Coronavirus Information for the HMS Community

  • Campus Access

    Harvard Medical School is not inviting everyone back to campus at this time. The HMS campus is considered closed with the exception of those wet and dry lab personnel, essential staff, postdocs and students who are authorized and have received an exception to be in HMS campus buildings. All other HMS personnel will continue to work remotely through the end of June 2021. For those seeking episodic access to campus buildings, there is an established approval process starting with obtaining advance approval from your local department or unit designee.

    To keep Harvard as healthy as possible, all members of the HMS community who are authorized to be on campus must adhere to Harvard University, state and federal guidelines to prevent and control and spread of COVID-19. Click here to review the facilities, office and lab requirements and steps that must be followed before you return and while you are on campus.

    Among these important steps, lab personnel must complete the Lab COVID-19 Awareness Training (EHS-C19LAB170) and all other individuals must complete the COVID-19 Safety Awareness Training (EHS-C19OSG170) before they can return to campus. In addition, individuals must complete the Crimson Clear health attestation before entering any HMS or Harvard facility (see details below). Those who are authorized to be on campus more than four hours per week must also follow the Harvard testing policies and refer to the HMS guidelines outlined below.

    Additionally, those working and living in Vanderbilt Hall or other Harvard on-campus housing must also abide by all dorm and House residence requirements. Any visitors and residents entering Massachusetts must also comply with both the Massachusetts Travel Order and Harvard’s Post-Travel COVID Testing and Quarantine Policy. As these orders and policies are often updated, frequent review of these sites is advised.

    Please follow the guidelines and policies outlined below for returning to campus.

    Health Attestation (Crimson Clear)

    Individuals who are authorized to be in HMS buildings must use Crimson Clear every day they are on campus. Before arriving on campus each day, complete a symptom attestation through the Crimson Clear web page. If you are cleared, you will receive a “clear” pass, which is valid for 23 hours. If you are not cleared, a Harvard University Health Services clinician will call you during regular business hours to determine next steps before you can enter a Harvard facility. Those living in Vanderbilt Hall will not be barred from their residence.

    Crimson Clear can also be used to confirm that you are on the eligibility file for COVID-19 testing. Just follow these steps: 

    1. Log in to Crimson Clear 
    2. In the upper right corner, select your name and Profile
    3. The COVID Testing Information page will appear with your testing profile information

    Community Compact

    As members of the HMS community, each of us has a personal responsibility to support the health, safety and well-being of others in our community. To address the unique challenges of managing the COVID-19 pandemic and to foster an environment of trust, aligned with our mission and community values, we ask the following:

    • Recognize that access to campus is a privilege that requires advance approval, and access privileges may be revoked if the health and safety guidelines established by HMS and Harvard University are not followed.
    • Follow the established health and safety guidelines when coming to campus, including directives issued by national, state and local governments, as well as by HMS and Harvard University.
    • Understand that authorization to come to campus requires that you accept certain practices, like mask-wearing, that may run counter to your personal preferences.
    • Acknowledge that our behavior must set an example of respect for others, through honesty, integrity and accountability.

    Keeping Harvard Healthy

    Members of the HMS community are asked to reference these resources for reducing the risk and spread of COVID-19, as well as managing fear, anxiety and stress. Additionally, please adhere to room capacity signs posted inside campus buildings. Informal outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people, who must adhere to physical distancing guidelines of at least six feet apart. Face coverings are also required on campus, inside and outside.

  • Testing

    To keep Harvard healthy, the University has deployed high-frequency viral testing for those community members who are authorized to have a regular presence on campus. Per the Harvard testing policies, the frequency of testing varies—either ad hoc, one, two or three times per week—based on whether individuals live in Vanderbilt Hall, work in residential housing, work elsewhere on campus, or have a regular presence (four hours or more per week) on campus.

    All testing is being conducted through unobserved self-collection. Harvard has partnered with The Broad Institute and Color, a health testing company, to administer the University’s testing procedures, including providing testing kits, managing alerts for regular testing, and delivering test results to individuals.

    Review the important testing eligibility guidelines, frequencies and logistics below.

    Testing Eligibility

    In accordance with University testing policies, COVID-19 testing is available only to HMS students, postdocs and employees who are authorized by their HMS department or unit to be in campus buildings for four hours or more per week, and to students living in Vanderbilt Hall. At present, postdocs and employees who are employed by or have a primary academic appointment at a hospital or affiliated institution are ineligible for Harvard testing.

