By Alexander Janoff
The Tufts administration announced a series of changes to its COVID-19 policies in an email sent to the Tufts community on Tuesday morning. It was signed by Michael Jordan, university infection control health director.
The updated policies are effective June 1 and come following recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions in the state effective May 29.
As reported previously, Jordan reiterated Tufts’ requirement that students be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to participate in any on-campus classes or activities. The deadline for students in the School of Medicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Dental Medicine and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine to receive a vaccination is July 1. All other students must be vaccinated at some point before the beginning of the fall semester.
Faculty and staff are required to either receive vaccination, request a medical or religious exemption or complete a form indicating their decision to decline vaccination.
According to the email, Tufts will accept any vaccine approved by any country or the World Health Organization as valid.
The email also outlined new mask-wearing, gathering, physical-distancing and dining protocols.
Fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear masks or physically distance outside. However, Tufts will require all individuals to continue to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, unless they are eating or alone in an office.
“We hope that the indoor mask requirement may be eased at a later date,” Jordan wrote in the email. “This decision will be based on future levels of vaccination coverage within the Tufts community (students, faculty, and staff), our neighboring communities, and the state, and ongoing low incidence of COVID-19 infections.”
Limits on the size of indoor and outdoor gatherings have been dropped, as have physical distancing requirements.
“Standard pre-COVID room occupancy limits will apply, including in conference rooms, offices, classrooms, laboratories, gyms, studios, and libraries,” Jordan said.
The university is continuing to encourage outdoor dining throughout the summer and early fall until high vaccination coverage among on-campus faculty, staff and students can be verified. However, the email announced that indoor dining will return to pre-pandemic capacity.
“We encourage everyone, particularly those who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, to use good judgement when it comes to their proximity to others while eating in any setting,” Jordan said.
The email also announced updates to testing, quarantine and isolation guidelines.
Tufts will require COVID-19 surveillance testing once a week for all students, faculty, staff, affiliates and vendors who are on campus regularly and in contact with others. Vaccinated individuals identified as close contacts will not need to quarantine.
Indoor visitors who will be wearing a mask at all times do not need to be vaccinated. However, any indoor visitor who must remove their mask for eating and drinking must be tested, regardless of their vaccination status. Outdoor visitors do not need to be tested, but they must wear masks and distance if they are unvaccinated.
The email also announced that all domestic and personal international travel is allowed without restrictions, but all travelers must follow arrival quarantine protocols according to their vaccination status.