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August 7, 2020

Dear Students,

As we look forward to the start of a successful new academic year, our top priority is to keep Tufts students, faculty and staff safe and to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission on campus.

Your efforts to protect your friends and fellow Jumbos begin now. As we have previously announced, you will be expected to wear a face mask when not in your bedroom, keep six feet of distance from others at all times, and thoroughly wash your hands frequently when you return to Tufts this fall. 

Even before you return, we strongly encourage you to begin following these practices so that you can develop the habits that are necessary for living in community with others this year.  In addition to wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing, one concrete step you can take now is get into a routine of washing your hands more thoroughly and more frequently. Please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website to review recommendations on hand hygiene and how to protect yourself and others.

To further minimize the likelihood that you may become infected or infect others with COVID-19 before returning to campus, in addition to following the practices listed above, do not host or attend parties or gatherings, even if they are outside, for 14 days before you return to campus. As you know, parties and other social gatherings with more than 10 people are prohibited this year due to the risk of virus transmission, and we urge you to avoid larger gatherings even before you come to campus.  Please remember that hosting or attending parties or other large social events will put our plans for an in-person semester at risk.

We remind you that you and your roommate(s) must look out for each other this year. Should one of you test positive for COVID-19 upon return to campus or should one of you contract COVID-19 during the semester, the person who is infected will be moved to isolation housing. Roommates and other close contacts of the individual infected with COVID-19 will be quarantined in their rooms for up to 14 days.

There are two types of quarantine: Arrival Quarantine, which includes initial arrival for all students and extended arrival for out-of-region students, and Quarantine due to Close Contact with someone having COVID-19.

  • The goal of arrival quarantine is to allow time for appropriate testing of all arriving students and to minimize transmission of SARS-CoV-2 on campus as students return. After move-in and during the arrival quarantine period, students will be able to leave their room to use the bathroom, and receive medical care, including routine COVID-19 testing. Masks must be worn at all times when leaving the room, including when using the restrooms. If you are classified as being from out-of-region by the State of Massachusetts, you will be required to have three negative COVID-19 tests before leaving arrival quarantine. This is being required because the numbers of cases of COVID-19, on average, are considerably higher in states classified as “out-of-region” compared to states classified as in-region. In-region students are required to have one negative test before leaving arrival quarantine. Visits will not be allowed during quarantine, including to and from friends and significant others. After your first negative test, you will also be permitted to leave your room to pick up food from campus dining locations and return to your room.
  • During the academic year (and possibly during the arrival process), you may come into close contact with an individual infected with SARS-CoV-2. A close contact in quarantine will not be allowed to leave their rooms except to use the bathroom, receive medical care and to receive routine COVID-19 testing. Visits will not be allowed during quarantine, including to and from friends and significant others. Students in exposure quarantine may not leave their rooms to pick up food; meals will be delivered to their residence hall room (or residence if living off-campus) while in quarantine. 

As you can see, each of our actions this fall carries a strong possibility of impacting roommates and other close contacts. If you contract COVID-19, your roommate(s) and close contacts will be required to quarantine, so being vigilant about wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and washing your hands thoroughly protects yourself and others you care about. If your roommate or a close contact contracts COVID-19, you will be required to quarantine, so talking with your roommates and friends and creating social norms that support mask wearing, physical distancing, hand washing and other health guidance benefits both them and you. To that end, we encourage you to speak with your roommate(s) now, and to talk through these issues. All of our actions are interconnected and we need to work together to achieve a healthy Tufts this semester.

Almost all quarantine, both arrival quarantine and quarantine due to close contact, will take place in your existing room with no need to move to other housing. This means that you should be prepared to stay in your room for 14 days if needed. There are some limited circumstances where students living on-campus who have not received a positive COVID-19 test will be quarantined in a place other than their room. These circumstances include but may not be limited to the following: 

  1. You are identified as a close contact of a person with a positive test for COVID-19, but your roommate is NOT a contact.
  2. Extraordinary circumstances as determined by Health Services (e.g., students arriving after established arrival dates due to circumstances beyond their control).

We know that you are all engaged and committed to working as a community to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and have agreed to the conditions above - conditions that we hope are temporary but are necessary in our present times. We are sending this communication as a reminder that there are concrete steps that you can take now to reduce the possibility of having a positive COVID-19 test upon arrival. We also want to remind you that students who are found to have COVID-19 should not be stigmatized in any way. Most people with positive results do not know where or when they became infected, and it is possible, albeit far less likely, to become infected even if following the guidelines reasonably well. All any of us can do is practice the recommended guidelines. Helping us implement these procedures will not only benefit your own safety, but will also benefit the safety of our entire community. We thank you in advance for your efforts. 

Sincerely,

James M. Glaser, Dean, School of Arts and Sciences
Jianmin Qu, Dean, School of Engineering
Nancy Bauer, Dean, School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts Universit
Robert G. Cook, Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Science
Karen Panetta, Dean, Graduate Education, School of Engineering
Camille Lizarríbar, Dean, Student Affairs and Chief Student Affairs Officer