GSD campus buildings will reopen to faculty and staff beginning August 16, 2021. The health, safety, and well-being of our community, on and off campus, is our top priority. We are committed to maintaining an excellent quality of education through this unprecedented situation.

The goal is to return to “normal” instruction for the fall 2021 semester. We are planning for a primarily in-person semester, while factoring in public health and space restrictions, as well as federal and state government and University guidance. The school is developing contingency plans should fully in-person instruction become inadvisable. Faculty should plan for a potentially remote start of the semester to account for issues related to virus variants, vaccines, or visas. Please see the 2021-2022 Academic Year Planning Page for the latest school and University-wide updates in preparation for the start of the year.

All GSD faculty, researchers, staff, and students are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) continues to be available to administer the vaccine to members of the Harvard community. Please visit the University’s vaccine webpage for more information.

COVID testing will remain a part of the University’s ongoing efforts to track and limit the coronavirus within our community. All University affiliates who are authorized to be on campus are required to be tested at their assigned cadence. Please refer to the University’s testing & tracing page for information on the latest cadences for the Harvard community members who will be on campus.

In order to monitor progress toward full vaccination within our community, please send a clear copy of your completed vaccination card to HUHS at HUHS keeps this information secure and confidential. People vaccinated by HUHS do not need to submit this information, since it is already recorded.

Resources for Faculty

Access to Buildings

Back-up Care

Emergencies that are University-Related

Fabrication Lab

Frances Loeb Library

Harvard University COVID-19 Website

Online Teaching Resources

Sponsored Research Resources

Vaccine Information

Virtual Events and Public Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

The GSD Faculty Affairs office is available to assist with questions regarding your individual return-to-campus plan, and relevant university and GSD policies, keeping in mind that some information continues to evolve and it is important to keep checking the websites linked below for updated information.

How does the University-mandated Covid testing work? When/how do I get started?

Regular COVID-19 testing will be required for anyone planning to be on campus regularly, using easy, self-administered tests provided by the University. The frequency of testing will depend on factors including whether you live on or off campus, and your vaccination status.

Regardless of vaccination status, everyone will be expected to be tested 1x/week for 2 weeks upon arrival. After the initial two-week period you will be expected to test as follows:

  • If vaccinated, you will need to test once per week.
  • If unvaccinated, you will need to test twice per week.

Test kits are available in the vestibule of Gund Hall, and tests can be dropped at a drop-bin at the Science Center. You should plan to pick up your first kit on your first day back on campus, and follow the instructions for activating the kit and self-administering the test that day, after you have it in hand. Faculty and affiliates returning to campus will be able to find their ongoing testing frequency requirements by logging into the internal COVID tracking platform, Crimson Clear. You will access and manage your test results through your personal COLOR account, a secure external medical testing platform Harvard has contracted.  Set up your COLOR account before you return and pick up your test kit. Once you have started using the testing program, all employees on campus will receive regular text and email notifications reminding you of your next testing day.

Are masks required for instructors while teaching?

GSD will require masks at all times indoors, including for instructors while teaching; please note that the exception for lecturing at a distance of 14’ or greater has been suspended across most Harvard schools while everyone adjusts to returning to the classroom.

For faculty in particular, we also want to make you aware of an additional mask option that may be helpful for teaching:

Finally, those faculty who have a student in one of their classes who requires accommodations for hearing, will be contacted by Kelly Wisnaskas from Student Affairs to ensure a clear face mask is provided to enable lip reading.

If you have questions, feel free to contact Tim Hoffman (

Will I be able to book rooms/spaces for discussion groups, pin-ups, etc?  Will I be able to reserve outdoor space for class meetings?

Room reservations can be made online via SERT starting September 1st. It has not yet been determined whether outdoor spaces will be able to be reserved.

Can I meet with the whole class at once in our scheduled room?

Yes. The university is currently not requiring social distancing because of the vaccination, testing and mask requirements. You don’t need to split your class into sections for the purposes of social distancing. Room occupancy fire safety limits, which are posted and also available in SERT, must be followed at all times.

Which classes will be in person during the first two weeks of the semester?

All courses will be held virtually for the first two weeks of the semester, through September 15. This is to prevent overcrowding in classrooms during the shopping period.  Exceptions to this requirement are all studios and several introductory pro-seminars, including the four MDes Domain pro-seminars, which will all meet in-person from the first day of classes. Second year MDes cohorts will have required weekly in-person meetings with their area heads as well. Please email with any questions regarding class scheduling.

Can I invite guest lecturers, critics, etc to my class?  How about for reviews?

Guests to GSD buildings must have an HUID in order to enter, including guest reviewers. Any non-Harvard guests need to participate in courses virtually. For reviews, in-person critics will need to be Harvard ID holders, and any external critics will need to participate on Zoom. We can hope that we’ll be able to change this policy for final reviews, but for now, faculty should plan on having all non HUID holders participate by zoom.

What measures are in place to facilitate the participation of MIT students in GSD courses? How will Harvard ensure these students are also compliant with the COVID protocols?

MIT is also requiring proof of vaccination. MIT students submitting a petition to cross-register will be prompted to attest that they are meeting certain vaccination and testing protocols. The exact details, including building access for cross-registered students, are still being worked out.

Is there particular guidance or policies for faculty with shared offices?

Many faculty will continue to share offices this fall, and should therefore keep the mask mandate in mind. Some faculty sharing an office may also choose to coordinate schedules with one another to allow for staggered use of shared offices.

