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Travel can increase the risk of travelers’ exposure to COVID-19 as well as subsequent spread to the community.  Consequently, Tufts discourages all but truly essential travel. Please consult Tufts’ updated travel policy and the FAQs below for restrictions and procedures related to travel.  Tufts continues to strongly discourage international and domestic travel at this time—whether university-related or personal. Should travel be necessary, any additional restrictions or procedures at your school or unit beyond the university’s policy also need to be followed. We will continue to monitor the public health situation and government travel advisories and adjust our guidance accordingly.

Massachusetts Travel Order

As of August 1, 2020, all visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts from another state or from outside the United States are required to:

  • Complete the Massachusetts travel form prior to arrival, unless you are coming from a state designated as a lower risk state, and
  • Quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative result from a COVID-19 test that has been administered within 72 hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts.  Visitors and residents who obtain a negative COVID-19 test result after their arrival in Massachusetts must quarantine until they receive the negative test result. NOTE that for all travelers returning from states not designated as “lower risk” who work on campus may get a COVID-19 test through Tufts, whether or not they normally participate in the routine surveillance program.  Travelers working exclusively remotely are not eligible for Tufts’ COVID-19 testing but are still required to abide by Massachusetts’ rules.

What Has Changed in the new Tufts Travel Policy?

As of October 21, 2020, updated policies for faculty/staff and for students are in effect.  All travel (both in-region and out-of-region) continues to be discouraged strongly, except under exceptional circumstances.  Here is what is new.  More detailed information is in the FAQs below.

  • For students: All AS&E (including SMFA) students must register with the office of the Dean of Student Affairs in advance of any exceptional travel during the semester. AS&E students taking courses or using campus facilities in person may not return to campus after Thanksgiving break if they choose to travel either locally or out-of-region.  A rare exception may be granted by the Dean of Students upon request.
  • For graduate students and post-docs: Graduate students and post-docs may be able to request an exception to the travel prohibition to conduct research and scholarship in exceptional circumstances. This policy is being worked out currently. This space will be updated with more details soon.
  • For faculty and staff:  Faculty and staff travel on Tufts business is prohibited except for essential purposes.  Faculty and staff must obtain the approval of the Dean (or their designee) if they wish to travel domestically or internationally for research and scholarship purposes. If travel is international, the requirement that faculty and staff register their international Tufts-related travel in the Travel Registry remains. 
  • All travelers:  All travelers returning from out-of-region travel (according to Massachusetts law) are  required to remain in quarantine for 14 days or until they have received a negative COVID-19 test.  Tufts is now providing access to COVID-19 testing at Tufts for faculty and staff returning from travel, whether or not they normally participate in routine surveillance at Tufts, provided they are currently working on campus. Faculty and staff working exclusively remotely are not eligible for COVID-19 testing at Tufts, but they are still required to abide by Massachusetts rules.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a student participating in-person for the fall semester, will I have to follow any travel restrictions?

Yes, we have required students to limit their travel and time away from campus during the fall semester.

Student health and wellness is of utmost concern, as is the health of our greater community outside the boundaries of our campuses.  Accordingly, all travel (both in-region and out-of-region) during the pandemic is strongly discouraged, except under exceptional circumstances. In general, exceptional circumstances are those in which your physical presence is essential (e.g., the death or life-threatening illness of a close family member,). While we understand that travel for other important life events (e.g., family reunions, vacations, holidays, weddings) may be very important to you, it is not truly essential during a pandemic.

All AS&E (including SMFA) undergraduate and graduate students are asked to register in advance of any such exceptional travel during the semester with the Dean of Student Affairs office.

 

Student travel is for Tufts-sponsored study, research or work is prohibited until further notice.  Graduate students and post-docs may be granted permission to travel to conduct research under exceptional circumstances (e.g., the research cannot be conducted remotely and cannot be postponed).  The policies and procedures for travel approvals for graduate students and post-docs are still being developed and will be posted soon.

