Harvard’s Newest Lesson: How To Mask and Eat at the Same Time

'A straw can make this more efficient,' Ivy League school says

Harvard University (Twitter screenshot)
September 10, 2021

Harvard University was founded in 1636 in order to train an elite class of Puritan ministers. Nearly four centuries later, the school has not abandoned that mission. In a campus-wide email sent Friday, the university weighed in on an ecclesiastical controversy that has dogged the secular clergy of our own time: how to eat in public with a mask on.

"Eating and drinking together are a cornerstone of human social interaction," Harvard’s health director Giang Nguyen acknowledged in the email. But there are still "efficient" ways to "minimize the time spent unmasked and in close proximity." To that end, Nguyen outlined some tips for staying "safe" in the dining hall.

"Follow the ‘Quick Sip Rule,’" the email told members of the Ivy League university, whose alumni include eight U.S. presidents and Xi Jinping’s daughter. "Lower your mask, take a sip, and then promptly cover your mouth and nose. A straw can make this more efficient."

America’s future elites were also discouraged from socializing over coffee. "If you wish to slowly savor a hot beverage, do it away from others," Nguyen said. "If you are taking your time between bites (for conversation, for example), put your mask back on."

Harvard, which did not respond to a request for comment, has a 94 percent vaccination rate among its students. As of this week, its test positivity rate is 0.18 percent.

One hallowed Harvard tradition may not survive the new guidance: networking. The email told students to "avoid table-hopping" and "consider dining consistently with the same small group of people rather than a different group at every meal of the day."

Published under: Coronavirus , Harvard