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Harvard Dining Halls To Reopen With Socially Distanced Seating

After beginning the spring semester with only grab-and-go options, Harvard's dining halls will reopen on Tuesday with socially distanced seating.
After beginning the spring semester with only grab-and-go options, Harvard's dining halls will reopen on Tuesday with socially distanced seating. By Courtesy of Hashem Abdou '23-'24
By Audrey M. Apollon and Christine Mui, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard will reopen its undergraduate dining halls with socially distanced seating beginning on Tuesday, the Dean of Students Office announced Monday night.

“We are pleased to announce that starting at breakfast on Tuesday, February 1, we will begin to offer limited, socially distant dining in residential spaces,” Associate Dean of Students Lauren E. Brandt ’01 wrote in an email to undergraduates.

Harvard announced in mid-December that all campus dining halls would shift to exclusively grab-and-go dining to “reduce community transmission” before students left for winter break. The move came as Harvard faced its largest surge of Covid-19 cases during the fall semester.

All dining halls will continue providing takeaway containers and disposable utensils for students who choose to take their meals to go, per the email.

Brandt also outlined the guidelines students must follow when sitting in the dining halls to limit the spread of Covid-19. Seats are limited to those who are actively eating, and affiliates are encouraged to limit the time they spend in the dining hall to allow others a place to eat. Chairs will be set up to give six feet of space between each diner.

“If compliance with testing and masking remain high and case numbers are manageable, we hope to ease restrictions soon and shift to regular seating,” Brandt wrote.

In the last seven days, the University reported 291 Covid-19 cases and a positivity rate of 0.79 percent, according to its testing dashboard Monday. The number of positive cases is down from 451 the week before.

While the grab-and-go dining policy was in place for the first week of classes, some Quad students — who are often unable to return to their House in between classes — struggled with finding places to eat indoors. To accommodate Quad students, Harvard opened Ticknor Lounge, CGIS Cafe, and the William James basement as dining areas.

On Monday, many upperclassman dining halls, including Adams, Currier, and Kirkland House, began setting up tables and chairs for socially distanced dining. In Adams, four chairs have been placed at the far corners of each table to ensure that all seats are six feet apart. Currier House positioned a chair at either end of its tables.

Kirkland has arranged its dining hall to restrict seating to one chair per table. A standing sign reminds students not to reconfigure the seating and to wear a mask when not eating.

—Staff writer Audrey M. Apollon can be reached at audrey.apollon@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Christine Mui can be reached at christine.mui@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @MuiChristine.

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