April 30. University members are encouraged to use remote platforms to attend meetings held off-campus.

Per Dean Gay’s message of 3/10/20: “FAS policy, consistent with University guidance, is that all Harvard-sponsored international and non-essential domestic travel is prohibited. This guidance is being applied broadly, and includes course-related travel. All prospective student events, for undergraduates and graduate students, are being transitioned to online. Additionally, visits to campus, whether for job talks, guest lectures, or other activities, should be postponed or transitioned to Zoom. This applies to local colleagues, as well as those who would have been traveling to campus from outside the Boston area.”

[edited 3/16]

Q: Do the restrictions being placed on travel to and from the University also apply in the offices abroad?

Harvard's offices abroad are part of our campus community. Staff in those offices should follow the same guidance on international travel that all members of the University are asked to follow: no international travel for University business until at least April 30. Office staff can travel domestically and for personal reasons at their discretion, but are advised to be mindful of the fluid situation and follow local health and government travel advisories. Please see additional information on the Global Support Services (GSS) website: https://www.globalsupport.harvard.edu/news-advice/coronavirus-advice-travelers

[added 3/16]

Q: I am abroad now. What should I do?

A: Harvard is not asking any affiliates abroad to leave—including those in a location with a CDC level 3 warning for COVID-19—however, if you’re in a location where you can leave, now is the time to decide whether you stay or return home. Detailed considerations are outlined on the Global Support Services (GSS) website: https://www.globalsupport.harvard.edu/news-advice/coronavirus-advice-travelers

[edited 3/16]

Q: So, I have to cancel a planned trip to give a talk, and another trip to attend an annual professional meeting. Will I receive reimbursement for cancellation costs?

A: For those travelling on University business, the Harvard Travel Policy allows for reimbursement of cancellation or change fees with a valid reason. The current Coronavirus outbreak meets this requirement. You can find detailed guidance on trip cancellation and reimbursement at https://travel.harvard.edu/coronavirus-reimbursement-faqs. OSP also has guidance on federally-sponsored travel cancellation and reimbursement at https://osp.finance.harvard.edu/faqs-covid-19-sponsored-guidance.

[added 3/12]

Q: If my Harvard travel includes a personal vacation component, will Harvard reimburse me for cancelling the vacation component as well?

A: No. Harvard will reimburse only for those expenses related to Harvard business. See https://www.harvard.edu/coronavirus/travel-cancellation-reimbursement-faq

 

Q: When do we think travel will return to normal?

A: That is hard to predict. The travel ban is currently in place through at least April 30, 2020, but may be extended depending on how the situation evolves. Stay abreast of the travel policy posted at https://www.harvard.edu/coronavirus/travel-guidance.

[edited 3/16] On-Campus Meetings, Events, Job Talks, Symposia

Consistent with the travel guidance above, all in-person meetings should be cancelled, postponed, or transitioned to Zoom or the like.

This includes (but is not limited to):

  • courses, sections, exams
  • interviews with faculty or staff candidates
  • prospective student visits
  • staff meetings
  • advisor/student meetings
  • invited course/seminar/event speakers or other short-term visitors

[edited 3/16] Graduate Students

[added 3/12]

Q: Do graduate students have to move out of the residence halls?

A: The GSAS will provide guidance on this. See https://gsas.harvard.edu/news/stories/important-update-coronavirus-covid-19 and https://gsas.harvard.edu/coronavirus. In short, as of 3/12, proctors and resident tutors in undergraduate housing do not have to move out; GSAS students living in residence halls of other Harvard schools should follow guidance from that school; students in GSAS Residence Halls who have an alternate off-campus place to stay should move out of the halls; for those who do not, Harvard may require that you move to another campus residence to minimize the population density in locations across campus. Visit the websites above for ongoing guidance.

[edited 3/16]

Q: Can I still meet 1-1 with my faculty advisor if we’re both still willing to meet in person? 

A: Faculty and grad students should be transitioning to Zoom or the like for their meetings. They should not continue to meet in person.

who remain on campus may continue to meet. Campus is still currently open and functioning; however we are all trying to encourage actions that decrease population density to the greatest extent possible.

 

Q: Will my thesis defense be done in-person or online?

A: Anything that would originally be considered a gathering, including thesis defenses, should now be occurring via Zoom.

 

Q: How should I be thinking about my summer plans?

A: The current guidance is in place through April 30th, but this current situation is quite fluid and it is impossible to predict what may happen. For now you should make your plans as you normally would, being mindful of the fact that we do not yet know with certainty how the coming weeks will play out.

[new 3/12] Staff

 

Q: What is the guidance for staff who have positions that do not allow work at home? Will they receive paid release time?

A: HR has addressed this question and several others at https://hr.harvard.edu/files/humanresources/files/faqs_covid-19.pdf. See also https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/03/at-harvard-preparing-for-an-hr-challenge/

We are awaiting further guidance on these important questions, and expect to have information soon. In the meantime we are advised to practice: 1) social distancing; 2) hygiene through proper handwashing; 3) staying home when ill; 4) keeping informed and following university guidance. Please see Dean Leslie Kirwan's "Important Message for FAS Staff" at https://www.fas.harvard.edu/fas-coronavirus-updates (as of 3/11, the third tab down).