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NOVEMBER 15, 2020


Dear Students:

The number of COVID cases on our campus in the past week has increased substantially. As of this afternoon, 10 new cases were identified over the weekend.

More concerning than the number of COVID cases is the number of individuals who have been identified as close contacts. This means that some students may not be fully observing the parameters needed to contain spread.

As a consequence of these increasing numbers, the following guidance is being put into effect immediately until further notice.

The only times you are expected to leave your residence hall or off-campus apartment are to:

  • Attend class, study in the library or designated study space, or perform work in a laboratory;
  • Pick up food;
  • Go outside for physically distanced exercise;
  • Seek medical care;
  • Obtain your COVID test;
  • Go to or from employment

Do not leave your residence hall or apartment to attend social events, gatherings, or parties.

Beginning tomorrow, the gym will be closed for all recreational use. Athletic training will continue at a physical distance with ongoing emphasis on physical distancing and mask wearing.

Some students have expressed an increased sense of safety because they participate in COVID-19 surveillance testing and thus have gathered in larger numbers than is allowed and have been lax in adherence to physical distancing and mask wearing requirements. This may be due to a false sense of security, perhaps feeling protected by their negative test results, but this is inaccurate. We need to underscore that negative tests do not provide protection from COVID spread. The tests are intended to identify students who have COVID-19 and to isolate them from the larger community as quickly as possible to minimize spread.

Now more than ever, it is imperative that you follow these guidelines diligently:

  • Wear masks at all times except while in your bedroom, while grooming or eating. Note that while eating, it is imperative that you are 6 or more feet away from anyone around you.
  • Wear masks and practice physical distancing when in common areas of your residence hall or apartment at all times including while in the bathroom unless you are grooming.
  • If you cannot maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others in a room or common area, you cannot stay in that room.
  • Bedrooms are for personal use. Do not have visitors in your bedroom. Suitemates should only share common areas. 
  • Do not gather in groups larger than 10 people, regardless of whether you and others are wearing masks.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands frequently, but especially when leaving and returning to your residence and before removing your mask
  • If you feel unwell, stay in your residence hall or apartment. Call Student Health Service (617-627-3350).
  • Maintain your COVID-19 surveillance test schedule.
  • Refamiliarize yourself with Tufts policies and public health information.

Our communication has been and will remain transparent. However, we will never identify the health status of specific students to protect their privacy and comply with HIPAA. 

If you are identified as a close contact of an individual who has tested positive, you will be contacted by a contact tracer who will advise you about quarantine. Living in the same building or on the same floor with someone who has tested positive does not mean that you are a close contact. In addition, one or two cases within a particular residence does not constitute an outbreak. At present, there is no one residence hall associated with a majority of cases.

The pandemic has now gone on for almost eight months, and we are all weary; however, increased vigilance is required as cases increase at Tufts and in the surrounding communities. Adhering closely to these new guidelines affords us the greatest chance to maintain our current campus life. Should the number of COVID-19 cases or the number in quarantine due to close contact continue to increase substantially, we will have to consider additional restrictions in order to protect the health and safety of our community.

Sincerely,

 

Michelle Bowdler, MPH
Executive Director, Health & Wellness

Marie Caggiano, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Health Service

Michael R. Jordan, MD, MPH
University Infection Control Health Director 

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