In an email sent to the Tufts community on Wednesday, administration officials announced Tufts’ plans to “gradually lift” the COVID-19 restrictions that have been imposed since the pandemic’s onset forced the university’s campuses to remote learning in March 2020.
The email was signed by James Glaser, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences; Kyongbum Lee, interim dean of the School of Engineering; Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School; Dayna Cunningham, dean of Tisch College; Joseph Auner, dean of the University College; and Michael Jordan, university infection control health director. It prefaced the steps outlined in the email by noting that they are tentative and subject to change.
“We are taking these steps cautiously and will be able to do so only if the rate of COVID-19 cases among our campus population remains low after returning from spring break,” the email read.
Administrators anticipate that, by the second week of April, required surveillance testing will be replaced with voluntary, once-weekly surveillance testing. The university will still support testing for individuals who are symptomatic or traveling.
The email stated that individuals who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 or come into close contact with a COVID-19-positive individual will be expected not to come to campus until they receive a negative test. Furthermore, in order to leave isolation, students will still be required to show a negative antigen test.
During the second week of April, Tufts will continue to require mask-wearing in all indoor spaces, except when alone, eating or in a dorm room accompanied by just a roommate. Faculty lecturing in large lecture halls will likely be permitted to lecture without a mask, so long as COVID-19 cases continue to decline.
By the third week of April, university administrators expect to replace all surveillance testing with testing for symptomatic or traveling individuals only. At this point, masks will be optional for all individuals.
The email stressed Tufts’ strong support for continued mask-wearing indoors, even once they become optional, while reminding community members to respect their peers’ comfort level and mask-wearing decisions throughout the transition period.
Tufts will continue to require masks on shuttle buses and on all forms of public transportation, a requirement aligned with current federal guidelines which require mask-wearing on public transportation and in transit hubs across the country.
The email also announced that — effective immediately — actors, musicians and singers are no longer required to wear masks or use personal protective equipment during their performances. These individuals are, however, still required to wear masks and PPE during rehearsals and practice, and audience members are still expected to wear masks.