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December 18, 2020

Dear Graduate Student,

We are writing to invite you to share your plans for the conclusion of the fall semester and to schedule your spring semester onboarding. As we prepare for the spring semester, there are three options available to you:

  1. Remain in routine COVID testing uninterrupted over the winter break.
  2. Be away from campus for part of winter break and apply for early onboarding (on or after January 4) because your work requires access to Tufts facilities before regular onboarding; this option requires approval from Tufts.
  3. Enjoy the winter break away from campus and then participate in onboarding for the spring semester at the regularly scheduled time between January 19 and 29.

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is a series of steps that all in-person students must complete to be present on campus at any time during the spring term. Onboarding includes having a COVID test, participating in arrival quarantine, receiving PPE for the semester, reviewing testing frequency, activating your student ID for the semester, and other steps.

  • Students who do not leave Tufts over winter break AND continue routine surveillance testing (option one below) will not require additional spring onboarding but must have received the flu vaccine.
  • Onboarding is required for all other graduate students who are participating in the spring term in person. All students are required to receive the flu vaccine by December 31.
  • Students participating in the spring term remotely will not participate in onboarding.

COVID public health policies for the spring term

All students who participate in the spring 2021 term in person are required to follow all policies contained in the Fall 2020 Campus Guide for AS&E Students. These policies will remain in effect during the spring semester. We encourage you to carefully review this guide before making your decision to be in person or remote. 

Declare your flu vaccine status - required for spring

If you intend to study in person this spring, you must receive a flu shot and provide documentation to Tufts. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has announced that all full-time undergraduate and graduate students attending any college or university in-person within the Commonwealth are required to get a flu vaccination annually (by December 31). Tufts is requiring the flu vaccine of all students regardless of age. 

If you have not received the flu vaccine yet, please do so now and then submit your documentation. If you have received the vaccine already, please submit your documentation via the Patient Portal

You will be unable to be on campus or complete the spring semester onboarding process if you have not received the flu vaccine and provided Tufts with documentation. Flu vaccines are still available at local pharmacies now and we recommend that you get yours as soon as possible if you have not done so already.

Option One: Remain in surveillance testing uninterrupted over winter break

If you are not leaving the area when the semester ends on December 22 because you live off-campus and plan to remain in the local area throughout the entire break, you may remain in surveillance testing over the winter break following your current cadence. This option requires you to continue your testing uninterrupted during winter break and into the start of the spring semester. If you choose this option, you will not require additional spring onboarding.

If you choose this option, you do not need to read the rest of this message.

Option Two: Request an early onboarding date before January 19

If you leave the testing program over winter break, you will not be able to rejoin the program or return to campus without completing an onboarding process. Graduate students whose work requires access to Tufts research facilities before regular onboarding works may request to return to campus before January 19. Students may choose to do early onboarding starting on Monday, January 4.

  • You will need prior approval for early onboarding from your graduate school to participate.
  • Only those students whose academic work requires access to Tufts facilities will be considered.
  • You will need to receive two negative COVID tests and complete a five to six day quarantine before returning to campus. For example, if you are approved to begin onboarding on January 4, you will take your first test on January 4 and your second test on January 7. If both are negative, you would be able to return to campus on January 11.
  • If you are approved for early onboarding, you will go to the Gantcher Center for your initial COVID test on a walk-in basis on or after January 4 and do not need an appointment.

Routine COVID tests, meal delivery to support arrival quarantine, and other university supports will be unavailable until scheduled onboarding begins on January 19, so please prepare accordingly.

To request early onboarding, apply here.

If you choose this option, you do not need to read the rest of this message.

Option three: Schedule an onboarding date on or after January 19

Graduate students who are participating in the spring term in person are required to participate in onboarding between January 19 and 29. The first step in onboarding takes about 15 minutes to complete. An appointment for onboarding is required unless you are approved for early onboarding (see above). The number of available appointments each day is capped to ensure that onboarding is done in a way that allows for physical distancing and reduces crowds and wait times.

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.

Unless you have requested and been approved for early onboarding, your return to Tufts after winter break must be on the date of your onboarding appointment. Current modeling suggests that the number of daily new cases in Massachusetts and throughout the country will be high during January. 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.

We look forward to welcoming you for the spring semester.

With all best wishes,

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

Robert Cook
Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Karen Panetta
Dean, Graduate Education, School of Engineering