COVID-19 and Remote Instruction Information

These are extraordinary times. We face an unprecedented interruption to our teaching mission and the cancellation of many anticipated events and experiences. While we grapple with the complexities of our current moment, we ask for your patience and cooperation as we do our best to ensure the continuity in our teaching and the safe shepherding of our community through this outbreak of COVID-19.

Please consult the links and FAQs below, developed for faculty and staff in the Arts & Humanities. If you have questions or concerns, reach out to the Divisional office at and join our online community through Instagram and Facebook.

To read Dean Robin Kelsey's note to Arts & Humanities faculty and staff from March 10, please click here.

The power of stories is a cornerstone of the arts and humanities. The Arts & Humanities Blog will serve as a platform for sharing stories and testimonials of resourcefulness and resilience in our A&H community at Harvard.

Sources and FAQs for the Arts & Humanities

Information Sources

CDC Website for reliable information about COVID-19

Harvard University Health Services guidance on best practices

Harvard University policies and communications

Faculty of Arts & Sciences updates and guidance

Harvard College information for students

Teach Remotely information for faculty

Learn Remotely information for students

OUE guidance for adapting a course to teach remotely

OUE Academic Policy FAQs for faculty

GSAS resources for Directors of Graduate Studies

HUIT guidance on working remotely

Zoom training

Travel guidance

Return to Campus

Is the Harvard campus reopening?
While we expect that those who are able to conduct their work remotely will continue to do so, a phased return to campus at 25% occupancy is possible for those who need to access resources in their office or departments. This return to campus assumes some shared basic principles for FAS and SEAS, which will:

  • Require the use of facial coverings on campus and the use Harvard-issued surgical masks inside buildings.
  • Coordinate building occupancy schedules to spread out occupancy over the course of the day.
  • Perform decontamination of shared surfaces.
  • Establish mandatory training requirements for campus.
  • Require daily attestation of lack of symptoms for building entry.
  • Establish limitations on locations and occupancy for eating.
  • Require minimal (i) contact with shared surfaces, and (ii) occupancy of elevators and restrooms.
  • Minimize the use of public transit, to the maximum extent possible.
  • Minimize the interactions between people on campus, to reduce the spread of instances of infection.
  • Expect that individuals who can successfully work remotely should continue to do so. 

Can faculty go to their office now and then to pick up a book or maybe to work there for a few hours to, say, record a video lecture?
One-time, short visits to offices to pick-up materials are permitted. If you would like to work in your office, you must complete an Office Re-Occupancy Plan Appendix 5B found on page 22 of the "Harvard Faculty of Arts and Science and School of Engineering and Applied Science, Staged Campus Re-Entry Plan" from Version 8.0. and submit it to your Chair.

Is there testing available for those returning to campus?
To protect the health and safety of both those newly returning to campus, as well as existing on-site essential workers, any Harvard community member who is authorized to be on campus for more than four hours per week is asked to take a baseline viral test for SARS-CoV-2 through a special Harvard University Health Services facility. For more information, and to register for a test, visit this page.


How do those returning to campus attest to their physical symptoms?
For each day that a person spends time on campus, they must attest to their physical health using the Crimson Clear application.


Can we clarify the exceptions (aside from eating/drinking) to the requirement of wearing a face mask ("single occupancy offices")? Is wearing a face mask required in rooms that are occupied by only a single person at any one time, but by different people at different times?
Sole-occupancy spaces are OK for taking off face coverings. If the office is shared, please wear your face covering and you will also need to carry the face covering with you as you move around campus; you must wear a face covering in all public spaces and common areas.

Per “Face Coverings: General Use”, a face mask is required only when social distancing is not possible. So, in other words, if I am the only person in my office and my office’s door is closed to the public, I am not required to wear a face mask in my own work office, right?
Yes, however, you will still need to carry the face covering with you as you move around campus; you must wear a face covering in all public spaces and common areas, not to mention to your car or to public transportation.

