August 28, 2021

Dear students,

As you settle in for the semester, I know that many of you have questions about policies and guidelines prompted by the pandemic. Good places to look for information are the university's COVID-19 site, Environmental Health and Safety’s site, and Yale College’s FAQ page. You should also expect to receive regular information and updates, many from me, but to get you started, here is a short guide for questions that will come up right away.

With best wishes for move-in and the opening days,

Melanie Boyd
Dean of Student Affairs
Senior Associate Dean, Yale College
she | her | hers


In general, gathering sizes are limited to 20 people indoors, and 50 outdoors, both on and off campus, and should not be crowded, whatever the size. Think about ventilation, what you know about the group’s vaccination status, and the kinds of interactions at the gathering. Use common sense. Some official gatherings – classes are a good example – will exceed these numbers, and that is because of careful planning and evaluation that social settings around or off campus might lack.

Information about requesting approval for events that exceed these limitations is available on the COVID-19 Information website.

You can find more information about gatherings in residential colleges on the Environmental Health & Safety website and in general on the Events, Gatherings & Meetings page of the COVID-19 Information website.


Masks are required indoors, with a few exceptions.

  • In the dining hall, wear a mask except for when you are eating and drinking, and replace it when you are done. Limit the size of your groups, minimize the amount of time you are unmasked, and consider eating outdoors when you can.
  • In your suite with your suitemates, you do not need to wear a mask. If other students are visiting in your common room, wear a mask.
  • If you are in a segregated indoor spacelike an office with a door that closes or seated in a partitioned cubicle, you do not need to wear a mask.
  • If you are outside, you do not need to wear a mask if you are fully vaccinated, unless you have received instructions otherwise (from the contact tracing team, for example); however, you may want to wear a mask in large outdoor gatherings, especially where you do not know the vaccination status of the attendees.
  • Whenever it would make you feel more comfortable. Wearing a mask is always an option.

You can find more information about masks on the Environmental Health & Safety website.

Testing upon and after arrival

Remember that you need to test no later than 48 hours after you arrive, in some cases no later than 24, then regularly through the month of September. When you schedule your testing, you can choose from any of four sites, including a new one on the lower level of the Schwarzman Center.

You can find more about your testing requirements from my August 18 message to you.

Positive tests and close contacts

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will get a call from the team at Yale Health, who will guide you through the next steps. If you live on campus, you will move temporarily to isolation housing; if you live off campus, you may isolate at home, or move to campus isolation housing if capacity is available.

If you are a vaccinated close contact, you will not need to quarantine but you will need to take certain precautions like masking in all common and public areas indoors and outdoors, distancing when possible, testing, taking your meals to-go from the dining hall, and avoiding certain activities. You will still be able to move around campus. If you are not fully vaccinated, you will need to quarantine and will receive special instructions.

You can read about the close contact and isolation protocols on the COVID-19 Information website.

Dining halls

You may eat in any dining hall you choose, whether you live on or off campus, and lunch will be available at the newly opened Schwarzman Center starting September 1. As described above, masks are required, but you will also have options for grab-and-go meals as well as for eating in the dining hall or courtyard.

You can find more about meals, eating, and drinking on the Environmental Health & Safety website.

Performing Arts

Guidelines for performing arts have been updated from last semester.

You can find information about performances, rehearsals, and more on the Undergraduate Production website.

Gyms, Fitness Centers, and Recreation Rooms

Guidelines for residential college gyms and recreation rooms are available on the Environmental Health & Safety website.

You can find information about Payne Whitney Gym on the Sports and Recreation website.

Travel restrictions

If you are fully vaccinated, you may travel without permission and will not need to quarantine on your return. If you travel internationally, you need to test three to five days after you return. If you will miss required on-campus testing while you are traveling, please fill out the travel request form so that the health and safety team can pause your testing requirement.

If you are not fully vaccinated, you may only travel outside Connecticut in emergencies, and need to obtain permission in advance by filling out the travel request form. You will be required to quarantine upon return from your out-of-state travels.

You can find more information about travel on the COVID-19 Information website.


With limited exceptions, Yale’s campus is only open to faculty, students, and staff. Other than brief help from family and friends at move-in, you may not host visitors on campus.

You can find more information about visitors policy on the COVID-19 Information website.