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Kennedy School Plans to Reopen in Late Summer

Harvard Kennedy School anticipates reopening its campus in late summer.
Harvard Kennedy School anticipates reopening its campus in late summer. By Santiago A. Saldivar
By Isabel G. Skomro, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard Kennedy School anticipates reopening its campus in late summer, Dean Doug W. Elmendorf ’85 announced in an email to students, staff, and faculty Thursday.

Elmendorf wrote in the message that the school’s early summer programming will remain virtual, but the Kennedy School intends to hold some in-person gatherings for their mid-career program and incoming students in August.

“For the summer, mid-career summer program from early July to early August will be online, and we will plan for portions of the Mason fall launch to occur in person in the second half of August,” Elmendorf wrote.

“We will also plan for opportunities later in August for members of the mid-career class to gather in person for community-building activities and for incoming students in our other programs to engage in some orientation and pre-orientation activities on campus,” he added.

Though the school plans for almost all of its fall programs to take place in person, Elmendorf wrote that these plans are likely, but not certain.

“Our plans to be on campus are conditional on the leaders of Massachusetts and Harvard concluding that vaccinations, masking, testing, good ventilation, and other protocols are sufficient to protect health so that distancing protocols can be relaxed enough that we can achieve something close to our normal density.”

He noted that, if it is not safe to return to classes in-person, the Kennedy School will pursue online learning options.

“If, instead, we need to continue to adhere to much lower density, then we will need to limit our in-person activities,” he wrote. “For classes, that may require teaching and learning in a simultaneous-hybrid model; for other activities, that may require continued use of online methods.”

In a separate congratulatory letter sent to accepted master’s degree candidates, the school said students should be prepared for in-person instruction in Cambridge.

“We are planning for in-person classes, although we are also developing backup plans in case health protocols set by Massachusetts and Harvard University this Fall limit the allowable density on campus,” the letter reads.

Elmendorf said in the Thursday announcement that the school will expand remote work options for staff as it prepares to reopen in the fall.

“We understand that the return to campus will be complicated for some faculty, staff, and fellows—and more concerning and difficult for some than for others,” he wrote.

Elmendorf wrote that the Kennedy School will work to provide as “much advance notice as possible” about the reopening process.

“We will accommodate individual needs as much as we can while ensuring that we meet our collective responsibilities,” he added.

—Staff writer Isabel G. Skomro can be reached at or on Twitter @isabelskomro

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