Where can I find detailed information on the use of Harvard provided masks on campus? Can I bring masks home and then wear one while traveling to campus? Does a mask have to be discarded before departing campus? If I am on campus only for a short period each day (say 1 hour), do I need to use a new mask each day?
There are sections in the COVID safety training on the Harvard Training Portal which address face coverings. You will need a face covering prior to arriving on campus as the City of Cambridge has issued an order requiring that face coverings be worn in all public places. If you choose to retain a mask, that’s up to you. We do not require that they be discarded but please be informed about the risks of extended use of face coverings.

Will the University provide N95s to those that need them for health reasons or live with someone that has health issues?
Those masks are in short supply, with priority to health care providers. Individuals who cannot work remotely and who require workplace accommodations should contact disability services:

What disinfecting guidance procedures are recommended for shared tools, equipment & spaces?

  • Harvard Environmental Health & Safety has provided and will be updating the following guidance documents:
  • Minimizing the use of shared equipment is optimal. Anything touched by multiple people should be disinfected before and after use. This includes:
    • Eating areas, tools, cabinets, copy machines, office supplies, laser cutter, milling machine, etc.
  • Recommendations to faculty
    • Identify opportunities for purchasing additional equipment and tools where possible, so as to avoid or minimize sharing.
    • Explore how any existing equipment or tools can be modified to minimize contact or risk of person to person transmission. (ex. Saran Wrap on knobs)
    • Identify where a single person may be the sole user of tools or equipment where they perform work for others.
    • Identify where single use gloves, paper etc can be used.

Our office has a shared water dispenser. Since microwaves, refrigerators, etc. are not allowed, does this shared water dispenser also have to be removed before reopening?
No, but be attentive to shared surfaces including the valve on the dispenser. In addition, if a water dispenser has been sitting unused for less than six weeks, you will need to drain and flush the dispenser prior to consuming any water from the unit. Your water provider should have instructions on how to complete this task. If the dispenser has been sitting unused for more than six weeks, it will need to be serviced prior to using. Please contact your Department Administrator for further information.

Will HUIT support be available to assist with desktop or IT issues as we resume research on campus?
Yes, for support, please contact the HUIT Service Desk at 617-495-7777 or visit the IT Help Portal at to “browse knowledge,” chat with a technician, or submit a ticket.  All HUIT support requests should be made by contacting the service desk.

Remote Instruction

Every course is different, as is every instructor, and the challenges of developing successful remote courses are highly multidimensional. Therefore there is no single, compact set of recommendations that will apply across the Division or across the FAS. Our goal is not to provide hard-and-fast rules, but rather to help prompt thoughtful prioritization of efforts. What follows is an inclusive collection of recommendations, some of which, we hope, can be successfully applied to your specific courses. Although these considerations are written primarily from the perspective of undergraduate courses, many are equally applicable to planning remote teaching of graduate courses.

Who can offer advice and support for remote teaching?

  • Participate in summer workshops to build skills in pedagogical and technical areas. Faculty should sign up for workshops here. Encourage your TFs to do the same; workshops for TFs will be held later in the summer.
  • Ask colleagues about what worked particularly well, and also what could be improved, from our experience in Spring 2020. Many concentrations have started to collect feedback from students and faculty about their experiences this semester. 
  • Create faculty cohorts for peer advice and support. The conversion to remote teaching is complex, and two heads are likely to be better than one. We are all experts at providing peer-review and constructive feedback; the emphasis here can be on positive support and encouragement.
    • Start over the summer with course planning, design, video recording, other content creation.
    • During the semester, occasionally sit in on / visit the online courses of those in your cohort to give feedback
    • Cohort organization could build on existing faculty mentoring relationships
    • Coordinate within departments, concentrations or subfields. Sometimes the most suitable expert is in a different department or area.
  • Engage with experts from the Bok center and other groups (academic technology, colleagues who have taught online with DCE, other instructional staff). You can find contact information through the links included in the section below on other resources, and/or based on recommendations from colleagues.

How can I help all of my students thrive in remote learning?

  • Keep in mind that your students are situated in very different environments, and they come from widely varying backgrounds. During Spring 2020, many students had challenges with technology at home, difficulties finding quiet study space, and family expectations that made it hard to focus on schoolwork.
  • The vast inequalities between different students are mitigated to a large extent when students are on campus and all have similar living situations. Conversely, inequality is exacerbated when students are at home. Faculty should consider offering additional flexibility, e.g. with assignment deadlines, to acknowledge that all students will not have equal abilities to complete coursework on a prescribed schedule. In this context, treating students equally may not be the same as treating students equitably.

