Tufts University plans to welcome all undergraduate students back to campus this fall, the school's president announced on Tuesday, saying his goal is to keep as much as possible about the semester intact, despite the threat of coronavirus.
The university said classes will begin as scheduled on Sept. 8 and conclude December 11. Unlike some other schools, Tufts plans to welcome back all students who want to return to campus. Students will be advised not to travel for Thanksgiving break, or on weekends or holidays.
“Though some things on campus will be different, our goal is to preserve as much of our campus experience as possible and support and strengthen the activities that make Tufts unique,” Tufts President Anthony Monaco said in an e-mail to students on Tuesday, adding that the school is ready to shift plans if the virus becomes worse.
To reduce risk in the classroom, students will be required to wear masks and classrooms will have fewer students so that everyone can stay 6 feet apart, the school announced. Classes of more than 50 students will be conducted remotely or split up. Other courses will operate in a “hybrid” fashion that allows students to come back to campus or choose to continue to work remotely.
Students will live in “residential cohorts” of six to 12 students in an attempt to limit the amount of close contact they have with one another. The school still plans to offer single, double, and triple dorm rooms, but it is also constructing additional modular dormitories on campus tennis courts and in a parking lot, according to a detailed reopening guide the university published.
Dining halls will be open but will take reservations and rely heavily on takeout options that can be ordered in advance. Students will be able to eat only with members of their residential cohort.
The school plans to test students as soon as they return to campus and routinely after that. Tufts also plans to test faculty and staff who interact with students.
Some graduate and professional programs have opted to continue online during the fall semester, the school said.
There will be an extended move-in period to allow students more space.
Student organizations will continue online as much as possible, the school said. Study abroad programs have been cancelled.
“I know that none of this will be easy,” Monaco wrote. “Ultimately, I believe these plans can and will succeed because we are a community that cares greatly for each other and for this institution.”