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May 22, 2020

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

I continue to be buoyed by the amazing work of Tufts students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are helping the world learn more about COVID-19 and providing strategies for how we can fight it. 

A School of Engineering team, led by Professor Karen Panetta, is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop software that can successfully identify COVID-19 pneumonia in more than 99 percent of the lung X-ray images it processes.

Cummings School assistant professor Amanda Martinot was part of a team of researchers that published a key finding this week about immunity protection from COVID-19.

How will public spaces change to respond to the pandemic? Urban planning professor Justin Hollander explains in the Tufts Now short video series “Lessons from a Pandemic” that density is the issue

When the COVID-19 crisis threatened to delay a baby’s much-needed surgery, a Tufts physician and a Tufts dentist joined forces to keep it on schedule.

Alumni are involved around the country and world in the fight against the pandemic. One example: Christine Jost, V96, F03, is the technical coordinator for the USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance COVID-19 response management team, which leads and coordinates the U.S. government’s response to disasters overseas.  

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.

Phase 1A Research Ramp-Up

Tufts has carefully reviewed Governor Baker’s plans for re-opening the Commonwealth as those plans relate to research. The Office of the Vice Provost for Research is working with others across the university to meet all of the Phase I gating requirements, including cleaning and disinfecting protocols, laboratory safety standards, PPE, and signage. Importantly, Tufts will continue to be in line with Tufts Medical Center and neighboring academic institutions.

Subject to additional local guidance that may be issued in the coming days, Tufts will initiate Phase 1A of research ramp-up on May 25. Please note that office work in Boston, with the exception of essential employees, is not allowed until June 1 per state guidance. Prior to this date, work should continue to be done remotely whenever possible.

Assuming we are able to meet all of the Phase 1 gating requirements, we are on track to initiate Phase 1 of research ramp-up in early- to mid-June, subject to additional federal, state, local, and university guidance. Read more about research ramp-up plans here

Emergency Funds for Students

The COVID-19 crisis has created significant financial hardship for individuals and families around the world, including members of the Tufts community. In response, many Tufts community members—alumni, friends, classmates, and parents and families—have come together to support students facing COVID-related financial challenges.

In addition, the federally funded Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Emergency Grants under the CARES Act provides emergency grants to qualifying students for expenses directly related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, childcare expenses, and travel.

Although the use of these funds will be evaluated separately, these funds together are called the Tufts University COVID-19 Emergency Fund. These funds are available to currently enrolled, eligible degree- or certificate-seeking students who are unable to meet essential financial expenses or who have experienced unexpected hardship due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19, and meet listed requirements. Students do not need to pay back these funds.

Application review committees have been established for each school at Tufts. All requests for funding may be submitted online. Upon approval, funds will be disbursed through your student account. The maximum award available to dependent students is $1,000. Independent students may request up to $1,800.

Applying for emergency funds is simple and is open to all undergraduate and graduate students at Tufts. Students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis until funds are expended. Once your application is received, it will be reviewed by the Tufts University COVID-19 Emergency Fund Committee, and you will receive notification of a decision within two weeks.

Additional details on award limitations and criteria can be found at the fund website.

Frequently Asked Questions

The university’s newly redesigned FAQ pages around COVID-19 are being updated regularly. Please visit the site if you have questions.

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 for anyone who needs to be on campus: Following CDC recommendations, face masks are required for those on all campuses at Tufts. 

Please keep in mind that university and school-based decisions are being made on an ongoing basis with great care and consideration. As we slowly ramp up activities, we continue to be grateful for your cooperation, understanding, flexibility, and commitment to the mission of the university. 

I hope you have a wonderful long weekend.

Mike Howard
Executive Vice President