    The only current exception to this rule is hospital employees who have been cleared by HMS departments and are included on HMS wet lab Phase-2/Phase-2B ramp-up personnel lists and plans. In addition, master’s students and PhD students who are approved to work for more than four hours a week in a lab that is primarily affiliated with a Harvard hospital can now request to receive testing through Harvard. Medical students can request to receive testing through Harvard via this form. Please note that PhD students and HMS master’s students working in non-hospital labs at HMS or at FAS should continue to access testing through their PI and department’s normal process.

    Those who meet the eligibility requirements will be added to the testing eligibility lists. Testing eligibility data is managed by local department administrators or their designees through the Ramp-Up Lab Personnel (RULP) Database (for HMS wet and dry lab members on Phase-2/Phase-2B plans) or the HMS Campus Access Request (HCAR) Database (for other departments and units). Updated testing eligibility data is downloaded from RULP and HCAR on Tuesdays and Thursdays after 12 noon and sent to HUIT. Color receives the updated files on Wednesday and Friday mornings. Thus, individuals added to RULP on a Monday will not show up in the Color eligibility file until Wednesday morning after 8 a.m. 

    If you would like to confirm whether you are on the eligibility file for COVID-19 testing, follow these steps: 

    1. Log in to Crimson Clear 
    2. In the upper right corner, select your name and Profile
    3. The COVID Testing Information page will appear with your testing profile information

    Testing Frequency

    All members of our community who are authorized to live, work or learn on campus are required to test regularly. The frequency of testing varies—either ad hoc, one, two or three times per week—based on whether individuals live in Vanderbilt Hall, work in residential housing, work elsewhere on campus, or have a regular presence (four hours or more per week) on campus. If you have not already done so, please review the University’s testing requirements.

    Specific testing frequencies for HMS populations are outlined here:

    • Group A, 3 days per week: Those living in Vanderbilt Hall or other on-campus, congregate housing. Individuals select three days to test each week.
    • Group B, 2 days per week: Faculty/staff who live off-campus but work in Vanderbilt Hall or other on-campus residential buildings (dorms) or have high contact with students and students who are on Phase-2/Phase-2B plans who are on campus more than one day per week. Individuals select two non-consecutive days to test each week.
    • Group C, 1 day per week: Those authorized to be in HMS campus buildings regularly for four or more hours per week but do not live in Vanderbilt Hall or other on-campus housing. Individuals select a consistent day to test each week.
    • Group D, ad hoc: Those authorized to come to campus on an ad-hoc or episodic basis. This group also includes those who come to campus regularly for a period of time but then occasionally work remotely. Individuals decide which week(s) to test based on the duration of their on-site presence.
    • NA, not eligible: Those who are not/no longer eligible to be tested.  

    Please note that given the nature of HMS’ research and education, most members of the HMS community who are authorized to be on campus have been added to Group D. Those in Group D who are on campus for four or more hours per week may test weekly. HMS students who will be on campus more than one day a week can request two tests per week and pick them up on the same visit.

    Important reminder: This testing plan is subject to modification if the public health situation indicates changes in community risk.

    Color Account Set-up

    Those eligible for HMS testing must first create a Color account. This is a critical step as you cannot access a test kit until you have successfully activated your Color account. If you need assistance setting up your Color account, email If you believe you are authorized to be on campus but are denied access to create a Color account, please notify your department or unit administrator.

    During the account registration process, users choose their preferred email to be their login name and the address where they will receive notifications. That address can be a Harvard email address or a personal email address. The system sends a message to that email account, which the user must access in order to proceed with account creation. If that email address does not match any email address sent by Harvard to Color in the eligibility file, the user will be asked to provide their “organization” email address, which is their official Harvard email address. Users need to access their official Harvard email account once, to verify their identity, but all future interactions will be via the email address selected by the user. Those unsure of their official Harvard email address can check it here. If Color does not recognize your email address, refer to the HUIT Color End User Support FAQIf that does not help, contact HUIT at

    Test Kit Pick-up

    Test kits can be picked up at the HMS New Research Building on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. until noon and from 2 to 4 p.m., and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 10 a.m. Please use the 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur entrance and be ready to show the attendant your Harvard ID and the Color app displaying your eligibility. Important reminder: Test kits should be picked up on a day when you already plan to be on campus; do not come to campus for the sole purpose of picking up a test kit, with the exception of adhering to Harvard’s Post-Travel COVID Testing and Quarantine Policy.


    Each testing kit contains information on how to administer the self-test. A helpful self-paced training module is also available in the Harvard Training Portal. Please follow the steps detailed below. Important reminders: Self-swabbing in common spaces is strictly prohibited. Self-swabbing is permitted in restrooms.

