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Harvard Discourages All Non-Essential International Travel For Spring Break

Giang T. Nguyen is the director of Harvard University Health Services.
Giang T. Nguyen is the director of Harvard University Health Services. By Shera S. Avi-Yonah
By Fiona K. Brennan, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: March 4, 9:20 p.m.

Harvard administrators discouraged all non-essential international travel for spring break and prohibited University travel to countries with a Level 3 Travel Warning from the Centers for Disease Control in the wake of increased global concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in an email to Harvard affiliates Wednesday.

The email from University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76, Executive Vice President Katie N. Lapp, and Harvard University Health Services Director Giang T. Nguyen comes just over a week before students and faculty depart for spring break.

The three administrators restated University-related travel restrictions to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea — where a Level 3 Travel Warning from the CDC is currently in place — adding that they “strongly discourage” personal travel to those areas.

The email said that anyone who comes to Harvard from those areas, including visitors, must submit a health form to HUHS and self-isolate for a likely minimum of 14 days.

In cautioning against non-essential international travel, administrators warned of the possibility of possible future travel restrictions and the possibility of complications upon return to Harvard.

“You will be subject to any restrictions in place at the time of your return, not only at the time of departure,” they wrote. “Return to the U.S. may be difficult, and after your arrival you may be required to stay away from campus.”

At a Tuesday meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Nguyen and FAS Dean Claudine Gay warned professors they should begin preparing for a variety of disruptions to teaching and research. Gay recommended that the faculty learn to use Zoom, a remote teaching platform.

The Wednesday email also advised Harvard affiliates planning to travel within the country to use “caution and judgment” in their planning and regularly check for new information regarding the outbreak, directing them toward the University’s new coronavirus website.

University officials continue to meet consistently to update contingency plans and will continue to update Harvard affiliates through emails and the website, Lapp, Garber, and Nguyen wrote.

In an additional Wednesday email, Registrar of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael P. Burke — who is also the co-director of the Harvard College Emergency Management team — said he will provide biweekly emailed updates on coronavirus. He also said the College plans to keep four dining halls open during Spring Break to accommodate students who choose to stay on campus.

“The updates will include everything from new guidelines regarding travel; hygiene and safety tips; academic impacts; the status of major events, and other important notices,” Burke wrote. “You can expect to be hearing from me every Monday and Thursday beginning next week.”

—Staff writer Fiona K. Brennan can be reached at fiona.brennan@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @FionaBrennan23.

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