Up to 40% of undergraduates to campus this fall

Fall views of the Weeks Bridge. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) will bring up to 40 percent of undergraduates to campus for the fall semester, including all first-year students, Harvard announced today.

University President Larry Bacow, FAS Edgerley Family Dean Claudine Gay, and Danoff Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana co-authored a message to the FAS community that described the path forward, allowing first-years the opportunity to adjust to college academics and to begin creating connections with faculty and other classmates, while learning on campus in September.

The College will address gaps in students’ home learning environments and identify those who need to return to campus to continue to progress academically. Students on campus will move out before Thanksgiving and complete reading and exams periods from home.

“Harvard was built for connection, not isolation. Without a vaccine or effective clinical treatments for the virus, we know that no choice that reopens the campus is without risk,” the president and deans wrote. “That said, we have worked closely with leading epidemiologists and medical experts to define an approach that we believe will protect the health and safety of our community, while also protecting our academic enterprise and providing students with the conditions they need to be successful academically.”

Should only one cohort return in the spring, priority will be given to seniors. Bacow, Gay, and Khurana lamented that the overall decision would be particularly disappointing for sophomores and juniors who face a year away from campus after shifting to remote learning for half the past spring semester when they moved to learning from home as Harvard quickly de-densified because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In recognition of this difficult situation, the president and deans extended to students who study away from campus for the full academic year the opportunity to return next summer to take two tuition-free courses at Harvard Summer School.

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