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March 27, 2020

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

As governments and institutions across the world try to slow the spread of COVID-19, extraordinary conditions continue to prevail. At Tufts, our faculty and students this week began distance learning programs, which will carry through the rest of the semester. Faculty, staff, and students have worked diligently to overcome many obstacles to keep their focus on teaching and learning, providing the best educational experience possible.

The consequences of the coronavirus emergency continue to reverberate at Tufts. This week President Anthony Monaco announced that Commencement will be virtual, as it will be at many other colleges and universities. “We intend to create an inspiring event that draws on beloved traditions, and perhaps starts some new ones,” he wrote in an announcement to the Tufts community. As the university works to design a unique and participatory virtual experience that will capture the spirit, positivity, and fun of a traditional commencement ceremony for graduates and their families, we are looking for ideas to make this possible.

At the same time, the Tufts community continues to show remarkable ingenuity and resolve in fighting COVID-19, as Fletcher and engineering students from Tufts demonstrated by joining forces with counterparts from MIT and Harvard to lead an effort to repair more than 6,000 N95 masks that were donated to Tufts Medical Center. You can read more about it in Tufts Now.  

President Monaco also released a video message for faculty and staff today—you can view it here

Though I recognize that portions of the digest below will only pertain to certain groups within the community, I urge you to read the entire message.

Your Health

If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to the virus, please contact your doctor for guidance. If you have had a positive COVID-19 test, please immediately notify covid19@tufts.edu so we can communicate with others who may have been exposed. If you have other questions or concerns, please contact the crisis communications center, which covers all campuses, at covid19@tufts.edu

One way to help cope with the uncertainty around the pandemic is to take up mindfulness practices. Christina Pastan, D91, DG94, director of Mind-Body Wellness at the School of Dental Medicine, talks about some of these practices here. She will lead virtual drop-in meditation on Thursdays at 12:30 p.m. through May 28. She will lead virtual yoga Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m. through April 28. Write to christina.pastan@tufts.edu to be added to the elist. Please also visit Tufts Health Promotion and Prevention for more information about its mindfulness sessions and its Student-Athlete Mindfulness Program

The Tufts Jumbo Health Center for staff and faculty (formerly Wellness Center) is closed until further notice for in-person office visits, but its clinical team will be available for telephone visits at no cost. This includes questions about COVID-19 symptoms, medical triage, and other minor acute health related concerns. If you are in respiratory distress (difficulty breathing), call 911 or go to the ER.

Health coaching is available during this difficult time. Services include telephone appointments to discuss wellness goals and chronic condition management. To schedule a telephone appointment, call the Jumbo Health Center at 617-627-0467. Our hours of operation are Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: The Haven at College Virtual Outpatient Center 

The Haven at College, in collaboration with Tufts, provides college students with outpatient treatment and recovery programs for mental health and substance-use disorders. The Haven is now admitting students to its confidential virtual outpatient program. All online outpatient services are covered by Tufts’ student health insurance. Students can connect with like-minded peers who, along with Haven clinicians, provide community, accountability, and relief from isolation during this challenging time. Treatment services include: group, individual, and family therapy; case management; life skills and educational sessions; as well as recovery coaching; family support; online recovery meetings; and online peer support. Learn more about all their programs at thehavenatcollege.com or call 888-224-2836 for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions Updates

Our Frequently Asked Questions page continues to be updated. In particular, the Academic Continuity FAQ has been updated, and the staff FAQ page has been significantly revised, including the section for supervisors. The Campus and Residential Life section also has updated information about reimbursements for housing and dining fees. The staff FAQ page now has a section just for researchers; also updated are FAQs focusing on finance, events and operations, cleaning, public health, and travel.

Student Employment

The university has developed policies about compensation for on-campus student employees. This information has also been posted on the university’s FAQ. In brief, undergraduate and graduate students with work-study funding will continue to be paid for their regularly scheduled hours through the end of Spring 2020 (May 8). Students will continue to be paid for their regularly scheduled hours whether or not they are able to continue working remotely for their on-campus employer as long as they have work-study funding available.

Undergraduate students who do not have work-study funding—including those who have used up their work-study funding for Spring 2020—will continue to be paid for their regularly scheduled hours through April 4 as the university transitions to remote learning and working. From April 4 to May 8, undergraduate students who do not have work-study funding will only be paid for hours they are able to work remotely for their on-campus employer. Graduate students who do not have work-study funding will only be paid for hours they are able to work remotely for their on-campus employer through May 8.

Tufts Community Response Volunteer Groups

During this unprecedented and challenging time, Tisch College is supporting the university’s response to our communities. You can be prepared to help by joining on their new online platform, Tufts Civic Impact. This platform is being used to organize and train a cadre of Tufts students, faculty, and staff who could be deployed if/when they are needed, either virtually or in-person (health, safety, and state or local travel restrictions allowing), to support response efforts on our campus and in partnership with our host communities.

The types of tasks are still under development and will be based on community needs. Right now, Tisch College is soliciting volunteers so that they are prepared to respond if/when services are needed; view a step-by-step guide on how to join the groups and to learn more.

Online Teaching and Zoombombing

Unfortunately, there have been issues with what is called “Zoombombing,” when an uninvited person joins a Zoom meeting and, with their video, audio, or screen sharing, shares unwanted content. The Educational Technology group has advice about preventing this

Please keep in mind that university and school-based decisions are being made on an ongoing basis with great care and consideration for public health and academic continuity. The university has never taken such extraordinary actions in its history. We ask for your patience, and I sincerely thank you for your cooperation, understanding, commitment, and flexibility as we move forward together.

Mike Howard

Executive Vice President

For the latest updates and guidance from Tufts University, please visit go.tufts.edu/coronavirus.