To protect against the spread of COVID-19, Tufts is enacting emergency staffing measures, offering more flexible sick leave benefits, and providing additional opportunities to work from home. These emergency guidelines and interim measures were developed to best respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and are subject to change as the impact on the university and its community evolves. You can read the last staff update in full here.
Guiding Principles for Employment at Tufts During COVID-19 Pandemic
The university remains open and our important work in the world continues. Although much of the university staff is now working from home, and may be for some time, this does not mean that the university is closed. Wherever you are working, we thank all of our staff for their efforts in support of the university during this difficult time.
Our goal is to remain focused on the safety and well-being of our colleagues and their families, as they balance the new and evolving demands placed upon them both at work and at home. As a community, we ask for all management and staff to work together collaboratively, compassionately, and creatively to continue the important work of the university.
Understanding Tufts Staffing During COVID-19 Pandemic
Essential On-Campus Staff
Consistent with Governor Baker’s March 24, 2020 Executive Order, colleges and universities have been designated as “Essential On–Campus Services.” As a result, some Tufts’ staff members will be able to continue working on campus during this period. Supervisors will inform staff if it is essential that they continue to report to work on campus, pursuant to the Governor’s Order.
We are grateful for the critical contributions these staff are making to our community and for their dedication and service. Because the university remains open and the university’s operations will continue under the Governor’s Order, it should be noted that the “Essential On-Campus” designation is separate and distinct from references to “essential personnel” that appear in the university’s collective bargaining agreements and handbooks and which are applicable only to university closures.
For more information about the Governor’s Order and Tufts Emergency Staffing model for Essential On-Campus Staff, see the following definitions of these terms. (A copy of Governor Baker’s Executive Order can be found online at: COVID-19 Order No. 13.)
Essential Staff (Off-Site or On-Call)
Off-Site. A number of our staff members remain “essential” as described in university policy. However, in light of the Governor’s Order, Essential Staff who have not been specifically identified as “Essential On-Campus” will be expected to take all necessary steps to be able to work from home immediately. Essential staff whose work may not lend itself to working from home should speak to their supervisor to plan alternative options to off-site work.
On-Call. Certain essential staff members may also remain in an “on-call COVID-19 essential” status, and as such, will be called upon to report to work on an on-call or regular basis as required.
Working from Home. Staff who are not in the essential group should continue to work from home until further notice.
Alternative Options for Off-Site Work. The university appreciates that some of our staff will not be able to perform their traditional on-campus work from home and that others may not be available during normal or peak business hours. Tufts is considering options to keep staff who fall into these categories engaged in the mission and work of the university through off-site work alternatives. Some of these options may include cross-training; professional development training and/or content creation; and long-term projects within the individual’s work unit. More information about this is forthcoming.
Academic Staff. Postdocs and graduate students have received specific information related to their work via an additional communication from the Provost’s Office. Additional information and resources for academic staff can also be found here: https://coronavirus.tufts.edu/3-18-20-grad-prof-postdoc/
Q: What can we do to help prevent the spread and the contraction of COVID-19?
A: We have asked all non-essential staff to work from home with the purpose of increasing social distance and protecting ourselves and the broader community from the spread of COVID-19. In response to Governor Baker’s March 24th Executive Order, we have further reduced our campus workforce by asking many essential staff to work from home, specifically creating an emergency staffing model deploying only “Essential On-Campus” staff to regularly report to work on campus. We will be continually assessing the situation and will advise when staff currently working from home can return to their regular workspaces.
We also encourage all staff to follow public guidelines and visit the Tufts COVID-19 website for further information regarding preventive measures. (A copy of Governor Baker’s March 24, 2020 Executive Order can be found online at: COVID-19 Order No. 13.)
Q. Who qualifies as an Essential On-Campus Staff Member?
A. The university has identified certain critical job functions necessary to support a strong response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The selection of these job functions was informed by guidance at the federal, state and local level. Consistent with that guidance, Essential On-Campus Staff include, but are not limited to, the following job functions:
Veterinary health professionals, including animal care attendants, and those involved in the distribution of animal medical materials, animal vaccines and animal drugs
IT staff members
Research laboratory staff associated with basic maintenance and limited approved research exceptions afforded by the OVPR
Law enforcement officers/dispatchers
Food service workers
Plumbers, electricians and others necessary to maintain safe operation of essential facilities
Educators and staff performing critical student support functions
Q: What technology should I prepare for working remotely?