Tufts’ updated travel policy prohibits travel on Tufts-related business (whether domestic or international) unless it is essential.  In circumstances in which travel is essential for research (e.g., the research cannot be done in person and cannot be postponed), exceptions may be granted by school deans (or HNRCA head). Nonetheless, we urge you to consider alternative ways to accomplish essential research, work or collaborations where these are possible.

If you need to travel, the following restrictions will apply to your travel:

  • You must obtain the approval of your Dean (or their designee) if you wish to travel domestically or internationally for research and scholarship purposes.
  • For university-related international travel, you will be required to register your travel in the Tufts Travel Registry.  You should not register domestic travel or any personal travel.  If you book your travel, try to find airlines, hotels or rentals that are offering flexible cancellation and refund policies. You are highly encouraged to book through the university’s preferred travel provider, Travel Collaborative.
  • For any international or travel to states that are not “lower risk” under Massachusetts law, you should be aware that when you return, you will need to self-quarantine for 14 days or until you obtain a negative COVID-19 test. If you work on campus, you may get a COVID-19 test through Tufts when you return, even if you are not in routine COVID surveillance testing.  You should contact covidtesting@tufts.edu to schedule a test in advance at 62R Talbot (Medford/Somerville), 116 Harrison Ave (Boston) or the Mayer Administrative Building (Grafton). If you are working remotely, you are not eligible for COVID-19 testing at Tufts but  must still abide by Massachusetts rules.
  • Other university, school or division restrictions will continue to apply and may affect your ability to travel. Tufts-related travel is subject to the no discretionary spending directive, which remains in effect for the entire academic year.

 

I am planning to travel for personal reasons. Is it OK to travel?

All travel (both in-region and out-of-region) during the pandemic is strongly discouraged, except under exceptional circumstances. In general, exceptional circumstances are those in which your physical presence is essential (e.g., the death or life-threatening illness of a close family member,). While we understand that travel for other important life events (e.g., family reunions, vacations, holidays, weddings) may be very important to you, it is not truly essential during a pandemic.

If you are an AS&E (including SMFA) undergraduate and graduate students, you must register in advance of any such exceptional travel during the semester with the Dean of Student Affairs office. In addition, if you are attending classes or using campus facilities in person and choose to travel during the Thanksgiving break (whether in-state or out-of-state, as well as local travel to a gathering), you cannot return to campus; you must finish the semester remotely, unless you request and obtain approval for a rare exceptional circumstance, from the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs.

 

I am an AS&E student and plan to go home or to a friend’s for Thanksgiving. What restrictions do I have?

Faculty, staff, employees and students (graduate/undergraduate) are strongly discouraged from travel at Thanksgiving. The prevalence and incidence of COVID-19 are increasing nationwide including in Massachusetts. Likewise gatherings at Thanksgiving outside of those with whom you normally live (partners, roommates/flat mates) are strongly discouraged.  Gatherings and travel to gatherings are strongly associated with both transmission and acquisition of infection. We may be less cautious around family and friends forgetting to physically distance and we may be around people who are not in routine surveillance testing as we are. Thus, we strongly encourage all faculty, staff and students to plan for meaningful virtual Thanksgivings with family and friends,

Do I need to self-quarantine when I return from travel?

Yes, according to Massachusetts law and Tufts policy, you must remain in quarantine for 14 days or until you obtain a negative COVID-19 test when you return from travel to places not on Massachusetts’ “lower risk” states list.

If you are an AS&E student and are returning from travel that you have previously registered and obtained approval from the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, you will be required to go through the arrival testing and extended quarantine period again when they return to campus. The exception to this is Thanksgiving. If you are taking classes or using campus facilities in person and who choose to travel off campus for Thanksgiving (even locally for a Thanksgiving dinner), you may not return to campus and instead must finish the semester remotely. This applies to all AS&E undergraduate and graduate students traveling both in-region or out-of-region.

If you are faculty or staff (including post-doc), in accordance with Massachusetts’ travel order, you will be required to fill out a travel form and self-quarantine for 14 days or until you receive a negative COVID-19 test result, unless you can present a negative COVID-19 test that has been administered within 72 hours prior to arrival in MA. Exemptions include people commuting to work from another state and those coming to Massachusetts from a “low risk” state.  You should consult MA guidance for the latest updates, as exemptions and restrictions are likely to change.

