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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: https://www.theclearmask.com/.

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.

Is the Tufts Bookstore open?

The Tufts Bookstore is temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 situation. The bookstore's website offers free ground shipping on all orders.

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 covid19@tufts.edu immediately.

Please provide the following information in your e-mail to covid19@tufts.edu 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.

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.

Do I have to wear my mask all the time when I am at work?

Tufts' COVID-19 policy requires everyone to wear a mask or face covering in the workplace with few exceptions outlined under the university's accommodation policy.

We encourage you to work with the Tufts Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) if you have questions or concerns about wearing a mask or cloth face covering in your Tufts workplace. In many situations, OEO has already found acceptable and safe adaptations, alternatives and accommodations for those individuals who are unable to wear a mask or cloth face covering because of a physical or mental impairment or sincerely held religious belief. OEO will engage in an interactive dialogue with you in order to increase your feasibility of wearing a mask or cloth face covering safely in your workplace with the goal of reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 across Tufts University.

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 restrictions exist around athletics and athletic fields?

After consulting with the cities of Medford and Somerville, Ellis Oval outdoor track (College Avenue), the Voute tennis courts (Professor’s Row) and Triangle Park (corner of Powder House Boulevard and College Avenue) are now open. Physical distancing and other local guidelines still apply. The vast majority of our Medford/Somerville campus is also open for walks and passive use.

Following a decision of the NESCAC presidents, NESCAC league and championship play were canceled for the remainder of the 2019-2020 winter season. Further, like many of our NESCAC colleagues, Tufts did not have any spring sports during the rest of the 2020 spring semester.

Additionally, NESCAC presidents have decided that conference competition for fall sports must be cancelled for fall 2020. We recognize the dedication and hard work of our student athletes, and we look forward to resumption of NESCAC competition in the future.

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).

What are the expectations of couples or roommates who are self-quarantining?

If both partners are healthy and self-quarantining, there’s no need to eat or sleep in separate rooms. The CDC recommends self-observation for symptoms such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure, though most people experience them within 5-7 days.

If one of you becomes sick, the CDC recommends designating a “sick room” in your home and isolating the sick person in that room as much as possible. This person also should use a separate bathroom, if possible. Visit the CDC’s What to Do If You Are Sick website for the latest guidelines.

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.

Are the art galleries open?

Tufts University Art Galleries are closed to the public and the Tufts community until further notice. For updated information, please refer to the gallery’s website and official announcements from the University. While there is no replacement for seeing artwork in person, please download the TUAG mobile app here for a virtual tour that includes images and gallery texts of current exhibitions.

Do I have to wear my mask all the time when I am at work? My religious beliefs prohibit me from wearing a mask.

If you are able to wear a mask or face covering in the workplace, you must do so unless you have an approved accommodation. There are a few religious reasons why someone may not be able to wear a mask or other type of face covering in the workplace at Tufts. If you believe you need a religious accommodation related to wearing a mask or face covering, there are alternatives, adaptions and accommodations available to you.  Please call the Tufts OEO Accommodation Specialist, Johny Lainé at 617.627.3298.

Tufts University recognizes that wearing masks or cloth face coverings may not be safe or possible in all workplace situations for some people. We encourage you to work with the Tufts Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) if you have questions or concerns about wearing a mask or cloth face covering in your Tufts workplace. In many situations, OEO has already found acceptable and safe adaptations, alternatives and accommodations for those individuals who are unable to wear a mask or cloth face covering because of a physical or mental impairment or sincerely held religious belief. OEO will engage in an interactive dialogue with you in order to increase your feasibility of wearing a mask or cloth face covering safely in your workplace with the goal of reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 across Tufts University.

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 COVID19@tufts.edu.