A: Please closely follow the instructions that Tufts Technology Services has outlined to ensure that your work laptop or home computer is set up to allow you to work remotely. Among other things, this guide includes information on:
preparing your equipment
testing your internet connection
ensuring that you can connect to Tufts resources
forwarding your Tufts phone to a home or mobile phone
accessing chat and conferencing tools
If you need technical assistance, please contact TTS at 617-627-3376 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the volume of questions and requests, TTS is experiencing delays in response.
Q: What should I do to prepare my workspace for working from home?
A: Take steps to ensure you have the proper set up at home, and that you have left your workspace in the correct condition for a lengthy absence.
Bring home your laptop, mouse, keyboard, docking station or any other technology you need to continue working remotely.
If you do not have a computer, other necessary equipment or other necessary access or accommodations to work from home, talk to your supervisor so that arrangements can be made to support your work from home.
Take home any paper files or resources you need to perform your work, recognizing that guidelines around proper handling of confidential materials remain in place.
If you need supplies such as pens, paper, or notepads bring those home as well.
Clean all food out of your desk.
Turn off and disconnect any devices, such as heaters, lamps, coffee pots, etc.
Q: How can I check my available amount of sick time?
You can also check with your department administrator.
Q: My health-care provider has advised me to self-quarantine. What should I do?
A: Self-quarantine is recommended for individuals who may have been directly exposed to COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms. Follow the guidance of your health-care provider, and notify your supervisor that you cannot physically come to work. Current CDC recommendations are that the self-quarantine period is 14 calendar days.
If your work can be performed at home, you will be expected to work as directed and approved by your supervisor as long as you are asymptomatic during the self-quarantine, and you will receive your regular pay. Nonexempt staff must be sure to record and report their hours worked and should not work unauthorized overtime.
If you are unable to do your work from home, speak to your supervisor about alternative work options so that you can continue work at home. If no work is possible, you will receive your base pay for the self-quarantine period (two weeks). During the self-quarantine period please keep in touch with your supervisor regarding on-line training, professional development or other duties that you may be able to perform from home.
Q: I have been asked to self-isolate because I have an active COVID-19 infection, based on my health-care provider’s assessment of my symptoms. What should I do?
A: Individuals who have an active COVID-19 infection are asked to self-isolate. Anyone who suspects that they have COVID-19 should please email email@example.com immediately.
If you have been diagnosed with, or you are suspected to have, COVID-19, you should notify your supervisor and should not work at this time. Use your paid sick time and report your request for leave with leave administration at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not have sick time or do not have enough sick time, speak to your supervisor; the university will advance sick time for up to 20 days to benefits eligible staff. You may use this sick leave so you may stay home during a COVID-19 illness or during an illness resulting from COVID-19 without losing pay. Any advanced sick time will be deducted from future sick time provided under university policy. If you exhaust your sick time (including the additional 20 days advanced), and you are unable to work, you may be eligible to use other paid time off. If not, please speak to your Human Resources Business Partner. If you have had an active COVID-19 infection, you will need to provide medical clearance in order to resume work.
Q: Do I have to bring a physician’s note clearing me to return if I have COVID-19?
A: Medical clearance is necessary to return to work if you have had confirmed COVID-19. According to the CDC, “the decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with health-care providers and state and local health departments.” If your department has additional return-to-work requirements, please adhere to those as well.
Q: If I have no available sick time, can I just work from home if I have COVID-19?
A: If you are sick, you should get rest and take care of your health for a speedy recovery. If you are sick with COVID-19 self- isolation is recommended by the CDC to avoid any further spread of the virus and as set forth in prior FAQs, medical clearance will be necessary to return to work if you have had confirmed COVID-19.
