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How can staff and faculty maintain social distance when they return to an office?

If you work in an open environment, be sure to maintain at least six feet of distance from co-workers. If possible, have at least one empty workspace separating you from another co-worker. You should always wear a face mask or face covering while in a shared workspace/room. Departments must assess open work environments and meeting rooms to institute measures to physically separate and increase distance between employees, other coworkers, and third parties, such as:

Place visual cues such as floor decals, colored tape, or signs to indicate where people should stand while waiting in line.

Place one-way directional signage in large open workspaces with multiple thruways to increase distance between employees moving through the space.

If you work in an office, no more than one person should be in the same room unless the required six feet of distancing can be consistently maintained. If more than one person is in a room, masks/face coverings should always be worn.

Temporary structures to better define private workspaces may be necessary. Consult with your department head for guidance.

Masks/face coverings should be worn by any staff in a reception/receiving area. Masks/face coverings should be used when inside any Tufts facility where others are present and likely to be in close proximity, including walking in narrow hallways where others travel and in break rooms, conference rooms, and other meeting locations.

Last update: Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - 11:51am
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When and how will full on-campus operations resume?

Tufts has not set a specific deadline for returning to full on-campus operations. Instead, the university intends to take a phased approach, which can generally be described as follows:

  • Phase 0 – Stay-at-Home Advisory (essential employees only)
  • Phase 1 – Limited Access (essential employees plus limited staff to support certain labs and clinics)
  • Phase 2 – Preparation for Hybrid Reopening* (Phase 1 staff plus necessary support staff)
  • Phase 3 – Hybrid Reopening* (Phase 2 staff plus additional support staff)
  • Phase 4 – New Normal (all staff)

*Hybrid Reopening may include a combination of online and in-person academic and extracurricular activities.

On Tuesday, June 23, the university announced its plans for restarting residential campus operations in Fall 2020, for students in the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts. Please see the Fall 2020 Campus Guide for AS&E Students for more information. For information about Fall 2020 and the graduate and professional schools, please refer to the individual websites of the schools. 
 
Tufts plans to phase in the return of staff over time in a coordinated process to prioritize appropriate social distancing, availability of PPE (personal protective equipment), hygiene protocols, symptom screening, testing capabilities for COVID-19, and contact tracing.  
 
All members of the Tufts community will be given advance notice of when they will be expected to return to work on campus. 
 
No one should report to work on campus unless and until they have been explicitly cleared to do so by their school or department leadership.  
 
Tufts will expand on-site staffing based on an assessment of mission-critical operations, ability to control and manage specific work environments, and necessity of accessing on-site resources. Return-to-campus decisions, once approved, will be issued by your respective dean, vice president, or division leader.

Last update: Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - 11:50am

How can departments modify work arrangements to support social distancing?

Once staff members have been instructed to return to campus, departments may consider a number of different alternative work arrangements in support of necessary social distancing requirements. These arrangements include continued telecommuting and modified work hours, schedules, or shift staffing options as follows:

Remote Work: Those who can work remotely to fulfill some or all their work responsibilities may continue to do so to reduce the number of individuals on campus and the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. These arrangements, which should be approved by the immediate supervisor, may be made based on a full- or partial-day/week schedule as appropriate with a focus on supporting the business operations of the unit.
 

Alternating Days: Departments may have the flexibility to offer partial staffing on alternating days, such as Tuesday through Saturday instead of Monday through Friday. Such schedules may help maintain social distancing, especially in areas with large common workspaces.

Assessing On-Site Half-Shifts: Employees may be scheduled to work 50% of their time on-site and 50% of their time at home in such a way that allows for additional social distancing and optimizes use of office space for necessary on-site work. Supervisors and employees can explore these options together in consultation with Human Resources.

Staggered Shifts: The beginning and end of the workday typically bring many people together at common entry/exit points of buildings. Staggering reporting and departure times by at least 30 minutes will reduce traffic in common areas to meet social distancing requirements.

Compressed Work Weeks: In some cases, where work is measured primarily in deliverable outcomes rather than hours worked, a department may choose to offer compressed work weeks such as three-day work weeks with four days off or four-day work weeks with three days off, where practical. Because these arrangements can impact payroll processing, consult with Human Resources for guidance.

All of these options can provide flexibility and opportunities for collaboration and creativity; other options may also exist. But they will require advance planning and clear communication. These arrangements should be approved by the immediate supervisor in consultation with the HR Business Partner to ensure successful implementation and clear expectations. Contact your HR Business Partner for assistance in determining which arrangements will work best for you and your team.

