General use face coverings are now optional in most indoor spaces on Harvard University premises. Limited exceptions apply.
We strongly encourage individuals to consult the CDC's COVID-19 community levels for the Cambridge and Boston campuses (Middlesex and Suffolk counties respectively) to help make a personal choice on mask usage.
Wearing a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk, is strongly encouraged in areas classified as "high". The CDC also recommends that if you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness that you wear a mask or respirator that provides you with greater protection, even when community risk is classified as "medium".
Any persons that begin exhibiting undiagnosed symptoms of COVID-19 must mask and be tested for COVID-19. Persons should continue to mask and limit contact with others while awaiting test results. See Viral Testing for more information on testing.
Harvard University community members are encouraged to have an acceptable face covering on their persons at all times for situations in which they may be required. At this time, we also strongly recommend voluntary masking indoors and in crowded settings outdoors. High-quality disposable masks, worn with no gaps at the edges, can protect both the wearer and those around them from COVID-19.
In situations when face coverings will continue to be required, it is important to continue to comply with face covering use guidelines.
'General use' applies to faculty, staff, students, or visitors who must wear a face covering in accordance with current Harvard University policy for source control on Harvard University's premises.
Face coverings provide source control and protect others from potentially infectious droplets that might be generated by the wearer. This is particularly important because people can spread the SARS-COV-2 virus without showing symptoms.
All persons are welcome to continue wearing a mask of any type for their own protection, or to protect someone else, if they choose to do so. Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or marginalized because they choose to wear a mask.
In limited situations when face coverings are required, anyone on campus not adhering to the University's face coverings policy may be asked to leave campus or be subject to administrative action.
Requirement to Wear Face Coverings
Face coverings continue to be required in the following settings:
- In HUHS and other healthcare facilities and other settings hosting vulnerable populations.
Individuals who are completing isolation or quarantine should continue to wear masks when indoors for the full 10 days following their positive test or close contact, according to existing University protocols.
Please note that schools and Central Administration Units may continue to require masking in certain settings, depending on their population, rates of infection, and other public health data.
In settings where face coverings continue to be required, individuals may remove their face covering while actively eating and drinking, unless otherwise prohibited within the space.
In certain settings, such as medical clinics and laboratories, additional PPE (e.g., N95 respirators) may be needed instead of general use face coverings.
Harvard University does not have a separate or differing mask policy for unvaccinated individuals. Harvard community and non-Harvard community members who are unvaccinated should be instructed to talk to their healthcare provider about whether they should wear a mask or respirator when indoors.
To protect the privacy of our community and visitors, vaccination status is often unknown and the decision to wear a mask in settings where it is not required is a personal one. The decision to mask should be informed by the prevalence of cases in the community, your vaccination status, and your age/medical history.
We strongly encourage indoor masking for persons with greater health risks or concerns. Masks continue to be highly effective in reducing risk of transmission regardless of vaccination status.