Coronavirus Response

coronavirus cells

Harvard University and Harvard School of Dental Medicine are closely monitoring the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. As the situation continues to change rapidly, the top priority remains the health, safety, and well-being of our community, on and off campus. The University, the School, and the Harvard Dental Center remain open and operational and are taking appropriate measures to protect the health of the community. 

We are planning for several contingency scenarios and taking decisive, informed action to limit the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring the continuity of our teaching and research mission. These efforts involve moving to virtual learning, ramping down our research labs, and encouraging our workforce to work remotely, among other efforts. We will continue to update the community regularly to keep you informed of additional measures.  

Harvard University guidance and policies

Please refer to the University's policies and guidelines found on Harvard University coronavirus webpage. This web page includes important guidance for remote courses, travel policies, campus restrictions and visiting or returning to campus.

Harvard Dental Center

Starting Monday, March 23, the Harvard Dental Center will be triaging all emergency consultations through tele-dentistry. Emergency calls will be directed to an on-call doctor that will help patients via teleconference communication.  All elective appointments will be rescheduled until further notice. Patients will be notified by an HDC staff member of appointment changes. Patients with questions regarding upcoming appointments may also call (617) 432-1434, contact the HDC by email, or use the online appointment form to request or cancel appointments as needed. ​​​

Harvard School of Dental Medicine community guidance

Coronavirus Workplace Policies

As of March 16, HSDM implimented a remote work policy for staff and faculty. See the Harvard HR website for policies related to sick time, and guidance for managers. 

Working Remotely: IT Tools and Resources

All members of the HSDM community are encouraged to use the technology and resources the University has to support working remotely. Check our HSDM IT Work Remotely site to ensure you have the necessary tools at your disposal. 

Business and Personal Travel

Travel increases your risk of exposure to the coronavirus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a global level 3 warning – "Avoid Nonessential Travel," and continues to discourage domestic travel. Additionally, the United States has placed entry restrictions on individuals arriving from China, Brazil, Iran, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. Governments worldwide have issued similar warnings and entry restrictions, which can change without advance notice.

Review the current international and domestic travel restrictions and resources below. We will continue to monitor the public health situation and government travel advisories, and adjust our guidance accordingly.

All University-related travel, both international and domestic, is prohibited until further notice and should not be planned or scheduled at this time. This applies to all community members—students, faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and other academics. We encourage you to explore creative options for alternative study, research, work, and collaboration. We also strongly discourage personal travel, both international and domestic.

Precautions If You Must Travel
If you must travel, make sure you are aware of and adhere to restrictions for your destination and place of return. Within the United States, check the state and territorial health department websites for the latest information. Per Massachusetts law, anyone arriving or returning to the Commonwealth from elsewhere must quarantine for 14 days.

During travel, take the appropriate precautions to protect yourself and others:

Wash your hands often with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Remain at least six feet from others.

Wear a cloth face covering.

If you develop symptoms during or after travel, notify your Primary Care Provider.

Harvard-organized and Harvard-funded international travel for all students that is scheduled to start and end between now and August 31 is prohibited. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. State Department have issued global level 3 and level 4 advisories: “Avoid Nonessential Travel” and “Do Not Travel,” respectively. It is unclear when those restrictions will be lifted. We know that many of our students rely on summer travel to further their education, fulfill academic requirements, and explore new work environments. This decision is difficult and disappointing, but we urge students to contact their individual Schools, centers, and programs to explore creative options for alternative summer study, research, and work. This guidance is intended for summer programs only NOT degree programs that begin in the summer, such as AGE and DMD programsFor more information, see the memo from the Vice Provost for International Affairs.

HMS-HSDM-HSPH Ombuds Office

The HMS-HSDM-HSPH Ombuds Office provides highly confidential, impartial, and independent services to faculty, staff, students, trainees and affiliate institution appointees to help identify issues, goals, and potential options available to help manage or resolve concerns. ANY issue may be brought to the Ombuds Office, including those related to COVID-19. Find more information on HMS-HSDM-HSPH Ombuds Office resources here.

Frequently Asked Questions


When will students be allowed to return to campus?