What else should we consider in preparing for remote teaching?

  • Focus your time and effort on areas where Harvard faculty can add unique value. Use existing textbook readings and/or free online videos to teach “generic” topic. The internet has excellent pedagogical content, but its topic coverage is limited. If content is not available for the learning goals of your course, consider the following approaches: 
    • When possible, incorporate small-group or one-on-one facetime with faculty, engaging in high-level skills and course content. This will help students to feel they are still participating in a “Harvard experience,” even if some of the course content is drawn from other sources.
    • Spend time with students on higher-level skills involving discipline-specific expertise. For example: help students learn how to search the primary literature, and learn the state of the field, particularly on topics where pre-made pedagogical content is unavailable.
  • Identify technical needs early. If possible, develop new technical tools and test them over the summer, rather than just-in-time during the semester.
  • Understand and acknowledge to students that every style of pedagogy has its limitations. For instance, Zoom lectures can seem more fatiguing than the same in-person lecture. Try to keep in mind the totality of challenges students will have in a semester of remote coursework.
  • Remote learning gives us an opportunity to invite guest speakers from other institutions, even from overseas. Do you have collaborators who teach related classes? Consider teaming up for joint lectures, discussions or projects.
  • Think through the mechanics of high-value assessments, such as exams, ahead of time. Will you use proctors? What steps will you take to assure the security of exams (both in real-time and across offerings)? If your course must have timed, closed-book exams, consult with the OUE for updated guidance and advice on proctoring exams online.
  • As an alternative to lengthy closed-book exams, consider asking short questions that students have to answer within a very short period of time (perhaps even “live” with an instructor or TF on Zoom). These questions could draw on course-specific content that would be difficult for students to find online.

What other resources can help with remote teaching?

What types of pedagogy can help to build community?
Different styles of instruction can be mixed and combined to suit your courses’ learning goals. Some approaches that will help build community include:

  • Synchronous instruction with activities that engage students: breakout rooms for discussion in small groups, peer feedback, mid-lecture polls, demonstrations on virtual whiteboards, student presentations. The collaborative whiteboard platform is one option.
  • Small-group office hours, help room, discussion sections. Tutorial-style classes represent one model of such interactions. Several “Virtual office” environments are available for meetings (Sococo, Remo, Zoom).
  • Small, synchronous “Freshman-seminar” style courses can be ideal for student engagement and building community. These can take the form of tutorial courses for advanced concentrators.

How can we create community within our concentration?

  • Create spaces for online “hangouts” for concentrators. For example, a concentration-wide: 
    • Slack space
    • Zoom chat channel (might require some additional Zoom functionality)
    • closed Facebook group
  • Add student profiles on concentration pages, like a “Humans of X” feature on the concentration website. (For an example, see the "Student Spotlight" in East Asian Studies)
  • Sponsor social meetups, like study breaks, with fun activities or themes (share your pet; wear your best Harvard gear; trivia games, perhaps customized to the concentration; sharing talents or hobbies)
  • Launch journal clubs, “story of the week,” study breaks, “happy hours.” Encourage and support students in creating these kinds of activities.
  • Create special events for various subgroups, such as:
    • prospective concentrators (freshmen and sophomores)
    • new concentrators
    • thesis writers
    • graduating seniors
    • students interested in particular graduate or professional degrees after college
  • Create a calendar of research-related activities that might be appealing to undergraduates, such as departmental seminars, Mahindra Humanities Center seminars, etc. Unlike physical meetings where room capacity is a concern, students can easily join a Zoom link to “attend” these kinds of meetings.
  • Organize opportunities for students to interact informally with faculty outside of the classroom, for example:
    • Get-togethers modeled on “Classroom to Table”
    • Other informal gatherings, such as “coffee breaks” or “fireside chats”
    • Host concentration “town halls” to discuss policy changes and other topics of high concern to students, e.g. changes to thesis policies, changes to summer research opportunities.
  • Organize pre-semester Conversations with Concentrators. The Director of Undergraduate Studies, concentration advisor, and/or other faculty members can meet with cohorts of students in small or large groups well before the semester starts for:
    • Casual conversation, for example, half-way through the summer. These casual meetings might continue through the fall semester. The goal is to socialize, see how students are doing, and establish connections among fellow students.
    • Town Hall meetings to bring students up-to-date on various aspects of planning. For example: 
      • For (prospective) thesis writers about how to approach a senior thesis in these different circumstances and provide them information about the process throughout the year. 
      • For sophomores who are considering your concentrations
      • For first-years through juniors who are concentrating or have expressed an interest in concentrating, and who may be looking for research opportunities.

