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January 2, 2022

Dear students, faculty, and staff:

We hope that you are having a restful and healthy break. We look forward to welcoming you back to campus on schedule this month.

We know that many of you are anxious to learn about our decisions for the spring semester given the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts and in the United States. Despite the increase in case numbers, as we plan for this semester, we find ourselves in a very different place than we were earlier in the pandemic. We now have effective vaccines and a vaccine booster requirement in place. Combining this with additional layers of protection, including the requirement to wear facemasks and increased COVID-19 testing frequency, we are mitigating the likelihood of severe health implications due to COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible. Of course, this does not mean we can relax our vigilance—we must all continue to do our part to reduce the spread and to protect each other and those who are at higher risk within our communities.

Toward that end, we are instituting the following guidelines for the spring semester.

Vaccinations and boosters

As previously announced, Tufts has updated its COVID-19 vaccination policy to require a COVID-19 booster for all eligible students, faculty, staff, vendors, and affiliates per CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidance. You are eligible if you completed a two-dose vaccine series (e.g., Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, etc.) six or more months ago or received a Johnson & Johnson/Janssen single-dose vaccine two or more months ago. 

There is a rolling deadline for complying with this new requirement. All individuals who are eligible to receive a booster on or before January 15 must comply by February 15. Individuals who are eligible after January 15 will have 30 days from their date of eligibility to comply with this policy. For more information, please see the COVID-19 vaccine information webpage. Outreach by email to eligible individuals will begin in January to remind them of their status and ask them to upload or email documentation of their booster. Regardless of our deadline for compliance, we strongly encourage you to get a booster shot as soon as you are eligible.

Testing
Starting today (January 2) on the Boston Health Sciences campus and tomorrow (January 3) on our other campuses, we are increasing the frequency of testing to three (3) times per week for all faculty, staff, affiliates, and vendors who are on-site at Tufts facilities, and all students (undergraduate and graduate) regardless of campus or area of study. Students, faculty and staff coming to campus fewer than three days each week will test on the days they come to campus. This will continue until the end of the current surge. We require that you get tested immediately upon arrival on campus and limit close contacts as much as possible until you have received a negative test. All testing will be individual PCR testing rather than pooled tests.

The cadence of COVID-19 testing for students, faculty, and staff on the Grafton campus may differ due to operational needs, work schedules and rotations. More information will follow.

Isolation and quarantine

Based on revised CDC and Mass Department of Public Health guidance, students will isolate for a minimum of five (5) days upon a positive test. However, the actual duration of isolation will be determined by your health care provider and will be based on your symptoms as well as evolving public health and university guidelines. Given the transmissibility of the Omicron variant, we must consider the possibility that our isolation space for students on the Medford/Somerville campus could become exhausted early in the semester. If this should happen, we will move to have students living on-campus isolate in their residence hall rooms. All other students will isolate in their off-campus apartments.

Close contacts of those who test positive may be required to quarantine based upon their vaccination and booster status. For further information about who will need to quarantine, please review the flow chart at the bottom of this message. If you are told by a Tufts health care provider that you must quarantine, you must follow these instructions. For students living in residence halls or off-campus apartments, this means staying in your bedroom. Students living on campus may only leave their room to use the lavatory, pick up food in the dining hall, or participate in surveillance testing and then must immediately return to their room. See quarantine information for students living either on-campus or off-campus. Individuals in quarantine will continue routine COVID surveillance testing as established by the university and or as directed by a health care provider.

Medical School students on the Maine track and those in years three or four who rotate at institutions other than Tufts Medical Center, and therefore are not being tested by Tufts University, must follow the isolation and quarantine policy of their local institution.

Masks

Cloth masks are no longer permitted on Tufts’ campuses. Data show that cloth masks are not as effective as surgical-grade 3-ply or KN95 masks in preventing transmission of the virus. You must wear disposable 3-ply or high quality KN95 masks and replace them daily or sooner if they get wet or dirty. The university is providing disposable 3-ply masks in many locations on all campuses, including at main building entrances and residence halls. 

 

Dining

Food service at on-campus dining centers will be grab-and-go only until further notice. Eating and drinking during in-person meetings, events, and gatherings is not allowed. However, eating is permitted in dining halls and other designated spaces across campuses, which are well-ventilated and where there is plenty of room to spread out. Be sure to wash/sanitize your hands and clean/disinfect the area where you are eating before and after meals. Additional information for dining in residential spaces will follow.

We recognize that these guidelines are stricter than they have been. However, they are necessary during this current surge to mitigate infections as we start the spring semester. We appreciate your adherence to these guidelines and your efforts to keep each other and our communities safe. We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves and update the university’s guidance when necessary.

Sincerely,
Caroline Attardo Genco, Ph.D.

Provost and Senior Vice President ad interim

Michael R. Jordan, M.D., M.P.H.
University Infection Control Health Director and Associate Professor of Medicine

Mike Howard

Executive Vice President

Will I be told by a Tufts health care professional to quarantine if I'm a close contact to someone who has tested positive?

Please follow the flowchart below to determine whether quarantine will be required.

 

Flowchart for COVID-19 Protocol