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Tufts will restart residential campus operations in fall 2020 following careful planning by faculty, staff, and university leadership for the past several months. All undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts and the School of Engineering (collectively, AS&E) are invited to be on campus in person this fall. 

The 2020-21 academic year will be a different experience for all Tufts students. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to reimagine how we support students in every aspect of their Tufts experience –academic, social, and personal. The information below and in the downloadable Fall 2020 Campus Guide for AS&E Students [PDF], as well as in the FAQs, should answer most of your questions about what you can expect as a student this fall. If not, please send an email to

Personal Health on Campus

All students who are on campus in person this fall will be tested for COVID-19 and will be required to complete a daily health report. Face masks are required indoors and outdoors. Mental health and counseling resources are available, and students can examine the risk and options to decide what’s best for them.

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Academic Life

Courses in 2020-21 will be offered in a variety of formats, including a hybrid format that includes in-person and virtual components. SMFA Studio Arts curriculum will mix virtual instruction with in person studio use. Physical distancing will be required of everyone participating in person. Students with disabilities may submit documentation The StAAR (Student Accessibility & Academic Resource) Center to initiate a request for accommodations.

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Living On Campus or Off Campus

All first-year and sophomore students are guaranteed university-provided housing and will be organized into residential cohorts usually ranging from 6-12 students. Students living in off-campus apartments will be considered assigned to a residential cohort with the people with whom they share an apartment or house.

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Facilities & Dining Services

The capacity of many buildings, and many rooms within buildings, has been reduced to allow for physical distancing. Entry to many Tufts facilities will be access-controlled in a new way in 2020-21. It is anticipated that dine-in service will be possible in the dining centers at various times during the academic year, and reservations will be required. At other times, all service will be takeout only. 

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Athletics & Fitness Center

The extent to which Tufts varsity, club, and intramural sports teams will be able to participate in athletics this fall has not been determined yet. The university anticipates that the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center will be open this fall with new protocols to ensure health and safety. 

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Pandemic Safety Policy for Student Behavior

Our community’s health and safety depend on all members abiding by certain standards. This includes a general ban on university-sponsored travel in fall 2020 to reduce the number of people who contract and spread COVID-19. 

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Student Organizations and Social Events

As much as possible, student organization events should occur through a virtual format. In-person events will need to be approved through the Office for Campus Life. Also, social events and gatherings in indoor and outdoor spaces will be limited in size in accordance with public health guidelines. 

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International Students

We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic creates particular burdens for students who are from countries other than the United States. The Tufts International Center is responsible for assisting international students with US visa and immigration requirements. 

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Top FAQs for Undergraduate Students

How long do I have to decide on my fall plans? Can I change my mind?

We are asking all undergraduate students (including returning students, incoming first-year students, and transfer students) to clarify their intent for the fall by July 7. Let us know your plans by completing the Fall 2020 Intent Form, which will take you only a few minutes. Incoming first-year students and transfer students can access the form through their new student checklist; returning students can access the form here.

Completing the Fall 2020 Intent Form will help us determine how to best support you—whatever decision you make—and help us to provide you with the information you will need.  

We understand that plans may change. We will do our best to accommodate any changes in intent, but it is important to note that certain options and restrictions may apply after the deadline, such as courses being full, and on-campus housing not being available. 

GRADUATE STUDENTS: Graduate School of Arts and Sciences students should complete this form indicating what your plans will be for the fall semester by July 10. All School of Engineering graduate students must complete this form by July 7. Returning MFA students at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts must notify the MFA Program Office by emailing Jeannie Simms, Director of SMFA Graduate Studies, by July 7.

Why am I being asked to declare my intent for this fall?

We are asking all undergraduate students (including returning students, incoming first year students, and transfer students) to clarify their intent for the fall by July 7. Please let us know your plans by completing the Fall 2020 Intent Form, which will take you only a few minutes. Whether you decide you want to come to campus, to stay remote, or (for first-year students) to take a gap year or (for returning students) to take a leave of absence, we want to hear from you. 

We encourage you to review the Fall 2020 Campus Guide for AS&E Students, which provides detailed information about our campus preparations. 

Completing the Fall 2020 Intent Form will help us determine how to best support you—whatever decision you make—and help us to provide you with the information you will need. Incoming first-year students and transfer students can access the form through their new student checklist; returning students can access the form here.

How can I find out the format of my classes, and learn if they will be in-person, virtual, or hybrid?

The delivery method of all courses in the School of Engineering are available in Student Information System now. 

The delivery method of all courses in the School of Arts and Sciences are listed on each academic department’s individual website now. These will also be available in SIS on July 1.

All SMFA courses will be virtual.

What is a residential cohort?

Students living on campus will be organized into residential cohorts. Residential cohorts are small groups, usually housing six to 12 students each. The residential cohort provides students the opportunity for very close personal and social contact with others—including the ability to have a roommate and share meals with others.  

