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March 26, 2021

Dear Student,

We need your help. Yesterday, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reported its highest one-day case total since February 1, with 2,274 new cases of COVID-19 being diagnosed. Tufts’ Medford Somerville campus has seen a sharp increase in COVID positive students in recent days. Almost half of our isolation beds are now occupied, and we are approaching positivity rates that we have not seen before. There are COVID-19 variants circulating, which are more contagious than the original strain, and we need to keep ourselves and our community healthy.

We want to avoid a situation where we need to reinstate the restrictions that we had at the beginning of the term. However, if the number of COVID cases continues to climb higher, being able to finish our in-person semester is at stake, including our ability to hold in-person departmental ceremonies for graduating students slated to begin three weeks from now.

In response, effective immediately, we are increasing the frequency of COVID-19 surveillance testing to every other day for students currently testing twice weekly. 

What can you do?

We need your immediate and full cooperation:

  • Cooperate fully with contact tracing. To contain the spread of the virus, if you test positive, you must inform the contact tracers of all close contacts you may have had. Recently, students have been reticent to provide the names of all possible contacts, which hinders our ability to limit the spread of the virus and severely undermines our public health strategy. Students who are less than forthcoming about their contacts may be required to finish the term remotely for public health reasons.
     
  • Enjoy the Tufts staycation and observe the travel policy. There are several holidays or long weekends coming up but they are not meant as travel opportunities. Our essential only travel policy remains firmly in place. You may travel only under exceptional circumstances (e.g., the death or life-threatening illness of a close family member) and your travel must be approved in advance by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs. Unapproved, non-essential travel (i.e., vacation weekend, family visit, attendance at a friend’s wedding) is a violation of University policy and your agreement to be an in-person student. More importantly, it puts the community at an unnecessary risk and could jeopardize the rest of our spring semester.
     
  • Limit gatherings—both indoors and outdoors—to a maximum of 10 people. There are differences between guidelines related to the size of gatherings and events published by Massachusetts and different towns and cities within the Commonwealth; we will continue to follow the more conservative guidelines of our host cities of Medford and Somerville. Given the rising numbers and uncertainties with variants, the observance of more conservative guidelines is fundamental to limiting the spread of COVID-19.
     
  • Get outside. The weather is getting warmer. Get outside as much as possible and enjoy physically distanced and masked activities. When in your room or apartment, open the windows and get some fresh air.
     
  • Participate fully in COVID-19 surveillance testing. As we stated earlier, all AS&E undergraduates living either on- or off-campus and all AS&E graduate students living in Tufts-owned housing and playing on varsity teams are required to be tested every other day until further notice. This increase in testing frequency is effective immediately. Graduate students living off campus are required to test once per week
     
  • Follow all of the COVID-19 other protocols and restrictions. Continue to do your part by wearing face masks at all times except when in your bedroom alone or with your roommate, practicing physical distancing, and frequently washing or sanitizing your hands.

We know that the warmer weather, longer days, and the hope brought by the vaccines make it hard to continue our restricted lifestyles. Despite what you may read or see others doing, the reality is that the battle against COVID-19 is far from over. Please help us keep each other and our communities safe by staying committed to the public health measures that have allowed us to be together this year. Let’s make sure we get to the finish line this term.

With best wishes,

 

Michelle Bowdler, MSPH
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