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January 12, 2021

Dear Students,

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

This message includes information about:

  • How to reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19 before coming to campus;
  • Getting a flu shot, which is required if you are attending in person;
  • Being aware of circumstances that might require us to adjust the onboarding process; and
  • Selecting an arrival date, which is required before you come to campus.

Reduce your risk of exposure now

Your efforts to protect your friends and fellow community members begin now. As you know, once you arrive at Tufts, 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.

We strongly encourage you to begin following these practices today so that you can develop the habits that are necessary for living in community with others this year.

To further minimize the likelihood that you may become infected or infect others with COVID-19, please do not host or attend parties or gatherings, even if they are outside, for 14 days before you return to campus. Be mindful that small, indoor gatherings with people outside of your household are responsible for the majority of current transmissions. And as you know, any social gatherings with more than 10 people are prohibited this year due to the risk of virus transmission. Please remember that not following these guidelines increases your chances of exposure and will put our plans for an in-person semester at risk.

Get a flu shot

The flu vaccine is required of all undergraduate and graduate students studying in-person, as per an order by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. You cannot attend Tufts in person this spring unless you meet this requirement and provide us with confirmation.

If you are going to be in person this spring and you have not yet received a flu vaccine, Tufts is requiring that you get the vaccine even if you are a student over age 30, which is a higher standard than set by Massachusetts, because we feel that flu vaccination is a critical strategy for protecting our community and preserving healthcare resources during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. 

Help us onboard safely

While we anticipate the onboarding process will go smoothly and as planned, we are asking you to remain flexible should changes to our current plan become necessary. We will communicate any such changes to you as soon as we know them.

Approximately 600 students are scheduled to complete the onboarding process daily between January 19 and January 29. However, any of the following events might require us to adjust our plans: 

  • Severe winter weather in the Greater Boston area;
  • Additional public health guidance issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; or
  • Unanticipated high numbers of positive tests among returning students who subsequently must quarantine for an extended period.

If any of these events materialize, we may need to adjust and extend the onboarding process for those students who have not yet arrived on campus. This may result in students being required to change or delay their travel plans to campus.

We want to stress that we currently do not expect that we will have to take such actions. Please do not write or call with concerns about these potential changes. We simply want to ask you to be flexible and understand that these are extraordinary circumstances in which we are living and operating.

If you have not selected an onboarding date, do so now

Onboarding appointments are available starting on Tuesday, January 19 and continuing through Friday, January 29. This schedule will allow you to complete onboarding before the first day of classes, which is Monday, February 1.

Onboarding appointments will be available at Gantcher Center in Medford and at SMFA. SMFA dates (1/21, 1/25, 1/28) appear on the onboarding registration form.

The number of daily new cases in Massachusetts and throughout the country is currently very high. Accordingly, it is important to the health of our campus and of our local community that everyone closely follows the onboarding schedule and refrains from returning to campus before the day of your onboarding. Routine COVID tests, meal delivery to support arrival quarantine, and other university supports will be unavailable until scheduled onboarding begins on January 19.

Arrival quarantine

Onboarding for the spring semester will require you to participate in our COVID-19 testing program and complete arrival quarantine. You will remain in arrival quarantine until you have received two negative test results or have completed a longer isolation period because of a positive test result. Currently, we anticipate the average arrival quarantine will last between five and six days, but this may change depending on the course of the pandemic and orders or guidance from the Massachusetts Governor’s office.

Medford/Somerville campus arrivals

  • Appointments are available from 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. each day. If you are arriving after 6 p.m., please register for a testing time early the following morning and reference your after-hours arrival.
  • Medford Campus onboarding will take place at the Gantcher Center.

Fenway campus arrivals

  • 230 Fenway appointments are available Mondays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., beginning on Thursday, January 21.
  • SMFA students may choose to begin their onboarding process at the Gantcher Center. This is recommended if you live on or near the Medford campus. You may also opt to sign up for special onboarding hours offered at 230 Fenway if you live near the Fenway campus.

How to select your onboarding date

Select your arrival date as follows:

  • Log into SIS
  • Click the “About Me” menu
  • Click “Housing” in the bottom left corner of the screen
  • If you are prompted to sign in, use your Tufts-Student SSO credentials
  • Click “Forms” on the top menu bar
  • Then select either the Medford campus or SMFA Fenway campus onboarding form. Note that SMFA Fenway campus will have limited onboarding availability.

Final thoughts

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. 

With all best wishes,

Michelle Bowdler
Executive Director, Health & Wellness

Marie Caggiano, MD
Medical Director, Health Service

Camille Lizarríbar, JD, PhD
Dean of Student Affairs and Chief Student Affairs Officer for AS&E