The availability of winter break housing for students will be limited as a result of heightened COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, according to an email sent to the Tufts community on Nov. 9. The university anticipates making winter housing accommodations for far fewer students than it has in the past, according to Director of Residential Life and Learning Josh Hartman.
Hartman cited health concerns as the reason for the university’s limited winter break housing capacity.
“We are not able to offer as much winter break housing as we have in the past due to the pandemic and health concerns related to an increased population on campus for that length of time,” Hartman wrote in an email to the Daily.
The university does plan to make exceptions for some students facing extenuating circumstances, however.
“There will be exceptions for international students who face travel restrictions, as well as for students with other significant hardships,” Camille Lizarríbar, dean of student affairs, wrote in an email to the Daily.
Those who wish to stay will need to request an exception through the Office of Student Affairs.
Nyla Samee, a sophomore from Mumbai, India, said that while there are currently no formal travel restrictions preventing her from returning to her home country, she does not plan to travel back home during winter break.
“I’ve decided that it’s best for me to not travel back to Mumbai as [COVID-19] cases are extremely high there,” Samee wrote in an email to the Daily. “I think that traveling internationally to a [COVID-19] hotspot is only asking for trouble. Not to mention, one week of my winter break would be used to quarantine upon arrival in India. It’s not worth the money and the long trip.”
Students seeking to secure winter housing have also explored other possible options if the university does not grant them on-campus accommodations.
“If in the end Tufts fails to provide me housing for winter, I am thinking about renting a room/apartment in Boston,” Chelsie Wei, a first-year, wrote in an email to the Daily.
Samee also shared her alternative plans if on-campus housing is not feasible.
“If Tufts doesn’t give me housing, I’m definitely going to sublet in the Medford/Somerville area,” Samee said.
Wei hopes the university can accommodate student needs.
“I honestly wish there’s enough room to meet every student’s needs because [COVID-19] has caused so [many] problems … You never know who needs to stay here over winter break,” Wei said.
Students who are granted on-campus housing during the winter period will not be allowed to remain in their current fall housing assignments. Instead, they will be required to relocate to specifically designated winter housing facilities, according to Hartman.
Samee and Wei both expressed concerns about the availability of food options during the winter break, and Wei discussed the social isolation that could occur if only a few people decide to stay on campus
In an effort to provide opportunities for bonding during the winter break, Tufts plans to continue to allow reservations of university spaces with the hope that students can come together, as long as they follow COVID-19 guidelines.
“Students can also reserve a variety of rooms in academic spaces on campus to gather in groups of no more than ten (to comply with gathering regulations), so it is our hope that those spaces allow another opportunity for getting together,” Lizarríbar said.
The COVID-19 testing protocol will remain in place during winter break, according to Marie Caggiano, medical director of Health Service. She said that all students permitted to live on campus are expected to abide by the health protocols outlined by the university.
“Testing during winter break will continue as normal … For students who test positive and need to isolate or are identified as close contacts of a person who tests positive, Tufts will continue to offer supports including housing at the mods, food delivery, and case management,” Caggiano wrote in an email to the Daily.
Students who live on campus over the break will have access to the standard resources provided by the Health Service and Counseling and Mental Health Services, according to Caggiano.