Harvard University will be open for fall 2020, though in a form necessarily adapted to the new realities of education during a global pandemic. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) is eager to reclaim the Harvard experience and return to campus-based operations as soon as possible. The vulnerabilities exposed by this pandemic, however, will shape how we pursue our research and teaching mission next year and, most likely, for many years to come.
Already we are developing approaches for restarting our research program for faculty and graduate students, including accessing campus-based research facilities, that reflect our new understanding of what is required to protect the health and safety of our community.
Our most daunting challenge will be how and when to stage the return of undergraduates to their residential Houses. We will not bring students back until we can do so safely, in a manner that protects individuals and our broader community from undue risks associated with Covid-19. In order to fulfill our teaching mission and ensure that students continue to make progress in their education, we must actively plan for a wide range of alternatives for the coming academic year.
Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS Claudine Gay has asked Science Dean Chris Stubbs and FAS Registrar Mike Burke to spearhead planning for the fall. They have appointed 11 working groups that are examining a range of issues related to fall 2020, including the curriculum, scheduling, facilities modifications, and testing and contact tracing. The leaders of each working group comprise an executive committee, who will share a report with Dean Gay at the end of June. We expect to reach a decision about fall 2020 no later than July.