Information, guidelines and policies for researchers at HMS

Updated 4.20.20

Campus Services and Facilities: The HMS campus remains open despite the move to remote work and learning by faculty, staff and students. We are very grateful to our dedicated staff who continue to report to campus every day to support campus functions.

  • Building access: Effective March 18, only pre-approved essential personnel will be able to access HMS campus buildings. Please refer to the email communication sent to the HMS community on March 18 for entry points for essential personnel, security protocol and contacts for more information. 
  • Dining services: Aliquots and the Atrium Café are now closed. Courtyard Café and Elements are open from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m., featuring grab-and-go hot and cold breakfast and lunch items and snacks and beverages. In accordance with new state and Boston mandates, meals must be taken out and cannot be eaten in the cafes.
  • Parking for essential personnel: Garage access will be limited beginning Wednesday, March 18 for approved essential personnel.
  • Countway Library: On-site library operations are now closed, and access to Countway will be restricted to essential personnel and building tenants. Select library services will be available remotely. Please use the Ask Countway form if you have questions. And click here to access a collection ofCOVID-19 information and research.
  • Shuttering of Research Labs: Dean George Q. Daley has announced that HMS will completely shut down research labs and core facilities, with virtually no personnel entering after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18. The closure is expected to last for six to eight weeks. Access will be approved for only the most critical needs and for a small number of individuals whose research focuses on the immediate priorities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Animal care: All research animals are being cared for by our dedicated Harvard Center for Comparative Medicine staff, as well as by personnel from our science departments, to help ensure the continuity of critical HMS research.
  • Sponsored Research: HMS remains aligned with the University’s sponsored research guidance related to COVID-19. See the links below to FAQs, agency notices and communications and related university policies. Contact Rita Bergemann or Rachel Cahoon in the HMS Office of Research Administration with any questions.


  • Is there guidance for general cleaning of laboratory spaces following the removal of any chemical residue?

    Refer to Harvard Environmental Health & Safety guidance on laboratory “ramp down”. 

    Typical biological disinfectants used in laboratories such as Oxivir 1, Oxivir TB ready to use solutions, 70% ethanol, 70% isopropanol, or 10% household bleach solution will be effective against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID 19) for the purpose of disinfection.  

    CAUTION: DO NOT MIX any chemicals or disinfectant products – mixed, these could be hazardous to your health  

    Review the appropriate MSDS with personnel before commencing any product use. 

    Questions should be directed to Harvard Environmental Health & Safety personnel. 

    1. Wear standard PPE 
    2. Wash hands – warm water & soap 
    3. Put on clean disposable nitrile or latex gloves 
    4. Monitor gloves for wear and holes/tears – replace as necessary 
    5. Utilize disinfectants commonly found in laboratories (see list above).  If those disinfectants become depleted, the following links provide approved alternatives:

    1. Apply cleaning solution to the cleaning cloth or paper towel – Do not spray directly to the surface 
    2. Clean the surface and leave wet (disinfectant dwell time on the surface is important, rule of thumb - 5 minutes minimum).  Some corrosive disinfectants (such as bleach) may need to be wiped off with water after dwell time is complete if applied to sensitive surfaces (e.g. stainless steel). 
    3. If hands become wet, remove the gloves, wash your hand thoroughly and replace gloves 
    4. When all surfaces have been cleaned, remove PPE, remove gloves, wash hands – warm water & soap 


  • What options are available for remote meeting/conferencing services?

    • You can connect with your colleagues directly using our conferencing services. We recommend Zoom, but we also support WebEx. You can use whichever tool you are most comfortable with.
    • Click here to start using Zoom.
    • Click here to start using WebEx.
    • To get the best connection, make sure that you have high-speed internet access and that other people on your local network are not using a lot of bandwidth. If you are using a VPN, turning it off will also improve performance.
    • Click here for HMS-specific information about working remotely, including information about getting started, connecting with others, accessing files and applications, and additional resources. 
  • If I have a role at an HMS-affiliated hospital that has stricter policies/guidelines than HMS, whose guidelines should I follow?

    If your affiliated hospital has stricter policies/guidelines for travel, meetings, events, etc., please follow those specific policies/guidelines.

  • What protocols should essential employees follow?

    The week of March 16 we worked with HMS departments, offices and units to compile a list of essential personnel. We also reviewed petitions from lab PIs and research core directors and approved lab access for a small number of projects. Thankfully, these existing lists of approved personnel do not need to change.
    To ensure unimpeded access to campus, these essential HMS personnel will receive an official exemption letter that can be shown to local, state and government officials upon request. Our human resources team will be sending these exemption letters to department administrative leaders to distribute this week.  
    If you have been identified as essential personnel and need to work on campus, please continue to follow the enhanced Harvard workplace policies, updated March 22, regarding sick time and dependent care.
    If you have any questions about this protocol, please contact your manager or HR representative. I also encourage you to continue to visit the University coronavirus webpage and the HMS coronavirus preparedness webpage, which include helpful FAQs and the latest information and links to resources. These pages are being updated regularly.