Face coverings are not required when (1) students are in their bedroom and the only other people present are their assigned roommate(s), (2) when eating, and (3) when doing personal grooming. Any time students leave their bedroom and are or may be within six feet of others, including going to common spaces or bathrooms, face coverings are required. (Students will be assigned to use specific bathrooms and limited occupancy in the bathroom spaces will be implemented.) 

When interacting only with members of their residential cohort in residence hall areas, physical distancing should be maintained where possible, but may be relaxed where needed as long as masks are worn. 

Students living in off-campus apartments will be considered assigned to a residential cohort with those people who they share an apartment or house with, as long as the group is no more than 12 people and all people in the apartment or house consent to this model.  

Students are accountable to themselves and the other members of their residential cohort. If a student becomes infected but is asymptomatic or becomes symptomatic with COVID-19, the people most at risk are likely their roommate(s) and others in their residential cohort. Accordingly, students should carefully observe the university’s physical distancing and face-covering guidelines. If one student in a residential cohort is symptomatic and/or tests positive for COVID-19, all members of the residential cohort will likely be required to self-quarantine in their current housing assignment. However, if masks were worn frequently during close interactions with the other members of the residential cohort, it will help minimize spread from the infected person. We will test the other members of the cohort frequently for COVID-related symptoms and presence of virus to identify any infected individuals to prevent further spread. 

New students will be placed into residential cohorts based on living compatibility (as determined by the housing questionnaire). Continuing students will re-engage in the modified housing confirmation and reselection process to determine the best space for them and, if they wish, they will be able to form groups for the purposes of cohorting. In the event that a student does not have a larger group to join, they will be able to select into a residential area and still have the benefits of a cohort experience, as well as the opportunity to meet new people in the process.  

The residential cohort model has benefits and risks. The most significant benefit is the opportunity for close social interaction with a small group of trusted others. An important component of the personal development that students receive from their Tufts education arises from the close connection with other students. This option facilitates those connections while reducing the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in the community by limiting the number of people with whom students have such close contact. Additionally, the residential cohort model allows students to share meals with others. Since eating requires the removal of a face covering, without a residential cohort model, eating would require people to stay physically distanced at all times during meals.  
The residential cohort model also provides a mechanism for collective responsibility and peer accountability, which is necessary to safely operate during a pandemic. The residential cohort model also has drawbacks. Spending time with people without physical distancing increases the risk that one could get COVID-19 from them if they are infected, even when wearing a face covering. However, wearing a mask is an important measure to reduce spread of infection. Additionally, being in frequent close contact with a small group of people may tend to increase conflict and emotional challenges. Also, moving to a different housing assignment will be far more challenging than usual this semester, given the very limited space on campus and the residential cohort model. 

What dining services will be available? Will I be able to eat in the dining center?

To comply with state guidance for restaurants, the experience in the Carmichael and Dewick-MacPhie dining centers will be significantly changed in 2020–21. 

As the pandemic evolves and state regulations change, it is anticipated that dine-in service will be possible in the dining centers at various times during the academic year, while at other times all service will be takeout only. The timing of inside seating availability will be determined by public health guidance and state and municipal regulations for restaurants. It is thus important for students to familiarize themselves with both the takeout only and dine-in options. 

Only Takeout 

When only takeout is in effect: 

  • All food and beverages will be packaged for takeout. Students may not dine-in, nor may they gather or congregate in the dining centers. 

  • Access to Carmichael and Dewick-MacPhie to pick up takeout will be by reservation only to prevent crowding in the dining centers at pick-up time.  

  • Students will be able to select from an appetizing menu of high-quality, nutritious food similar to what they are used to from Tufts Dining. Specials and featured menu items will still be offered on the menus. 

  • Meals will be packaged by Dining staff for takeout. No self-service is currently allowed. 

  • Students are required to wear a face covering at all times in all campus dining locations. 

Dine-In Service 

When dine-in service is permitted, the following practices will be employed: 

  • Takeout will remain available using the protocol specified above. Since there is not enough seating for everyone who may want it, all food and beverages will be packaged for takeout.

  • Reservations will be required for dine-in service. Students may make a reservation to visit the dining center up to several days in advance. The most popular dining centers may limit the number of times an individual student can visit per day to enable more people to enjoy them. 

  • Students may dine in with only members of their residential cohort. 

  • Many chairs and tables will be removed from the dining centers to increase physical distancing. This reduces the number of people who can be in each dining center at one time, therefore many people will need to be flexible with meal times. Students who cannot access the dine-in service can use their meal swipes at any retail location as well as several new service locations being planned. More information on these new “pop-up” locations will be announced later this summer. 

Will there be a tuition discount for students studying remotely this fall?

No. There will be no reduction in tuition or mandatory fees for 2020-21. Tuition and fees enable the university to sustain its investment in faculty, programs, research, and student support to provide the Tufts experience to you regardless of the modality of your courses this semester. 
All students who participate in the 2020-21 year remotely but full-time will be required to pay full-time tuition. 

