[Message from HMS leadership: March 22, 2021]
Anticipated Reopening Plans & Timelines
- Research/Lab Activities: Thanks to our essential workers and the astute planning of our HMS Lab Ramp-up Committee and Business Continuity Task Force, Quad wet labs reopened, with reduced personnel density, last June. Wet lab facilities will increase density in phases over the coming months in concert with anticipated changes to lab density guidelines from the state and the University. We are concurrently preparing for a phased reopening of dry labs. Our COVID-19 Advisory Team will continue to monitor the School’s safety reporting process, address concerns and issues of noncompliance, and support lab personnel, postdocs, PIs, and departments. As a reminder, issues of noncompliance that cannot be addressed at the department level can be submitted anonymously via HMS’ online reporting form (must be logged in to VPN).
- Education Programs: First-year medical students returned to campus in January after starting their fall term remotely, meeting in person for skill-based didactic programs while most other courses continue to be held remotely. We are working with medical education program leaders to accommodate additional in-person courses this spring and a broader reopening in August. Graduate programs continue to be held remotely, with the exception of students working in labs and select courses and career development programs that have been approved to be held in person this spring and summer. Planning is underway to accommodate both residential and remote courses and in-person research this fall. Programs offered through our Office for External Education will remain remote through the end of 2021.
- Administrative Units: Many HMS staff are already back on campus to support wet lab research, educational programs, and on-campus activities, and many more will return in the coming months as we increase lab densities and in-person classes. Those offices and units whose work does not require staff to be on campus will be the last to return so we can accommodate and adapt to these density increases. Therefore, HMS will wait to transition back to campus most administrative units—those not directly involved with labs, educational programs, and on-campus activities—in phases starting Sept. 1. You may be wondering about the expectations for flexibility and future remote work. Many departments, offices, and units will be exploring options, and this will be the topic of numerous upcoming discussions, including in our next administrative forum for unit leaders, which will be scheduled for late April. This planning will dovetail with the valuable feedback you provided as part of the HMS Remote Work Initiative, which will help inform the framework we ultimately develop.
- Campus Resources & Services: As we invite more students, postdocs, faculty, and staff to campus, we will continue to align campus resources and services accordingly. Last December, the newly renovated Countway Library began offering online reservations to students looking for weekday study space. Reservations will expand to include Saturdays in April, and plans are underway to begin increasing capacity in the fall or sooner if possible. We are working to establish small group study spaces on campus for students within the next two weeks. On-campus quiet work space at 180 Longwood continues to be available for dry science programs through their department administrators. Dining services are available at the Elements and Courtyard Cafés and will continue to expand. We continue to monitor and adapt to evolving needs around parking and transportation to and from the Longwood Medical Area. The Joseph B. Martin Conference Center remains closed, and planning will commence this summer for a tentative reopening in January 2022.
As you can see, our continued phased reopening is complex due to the size and scope of the HMS enterprise. Thus, additional requests for on-campus space and group activities must be submitted by department and unit leaders to the Space Occupancy Request Team for review via the campus access request form (must be logged in to VPN). Questions may be forwarded to Room Scheduling prior to submission via the request form. Please note that we are exploring the possibility of holding certain priority events on campus beginning later this summer, and these decisions will depend on guidelines for public gatherings, cost, and staff resources.
Vaccines, Testing & Public Health Guidelines
As members of the HMS community, each of us has a personal responsibility to support the health, safety, and well-being of others in our community. Those coming to campus are expected to follow our community compact, which was established to address the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, foster an environment of trust, and align with our mission and community values. The compact requires individuals to follow established health and safety guidelines, including directives issued by state and local governments, as well as by HMS and the University.
Updates on vaccine availability, University protocols, and travel policies were shared in a community message last week from Dr. Giang Nguyen, executive director of Harvard University Health Services. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the information shared in this message, as well as with the referenced Gazette Q&A. As you will see, current guidelines require daily completion of the Crimson Clear health attestation, testing at the assigned frequency, physical distancing, and mask-wearing in campus buildings—all of which must be followed by everyone on campus, regardless of vaccination status. We understand this may be frustrating for those who have been vaccinated already, but we prefer this minor inconvenience to the potential risk and impact on our essential workers and other members of the community who have not yet been vaccinated.
[Update: February 2021]
Welcome back to the lab! We are happy that we have the greenlight to ramp up your research, but please know this will not be business as usual! Times are different and we hope you will be patient as we all embark on doing science very differently than before! Guidance from the University and the Medical School will dictate how we ramp up the Department, and so we will do our best to keep you informed and up to date on any new developments.
Some basic information:
- Harvard has transitioned to unobserved self-administered testing (scroll down to "testing")for eligible employees. If you are eligible for Harvard testing, you will have received an email directly from Harvard. More information can be found here.
- Update from HCCM: Access to online room booking system is now ready! Also, an information guide for using the online system.
- A COVID Advisory Team has been established to assist with ongoing operational and safety issues during Phase 2 and can be contacted with any safety concerns that your COVID-19 Safety Officer cannot address.
- HMS Central Guidance webpage and FAQs, including information on parking, MASCO, testing, etc...
- COVID-19 Safety Officers list of responsibilities can be found here. All Phase 2 personnel will have a chance to speak to their lab's safety officer, PI, and/or Department administrative staff about concerns. There is also a Harvard Anonymous Reporting Hotline available.
Here is what to expect when you arrive to campus:
1. Please be sure that you have taken the online COVID-19 safety training. You will not be able to enter the building without taking this training.
2. HMS has created this Lab Reopening Information page. Please read through this information carefully!
3. The entrance will be at the link (in front of "Rosa’s" desk). Personnel will need to use the following website to attest daily that you are healthy work:
a. You will need to perform a daily health attestation via Crimsonclear.harvard.edu if you are approved to come in to work.
b. You will need to show your attestation to the security guard each time you come in to the building. We advise you to perform this attestation at home before you arrive to campus so as to not slow down the queue.
c. Paper attestations are available for visitors and HMS staff who are non cell phone holders. If you choose to use the CrimsonClear attestation at home, be sure to bring your printed attestation to show security.
4. Even if you have been coming in during the shutdown because of your essential personnel status, you are still required to complete the COVID-19 safety training and CrimsonClear Attestation.
5. You will be given a surgical mask to wear upon security clearance. Please do not remove the mask you wore to commute in to work at the front desk. Please replace your mask with the HMS-provided mask in your lab space.