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Should I wear a cloth mask when I go outside for essential activities?

Face masks or face coverings must be worn by all students, faculty, staff and visitors in the presence of others when on campus, in common workspaces, meeting rooms, classrooms, dormitories, dining facilities and other shared spaces. The only exception to this is when an individual is alone in an office, in your own dormitory bedroom or greater than 6 feet from anyone else when outside.

The City of Somerville requires face masks be worn whenever anyone is in any public space—indoors or outside—regardless of the person's ability to socially distance; non-compliance is subject to a $300 fine by the city. A similar order exists in the City of Medford, but violators are not subject to a fine. Tufts University police officers will take notice of anyone not following these orders on campus.

Individuals who believe it is unsafe to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition or disability, or other protected reason should consult with their supervisor, HR business partner or dean's office. A good option for the hearing impaired who rely on lip reading and facial queues:

Disposable masks will be provided by Tufts in all of its buildings for use by students and employees.

Cloth face coverings may also be worn, but will not be provided by the university. Cloth face coverings should only be worn for one day at a time, and must be properly laundered before use again. The fabric design or pattern for cloth face coverings should be appropriate for the workplace and classroom. See the CDC's guidelines on the use of cloth face coverings.

What should I do if I was a close contact of a potential or COVID-19 positive individual? Additionally, what should I do if one of my employees reports a potential risk?

If you have been in close contact with someone who has been identified as having a potential or positive COVID-19 diagnosis, please email immediately.

Please provide the following information in your e-mail to if it is available to you:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Affiliation (student, faculty, staff)
  • Dept./School
  • Symptoms (if any) and any known contact with someone who has either tested positive for COVID-19 or is exhibiting symptoms
  • Date of onset of first symptoms
  • If you’ve been tested (yes/no)
  • Results of the test, if any
  • Date of email

It would be helpful to understand how you received that information and any details that would help us follow up.

  • If you believe you have been exposed and are a student at Tufts, please contact our Health Service at 617-627-3350 and we can offer guidance.
  • If you are a staff or faculty member, please contact your physician for guidance and alert your supervisor.
  • See the CDC's recommendations for self-isolation.

Should I wear a mask when I come to work at Tufts?

Following CDC recommendations, face masks are required for those on all campuses at Tufts.

Face masks or face coverings must be worn by all staff working on campus when in the presence of others and in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. common work-spaces, meeting rooms, classrooms, etc.).

For more information about the use and care of face coverings, please refer to the Return to Campus guide.

Last update: Friday, Aug 7, 2020 - 10:47am

What healthcare options are available for staff or faculty?

In the event that you need medical care, we recommend that staff reach out to their primary care provider or seek care through a local emergency room/urgent care provider. In addition, you may take advantage of the TeleHealth benefit available to staff members who are enrolled in university health plans.

Additionally, the Tufts Employee Assistance Program is a great resource for mental health support, counseling, logistical support, or any similar need that may arise during this period. This service is free for all staff members and can be a great asset during emergencies.

Last update: Friday, Aug 7, 2020 - 11:40am

Will you be notifying the community every time someone tests positive?

We do not send out a broad notification every time there is a positive result within the university community. We will be working closely with our COVID-19 testing and contact tracing providers as well as medical and public health authorities on all necessary contact tracing and alerts.

How do I know if I have been exposed to someone in the Tufts community who tested positive for COVID-19?

Tufts University is partnering with the Broad Institute in Cambridge to administer routine and exposure/symptom-based testing of students, faculty, and student-facing staff for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When they receive a positive test result, Broad will contact the local board of health and Tufts Health Service to notify students or Marathon Health to notify faculty and staff who have tested positive. 

This will also initiate the contact tracing process with Marathon Health. Marathon Health will record the date of symptom onset and gather a list of close contacts within the Tufts community starting 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms. Marathon Health will then notify all close Tufts contacts.

After they are notified, students who test positive and are well enough will be asked to move from their on- or off-campus residence to isolation housing on campus. Isolation housing is not an infirmary or a hospital. A student with moderate or severe symptoms will be taken to a local hospital via ambulance.

Students who have been exposed and need to stay separated from others will self-quarantine in their current residence. Students must also download/register themselves on the Tufts health monitoring app that will be used throughout the semester to minimize the spread of COVID-19 infection.

What is the difference between self-quarantine, self-isolation, and self-monitoring? 

Isolation is the term used to separate people who are sick from people who are healthy. Quarantine means to separate and restrict the movement of healthy people who may have been exposed to an illness to see if they become sick. Monitoring means to monitor themselves for symptoms, such as shortness of breath, a dry cough, or fever by taking their temperature twice a day and remaining alert for coughing or difficulty breathing.

Faculty who are teaching on campus and student-facing staff will receive weekly surveillance testing as well as exposure and symptom-based testing at designated locations on campus. There will be protocols in place to notify them in the case of a positive test result and to initiate contact tracing and notification of any close contacts in the Tufts community.

How is “close contact” defined?

The CDC defines close contact as: 

  1. being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case without a mask for more than 15 minutes; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case; or 
  2. having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on).

Is there any way to know if a fever is a sure sign of the virus?

Fever is very common with COVID-19, but it is not always present. Body aches and chills are also common. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing symptoms, you should contact your primary health care provider for guidance on what steps you need to take. People who are feeling sick are advised to stay home and to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Last update: Friday, Aug 7, 2020 - 12:30pm

What is the incubation period for people starting to show symptoms of COVID-19?

According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Most people experience symptoms within 5-7 days of exposure. 

Last update: Friday, Aug 7, 2020 - 12:28pm

I have been deemed an essential employee but a member of my household has COVID-19. Should I go to work?

Employees who are well, but who have an ill household member at home with COVID-19, should not work. Employees should consult first with their healthcare provider and also notify their supervisor that a household member has COVID-19. (Note: If your school (e.g., TUSDM’s COVID-19 response team) has an exposure response team, please make sure to report any exposure/illness to that response team and follow the protocol of your school.) These situations typically require self-quarantine for members of your household. Please refer to the Q&As above regarding self-quarantine.

If you test negative for COVID-19, but live in a household with someone who tests positive, it would be recommended that you quarantine for 14 days following your last close contact with the person who is positive. If household members are not able to avoid close contact with one another, the exposed person will need to quarantine for 14 days after the sick person is cleared by their health care professional.

Last update: Friday, Aug 7, 2020 - 12:27pm

If someone has COVID-19 and recovers, can they get it again?

We don’t know for sure, and people who have previously been infected should still take the same precautions as others in preventing exposure. The CDC has answers to frequently asked questions about how COVID-19 spreads and how to protect yourself.

Last update: Friday, Aug 7, 2020 - 12:26pm

These FAQs are subject to change. Please check back here for the latest guidance. If you do not  find the information you are looking for, please send an email to