What other strategies can help to build community?

  • Establish a culture of engagement, collaboration and discussion early in the semester, and provide opportunities for the students to get to know each other. One example of this sort of activity is a reciprocal interview on learning and teaching goals:
  • Incorporate low-stakes requirements for students to engage. For example:
    • Require (or provide extra credit for) attending an office hour early in the semester, so students know they can (and should) come to office hours even if they don’t have pressing questions.
    • Use a tool like Padlet ( for students to share ideas, or responses to prompts such as “most confusing concept in today’s lecture,” “favorite concept from the lecture,” etc.
  • Before implementing new tools, consider how many tools students will need to master across courses. When possible, prioritize broadly used tools, and/or coordinate with other courses.
  • Host “student choice” class sessions. Students could, through asynchronous discussion ahead of time, decide what content will be presented/discussed.
  • Make sure to include asynchronous approaches in your course workflow, to promote inclusion in our diverse student population, e.g. Zoom chat channel, discussion boards (Canvas, Piazza, YellowDig), Wiki pages.
  • Set clear expectations with TFs/course staff that community is a priority, and that part of their responsibilities include working to foster it.
  • Keep track of student participation and engagement, to ensure that every student interacts with an instructor or TF at least once each week. Reach out to any students who seem disengaged. Contact the appropriate resident dean with any persistent concerns.
  • Participate in, and better yet, organize opportunities for students to interact with faculty outside of the classroom. Collaborate with colleagues to create activities that mimic Faculty Dinners, Classroom-to-Table, or simple pre- or post-lecture chitchat.

Technical/Training Needs

Where can I find information on using Zoom to teach classes remotely?
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. A good starting point for learning how to use this tool is at


What if I teach a making- or performance-based course?
We understand the move to online instruction will prove particularly complicated for courses that heavily feature performance and art making as a part of their syllabus. This is a challenging situation, and we must ask you to do the best you can to reformat your students’ learning experience for the online space. Flexibility and creativity will be key in continuing to provide our students with the transformative educational experience they look for in our classes. The Office of Undergraduate Education has offered to consult with faculty members looking for advice on how to alter their courses. You may contact them at


Are there specific resources available for remote teaching in language courses?
The Language Center, while physically closed, is available to support teaching within language programs. They have developed a resource page and can answer questions at language@fas.harvard.eduThe Language Center will continue the relaxation of its streaming media policies throughout the academic year in response to the challenges of remote instruction. Requests for streamed media required for your classes can be made through Language Center will also hold two open office hour sessions via Zoom per week; these are intended to address questions regarding online teaching and learning, to provide a space for consultation and peer input, and to offer language preceptors, TFs, and TAs a place to meet, share their experiences, and help one another through both course development and teaching. Please contact for more information. 


I am having trouble connecting to Zoom from Canvas. Any suggestions?
You have likely set up a personal Zoom account using your Harvard email address, and it doesn’t “belong” to the official Harvard account and so Canvas is confused. What you need to do to fix this is:

  • Quit the Zoom application if you have it running
  • Go to
  • Click Sign In to configure your account
  • Click Sign In with SSO, this is to sign in with your HarvardKey
  • You should see something like “Claim my Email” or account
  • This will send you an email. Follow the steps laid out there. It will move your email into the official Harvard account and then Zoom in Canvas will work without a hitch.


How can I make my Zoom teaching accessible to all students?
The OUE has provided guidelines for teaching strategies to make your classroom sessions on Zoom as accessible as possible. Faculty members should use the record option on Zoom so that students who cannot collocate with the class will still be able to view the session (for instance, if students are now living in a different time zone).


