Guidance for Exception Requests to Remote Work Policy

Updated 02 September 2020

University Guidance

The vast majority of Harvard faculty, other academic personnel, and staff (collectively, Harvard personnel) are expected to continue to work remotely indefinitely. 

Exceptions to University Guidance

Exceptions for “essential on-campus staff” (e.g., facilities staff) were established by the University and FAS at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. In May, the Division of Social Science (DoSS) established a process for allowing one-time campus visits by individuals needing to retrieve critical materials for working remotely or to move out of their offices due to ending appointments. Since then the University, FAS, and SEAS have developed detailed guidance for the resumption of on-campus laboratory research, which includes lab activities occurring in our Division. More recently, in consultation with Physical Resources and other FAS Divisions and units, our Division has developed guidance for very limited office use (including regular, infrequent, short-duration visits).

Please note that:

  • Decanal review and approval is required for any regular access to divisional spaces[1].
  • There should be no expectation on the part of any returning personnel of in-person administrative support (e.g., faculty assistants will not return to campus to support individual faculty members who may need to be on campus to pursue their research or scholarship).
  • Unit leaders (Chairs/DAOs, Directors/CEDs) are expected to compile office and/or lab occupancy requests, harmonize within the unit, and forward a comprehensive plan to the Divisional Dean for approval. It is understood that any plans submitted in the summer may require adjustment as unit needs change in the fall, or in accordance with new public health guidance, so modifications over time are expected and appropriate.
  • Plans will be evaluated by the Division with respect to needs across units within the same building; adjustments may be required based upon this review.
  • We recommend people walk, bike, or drive to work. Use of public transportation and ride share (eg. Uber or Lyft) to work is strongly discouraged. Visit for updates regarding parking availability.

Requirements for Personnel Accessing Campus Facilities

  1. COVID-19 training (one time only). All Harvard personnel must complete the COVID-19 training prior to coming to campus. Personnel whose appointments have already ended and who are returning to campus on a single occasion to pack up their belongings and move out are excepted from this requirement.
  2. Crimson Clear attestation (each day on campus). Before entering a Harvard facility, all personnel must use Crimson Clear to attest that they are symptom-free and have not had recent exposure to someone with COVID-19. Crimson Clear is required each day before arriving on campus and accessing facilities; each cleared attestation is valid for 23 hours. Individuals without HarvardKey credentials (e.g., personnel whose appointments have ended, outside vendors, human subjects) or who are experiencing technical difficulties may complete a printable attestation form.
  3. 09/09 Revision: Viral testing, quarantine, and contact-tracing (weekly or more frequently). All Harvard personnel who will be on campus for more than 4 hours in a given week must undergo viral testing. The cadence varies depending upon residency (on or off campus), contact with students, and category of personnel (students versus faculty/staff). Information on testing procedures, and quarantine and contact-tracing policies can be found at
  4. 09/09 Revision: MA Travel Orders. Anyone (including residents) coming into MA from any international location, or any US state except those designated as lower risk, must complete the Massachusetts Travel Form prior to arrival, and quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result. You must complete your quarantine or produce a negative test result at your own expense (see the MA COVID-19 Test Site Locator for facilities) before coming onto campus.
  5. Compliance with all basic safety measures. All personnel must agree to the following:
    • Wearing a face covering both on campus and when traveling to and from (regular occupants will be expected to wear a Harvard-issued face mask when on campus). Masks may be removed only when alone in an office with the door closed and no expectation that anyone (including custodial staff) will be entering the room immediately after you.
    • Social distancing.
    • Not conducting any in-person meetings of any kind. (Prior guidance about outdoor meetings no longer applies.)
    • Not hosting visitors or contractors without prior approval. (Humans subjects visits are regulated under the lab policy. Contractors require building management approval as well as unit and decanal approval. Adults living with Harvard personnel may be approved for one-time access to help with pick-up/pack-up, subject to all safety measures outlined herein, but other non-Harvard personnel are unlikely to be approved at this time.)
    • Complying with posted guidance throughout the buildings, in particular the single-occupant rule in elevators and restrooms, and agreeing to use assigned restrooms as necessary to keep restroom load minimal.
    • Placing trash cans and recycling bins in the hallway, as custodial staff will not be entering offices/labs.
    • Complying with detailed guidelines re kitchen use.
    • Being mindful of hand hygiene with respect to shared surfaces like elevator buttons, stair-rails, photocopiers, faucets, etc.

General Building Safety Notes

Harvard’s Facilities Maintenance Operations (FMO) are now fully trained by EH&S to identify and include the disinfection of high-touch surfaces in their routine cleaning regime. Most high-touch surfaces are cleaned 3 times per day, including:

  • Railings, including exterior
  • Elevator buttons, both hallway and inside cab, elevator cab walls and handrails
  • Card readers
  • Copy machine touch-screens (public machines only, not those within offices/suites)
  • Restrooms: all surfaces and floors
  • Doors exterior/interior: knobs, handles, push plates, crash bars
  • Dispensers

Revision 09/09 Offices with only one approved occupant will not be cleaned on a regular basis; trash cans and recycling bins should be left outside the office door in the hallway. 

HVAC capacities have been assessed and mitigation measures have, or will be, put in place as needed in DoSS buildings to support lab and office use at the current approved occupancy levels.


[1] Policies governing the use of non-divisional space, e.g., libraries and classrooms, will be developed by other FAS administrative units. NEW 8/4 The policies may also require decanal approval as a component of the process. We will update this site accordingly.