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August 19, 2020

Dear Arts & Sciences/SMFA and Engineering Faculty and Staff,

Yesterday the University posted a webpage outlining the COVID-19 surveillance/frequent routine testing protocols and procedures to be implemented for the Fall 2020 semester at all four campuses. We strongly encourage you to read the entire page. It contains very important information

Below are key highlights for AS&E faculty and staff who work on the Medford/Somerville and SMFA campuses.


WHAT IS ASYMPTOMATIC/PRE-SYMPTOMATIC SURVEILLANCE (OR ROUTINE) TESTING?
This is a public health strategy that allows us to recognize potential outbreaks of COVID-19 within our community, contain the spread of the virus, and make important decisions regarding our operations. The plan is designed to test those with a high risk of spreading the virus due to their close and frequent contact with other high-risk members of the community. It is not designed to test every individual, nor is it designed to diagnose symptomatic cases.


WHO IS REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE IN SURVEILLANCE TESTING?
Faculty and staff who have frequent and close contact with residential students and/or the general public in the course of their work at Tufts will be required to participate in surveillance testing. Employees were assigned risk categories based on their job functions, on their departments’ return to campus plans and on the nature of their individual roles. The categories and testing frequencies are outlined on the Testing at Tufts webpage

If your role requires your participation in the surveillance testing program, you will receive an email inviting you to download the testing app with more directions on scheduling your first test.
 

WHY AREN’T ALL FACULTY AND STAFF TESTED?
Surveillance testing is not designed to test every individual. If you are not included in the testing program, it is because the nature of your role puts you in a very low risk category for spreading COVID-19 at Tufts as long as you follow guidelines for social distancing, face coverings, and hand hygiene. 


WHERE ARE THE TESTING SITES AND WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE?
Surveillance testing facilities will be on both the Medford/Somerville (as of August 16) and SMFA campuses (as of August 31). Participants will be tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection (which can cause COVID-19) using a simple self-administered nasal swab test. This short video outlines the procedure. Please note: employees are not required to have received a negative COVID-19 test before their return to campus. 


WILL THERE BE FACULTY AND STAFF-ONLY TESTING TIMES?
The University will set aside from 7 am to 9 am each day to prioritize faculty and staff testing on the Medford/Somerville campus. Students will not be able to schedule their tests during this time outside of limited exceptions, as it is primarily reserved for faculty and staff. 


WHAT HAPPENS IF I HAVE A COVID-19 POSITIVE TEST RESULTS, OR AM EXPOSED TO SOMEONE WITH A POSITIVE TEST?
If a member of our community tests positive, they will be contacted by a clinician/healthcare provider with instructions for self-isolation and to coordinate appropriate medical care. Staff and faculty who test positive for COVID-19 may return to campus once approved by their own physician. In cases of potential exposure to COVID-19 on campus, contact tracing staff will reach out to individuals who were potentially exposed. Without identifying the source of the potential exposure, staff will inform individuals of the nature of the potential exposure and advise them on appropriate next steps.

 

Important Reminders:

DAILY SELF-REPORTED DIAGNOSIS: To protect the health of the community, each day that you come to campus you must first complete a Daily Health Status Survey.

If you feel ill or are anxious about a potential exposure, whether you are working on-campus or fully remotely, contact your primary care physician and do not come to campus.


WORK REMOTELY WHENEVER POSSIBLE: Keeping the density of individuals on the campus low is also vital to reducing the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, you should only come to campus when necessary. Functions that can be performed remotely should be, at least through the end of the calendar year


INDIVIDUAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS: The last few months have been challenging to say the least. Self-isolation, social distancing, and increased stress may have negative consequences on our individual mental and physical health. While good overall health and wellness will not make us immune to COVID-19, it can make us more resilient to cope with a possible future infection. We encourage you to practice self-care, including regular physical activity, eating a healthy and nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep, and finding mechanisms to deal with stress and anxiety. Tufts Human Resources offers a number of wellness webinars each month.

While the risk of COVID-19 infection cannot be eliminated altogether, it can be mitigated. That is why it is important to prioritize the health and safety of the entire community by taking these reasonable and practical steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Thank you for your continued partnership during this process.


James M. Glaser, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences
Jianmin Qu, Dean of the School of Engineering
Nancy Bauer, Dean of the School of Museum of Fine Arts