Am I expected to record my classes, and what are the policies surrounding this practice?
HUIT has guidance and protocols for the use of recording classes taught via Zoom, including information on protecting students' privacy and rules around where and how recorded classes can be used. Students' consent is not required to record, but students should be made aware that recording is taking place, and Zoom provides an on-screen notification when recording is in process.


What if I need equipment at home to make remote teaching possible?
Don’t rush to go out and buy new equipment. Try out some Zoom teaching sessions using your TFs, friends, and family as test students. Experiment with all the modes of instruction you usually use. We suggest a gooseneck holder to hold and position your phone or webcam, a Bluetooth headset with noise-cancelling microphone for high-quality audio, and perhaps a stand-alone webcam if your phone or computer camera isn’t sufficient. But be sure to test your setup first before going on a buying spree—we want you to buy what is most useful to facilitate teaching and learning, and you might not know what that will be until you have tested out teaching some classes online. Some technical guidance can be found in this document.


Can faculty and TFs planning to work from home and teach remotely this fall purchase their own printers and scanners?
Ideally, faculty should retrieve printers from their campus offices to bring home. However, we understand not everyone has this capability or has a personal printer in a faculty office. While senior faculty may use their research funds for the purchase of such equipment for home use, not everyone will have this option. It is possible for departmental members to visit their departmental offices to conduct work that requires use of the printer or scanner. Such requests can be made with two-days' notice for a two-hour block of time by submitting Apendix 5B of the Staged Campus Re-Entry Plan (see above) to their Chairs. In those cases, faculty or TFs should plan carefully to maximize their time on campus.


Are there tips and tricks out there for Zoom for different size meetings (small, 15-20, classroom teaching, etc.)?
See the many resources for using these tools, such as:


Will the Libraries and Museums remain closed? How will we access resources?
Harvard Museums and Libraries are closed to the public. Material is not available to be borrowed and the Scan and Deliver service is paused. Staff in the Libraries are still available to assist via the Ask a Librarian service. The Library has developed a series of FAQs which they will update should the situation change. Faculty and students may bring home Library books and renew them online as they normally would, and borrowing limits will be extended. In the case of the Museums, please be in touch with them directly for further guidance. They have also created a Resource Guide for Virtual Engagement.


Will HUIT support be available to assist with desktop or IT issues as we resume research on campus?
Yes, for support, please contact the HUIT Service Desk at 617-495-7777 or visit the IT Help Portal at to “browse knowledge,” chat with a technician, or submit a ticket.  All HUIT support requests should be made by contacting the service desk.


Does MA require or recommend a 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers before returning to the lab? Does Harvard have a policy that overrides the state policy or do we follow the exact same policy?
Guidance from Harvard’s Office of the General Counsel is that the 14-day quarantine remains in effect for individuals travelling to Massachusetts from domestic or international locations, with the exception of those cases detailed below. 
1. Workers who commute to campus daily from out-of-state (e.g. NH and RI) do not have to self-quarantine.
2. Workers who have been staying in a neighboring state since the University closed its physical spaces, and are now returning to their Massachusetts residences to resume work. do not need to quarantine. 
All others returning or travelling for the first time to Massachusetts must self-quarantine for 14 days, including: individuals who traveled out of state for personal reasons (e.g., a vacation or sabbatical);  individuals who have been staying and working in a non-neighboring state during the pandemic; and  individuals returning to the U.S. from international travel
Harvard will continue to monitor the state travel advisory and public health guidance for changes.

If I plan to drive to campus and I don't currently have a parking permit what should I do? Do I use the current parking permit portal? 
You can find this information on the Harvard transportation and parking page, here: and here:

Will there be an option to buy a discounted mbta pass for the summer months?
Yes, to learn about transit options including Harvard’s 50% subsidy on monthly MBTA passes for benefits eligible faculty, staff, and postdocs, visit here:

Will there be any additional shuttle service offered off-hours?
To review shuttle services, please visit here:

What will be done to help facilitate safe commuting? Could more bike racks or parking spaces be made available?

