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Return to Campus Planning

June 26, 2020

Dear Tulane Community:

As we continue to prepare for the return of on-ground university operations in the fall, we are completing a comprehensive assessment of Tulane’s living, learning and working spaces. All planning for the return to campus has been made in close consultation with public health professionals, industrial hygienists and guidelines from the CDC, WHO, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and local governments. Our overriding goal is to reduce the risk of exposure and the spread of COVID-19 among our students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Return to Campus

To keep our community informed, we have created the Return to Campus website. The site includes all of the information on the previous COVID-19 website and, in coming weeks, more detailed information will be added to provide specifics about health strategies, student life (move-in, residence halls, dining), academics (coursework, classrooms, calendar) and more.

Public Health Strategies

Achieving our goal will require adherence to the precautions that are foundational to preventing the spread of the virus: daily symptom checking, physical distancing, wearing face coverings and frequent hand washing. It is important that all members of our community adhere to these guidelines. More information about our health strategies can be found below and online.

Daily Symptom Checking

All faculty, staff and students will be required to track their symptoms daily, likely with the use of a mobile app. Beginning in July, when the campus population begins to increase, daily text reminders will be sent.

If an employee exhibits any COVID-19 symptoms, they should contact a healthcare provider immediately and NOT report to work.

If a student exhibits any COVID-19 symptoms, they should contact Student Health immediately and NOT report to class or related activities.

Face Coverings and Hand Washing

If you have already returned to work or are on campus for any reason, you are required to wear a face covering (see Face Covering/Mask Protocol). If you need a mask, they are available at the Uptown Student Health Center. (More distribution centers will be added in the coming weeks.)

Tulane will provide two cloth face coverings for each student, faculty and staff member (including contract workers). In addition, we are increasing the number of free-standing hand sanitizer units around campus, especially in high-traffic common areas.

Physical Distancing

In addition to wearing face coverings, all returning students, faculty and staff members are required to observe strict physical distancing. This means maintaining six feet (when possible) between you and others, as measured from head to head. This rule applies in classrooms, labs, dining halls, lounges, gyms and other communal spaces. It is not negated by the wearing of face coverings, which are required in any event except for eating. Please note that this guidance is subject to change as public health conditions evolve.

Testing and Contact Tracing

Tulane is preparing a comprehensive program that will provide testing for all students, faculty and staff members – more details will be provided in the coming weeks. Currently, we are offering voluntary testing for faculty, staff, contract employees and students.

Beginning in July, faculty, staff and students on our campuses will be required to participate in our COVID-19 testing program at one of Tulane's testing facilities – uptown and downtown locations will be announced soon. We are working collaboratively with the LDH to effectively trace contacts of anyone who contracts the virus. The following will apply to the Tulane workforce:

  • Employees will be required to visit one of the Tulane Testing Centers prior to their return to work. In addition, there will be a monthly rotation, which will test approximately 5% of the Tulane community daily. Please monitor your email for information about when and where you should report to the testing center.
  • Current test turnaround is approximately 24 hours. Employees will be notified of a result via text, email and/or phone call and given direction on what actions to take.
  • Individuals who test positive, or who report being positive with COVID-19, will receive follow up from a Tulane Contact Tracer.
  • Identified contacts of an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be notified and assisted in getting tested and informed of isolation/quarantine protocols. We will not disclose the name of any person with COVID-19. The contact tracer will connect the employee to a Human Resources Business Partner for assistance.

Once classes start, we will perform testing and additional monitoring of the campus community to assess the prevalence of viral infections. We will monitor wastewater, symptomatic and asymptomatic test results, information from the daily COVID-19 check, and city and state data to make decisions about increased actions during the fall semester.

Quarantine and Isolation

Faculty and staff who are experiencing symptoms, have been exposed or have tested positive for COVID-19 will need to quarantine or self-isolate in their residences. Students who test positive for COVID-19 or who are a contact to a known case on campus will isolate in the Paterson Infirmary. This will be available to both graduate and undergraduate students and those who live both on and off campus.

Return to the Workplace

We are currently in Phase 1, which means that a small number of employees identified by the supervisor or the unit’s administrative team can return to on-site work. It is recommended that supervisors return first, if possible, to prepare for the return of employees to the workplace. The broad goal is to return a small percentage of the workforce throughout June, inclusive of those already working on-site.

Phase 2 will begin in early July. During phase 2, staff employees preparing for the return of students and on-premise instruction will begin to return to on-site work. We anticipate the number of employees returning to on-site work will not exceed 50% of full-time employees in a given area. Many employees will continue to work remotely to maintain reduced occupancy at worksites in support of social distancing.

Department leaders should manage this process consistent with work needs and to protect the safety of students, faculty and staff. If you have questions about your work arrangements, please work with your supervisor or your Human Resources Business Partner.


Through these measures, and others that will be announced, we hope to provide the best possible return to our campuses. While implementing and adhering to these new practices and policies will be challenging, we are confident that the Tulane community will follow our motto, "Not for one’s self, but for one's own," in their commitment to protect the health and safety of all Tulanians.

Robin Forman
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Patrick Norton
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer