Following a drop in Covid-19 cases among undergraduates, Harvard College joined the rest of the University in relaxing its public health protocols, announcing loosened restrictions on social gatherings and decreased testing requirements in a Monday email.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences officially lifted its indoor mask mandate starting March 14 alongside the City of Cambridge, but the College held off on loosening other Covid-19 restrictions, including its limits on non-sponsored social gatherings, until the school could re-examine case counts after spring break.
As the majority of the University saw a drop in Covid-19 cases in early March, the College experienced a spike in its case count.
Covid-19 cases among College students have dropped significantly since the return from spring break, with 66 undergraduates testing positive for the virus during last week, compared to 342 positive cases in the first week of March.
Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair and University Health Services Director Giang T. Nguyen wrote in the Monday email that the required testing cadence for undergraduates will be reduced to once per week and non-sponsored social gatherings can resume in residential spaces. Undergraduates may elect to continue testing more than once per week.
While previous guidance “strongly” recommended masking in indoor public spaces within the College, the Monday announcement confirmed masks are optional across campus, excluding University buses and shuttles and indoor gatherings exceeding 250 people. Many instructors have also required mask-wearing in their classes.
Students who test positive for Covid-19 are still required to isolate for five days and mask for ten days.
The email also urged students to continue to mask if they felt more comfortable doing so and to be mindful of other students’ preferences.
“If you feel the need to continue to wear a mask for your own protection, or to protect someone close to you, you should do so,” the email stated. “As we adjust to this phase of the pandemic, please be thoughtful about your choices and mindful of others who may have different risk factors than you do.”
—Staff writer Lucas J. Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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