Tufts announced a change in its travel policy, with specific new guidelines for the Thanksgiving holiday, in an email from university administrators on Sept. 25.
The new Thanksgiving travel policy says that if students choose to travel off campus for the holiday, they must stay home until after winter break. Students who choose to take advantage of this guideline must finish their classes remotely and take their exams online.
“Because of the serious health risks involved with travelling and coming back to campus after Thanksgiving break, we made the decision to require those who choose to leave Tufts during the break to forego returning and instead finish the semester remotely,” James Glaser, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, wrote in an email to the Daily.
Glaser, along with Jianmin Qu, dean of the School of Engineering, and Nancy Bauer, dean of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, decided to make this decision after observing the way off-campus travel can increase the spread of COVID-19.
They commended students for their success in following COVID-19 guidelines thus far, but are concerned that the community could lose that momentum if Thanksgiving travel opens.
“We must remain vigilant; avoiding an outbreak is a priority,” Glaser wrote.
Originally the plan strongly discouraged students from leaving campus for the holiday. The new policy is a revised guideline.
“Our fall reopening plans were built to be flexible and have always been driven by data and modeling. The adjustment was made after close monitoring of the factors involved in potential spread on campus, as well as developments around the state and the country,” Qu wrote in an email to the Daily.
This change allows students more flexibility in the way they celebrate the holiday, provided they are willing to move online if they do decide to go home.
With many students already working remotely from home and other locations, the deans said they are confident in the success of classes continuing and exams being administered to students who choose to go remote.
“We also feel that making this decision early in the semester will provide enough time to prepare for a smooth transition from in-person classes to an online format for those who make this choice,” Qu said.
Although it is not yet clear how many students will take advantage of this option,universities across the country have decided to move all students online for the weeks of the semester that fall between Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Many schools are requiring that students leave campus for Thanksgiving break, and not allowing them to return until the start of the second semester.
“All university communities are different,” Bauer wrote in an email to the Daily. “We believe we have the capacity to offer students the opportunity to make a choice that works for them because we have confidence in our health guidelines and our community’s ability to adhere to them, and because of our ability to offer online instruction for those who choose that option.”
Overall, the deans said they are proud of community members for their adherence to the guidelines, and hope the community will experience this same success moving forward, regardless of whether students choose to move into remote learning for the end of the semester or remain on campus.
“Our goal will be the same as it was this semester – to prioritize the health and safety of our community and neighbors while preserving as much of our campus experience as possible given the ongoing challenging circumstances,” Bauer wrote.