If you work on campus, you can schedule a COVID-19 test at any of Tufts’ three testing locations (62R Talbot in Medford/Somerville, 116 Harrison Ave. in Boston, Mayer Administrative Building in Grafton), whether or not you normally participate in surveillance testing. You should email covidtesting@tufts.edu in advance to schedule a test. If you work exclusively remotely, you are not eligible for COVID-19 testing at Tufts but are still required to abide by Massachusetts rules.

You should speak with your manager or supervisor (including prior to traveling, if possible) on how Massachusetts and CDC quarantine guidelines may affect your ability to return to work.

What precautions should I take if I travel?

You should be aware that traveling—along with other factors—can significantly increase your risk of exposure—e.g., destination, mode of travel, ability to social distance, mask use, use of good hygiene resources and procedures, and avoiding large groups of people in close proximity for extended periods of time. If you do choose to travel, we urge you to exercise extreme caution.

We urge you strongly to:

  • Monitor both domestic and international destinations where COVID-19 is present, as well as information, travel warnings, health advisories, travel and movement restrictions (e.g., use of public transportation, border closings, screening procedures at airports/stations, etc.) and quarantine requirements and conditions at your destination. These do change frequently.

The CDC website, as well as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), U.S. Department of State, and International SOS provide useful updated information. Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering also has an excellent site with daily updates of cases worldwide. 

  • Take basic precautions recommended by the CDC while you travel.  Your risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 depends on your own behavior as well as your travel pattern, destination or means of transportation. Therefore, you should be sure to:        
    • Avoid close contact with sick people
    • Distance yourself from others—stay at least 6 feet away to prevent exposure through coughing
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a face mask
    • Cover your cough with your upper sleeve or elbow
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60 percent to 95 percent alcohol
    • Wipe down frequently touched objects (e.g., phones) and surfaces
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
    • Do not share drinks/food/cigarettes, utensils, vaping products, etc.

Speak with your manager/supervisor (including prior to traveling, if possible) on how quarantine guidelines issued by the State of Massachusetts and by the CDC for travelers returning either from domestic or international travel may affect your ability to return to work.

  • Seek medical attention immediately if you get symptoms, which include coughing, fever, and difficulty breathing.

 

Who can help me if I get stuck while I am traveling?

If you are on university-related travel, please call International SOS at +1 (215) 942-8478. They can help you assess your situation and find suitable accommodation and medical advice or treatment, if needed.  You will need to follow local guidance on procedures and next steps.

For personal travel, it is highly recommended that you obtain a travel assistance provider. You can buy the International SOS coverage at 20% discount.

Will the university pay for charges incurred if a trip is extended or needs to be changed (e.g., extra costs for accommodation in the event of a quarantine at the destination, or additional travel incurred of because new government restrictions, etc.)?

For travel on sponsored programs, higher costs for refundable tickets and additional costs that may be incurred if you are quarantined or need to change your travel plans because of the COVID-19 situation in your destination are allowable.  The charges will need to be booked to the applicable project, grant, or Dept-ID. For charges on non-sponsored programs or activities, the university will not pay for charges unless you have previously received explicit permission from your EAD or VP (or their designee).  

Should I buy travel insurance?

You will need carefully check the policy to ensure that pandemics are not excluded, particularly during a current event of this magnitude. Some carriers cover “cancel for any reason” policies, which may cover this event. However, they tend to be significantly more expensive. Booking a refundable ticket may be the preferred method of accounting for potential changes in your travel plans.

  • We have instituted guidelines and HR policies to minimize the number of people on campus—remote work and staggered work schedules are examples of policies that allow for social distancing
  • We are encouraging good hygiene principles: reminders to wash your hands are on every bathroom door, and we are supplying hand sanitizers
  • Testing is increasingly available, and Tufts will be testing high risk populations frequently—including those with underlying medical conditions and other defined vulnerabilities to COVID-19 and those (e.g., students) at risk of transmitting the virus.