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August 14, 2020

Dear Graduate Students,

There have been a number of communications over the last few weeks regarding protocols for the upcoming fall semester. The goal of this communication is to summarize the protocols for those individuals that are coming to campus for in-person instruction. They highlight a few steps you must take as soon as possible. For those studying remotely, we continue to prepare for your semester and you are free to not read the rest of this email.

If you have additional questions that are not answered in this email or on the Tufts COVID-19 information website, please reach out directly to either the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Dean’s Office at or the School of Engineering Dean of Graduate Education’s Office at


Whether you are planning to live off campus or in on-campus housing, there are important requirements to understand about arriving on or returning to campus. For campus safety, we have arranged the following arrival procedures in order to meet Massachusetts state and Tufts University requirements. In an effort to reduce the risk of exposure among our students, faculty, and staff, as well as in our host communities, we are requiring all students to complete their arrival testing and all subsequent testing through Tufts. Campus arrival dates will begin on August 16 and will end on September 13. The first day of classes remains September 8.


Our graduate student arrival schedule is organized by region, consistent with Commonwealth of Massachusetts state guidance. Students are designated as either “in-region” or “out-of-region.”

  • In-region: Students arriving from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts are considered by Tufts as being “in-region.” 
  • Out-of-region: Anyone arriving from U.S. states or countries other than those listed above (including Rhode Island and Hawaii), or from any international location, are considered to be arriving from "out-of-region." These individuals should complete the Massachusetts Travel Form before arriving in the state.

Arrival and move-in dates for graduate students:

  • August 16-26: Off-campus out-of-region students (and any off-campus students who are in the Medford area already).
  • August 26: On-campus housing move-in date for graduate students.
  • September 1-7: Off-campus in-region students (and any individuals who had leases that started on or around September 1).

Arrival dates are staggered to allow students to complete a quarantine period before the arrival of students who are not required to quarantine (see below). If your housing includes roommates from different regions, we ask you and your roommates to stagger arrivals so that out-of-region roommates arrive first and have at least 7 days to complete the arrival protocols for testing and quarantine before in-region roommates arrive. This applies to both on- and off-campus housing.


Before visiting campus, all students need to sign up for their campus arrival slot. All graduate students must log into Tufts’ Student Information System (SIS) and go to the housing portal, click on FORMS, and then choose your arrival/move-in date and time, which will be available based on your in-region/out-of-region status. All students who plan to study, research, or attend classes on campus this semester will check in and receive a COVID-19 arrival test at the Gantcher Center. You must have an appointment in order to check in and be tested at the Gantcher Center. The center is located at 161 College Avenue, Medford, MA. Signage will provide directions and explain the process. 

You must begin the process to get your Tufts University student ID before arriving on campus. Graduate students will receive their student ID at the Gantcher Center when they get their arrival COVID-19 test. You will need this ID for COVID-19 testing, as well as access to Tufts University buildings. To begin this process, please upload your photo at at least 24 hours prior to your arrival date. 


The arrival test initiates the routine testing regimen for the semester. We will not accept COVID-19 test results taken prior to arriving in Massachusetts or tests taken at locations outside of Tufts. Tufts is covering all costs related to testing.

After this initial test, students will enter a period of quarantine to monitor health prior to being permitted on campus. This arrival quarantine allows time for appropriate testing of all arriving students and will minimize transmission of COVID-19 on campus as students return. Thus, all students will need to quarantine when arriving on campus. Students who live off campus will quarantine in their residence. Students who reside in on-campus housing will quarantine in their assigned rooms.

Students in on-campus housing or who have purchased dining services will have food provided to them. Otherwise you should be prepared to stay in your residence for up to 14 days, although we hope to avoid that duration because of the testing procedure (see below). Alternative quarantine locations may be considered in appropriate medical situations. Visits will not be allowed during quarantine, including visits from friends and significant others. After a first negative test, students will be permitted to leave their room to pick up or buy food and participate in testing. This may mean that some students may need to attend class remotely during the first few days of class. Faculty teaching in-person or hybrid courses will accommodate students who need to participate in their courses remotely in the short term. Students who will need such accommodations are encouraged to contact their instructors for additional information.

