Help us protect each other: Expectations for Johns Hopkins students

Aug. 20, 2020

Dear Students,

The recent announcement by the university of a remote fall semester brings with it a number of emotions, but one we wanted to acknowledge is that campus will not be the same without you. We anticipate, however, that your dedication to academics, student organizations, and the community will lead to a much-needed boost of positive energy for everyone, and wherever you are, we look forward to finding new ways to build connections as Blue Jays.

And although we will not be together on campus, we continue to care deeply about your health and safety.  We feel confident that, as Hopkins students, you understand and value the importance of the basic public health guidance related to COVID-19: wearing masks, washing your hands, staying home if you are sick, and avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people. The recent COVID outbreaks associated with college campuses in other parts of the country, including clusters of cases traced to off-campus gatherings, are a reminder of how critical that guidance is. Failing to follow it puts you, your peers, and your community at risk.

We continue to urge you to remain at home rather than spending the semester in Baltimore. That is the most effective way to stay safe and set the stage for a return to on-campus life as soon as possible. If that would pose a financial hardship for you, please contact the Financial Aid office to seek assistance, even if you do not ordinarily receive aid.

We know, of course, that some of you are already here in Baltimore and others may still plan to return to off-campus living arrangements. Wherever you are this semester, we reiterate the high expectations we have for you, and that you must have for each other, with regard to public health precautions during the COVID pandemic. We understand that you may have been stuck inside for months, away from your friends and even family, and are understandably eager to see one another, but the safety of our entire community and our neighbors in Baltimore depend on your consistent dedication to these guidelines.

With that in mind, we have put together this outline of our expectations and policy around social gatherings and public health guidance.

Healthy & Safe Social Interaction

Whether you are in Baltimore or at home, this infographic offers guidance around socializing safely this fall. We know that, as Hopkins students, you will surely find innovative—and safe—ways to socialize. We encourage that type of creative thinking and action, so if you have an idea tell us about it! Email, bring it up with your coaches, talk to your student org advisor or staff connection, or even bring it to the attention of your class representatives in SGA. 

We understand how difficult it is to socially isolate. The greatest risk of spreading COVID-19 comes from convening large groups of people. It’s important you only mix with a small number of people—10 or fewer.

We also know that social decision-making can become more difficult with peer pressure and impaired judgment. We urge you to remain vigilant at all times, including and especially when alcohol may be involved.


As adults, you are accountable for your choices. And, as members of the Hopkins community and of various student organizations, your behaviors have consequences. In the context of the pandemic, individuals and organizations alike should expect disciplinary warnings and consequences for failure to comply with COVID-19 guidelines and university policy. View Reinforcement of University Guidelines for Students.

Events & Compliance

The university is not allowing any in-person events, programs, or registered parties either on- and off-campus. This applies not only to student organizations but also for individual students having informal gatherings. It is impermissible to host and/or participate in a party/event that exceeds the gathering limit of 10 people. A good rule of thumb is that everyone needs about 45 square feet of personal space when gathering in a group of others—that’s the equivalent of a circle with a diameter of about 7½ feet. Outdoors is the best option for any gathering. If Student Affairs or Campus Safety and Security are made aware of or called to an off-campus location for reports of a party/event that exceeds the gathering limit, they will respond with the intention to safely disperse and document the matter. If Baltimore City Police are called, as with any time they are called for reports of disruption or noise, a citation may likely follow in addition to calling our staff to the scene. Individuals and organizations are accountable to both the university and Baltimore community to which you belong.

You are empowered to address problematic behaviors or non-compliance with public health measures with members of the community; you should also expect that peers, staff, faculty and/or neighbors may wish to address you regarding non-compliance. You are reminded to be respectful and polite in any such situation. The JHU Hotline at Speak 2 US or 844-SPEAK2US (844-773-2528) is also a resource available for students, staff, community, and the public to report concerns to the university. Additionally, you can contact Student Affairs staff or Campus Safety and Security if you need support addressing non-compliance.

Key Public Health Guidance & Resources

In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases in the United States have drastically increased among people in their 20s, and that has been a focal point in the local, state, and national news. Make sure you are familiar and well-versed in the personal safety practices and containment efforts needed to minimize the spread of the virus. Follow the Bloomberg School of Public Health on Instagram (@johnshopkinssph) for some creative posts related to COVID-19 or visit for articles, podcasts, and other health expert insights.

Staying Engaged

Social and physical distancing can feel like an isolating solution, but it is necessary for the sake of the health and well-being of your peers and greater communities. With that in mind, Student Affairs is working with student organizations, departments, and others to create meaningful and accessible opportunities for virtual engagement and will be posting them on Hopkins Groups.