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April 10, 2020

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

As the COVID-19 emergency evolves, Tufts continues to respond to the pandemic. This week, President Monaco announced that the university will make some of its residence halls available to house first responders from Medford and Somerville, medical personnel from Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) and Tufts Medical Center, and patients from Cambridge Health Alliance, including those recovering from COVID-19. (Read more about his announcement on Tufts Now). These arrangements are part of the university’s effort to help contain the spread of the virus as local hospitals prepare for a surge of cases that threatens to overwhelm their capacity. The first few of CHA’s patients are tentatively expected to begin arriving early next week, although this could change according to CHA’s needs. Patients will be housed in Miller Hall, the only building to which they will have access, and CHA will provide all care and support, including medical care, food delivery, waste removal, security, cleaning, and other needs. In the days and weeks ahead, the number of CHA patients in Miller Hall will vary as the volume of COVID-19 cases increases and decreases. Meanwhile, at some point soon, we expect first responders to begin occupying certain CoHo buildings and CHA medical personnel to begin occupying Hillside Apartments as we pursue our strategy of segmenting the campus into separate zones for different types of populations, meeting the needs of each while protecting everyone’s health. We’re proud and appreciative of all of those within the Tufts community who have supported these efforts and worked to make them possible, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with our hospital and municipal partners in the fight against COVID-19. More information about this initiative is available in the Community Partnerships FAQ.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

The university’s FAQ pages around COVID-19 are being updated regularly. Among those updated this week are the FAQs on community partnershipsfinancepublic health, and student resources, and the FAQ for staff. Please visit the site if you have questions.

Webinar on How Colleges and Universities Can Join the Fight Against COVID-19

On Wednesday, the university, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Education and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, presented an informative webinar on what it has learned in working with two hospitals and two cities to address the needs they face as a result of the pandemic. Led by President Monaco, the webinar featured expertise from university staff and faculty and the CEOs of Cambridge Health Alliance and Tufts Medical Center. View the webinar here.

Mathematical Modeling Tool to Connect Hospitals to College Campuses

As the growing number of coronavirus cases continues to strain limited hospital resources, college campuses with largely vacated dormitories are in a unique position to provide additional beds and facilities to hospitals. The Redistricting Lab of the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group (MGGG), a Boston-based working group led by Professor Moon Duchin of Tufts and Justin Solomon of MIT, usually studies gerrymandering, but with the same geodata and math modeling skills, it built a model that connects hospitals to nearby college campuses. The goal is to use data to help universities and hospitals identify the optimal dorms to help to relieve strain on the healthcare system.

Your Health

If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, 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.

A reminder to students: when the Health Service is closed, it offers an after-hours nurse line that can be helpful. For medical advice, please call 617-627-3350 and follow the prompts to reach the after-hours nurse line. For more information on seeing a medical clinician after hours, see the “After-Hours Information” section on the Health Service website.

For those whose dependent care provider has closed as a result of the state’s COVID-19 advisory, you can make a change to your Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA), but you must make the new election within 31 days of the life event or “change” date. The effective date of the change is the date of the event, or in the case of COVID-19, the date of the dependent care closure. For more details on this question, scroll down on this coronavirus FAQ page for staff employees.

Financial Aid Applications

The deadline for returning students to apply for financial aid for the 2020-21 academic year has not been impacted by COVID-19 and remains April 15, 2020. Students may view required, missing, and received documents in SIS, and application details are available at go.tufts.edu/reapply. Questions may be directed to Student Services at 617-627-2000, Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Call for Proposals: COVID-19 Rapid Response Seed Funding Program

Earlier today, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research announced the Tufts University/Tufts Medical Center COVID-19 Rapid Response Seed Funding Program. This new initiative is intended to fast-track innovative research proposals that directly address the urgent needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jointly funded by Tufts and Tufts Medical Center, the program will give priority to work with a high probability of generating new knowledge and/or changing clinical practice (diagnosis and treatment).

Physical Distancing

Just a friendly reminder that while physical distancing—a more apt description than social distancing—may feel restrictive at times, it is critical to preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Avoid gatherings of any kind, and maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and the next person whenever you leave your residence.

Physical distancing isn’t just about your own health. It is about safeguarding the health of others, including those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Stay safe and healthy, and help your community do the same.

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.