Entering first-year DMD students (Class of 2024): Start virtually in August; begin on-campus courses on January 4, 2021
Rising second-year DMD students (Class of 2023): Start virtually in September; begin on-campus courses at HSDM on January 4, 2021

Third-year, fourth-year, and AGE students in clinical programsWe have received approval from the University to re-open the School for preclinical and limited clinical education beginning Monday, July 6th. Didactic coursework will continue be held online through December 2020. 

Preclinical Education:
Initially, incoming AGE and rising Year 3 DMD students will be divided into small groups in order to observe social distancing within the preclinical lab space, and sessions will be conducted each morning, Monday thru Friday, and repeated each afternoon to allow everyone to participate. The specifics of these plans will be communicated to you by the Office of Dental Education or your AGE program director in the upcoming weeks.

Clinical Education: 
A taskforce, comprised of HSDM faculty, HDC staff, and Harvard University EH&S staff has developed a phased plan for clinical care in the Harvard Dental Center (HDC). Phase I, which is currently in progress, allows for expanded emergency care by faculty and allows faculty and staff to triage and become accustomed to new protocols developed to ensure safe patient/provider interactions. Phase II will focus on returning AGE and DMD students to the patient care environment. Phase III will focus on safely increasing the operational capacity of the HDC and continue to monitor and adjust protocols as deemed necessary. The rate at which capacity can be increased is being determined by the state of Massachusetts.

A detailed safety plan has been developed and will necessitate all students, faculty and staff that work in the HDC to undergo an in-depth orientation covering these updated protocols. These orientations will begin starting in July. The Office of Dental Education in conjunction with the Harvard Dental Center will communicate the specifics of this plan in the upcoming weeks.


How long will classes be held virtually?

Virtual learning will take place through the Fall semester.

Instructions for DMD Students

First-year DMD students: Start virtually in August; begin on-campus courses on January 4, 2021.

Second-year DMD students: Start virtually in September; begin on-campus courses at HSDM on January 4, 2021.

Third-year and fourth-year DMD students: We have received approval from the University to re-open the School for preclinical and limited clinical education beginning Monday, July 6th. Didactic coursework will continue be held online through December 2020. 


Instructions for AGE Students

We have received approval from the University to re-open the School for preclinical and limited clinical education beginning Monday, July 6th. Didactic coursework will continue be held online through December 2020. 

Hospital-based programs: Please defer to the guidance of your hospital and program director.

How will Commencement be impacted by the spread of COVID-19?

On March 20, 2020, the University announced it would be necessary to postpone the in-person May 28 commencement exercises.

View Commencement and Class Day coverage of the Class of 2020 here.

International Students

Will online classes affect international students’ I-20/visas?

The U.S. government recognizes there are extenuating circumstances because these classes were not intended to be online. The Harvard International Office (HIO) received guidance from the government that they intend to be flexible with temporary adaptations to classes. Provided international students can continue to make normal progress in a full course of study as required by federal regulations, students’ legal immigration status are not in jeopardy. International students and scholars should contact their HIO advisor with any questions or concerns.

What should I do to prepare to travel home?

International students who have decided to travel home or to another location should refer to the HIO website travel page for information about the proper documents you will need for your return to the United States. Before you leave, make sure you have a valid travel signature. Contact your HIO advisor with additional questions or concerns.

Instead of traveling back to my home country may I go elsewhere?

Yes, as long as you maintain your student visa status while taking your full-time on-line classes, you can go somewhere else in the U.S. You must provide the address where you are residing using the HIO change of address form.

What if I can’t leave campus or go home?

We realize that leaving campus on short notice will be difficult and challenging, and there will be extenuating circumstances for some international students. Examples include, but are not limited to, if your home is in a location with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention level 3 warning for COVID-19 or in a country subject to the federal government’s travel ban. Harvard will provide you the help you need to stay safe, secure, and continue with your academic work. If you cannot leave campus or go home, you should consult with your resident dean or the office in charge of your housing as soon as possible to discuss potential delays, waivers, and accommodations. Any students who need to remain on campus for extenuating circumstances will receive their instruction online and must prepare for severely limited on-campus activities and interactions. Rest assured that we are actively contingency planning to support your academic continuity and well-being should Harvard need to reduce its on-campus workforce. We encourage you to reach out to Carrie Sylven, Director of Student Affairs, for more information.