Undergraduate students who participate remotely will be required to pay the student activity fee, and the mandatory health fee. As always, the Student Activity fee goes to support undergraduate student organizations and programs. All undergraduate students pay the student activities fee and therefore are members of the TCU, Tufts Community Union. Members of the TCU are eligible for all programming and involvement opportunities, as well as the right to vote in TCU Student Government elections. Students choosing to be remote will maintain all TCU membership rights and responsibilities. The health fee supports the Health Service, the Counseling and Mental Health Service, the CARE Office, the Health Promotion and Prevention office, and enables students to access insurance support. Emergency and after-hours consultations and advice are available to all in-person students and students who are studying remotely.  Students who participate remotely may have access to tele-medicine services (including tele-therapy through the Counseling and Mental Health Service), though certain legal restrictions may apply depending on your location. All remote students have access to the services of the CARE Office and the Health Promotion and Prevention Office virtually. Accordingly, the health fee is required of all students as per our policy.

While I am not immunocompromised, I am uncomfortable coming back to campus this semester. What are my options?

The decision to return to campus is a personal one based on many factors. Being immunocompromised is one of many reasons that students may choose not to return to campus.  

If you are uncomfortable returning to campus this fall for any reason, you may enroll full-time with intent to take your classes remotely by completing the Fall 2020 Intent Form. (Incoming first-year students and transfer students can access the form through their new student checklist; returning students can access the form here.) 

Please note that a large number of classes will offer a remote option. Please speak with your advising dean if you have questions about your courses. 

GRADUATE STUDENTS: Graduate students are assumed to be returning in person unless they otherwise notify the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences or the Office of the Dean of Graduate Education in the School of Engineering. 

I am unable to come to campus due to problems obtaining a visa or travel concerns. What are my options?

You may either enroll full-time with intent to take all your classes remotely or, if you are a returning student, take a personal leave of absence.  

For new first-year students, you may either enroll full-time, with intent to take all of your classes remotely or take a gap year.   

Students enrolling full-time and remotely should be aware that most, but not all, courses will offer a virtual option. Please speak with your academic advisor if you have questions about your courses. 

We plan to hold as many courses in-person or in a hybrid format as feasible, with many courses offering a virtual option. It is important to review your class schedule through the summer as offerings and mode of instruction may change. 

Engineering academic departments and programs course offering details, including delivery method (in-person, hybrid, or virtual), are available in Student Information System SIS now.  

Arts and Sciences academic departments and programs have outlined their fall course offerings on their websites, including delivery method (in-person, hybrid, or virtual). These will be available in SIS on July 1. 

To see the instruction mode for each course in SIS, choose “enrollment summary” under the menu item “classes” and click into each course. 

SMFA faculty have dramatically revamped the school's course offerings (and its approach to art education) to meet the moment. All SMFA courses will be taught virtually, allowing students to participate regardless of their location and the epidemiological situation this fall.

For students who choose to come to campus, specialized studios and workshops will be accessible by appointment.  Individual studio space will be made available to any student by request. In person consultation with faculty and studio managers may be available individually or in small groups.

For students not on campus, the resource requirements of most SMFA courses are flexible and will work with whatever each student has available. The school will be providing some materials, equipment, and software by mail or non-contact pickup to expand students’ capabilities at home.

Undergraduate students taking a leave of absence are allowed to spend a maximum of four semesters away from campus during completing their degrees. This includes personal leave, semesters of required withdrawal, or absences without formal leave. The limit of four semesters does not include study abroad, leave for domestic study elsewhere, leave for military or religious service, or medical leave.  

After an absence of a semester or longer, students must confer with the advising deans to return. A student who exceeds the limit of four semesters away from campus must apply for reinstatement. 

What are the steps I will need to take (i.e., testing, quarantining, etc.) upon arrival to campus this fall?

All undergraduate students returning to Tufts in person for the fall will be required to participate in COVID-19 testing according to protocols set by the university. 

For students moving into the residence halls, these tests will be administered upon arriving to campus, and students may be required to quarantine in their assigned housing space while they await results of the initial test. Students living off-campus but participating in Fall 2020 in person will participate in testing before the start of the fall term. Health Services will send a more detailed arrival-testing protocol to all in-person students later this summer. 

Once the initial testing protocol (which generally takes three to five days altogether) is completed, students will be informed that they may socialize and move about campus while following public-health guidance (i.e., using face masks at all times outside their bedroom and observing physical distancing whenever outside their residential cohort). 

This fall, students will be required to wear masks at all times except when (1) in their bedroom with only roommates who share the bedroom, (2) when eating, and (3) when doing personal grooming.  Students will be required to maintain physical distancing when outside their residential cohort. 

A student who is diagnosed with COVID-19 will be asked to provide information about other people they have been in close contact with during the time where they may have been infectious and able to transmit the virus. A representative will contact students who have been identified as having an exposure and provide them with information and resources to self-quarantine. Isolation housing will be provided in a residence hall that will be used exclusively for this purpose. Isolation housing will be made available to students who have COVID-19, whether they live on or off campus, subject to availability and public health guidance. 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.

We encourage you to review the Fall 2020 Campus Guide for AS&E Students, which provides detailed information about our campus preparations.