Fall Plans for Tufts Announced

The Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering begin the fall semester on September 8 with undergraduates on campus; graduate and professional schools’ plans announced, too.

The university’s fall semester undergraduate and graduate programs in the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering will begin on September 8 as scheduled, and the residential campus will be open, President Anthony Monaco announced in a message to the Tufts community on June 23.

Courses across the Schools of Arts and Sciences and of Engineering will be available in in-person, virtual, and hybrid formats. Courses at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts will be held virtually with in-person access to facilities and studios. The fall semester will end, as previously scheduled, on December 11.

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine, The Fletcher School, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Medicine, and University College have each developed distinct plans for their programs.

Some schools and programs have decided to move all classes online or postpone the beginning of formal instruction until January. Others will be adopting a hybrid approach in which some classes are in-person, some are both in-person and online, and others are conducted virtually.

A brief summary of each school’s plan—along with links for additional information—can be found on the university’s COVID-19 website. (See below for school highlights.)

“As always, the health and safety of our community is our top priority,” Monaco said. “While we know that we will never be able to eliminate all risk, our goal is to reduce it as much as possible by introducing multiple layers of protection and asking each member of our community to remember their obligation to help protect the health of all members of our community.”  

The university will be implementing social distancing guidelines, mask-wearing requirements, strict hygiene practices, health screenings, COVID testing, and contact tracing protocols. Tufts will be reducing the density of classrooms and some residence halls, and setting space aside for students who need to be in quarantine or isolation. For those students who are unable to be on campus in the fall, many classes will be taught online or in a hybrid manner.

Residential spaces will use a small-group model limiting close interactions to groups of six to twelve students; co-curricular activities will change; and dining facilities will offer additional hours, locations, options to pre-order food, and a reservation system to reduce crowding.   

Because of the range of schools that make up the university and their varied programs and needs, more detailed information will follow soon from the schools with which students, faculty, and staff are affiliated. 

The university’s COVID-19 website, FAQ pages, and school-specific pages will have answers to the most common questions about the transition. “In some cases, we won’t yet have answers, and we ask for your patience as we develop plans in what will be the most complex undertaking in the university’s history,” Monaco said.

Among the highlights of the return to campus plans are the following:

Face Covering/Masks: All people on each of Tufts campuses will be expected to wear face masks, whether inside buildings or outside, unless they are unable due to medical reasons. Students will be expected to wear masks throughout residence halls except in their own rooms. 

Social Distancing: Whenever possible, community members will be expected to observe six-foot social distancing guidelines, whether inside or outside.

Self-Reported Diagnosis: Each day, all students, faculty, and staff will be expected to fill out a short online or smartphone app-based self-diagnosis questionnaire before coming to campus or leaving residence halls to inform them about whether they should remain at home/in their dorm room rather than coming to campus. 

Health Screening: There is expected to be a three-part COVID-19 testing program: initial testing of students upon their return to campus to begin the fall semester; regular surveillance testing of students as well as student-facing faculty and staff to identify asymptomatic carriers; and rapid diagnostic testing of those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.  

Contact Tracing: In cases of potential exposure to COVID-19 on campus, contact tracing staff will reach out to individuals who were potentially exposed. Without identifying the source of the potential exposure, staff will inform individuals of the nature of the potential exposure and advise them on appropriate next steps.

Managing Positive Cases: Even though the university will be adopting multiple layers of protection to reduce risk, it is anticipated that some cases of COVID-19 will emerge. If that happens, students diagnosed with COVID-19 will be housed in modular residential units that we plan to set up on the Medford/Somerville campus before the start of the semester, while the other members of their residential cohort will go into quarantine in their existing residential spaces.

Learning Spaces: In all classrooms, six-foot social distancing guidelines will be followed, and masks will be required. Due to these guidelines, the occupancy of our classrooms and lecture halls will be reduced. Most classes with fifty or more students will be conducted remotely, while some will be split into smaller sections. Because some students will not be able to return to campus, whenever possible classes will be conducted in a hybrid format to allow students to participate remotely. Shared SMFA studio facilities will be open to students by appointment, to allow for reduced capacities while providing the freedom to make work. Private SMFA studios will be accessible as usual. 

Libraries: Libraries will be open for study at reduced capacity in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Plans are being developed for contactless borrowing and return of library materials. 


For all schools, learn more at http://go.tufts.coronavirus.

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: All graduate students are welcome to come to campus in person. Graduate students will have a variety of class formats, including in-person, virtual, and a hybrid of the two.

School of Engineering Graduate Program: All graduate students are welcome to come to campus in person. If for some reason that is not possible for you, we can provide options, such as taking classes virtually.

School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts: The studio arts curriculum offered by SMFA at Tufts has been completely redesigned by the faculty to mix in-depth virtual instruction with options for graduate students to receive supplies and equipment at home or to access studios and facilities in person to complete coursework.

School of Medicine: First- and second-year students will be on campus for clinical experiences, and third- and fourth-year medical students will be on clinical rotation. Many public health and professional degree programs will be remote in the fall. 

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences: Courses and seminars for continuing students will be taught remotely. GSBS will delay matriculation of first-year Ph.D. and Master in Pharmacology students on the Boston campus until January 2021.

School of Dental Medicine: First- and second-year students will have remote education in the fall with clinical experiences shifted to spring. Some advanced students may be back for hands-on and clinical education in the fall.

Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy: The Friedman School will offer a flexible and hybrid academic experience this fall with a mix of online and on campus activities.

The Fletcher School: This fall all courses will be offered remotely. We currently intend to offer our spring semester in a hybrid form with both residential and remote offerings.

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine: On the Grafton campus, Cummings School will offer online and in-person instruction for veterinary, master’s, and Ph.D. students. 

For more information on Tufts’ return to campus plans, more detailed information on all of these topics, extensive frequently asked questions, and contact info for more information, please visit https://go.tufts.edu/coronavirus.

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