    1. Plan to swab the day you will be dropping off your kit.
    2. Activate the tube with your Color account so they know it is yours.
    3. Wash your hands and find a clean place to test.
    4. Use only one tube for each test day.
    5. Be sure to obtain the sample correctly.
    6. Push the cap back onto the tube and make sure it is tightly secured.
    7. Completely seal the bag so your tube doesn’t fall out.

    Test Kit Drop-off

    Completed swabs should be dropped off at a collection point on the ground floor of the HMS New Research Building, located at 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur. You will need to enter a barcode in your Color account so that the test is associated with your account. You may drop off your sample at any time the NRB is open, but for faster turnaround of results it’s best to drop it off by 2 p.m.

  • Campus Status

    Under current guidelines in Phase 3 of Massachusetts’ reopening plan, higher education institutions may allow individuals to return to campus in line with strict protocols for certain activities.

    Academics: Fall 2020 courses are commencing remotely for entering classes of HMS medical, dental and graduate students. Given the uniqueness of these education programs, which run for 12 months and emphasize hands-on learning, in-person research and clinical experiences are continuing in fall 2020 for returning medical and graduate students in close adherence to institutional guidelines and public health developments. A limited number of students have been authorized to live in Vanderbilt Hall, adhering to the University’s Dorm and House Residence Requirements. All external education programs, courses, workshops and events also are being held remotely.  

    Public health guidelines continue to limit the capacity of HMS’ spaces, which therefore are being prioritized for activities that must happen in person such as wet lab research and clinical education. Given this, for spring 2021 (January through June), MD, DMD and dental advanced graduate education programs will follow a hybrid model, with didactic material taught and learned via Zoom, while physical exams, clinical skills, hands-on laboratory exercises and research in labs, and certain other course content will be conducted in person. All master’s degree and PhD classes will continue to be offered online only, with the exception of lab, clinical research and other integral components which may take place in person. External education programs, courses, workshops and events will continue remotely.

    Research: Research activities have resumed in wet labs on campus following HMS, University and state guidelines. For more information, please refer to the following: Important HMS Lab Reopening Information, HMS Lab Reopening Phase-2 Checklist and HMS COVID-19 Advisory Team. Please also see these University guidelines and policies: Lab & Office RequirementsReturn-to-Campus Work Guidelines for Researchers and University workplace policies.

    Workforce: Most Harvard faculty, other academic personnel and staff will continue to work remotely through at least the end of the 2020, unless directed otherwise by local leadership and managers. Individuals authorized to work on campus by their manager should review Office & Lab Requirements and the updated University workplace policies.

  • Flu Vaccination Clinics

    Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever to protect yourself and the people around you from flu, and to help reduce the strain on health care systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    • If you were unable to participate in the flu clinics held on Harvard campuses this fall, please remember that flu vaccination clinics are widely available at local pharmacies, doctor’s office or health department.
    • Immunization for the flu by Dec. 31, 2020, is required in Massachusetts for all individuals who are enrolled in colleges and universities within the state. For more information about the flu vaccine requirement in Massachusetts, please visit the website.
  • Harvard University Coronavirus Website

  • Managing Stress and Anxiety

    • Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Here are some available resources:
      • Watch the HMS Coping with Coronavirus web series for help dealing with daily stress, anxiety, and a range of other emotions
      • The Ombuds Office serving HMS, HSDM and Harvard Chan School is available to support faculty, staff, students, trainees and affiliate institution appointees with any issue impacting work or studies, including concerns surrounding COVID-19. Ombuds Melissa Brodrick and Justin Neiman are available for Zoom, phone and Skype appointments. Call 617-432-4041 or email Robin Cheung
      • Review the Harvard University Health Services guide to help manage fear and anxiety.
      • Participate in webinars and remote workshops offered by the Harvard Longwood Campus.
      • Access the free Coronavirus Sanity Guide, including meditations, podcasts, blog posts and talks offered by Ten Percent Happier.
      • Contact the Employee Assistance Program to speak with a mental health professional.
  • Dining Services

    Elements Café is open Monday-Friday, 11:15 a.m.-6 p.m., for deli, grill and daily specials along with grab-and-go snacks, salads, fresh fruit, drinks, coffee and more.  

    Courtyard Cafe is open Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m., for deli, daily specials, grab-and-go snacks, salads, drinks, fresh fruit, coffee and more.  

    Elements and Courtyard Cafés are seating one guest per table per HMS Guidelines.

  • Additional disease-related resources