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Harvard Lowers Undergrad Testing Frequency Following Decrease in Covid Cases

In an email on Tuesday afternoon, Harvard College announced the testing cadence for vaccinated students will shift to twice a week.
In an email on Tuesday afternoon, Harvard College announced the testing cadence for vaccinated students will shift to twice a week. By Pei Chao Zhuo
By Claire H. Guo, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard decreased the testing cadence for vaccinated affiliates in undergraduate housing on Monday in response to a decrease in positive Covid-19 tests among undergraduate students.

Harvard had upped the testing requirements for College housing affiliates at the start of the fall semester because of an increase in cases. At the time, Dean of Students Katherine O’Dair deemed the rise in cases “a turning point.”

Since then, the number of positive cases among undergraduates has steadily declined. Over the last seven days, the University detected two positive cases in undergraduates, in contrast to 71 cases during the week of Aug. 26, according to the University’s Covid-19 Dashboard.

In an email to College students sent Monday afternoon, O’Dair and Executive Director of Harvard University Health Services Giang T. Nguyen announced that undergraduate residential affiliates now only need to test twice per week instead of three times per week due to the decline in cases.

“Thanks to your commitment to behaviors that help us lower the risk of transmission, the rate of positive COVID-19 cases in our undergraduate population declined and has remained low,” they wrote.

Students and staff residing in undergraduate housing who are unvaccinated still must continue to test three times per week.

O’Dair and Nguyen also told affiliates in their email that testing cadences are subject to vary as public health conditions on campus continue to change.

“We will continue to adjust testing cadences as needed, including if we see positive cases rise,” they wrote. “We will also revisit testing cadence at key times, such as during the return from Thanksgiving break, when we know the risk may be higher due to many travelers arriving back to campus.”

They urged students to continue following Covid-19 protocols, including wearing masks and staying in one’s suite when experiencing symptoms.

“While our testing cadence is changing given current circumstances, it is contingent upon our continued commitment to behaviors that reduce transmission and contribute to the health and safety for our community,” O’Dair and Nguyen wrote.

Harvard Business School also returned to in-person classes on Monday after shifting some courses online for a week in response to a Covid outbreak the school attributed to off-campus social gatherings.

The school decided to move classes online for all first-year and some second-year MBA students last week after counting 121 cases among MBA students since July 1, with close to 60 students in isolation that day, per an email that several HBS administrators wrote to all MBA students.

During the month of September, HBS students, who make up around nine percent of the student body, accounted for over two-thirds of total student cases, the administrators’ emailed statement noted.

After a brief period of online classes, on Monday HBS students returned in person to their classrooms.

—Staff writer Claire H. Guo can be reached at claire.guo@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @clairehguo.

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