Students on Boston and Grafton campuses continue to face restrictions, Boston students receive vaccinations

The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, pictured here, has taken steps to promote anti-racist practices within the school. via Wikimedia Commons

Students at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton are still being tested regularly and dealing with pandemic guidelines, despite the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines on the Boston campus. 

According to the Tufts COVID-19 dashboard, the seven-day totals through March 1 reported 2,073 and 778 unique individuals tested on the Boston and Grafton campuses, respectively, including students, faculty, staff and affiliates. On both campuses, every student is offered testing, even those who have already received the vaccine. 

The third-year and fourth-year students at the Tufts University School of Medicine have been offered vaccines, and according to third-year Tara Ahmadi, most accepted. She said the school also has plans to vaccinate first- and second-year students soon. 

Although the continued testing policies may seem unnecessary after students have received their COVID-19 vaccines, Michael Jordan, university infection control health director, maintains the importance of following public health guidelines and continuing to test.

“Vaccinated individuals are treated no differently than non-vaccinated individuals in any of our protocols,” Jordan wrote in an email to the Daily. “Individuals who have been vaccinated are still expected to abide by all health and safety policies.” 

Jordan added that beyond testing, vaccinated individuals must also stick to normal pandemic safety policies.

“The need to mask, maintain proper social distance, and practice good hand hygiene continue to be necessary,” Jordan said. 

The availability of testing has had varying effects on classes and academics on the Boston and Grafton campuses. 

Dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Alastair Cribb explained how the increased availability of testing and surveillance has allowed students to engage in hands-on research. 

“Having rapid, efficient testing available on-site, including drive-through testing following exposures, has been critical to keeping faculty, staff, and students safe while continuing our work,” Cribb wrote in an email to the Daily. “We have also been able to safely offer critical hands-on teaching and maintain our research programs, which includes working directly with SARS-CoV-2, because of testing availability.” 

Similarly, the Tufts University School of Medicine has been able to continue with some hands-on teaching, though students have experienced changes in classes and continue to face academic difficulties as a result of the pandemic.

“For first- and second-year students, most classes are virtual (lectures, small groups are all on [Zoom]),” Ahmadi wrote in an email to the Daily. 

Ahmadi explained that even the programs that remain in person have been altered from past semesters.

“For certain things such as [medical interviewing and doctor patient relationship] the students would travel to the hospital. But, there have been changes,” Ahmadi said. “There used to be four students per group traveling in the prior years, this year only two of the four people would go to the hospital and two would join on [Zoom].”

She added that this is also true for students in other programs. Students used to go to the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center in groups of four to practice physical exams. However, the ratio of students to instructors has decreased from 4-1 to 2-1, and the anatomy labs have been shortened from three hours to one hour. As a result, most first-year students have not conducted dissections. In most cases, fourth-year proctors who have already dissected the cadavers explain the structures to the first-year students. 

In general, students in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and master’s programs participate in hybrid instruction, with classes conducted both on campus and remotely, per Jordan.

“The lecture portion of courses are delivered remotely while the laboratory or hands-on portions of the program are in-person,” Jordan said. “No graduate courses are entirely remote.”

On the Boston campus, the immunization process has functioned efficiently and effectively, according to Ahmadi. Tufts University School of Medicine asked students to assist in the vaccine distributions. 

“About 40 third- and fourth-year students volunteered to do training for vaccine administration,” Ahmadi said.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine is currently in the process of distributing a COVID-19 vaccine to its students. However, the school is not yet able to do so. Veterinarians will not be eligible to receive the vaccine until April, when Phase 3 of Massachusetts’ vaccine distribution plan is expected to begin. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily regrets this error.


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