  • Without undergrads on campus, there are many more bike spaces available. Right now, parking is free, but that will not likely be indefinite. This will be a decision that is made outside of the Division. 
  • We want to strongly discourage the use of public transportation when possible. We also want to make sure we do not discriminate against people who rely on this.
  • We recommend people walk, bike or drive to work. We are working to ensure that parking remains free and accessible. Use of public transportation and ride share (eg. Uber or Lyft) to work is strongly discouraged. 
  • For people who rely on public transport, ask your group members to explore car pooling where they can. Ideal to have the same group that will work together and share a ride to work.  

Harvard has prohibited non-essential domestic air travel and all international professional travel. What is considered “essential” versus “non-essential”?
“Essential” travel is vital to the functioning of the University, and very few trips meet this condition. Examples might include legally required depositions, and the like. Academic exchanges such as conferences, seminars, lectures, etc., are (in this context) non-essential activity and the travel ban applies.


Can you help me understand the definition of “University-related travel”? For example, if I am giving a seminar or a public lecture, is that “University-related”? What about attending a meeting?
Each of these is considered university-related travel and therefore prohibited.


I have been planning to give a talk outside of town. Do I have to cancel that trip?
FAS has banned all non-essential domestic and international professional travel. Cancel or reschedule the trip.


Will I receive reimbursement of cancellation costs?
For those traveling 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. Note that Harvard will only reimburse for those expenses related to Harvard business, so if your planned travel included a personal vacation component, you are responsible for those expenses.


Can we fund proposals that require minimal travel, say by car or train, from the student’s home?
This would be considered personal travel, and the current policy states: “For personal travel within the U.S., we strongly urge you to use extreme caution and judgment.” Students should observe local health and safety guidelines, and use common sense to avoid situations that might endanger their health or the health of others.


Can an international postdoc go back to their home country and work remotely from there?
There may be tax and visa/immigration implications.

Social and Community Aspects

How can we access mail and packages shipped to campus addresses?
Harvard University Mail Services (HUMS) is offering the following: Each department can have departmental mail sent to a single home address of its choosing. This will include USPS Parcels, First Class mail, or mail with endorsements requiring forwarding. This will NOT include standard/marketing mail, periodicals, or non-profit pieces.
Mail will be bundled and shipped USPS First Class/Priority mail unless otherwise requested. HUMS can also provide a tracking number so you can monitor the progress of your package.
To set up this service please send an email to with: department name and address on campus; individual's name to whom mail will be sent; frequency of mail (recommended weekly); billing code.
HUMS is also able to hold mail/packages indefinitely. If you have a question about what can be forwarded, or how to locate an important package, send an email to​​​​​​​.


What is the timeline for staff working from home, and is there guidance available?
Most staff should now have shifted to remote work wherever possible, and should plan to do so indefinitely. Human Resources has developed workplace policies for staff on their website:


What about snail mail delivered to university addresses? Any provisions for getting it stored, forwarded, scanned, etc.?
We are accepting deliveries as usual for now; our loading docks and shipping/receiving are open normal hours until we receive further instructions to shut it down or limit the hours. 


I am a faculty member with children at home. What support is available for childcare as I move to teaching remotely?
Faculty can find information about resources for childcare at


Up until now, I have been pretty calm and not too worried. Recently, however, I’ve really started to feel concerned and upset. What should I do?
Remember that Harvard’s health plans offer comprehensive coverage for both physical and mental health care.  In addition, all employees are invited to contact the Employee Assistance Program at 877-EAP-HARV (877-327-4278) for help with feelings of stress or anxiety about these events. Harvard fully supports and encourages self-care in these stressful times.


I am concerned about losing the sense of community that comes with being on campus. How can I stay connected with the Arts & Humanities community during this time?
Times of uncertainty and upheaval can cause feelings of anxiety and isolation. While many members of our Arts & Humanities community will no longer be on campus following spring break, the Division will work to connect those in our community through social media. Follow us on Instagram ( and on Facebook ( to hear from faculty and students on how they are handling these extraordinary times, updates from campus, and the sharing of good news, which we will all need. Please reach out to Sarah Zeiser ( if you have a story to share that would connect our community from a distance.