Harvard Kennedy School introduced new Covid-19 safety measures, including restrictions on in-person dining and gatherings, following an uptick in student cases last week.
The school reported 15 new cases among students over the past week, HKS Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf wrote in an email to affiliates Friday.
While the new cases represent a small percentage of students at the Kennedy School, Elmendorf noted that the figure was “more than in all previous weeks of the semester combined and notably high relative to other Harvard schools this week.”
Of the 29 total Covid-19 cases reported among graduate students over the past week, HKS students accounted for more than half of recorded cases.
In response, Elmendorf outlined new Covid-19 protocols aimed at limiting the possibility of transmission from eating or gathering indoors. Students may only eat in approved areas while sitting alone and keeping their masks on except while actively eating.
“We do not know of any transmission so far in our dining areas, but with more people now having the infection, we want to reduce the risk of transmission,” Elmendorf wrote. “If conditions worsen, we may stop indoor dining altogether and look at other ways to contain risk.”
He also instructed affiliates to “not participate in indoor group activities with other students unmasked at any time” and to refrain from coming to campus if they feel unwell.
Elmendorf noted that contact tracing found no signs of transmission in the classroom, but rather “in two large, off-campus parties where masks were not worn.”
“If infections continue to rise, we may lose our chance to learn and work together in person,” Elmendorf wrote.
On Monday, Elmendorf announced that the testing cadence will also increase from once to twice per week for vaccinated students and from two times to three times per week for unvaccinated students.
The Kennedy School is not the only graduate school that has weathered a rise in Covid cases. Last month, Harvard Business School shifted some classes online for a week due to a spike in cases among MBA students.
Deepanshu Aggarwal, a student at HKS, called the new measures “needed” and “responsible.”
“I know multiple student organizations and groups who have cancelled their plans for the upcoming days,” Aggarwal said. “Students are receiving it in a very responsible way.”
Elmendorf called on students to protect themselves and those around them.
“As a community committed to serving the public good, protecting the health of our friends and families (as well as our own health) should be at the front of our minds,” Elmendorf wrote.
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