If you do not have sick time or do not have enough sick time, speak to your supervisor; the university will advance sick time for up to 20 days to benefits eligible staff. You may use this sick leave so you may stay home during a COVID-19 illness or during an illness resulting from COVID-19 without losing pay. Any advanced sick time will be deducted from future sick time provided under university policy. If you exhaust your sick time (including the additional 20 days advanced), and you are unable to work, you may be eligible for other paid time off. If not, please speak to your Human Resources Business Partner.
Q: If my child or other dependent is not sick, but their school or care facility/provider is closed for a period due to COVID-19 and I need to care for them, can I be paid while I am out?
A: We understand that many schools, day care centers and other dependent care facilities or care options have temporarily closed or moved online due to this emergency.
If your children are at home and particularly if they are of the age that they require your direct supervision, or if you have other dependent care responsibilities while you are at home, we recommend you use family sick time available to you to attend to these responsibilities.
All benefit-eligible staff are normally permitted to use 10 of their available sick days per year for family and/or dependent care. The university will now permit staff to use a total of 20 days of their sick leave to attend to childcare and other dependent responsibilities during this time. While these FAQs are in effect, this time can be used intermittently to balance work and family responsibilities. As set forth in the prior FAQs, benefits eligible staff who do not have 20 days of sick time are eligible to receive an advance of sick time from the university; this same advance may also be used for dependent care. Staff who are advanced sick time may use this sick time to stay home during a COVID-19 illness or during an illness resulting from COVID-19 without losing pay or to attend to dependent care responsibilities. Any advanced sick time will be deducted from future sick time provided under university policy. If family sick days have been exhausted or sick time is exhausted (including any advanced sick time), and a staff member is unable to work, you may be eligible to use other paid time off. If not, please speak to your Human Resources Business Partner.
If you have new or increased caregiver responsibilities as a result of this public health crisis or if you require flexibility during your usual workday to attend to dependent care, please feel free to speak with your supervisor or Human Resources Business Partner about how these responsibilities can be best managed alongside your work responsibilities.
Q: If a household member at home is sick with COVID-19, should I go to work?
A: Essential on-campus staff who are well, but who have an ill household member at home with COVID-19 should not come to work. Staff should consult with their health-care provider and also notify their supervisor that a household member has COVID-19. These situations typically require self-quarantine for all members of your household. Please refer to the Q&As above regarding self-quarantine. See FAQs regarding self-quarantine and dependent care pay continuation options.
Q: Is there a plan in place to make sure that our payroll department can pay staff during a pandemic?
A: Yes, there are payroll continuity plans for ensuring staff will continue to receive their pay during a pandemic.
Q: Who can I go to with finance questions?
A: The Finance Division seeks to maintain business operations through remote work during this period. For general financial questions, please reach out to your Budget Center contact. Please see the dedicated Finance FAQ page for more.
Q: What services currently are being provided telephonically by the Jumbo Health Center during this difficult time?
A: The Jumbo Health Center’s clinical team run by Marathon Health is available for telephonic consultation visits at no cost to you. This includes questions about COVID-19 symptoms, medical triage, and other minor acute health related concerns. Health coaching also is available. You can contact them at 617-627-0467. Their hours of operation are Monday – Thursday from 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Q: What resources can the Tufts Employee Assistance Plan offer?
A: KGA, our employee assistance plan (EAP) provider, has counselors available 24/7 to provide confidential virtual counseling via phone, video, or live chat. KGA also has a COVID-19 Response Page with resources to support you and your family, such as videos to address worry and anxiety, daily meditation sessions, live stretch breaks, and tips on caring for children and elderly family members. They’ll have more videos soon on working remotely. Visit My.KGALifeServices.com for updates.
Contact KGA 24/7 at 800-548-9557, or download and contact them through the KGA Mobile app.
Please remember that we have a shared interest in maintaining a campus community free from discrimination. We must remain committed to preventing and containing, as necessary, an outbreak of COVID-19 within the Tufts community that is not in any way discriminatory or exclusionary. Our goal is to promote a culture of awareness and vigilance that is universal, and not specific to any nationality, race, ability, or other protected category.
During this dynamic time period, the university regularly will post any updates to these guidelines.