Visa Processing

The University is closely monitoring the worldwide suspension of routine visa processing at U.S. consular locations and advising international students and scholars accordingly. We anticipate that many newly admitted and returning international students and scholars will face delays in obtaining or renewing visas. The Harvard International Office (HIO) continues to issue the necessary University documentation for F-1, J-1, and other visa applications, so that when consular processing resumes, students and scholars will have the forms they need to schedule visa appointments. Visit the HIO COVID-19 webpage for the latest immigration updates and advice.


Harvard Dental Center Patient Care

Is Harvard Dental Center open?

Beginning Monday, March 23, the Harvard Dental Center will no longer be open for in-person appointments, but will be triaging all emergency consultations through tele-dentistry. Emergency calls will be directed to an on-call doctor that will help patients via teleconference communication.  All elective appointments will be rescheduled until further notice. 

What is considered emergency care?

Emergency care is reserved for existing patients at the Harvard Dental Center and will be limited to pain or infection. 

How do I know if my appointment has been canceled?

Patients will be notified by an HDC staff member of appointment changes. Patients with questions regarding upcoming appointments may also call (617) 432-1434, contact the HDC by email, or use the online appointment form to request or cancel appointments as needed.

If a patient needs immediate care, what should they do?

Patients who need emergency care should call (617) 432-1434.

Health and Wellness

What should I do if I feel symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. If you have these symptoms and traveled to any location with a CDC Level 3 warning for COVID-19, you must complete this confidential health form and self-isolate using guidance from Harvard University Health Services (HUHS). In addition, if you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who recently traveled to a CDC Level 3 location, it is important to seek advice from a health care provider.

Anyone with flu-like symptoms should call their Primary Care Provider or HUHS at 617-495-5711 (24/7) for advice. Your Primary Care Provider or HUHS will help you determine whether to get assessment or treatment.

Should I self-isolate?

Review HUHS' guide to determine whether you should self-isolate.  Then contact your Primary Care Provider or email HUHS,, for additional guidance. Medical professionals are best equipped to offer advice based on factors such as how direct or indirect an individual’s contact with coronavirus was, recent travel history, an individual’s personal health history, and any symptoms that person may be experiencing.

Who should I notify?


For employees who do not receive their care at HUHS: If you’re being tested for COVID-19, or if you’ve received a positive test result for COVID-19, please immediately notify HUHS at We appreciate your help in protecting our entire community. 

If you're concerned about potential exposure to individuals who have been tested or tested positive: Contact investigation and notification is overseen by the local Department of Public Health. Any persons who have had close contact with those individuals in question have been notified by the Department of Public Health in accordance with standard public health principles. If you have not been notified, then you are not deemed to have an increased risk because of exposure to these individuals.


How do I cope with feelings of anxiety?

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. The Harvard University Health Services guide provides helpful resources to manage fear and anxiety.

Students who are feeling overwhelmed or are in need of support, should contact Counseling and Mental Health Services at 617-495-2042 or 617-495-5711 (urgent care).

How can I protect myself and others?

  • Practice universal social distancing measures, including maintaining a six-foot distance from others, respectively staying away from sick people, limiting your movements, and avoiding public spaces and large, crowded gatherings. Universal social distancing is critical to protecting everyone.

  • Promote good, basic hygiene, including washing your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; coughing/sneezing into a tissue or your sleeve; avoiding close contact with those who are sick; and staying home when you are sick.  Know when and how to wash your hands and use sanitizer.

  • Take steps to lower your risk at meetings and events, including holding video- or teleconference meetings, modifying in-person interactions, and maintaining a 6-foot distance.

Health and Wellness Resources

The health of our community is our top priority. We realize the extraordinary social distancing measures and the ongoing uncertainty of COVID-19 are incredibly challenging. Find a list of University resources to help maintain health and wellness here.