The Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) aims to provide a residential environment that enables student learning and provides a safe place for students during the public health emergency occasioned by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

GSAS is also guided by public health practices and will promote shared responsibility among all members of the residential community—students and residential staff included.

Overview of Principles

It is important that all students returning to on-campus housing for the spring 2021 term read, understand, acknowledge, and agree to the rules and guidelines that will be in place in the spring. These rules and guidelines may be updated and revised as we receive additional guidance from the city, state, and federal governments.

Students residing on campus in spring 2021 will be required to sign the residential community agreement: Because COVID-19 infects individuals by spreading across and within close community networks, it is essential that every one of us in the residential community agrees to a shared obligation and commitment to act prudently, safely, and in accordance with public health directives.

We who live on campus take on the shared risk of the community and the obligation to protect others, and thus we must know, understand, agree to, and abide by the rules and guidelines established for on-campus residences. Residential students must be particularly sensitive to the fact that their neighbors or fellow residents are impacted by their decisions. In a de-densified residential setting, strong communication skills and empathy for others are important characteristics to cultivate.

We encourage students to be particularly attentive to building good communication with their neighbors and to abide by any local community policies and regulations in their respective buildings. All students are expected to engage appropriately with the GSAS Office of Residential Life, resident advisors, GSAS facilities staff, and custodial staff.

As a GSAS student living in the residence halls:

  • I understand that GSAS has adopted the following requirements to promote the collective well-being of our community, and specifically the students and staff in residence or working in and for the residence halls during this time period.
  • I further understand that my ability to enter and remain in the GSAS residence halls is conditioned on my adherence to these policies.
  • I will follow these policies not just for my own health, but also to protect and safeguard the health of those around me, including facilities personnel and other staff who live or work in our buildings.
  • I acknowledge and agree that these rules and guidelines may change as life on campus and public health guidance across the country evolve and as new testing and tracing methods emerge, and I agree to abide by any new rules and guidelines promulgated by Harvard for application in the residential setting.

Required Testing, Education, and Contact Tracing

  • I will participate in frequent routine COVID-19 testing as directed by GSAS and Harvard University Health Services according to my assigned testing cadence.
  • I understand that students will not be billed for testing.
  • I will undertake daily health attestations using the Crimson Clear app to affirm that I am symptom-free and have no known exposure. 
  • If I test positive for COVID-19, I will share truthful information with the contact tracers about others who may be at risk.
  • I will complete the required online COVID-19 safety awareness training prior to arriving on campus.

Self-isolation, Quarantine, and Preventative Health

  • If I test positive for COVID-19, I will comply with the University’s and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s public health and self-isolation guidelines, including moving to designated isolation housing.
  • Promptly upon discovering any symptoms of COVID-19, I will immediately contact Harvard University Health Services (HUHS), seek guidance, and comply with the medical instructions I am given.
  • If I am found to have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, I will comply with all self-quarantine protocols.
  • Unless for health reasons the vaccine is contraindicated for me, I will receive the seasonal flu vaccine.

Physical distancing, face coverings, and behavioral requirements

  • I will wear a face mask or facial covering in areas outside my room (i.e., any public areas, including hallways, lounge spaces, laundry rooms, kitchens, and public spaces in other campus buildings).
  • I will follow Harvard’s directives for physical distancing in residential spaces, including kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other campus buildings and areas.
  • I will keep my contact information and emergency contact information updated in my.harvard.
  • I will follow protocols established by Harvard University or the City of Cambridge to limit exposure for others.
  • If any in-person gatherings are allowed in the future, I will follow all current, posted guidelines at Harvard University, in the GSAS residence halls, in indoor or outdoor settings, and I will neither host nor attend any gathering that exceeds the maximum number indicated.


  • I will routinely clean my residential spaces and I will follow Harvard’s posted protocols for cleaning.
  • I will practice good hygiene, including thorough and frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer, especially when returning from outside, after using a restroom, and before meals.


  • I will remain in the immediate area for the spring term.
  • If I must travel during the spring term, I will notify the GSAS director of residential life and complete the Massachusetts travel form, if required.
  • I will comply with any return policies or directives, which may include testing and quarantine.
  • If GSAS determines that public health conditions warrant de-densification of campus, I will prepare for and fund my own personal travel home or will work with the GSAS Office of Financial Aid, as needed.

Guests, Security, and Access

  • I will not have guests in my room or in any other space in the residence hall. I understand that “guest” herein means anyone not assigned to my residence hall, with the exception of Perkins Hall basement to collect mail or those in other GSAS residence halls who need to access the computer lounge in Child Hall. The designation of “guest” includes Harvard students living in other residences on campus, Harvard students living off campus, or external guests, such as siblings/family, friends from other campuses, or students from other Boston-area institutions.
  • I will only access my own residence hall and will not access other residence halls. I will not provide access to Harvard buildings to anyone.

Residential Community Agreement

Students living in the GSAS residence halls will be required to sign the Residential Community Agreement, agreeing to the expectations and principles laid forth by GSAS and attesting that:

  • If at any point I find I am unable to comply with the rules set forth in this agreement, I will remove myself from campus and complete my semester remotely. I understand that if I do not do this voluntarily, I may be subject to removal from residence by GSAS.
  • I acknowledge that these rules and guidelines may change as life on campus and public health guidance across the country evolve and as new testing and tracing methods emerge.
  • I agree to abide by any new rules and guidelines as promulgated by the University in order to remain in residence.

Additional Guidelines and Residential Rules

  • Students and residential staff will only have access to their assigned building of residence, the mailroom in Perkins Hall, and the location of the self-administered COVID-19 test collection box.
  • Universal card access will be limited to staff who hold responsibilities related to emergency response and approved vendors (on a limited basis).
  • On-campus residents will have limited access to FAS buildings and most buildings, including libraries and gyms, will have restricted access.

Social Gatherings

  • For your own safety and the health of others, virtual socializing is encouraged and should be the first option for social contact.
  • All members of the community are expected to follow the guidance set forth by Harvard limiting social gatherings.

Community Accountability

  • Any alleged violation of this agreement will be reviewed by a group comprised of the GSAS Director of Residential Life, the GSAS Dean of Students, and other senior leadership within GSAS.
  • This group will hold responsibility for reviewing serious concerns related to these expectations, such as a student’s refusal to undergo testing, non-compliance with testing or daily health attestations through Crimson Clear, or failure to abide by quarantine terms. Serious and/or repeated violations may result in the suspension of a student’s on-campus residency or a student’s removal from the residence hall for the remainder of the year.