You will be able to exit quarantine to go on campus depending on the following conditions:

  • In-region students living on-campus will be cleared if their arrival test is negative
  • Out-of-region students living on-campus will be cleared upon having additional negative routine tests on day 3 and day 6 
  • In-region students living off-campus will be cleared if their arrival test is negative
  • Out-of-region students living off-campus will be cleared after they have tested negative on their arrival test and one additional routine test obtained on day 7

The difference is because the numbers of cases of COVID-19 are, on average, higher in states classified as “out-of-region” compared to states classified as in-region. If you develop symptoms before your scheduled arrival on campus, you should promptly be evaluated by a medical provider to arrange testing, and you must inform us immediately if your test is positive by reaching out to the Health Service (617-627-3350). We will work with you on a plan to come to campus after being cleared by your medical provider. 


If at any point during arrival or during the semester you test positive for COVID-19, you will need to isolate. Isolation usually lasts 10 days from the onset of symptoms or after a positive test. However, some students may require additional time in isolation, depending on the course of their symptoms. No student with a positive test will be permitted to return to their fall/spring housing assignment until medically cleared, and students who live off-campus are strongly advised against returning to their off-campus housing until a medical professional has advised them it is safe to do so. 

In some cases, off-campus students may want to isolate themselves in their own homes. For students who cannot isolate in their current living situation, a place in Tufts’ modular housing may be provided. Modular housing is assigned in consultation with a member of the medical staff at Tufts Health Service.  You will be allowed to return to campus upon being cleared by a medical provider. 


The arrival test initiates the overall testing regimen for the semester. This is critical for the University to track community spread and take appropriate action for the safety of everyone.

The regular semester testing regimen will be posted very soon. It classifies individuals at four levels of risk for COVID exposure. For instance, residential undergraduate and graduate students living on-campus are at the first level and will be tested twice a week. Graduate students who live in off-campus housing, as well as faculty, are considered to be at the next level and will be tested once a week. If you are studying remotely you will not need to participate in campus testing. 

Students will register for their tests using the Campus Key online app. Information on downloading this app will be available upon arrival check in at the Gantcher Center. Regular testing during the semester will be conducted at 51 Winthrop Street on the Tufts Medford campus. This test consists of a simple nasal swab, as illustrated in this video. Test results will be available within 24 hours of arriving at the lab. Students will use the COVID-19 Screening module, available through the Tufts Mobile app, to report on the status of any symptoms before coming onto campus (or before leaving their on-campus room). Entering this information before coming on to campus will be required. If you develop symptoms before your scheduled arrival on campus, you should promptly be evaluated by a medical provider to arrange testing, and you must inform us immediately if your test is positive by reaching out to the Health Service (617-627-3350) as stated above. We will work with you on a plan to come to campus after being cleared by your medical provider. 


If you are identified via contact tracing to have had close contact with an individual that has tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19, you will be required to return to quarantine in your residence until medically cleared. Quarantine usually lasts 14 days and you will be advised by Tufts medical staff when you are cleared to return to campus. You will be able to participate in all of your classes remotely during this type of quarantine. Tufts medical staff will advise you about how to get your testing while you are in quarantine. You should not go to a regular test collection center. 


There are a number of things that all of us can do to keep ourselves and everyone else healthy, whether on campus or at home. Even before arriving on campus, we expect students to:

  • wear a mask at all times outside your home,
  • physical distance by staying six feet apart from people other than your household members,
  • avoid crowded areas such as beaches and bars,
  • avoid social gatherings where physical distancing is difficult to maintain,
  • practice good handwashing technique. 

Before returning to campus, we strongly encourage you to have conversations with your roommate(s) now to discuss how you will manage a quarantine or illness and agree as a team that you will do your best to stay healthy prior to and after your arrival. We recognize this will be a difficult time for our students, particularly those who must complete a quarantine period, and we thank you for your efforts to help our community stay as healthy as possible. 

Once again, if you have any questions, please contact the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Dean’s Office at or the School of Engineering Dean of Graduate Education’s Office at


Robert G. Cook, Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Science
Karen A. Panetta, Dean of Graduate Education, School of Engineering