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Getting Counted: The Harvard Community, COVID-19, and the 2020 Census

As Harvard has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic many things have changed on campus, but how the Harvard community should respond to the census has not

Harvard Ash Center
Mar 25 · 4 min read

Distance Learning and Remote Work

As new information around the coronavirus emerged in early March, universities like Harvard grappled with questions around how to best protect students, staff, and faculty from the outbreak. On March 10th, Harvard University President Bacow announced classes would meet online and asked college students not to return to campus after spring break. In an effort to increase social distancing, these orders to vacate undergraduate on-campus housing prompted many students to return home or find other living arrangements off-campus. Shortly after, staff, and faculty were instructed to work from home and move their operations online. While many Harvard community members will weather the pandemic from a location different from where they typically reside during the school year, Harvard is still their home and the census should reflect that.

Be Counted: Students Living on Campus

Students living in school-owned housing will be counted by school administrators as part of the Group Quarters Operation. The Group Quarters Operations requires the owners or management of group housing to submit the census response on behalf of its tenants. College-owned dwellings such as dorms, Greek houses, and apartments are counted by their schools. Resident requirements from the Census Bureau mandate individuals to be counted in places where they live and sleep most of the time.

Be Counted: Students and Other Harvard Community Members Living Off-Campus

As Harvard University and other institutions of higher education move to distance learning, many students and community members living off-campus in Cambridge might have moved home or to another location during the COVID-19 pandemic. This also includes staff, fellows, and faculty. It is critical that these individuals respond to the census using their regular address, where they resided before the pandemic. Individuals can respond to the census online, by phone, or by mail.

Help Others Be Counted

As the Census Bureau continues to adjust plans around COVID-19, they urge the timely completion of the census to eliminate the need for follow-up by census takers. Once we are counted, it is incumbent on all of us to help educate our community on the importance of the census and ways to complete it, particularly online.


About the Author: Teresa Acuña

COVID-19 Public Sector Resources

A resource center, curated by the Ash Center at Harvard Kennedy School, for public sector practitioners to highlight cases, teaching, policy solutions, and other examples of how governments are responding to the outbreak

Harvard Ash Center

Written by

A global research center housed at Harvard focused on making the world a better place by advancing excellence and innovation in governance and public policy.

COVID-19 Public Sector Resources

A resource center, curated by the Ash Center at Harvard Kennedy School, for public sector practitioners to highlight cases, teaching, policy solutions, and other examples of how governments are responding to the outbreak

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