Last update: Tuesday, Jun 2, 2020 - 10:46am
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How will Tufts ensure safe re-access to buildings?

To best manage building capacity for effective social distancing, entry to all Tufts-owned and leased buildings will be regulated and monitored. Your Tufts card/badge will be required for entry to most buildings, even during normal business hours, and you may not hold doors or prop open exterior doors for any other person.

Many Tufts buildings have been powered down to conserve energy and comply with the stay-at-home advisory. Before reopening buildings for staff, departments should coordinate with Facilities to identify usable building access points and coordinate arrival and departure times of staff to reduce congestion during typical “rush hours” of the business day.

Staff arrival and departures should be scheduled in 30-minute increments to reduce personal interactions at building access points, hallways, stairs/elevators, time clocks and other places where employees naturally congregate.

Once you have been instructed to return to the workplace, you should report to work or depart work through your designated building access point and at your designated time to limit the number of people entering and exiting at any one time.

Pursuant to the governor’s guidance for Reopening Massachusetts, dated May 18, 2020, office space occupancy must be limited to 25% of the maximum occupancy allowed in the certificate of occupancy or similar building permit, where available. If your office space is not subject to a maximum occupancy limit, then your return to the workplace occupancy rate must be limited to 25% of the typical occupancy as of March 1, 2020.

Last update: Tuesday, Jun 2, 2020 - 10:46am
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Do I have to wear my mask all the time when I am at work?

The CDC has indicated the COVID-19 pandemic is a threat to public health and therefore everyone who is able to wear a mask or face covering should wear one whenever possible unless you have an approved accommodation. In addition, Tufts COVID-19 policy requires everyone to wear a mask or face covering in the workplace with few exceptions outlined in other related questions.

Tufts University recognizes that wearing masks or cloth face coverings may not be safe or possible in all workplace situations for some people. In some situations, wearing a mask or cloth face covering may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency or introduce significant safety concerns. 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.

I rely on lip reading and my colleagues don’t realize I do this in the workplace. Can I ask everyone I work with not to wear a mask when speaking to me?

Please contact the Tufts OEO Accommodation Specialist, Johny Lainé, who will be able to assist you and your work group with this situation. There are few physical or mental health reasons why someone cannot wear a mask or other type of face covering in the workplace. When wearing a mask or cloth face covering may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency or introduce significant safety concerns, adaptions and alternatives will be considered. Transparent masks may be an acceptable adaption in this situation with the support of the Tufts OEO Accommodation Specialist, Johny Lainé at 617.627.3298.

I wear glasses and sometimes my mask fogs up my glasses and I can’t see.

Please contact the Tufts OEO Accommodation Specialist, Johny Lainé at 617.627.3298 who will be able to assist you with this situation. Typically, masks or face coverings that come up underneath glasses will alleviate this issue. There are few physical or mental health reasons why someone cannot wear a mask or other type of face covering in the workplace. When wearing a mask or cloth face covering may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency or introduce significant safety concerns, adaptions and alternatives will be considered. Please contact the Tufts OEO Accommodation Specialist, Johny Lainé at 617.627.3298 for support in this situation.

I have breathing issues and wearing a mask is too difficult.

There are few physical or mental health reasons why someone cannot wear a mask or other type of face covering in the workplace. Wearing a mask or cloth face covering may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency or introduce significant safety concerns. Adaptions and alternatives will be considered whenever possible to increase the feasibility of wearing a cloth face covering or to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading if it is not possible to wear one. Please contact the Tufts OEO Accommodation Specialist, Johny Lainé at 617.627.3298 if you have questions or wish to request an accommodation.

Do I have to wear my mask all the time when I am at work? I have a physical or medical reason that prohibits 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. When wearing a mask or cloth face covering may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency or introduce significant safety concerns, adaptions and alternatives will be considered whenever possible to increase the feasibility of wearing a cloth face covering or to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading if it is not possible to wear one. Please contact the Tufts OEO Accommodation Specialist, Johny Lainé at 617.627.3298 if you have questions or wish to request an accommodation.

Tufts University recognizes that wearing masks or cloth face coverings may not be safe or possible in all workplace situations for some people. In some situations, wearing a mask or cloth face covering may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency or introduce significant safety concerns.  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.

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.