Responding to your questions

February 11, 2021

Dear Hopkins Students,

Yesterday you received the university message about resuming in-person classes today. We are as delighted as you are to be able to shift back to some in-person activity, and we thank you for your cooperation with the difficult steps we had to take to contain last week’s spike in COVID cases. We wish you all the best as you officially start your in-person class experience.

We know many of you have questions about a variety of topics including testing requirements, consequences for noncompliance, support available to those in isolation or quarantine, understanding the recent stay at home order, gathering limits, working off campus, and much more. In this email, we want to respond to the top issues that have surfaced, but please know we will continue to find ways to get information to you to answer your questions.

Top Questions So Far:

Why do we have to get tested 3 times a week? This increased level of testing has been recommended by public health experts to more quickly identify and isolate COVID-positive students, begin contact tracing, and quarantine close contacts of those positive students. Also, the sooner we can detect a spike in cases like the one that occurred last week, the sooner we can contain it and, hopefully, the less impact it will have on the semester. Recommended testing schedule is M-W-F or Tu-Th-Sa. If you are not able to follow this schedule, please ensure at least 24 hours between your tests.

Where can I find current guidelines and consequences for non-compliance? The most up-to-date resource on the university’s policies and guidelines is, which has a section dedicated to information for undergraduates, including our Return to Campus Guide, answers to frequently asked questions, and all university communications. Additionally, the RAVE alert system will be used to notify the campus of any acute status changes to our operating status. Regarding the consequences for non-compliance with COVID-related guidance, the University Guidelines for Enforcement PDF is a good resource.

If I share information through contact tracing, will that information be shared with Student Conduct? Any information you share through the contact tracing process will not be shared with Student Conduct. The contact tracing process is designed to contain the spread of the virus, and it is imperative that students are honest through that process.

Why is Hopkins telling me not to go to a restaurant when the city has opened restaurants? Our public health experts believe eating or drinking in restaurants to be particularly dangerous because it places patrons in close proximity to others in an enclosed space, without masks. Properly spaced outdoor dining reduces the chance of COVID transmission between you and other patrons, but it still puts you in close proximity to the others at your table, unmasked, for a lengthy period of time. We encourage you to get carryout or delivery instead.

Hopkins has said students can’t gather in groups more than 5. Why is this number different than had previously been stated and why is this more stringent than what the city says? Limiting your circle of contacts is a key strategy for protecting yourself and others from COVID, and gatherings have been an important source of transmission generally, not just in the university community. Undergraduates often have large circles of contacts because they tend to live in congregate residences or to have unrelated roommates, so the stricter limit on gatherings is a key strategy to limit the spread of COVID among this population. We hope to relax these limits as the semester goes on.

Are students really expected to distance from their suitemates? We strongly recommend it as a basic public health practice. We don’t advise treating your roommates as a “bubble” because they often have independent social circles through significant others, families, etc. And as a reminder, the five-person limit on gatherings includes roommates, housemates, and suitemates.

Does the limit on gatherings include classes or research in labs? No. Classes and research opportunities take place in structured, monitored environments that have been optimized for physical distancing and air circulation.

Does the limit on gatherings include religious services? No, the limit on gatherings does not apply to religious services, but we advise you to take all proper precautions (e.g., masking, physical distancing, and hand washing).

Can I work an off-campus job? Yes, provided you follow all proper precautions related to mask wearing, physical distancing, hand washing, symptom monitoring, and COVID testing.

We are working to find ways to respond to the myriad of questions including updating the FAQs on the Coronavirus Information site. Additionally, we will be using digital and physical signage around campus, social media, and other avenues to try to keep you informed. Finally, we will be holding a series of live question and answer sessions with student affairs staff, public health experts, and others to address new issues as they come up. We will send you details soon.

Should you encounter noncompliance, there are a variety of ways to report. If you live on campus, Resident Advisors and Residence Directors are available as community staff resources. In addition to connecting with RAs and RDs during typical business hours, RAs are on call from 8pm-8am daily. If you experience difficulties, need assistance, or observe behavior or activity that may be putting the community at risk, please contact the RA on call. Additionally, there is an RD on call for urgent and emergency matters daily as well. Connecting with staff in the moment will allow for a more timely response.

For live, immediate response, also consider using the LiveSafe app to report things directly to Campus Safety & Security (with options for anonymous reporting). You may also submit anonymous concerns via the JHU hotline 844-SPEAK2US; through an online reporting form; or by contacting Health, Safety and Environment at or 410-516-8798.


Alanna Shanahan
Vice Provost for Student Affairs