Can students opt to attend a class via Zoom if they are not feeling well?

If a student informs you that they are ill, you should offer support as you would under any normal circumstances. If you are able to set up a computer so that they can participate via Zoom, you can offer this arrangement but it is not necessary. Students are not free to request a remote attendance option at will.

What will the structure of the Fall 2021 semester look like?

The proposal is to return to standard time blocks (3 hours per week in 1.5 segments). However, faculty can opt to retain successful strategies developed while teaching remotely, such as asynchronous instructional elements where appropriate to the pedagogy.

Courses will be scheduled between 8:30 AM and – 7 PM. Option studios will be in the afternoon two set days a week. Core studio and required course schedules will be finalized in consultation with Chairs, Program Directors, and associated faculty. Course scheduling details will be coordinated with Academic Administration.

Finally, and importantly, the school is developing contingency plans should fully in-person instruction become inadvisable. These plans may affect the structure of classes and building access. Faculty should plan for a potentially remote start of the semester to account for issues related to virus variants, vaccines, or visas.

If you have questions regarding your fall course(s) and teaching logistics please contact your department manager or email

I am an international faculty member or non-faculty academic employee (post doc, research associate, etc.). Will the GSD still help me arrange my visa?

Faculty Affairs will continue working individually with international faculty and researchers, and with Harvard International Office on visas.

I need to access a GSD building for my research or course preparation. What should I do?

Beginning on August 16, GSD buildings will become accessible to all GSD students, faculty, staff, and researchers without prior approval, provided that anyone planning to enter campus buildings is vaccinated and adheres to their ongoing Covid testing protocols.

What measures are in place to ensure a safe & healthy campus environment?

All staff, students and faculty will be required to follow Harvard guidelines for on-campus gatherings, in order to help ensure we are keeping our community safe. Specifically, these requirements include:

  • COVID-19 Vaccinations: As previously announced, the University is requiring that every person with an on-campus presence be vaccinated, with exemptions permitted only by submission of a formal request, for medical or religious reasons. If you have not done so, please verify your vaccination status as soon as possible using the HUHS secure portal, which you can find here. HUHS is beginning to directly notify individual faculty, students, and staff who are not compliant with reporting their vaccination status and after July 30 students who have not reported their vaccination status will be put on a registration hold, as they usually are each year for any non-compliance with University immunization requirements.
  • Face Masks: The current guidance from the University is that masks will be required for everyone indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Outdoors, unvaccinated individuals are still expected to wear masks if they cannot maintain distance from others. Vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks outdoors, but all community members are expected to have masks with them at all times, to ensure compliance with the indoor masking requirements across the GSD and University campuses. For more information, please see this page on the University website.
  • Physical Distancing: If you are vaccinated, you no longer need to maintain physical distance either indoors or outdoors. If you are not vaccinated, and space is available for you to distance from others, you should continue to do so.
  • Campus Visitors: GSD buildings will be accessible only to University ID holders. GSD Affiliates will have access from 5am to 2am, seven days per week, to Gund Hall, 485 Broadway, 7 Sumner, and 40 and 42 Kirkland (20 Sumner has its own schedule and generally closes overnight). Access for other Harvard affiliates will mirror open hours of the Loeb Library (which will open on August 23).

What about arriving from outside the US, and the vaccine requirement?

International students and scholars are encouraged to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, if it is available in your country. All vaccines authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO) will meet the University’s vaccine requirement. Harvard advises seeking whatever vaccine is available to you locally, so that you can be protected as soon as possible. The list of vaccines authorized by WHO is updated regularly.

If you are already vaccinated, you do not need to get any additional vaccines right now. If the vaccine you received is not authorized by WHO by the time you arrive, HUHS will offer you an FDA-authorized vaccine. If you are unable to access an FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine before the fall, the University will offer vaccination with an mRNA vaccine on arrival to all Harvard affiliates with a Harvard ID. Visit the University’s Vaccine Information webpage to learn more about planning your vaccine. We recommend pre-booking your appointment before your arrival so you have a clear plan in place. Guidelines and recommendations are continually updated based on research and this recommendation may change as we get closer to the start of the fall semester. It is important to stay updated by reading all communication coming from Harvard about the vaccine requirement, available at the HUHS page.

International faculty and scholars should also check the university’s comprehensive campus access for international students and scholars page for information and guidance regarding Covid testing for entry into the US and related information about returning to campus.

**If you have any questions about travel or visa documentation, please do not hesitate to contact the Faculty Affairs team. We are here to help!**

Will GSD offices be open with staff available in person?

At this time, we are happy to welcome a number of staff back to campus beginning this fall to support in person teaching and learning.  Over the last several months, members of the GSD’s Administrative Leadership Council (ALC) have worked with staff managers to determine which positions within their respective areas may need to be performed in-person, and which may best continue to be remote. All GSD offices will continue to operate full-time Monday through Friday, but some staff will continue to work remotely while others will return to campus or work a hybrid schedule.  Managers have completed re-entry plans for each of their departments. GSD staff will begin transitioning back to campus in a phased approach starting in late August.

What do I need to do before I return to campus?

The Faculty Affairs team is here to assist with questions related to your return to campus, and we will continue to update you regarding university policies and procedures as needed.  Please let Tim ( know if you have any questions.

This page will be updated as new information becomes available. Last updated September 1, 2021 9:10 am EDT.