Summary of Recommendations

Updated May 28, 2020, 5:00 p.m.

On Friday, May 1, President Fitts announced the formation of Reopening Committees comprised of top leaders, students, faculty and staff in academics, research, facilities, housing, dining, workforce and other vital areas. Their charge was to gather information and make recommendations to map our return to campus. The recommendations submitted by these committees provide an emerging roadmap for our path forward. A summary of recommendations follows for your review and input. The School of Medicine, in keeping with its missions, has separate timelines and guidelines.

It is critical that the full Tulane community is involved in our plan-to-return process. It will take the commitment of all to create a healthy environment on campus. Please participate in one of the virtual Town Hall meetings being hosted by President Fitts (June 3-9). You can register here to attend. You can also submit suggestions via this online portal.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an ever-evolving challenge with shifting degrees of uncertainty regarding health recommendations and the best practices necessary to protect our community. These recommendations and university plans could change based on developments and policies enacted on the local, state and national level.



Academic Calendar

The following timetable for the fall semester was the recommendation of the Education Reopening Committee and has been approved by the University Senate Committee on Educational Policy:

Start and end dates of class days for the Fall 2020 term: Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020 – Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020 (ending just prior to Thanksgiving) (graduate and professional schools may vary). Exam days will be online the week after Thanksgiving. This accelerated fall semester is intended to reduce travel to promote the health and safety of the community.

Changes required within the semester:

  • Add one Saturday or Sunday class day to make up the one needed Thursday meeting pattern
  • Add two contingency weekends to make up for any possible closings for weather events
  • Hold classes on the following days:
    Monday, September 28, 2020: Yom Kippur Holiday
    Thursday, October 8, 2020 to Friday, October 9, 2020: Fall Break

The School of Medicine maintains a separate academic calendar.

Teaching & Learning
Course Information

To the extent possible, courses will have an online component to help social distancing, to allow students who cannot be physically present for part or all of the semester to participate, and to provide flexibility to transition courses online either completely or partially.

A number of high-demand, high-enrollment courses should be offered exclusively online in order to reduce high-density classroom settings. Fully online offerings will include a subset of the online summer classes offered (those that were well-received and for which there is interest); and a new set of around 10 courses of very high-demand courses that will be developed in partnership with instructional design consultants. These should be determined by the schools based on instructor enthusiasm, student interest and course distinctiveness.

Classroom policies need to be reviewed to support our adapted educational environment this fall (i.e., attendance policies, testing policies, accessibility, pass times, etc.).

Class times will be adjusted to both accommodate longer travel times between classes and to stagger class start times to de-densify the campus as students switch classes.



Distancing & Capacity:

Courses should be scheduled to classrooms with the goal of keeping total class size below 50% of classroom capacity. Policies and adaptations should be made to support public health, including reducing in-person attendance, social distancing, plexiglass shields, etc.

All classroom, conference and large spaces should become available for general use classrooms

Outdoor space should be utilized to increase social distancing (this will require outdoor Wi-Fi expansion beyond current capacity, which is limited to spaces immediately around the buildings)

Add technology support to all large spaces and medium/large general pool classrooms, to include three levels of classroom technology identified:

  • Classroom in a box – A semi-portable, stand-alone system with minimal integration that includes a computer with touchscreen, a professor-facing camera, a projector, student and faculty microphones, a document camera (to emulate the whiteboard) and local public address speakers
  • Hybrid Learning Room – Includes the above as well as student microphones integrated into the ceiling and a rear-mounted display to show remote students
  • Remote Lecture and Collaboration Room – Includes the above as well as a lecture-capture appliance and an alternate camera facing the students


Computer Labs

Physical computer labs which are not essential to the educational program should be closed for the fall. The provost must approve any plan to keep a computer lab open, and any such request must be accompanied by both a justification based on the needs of the academic program and a plan to maintain a very high level of hygiene and public safety.

  • Move lab experience into a virtual space
  • Equip faculty with technology needed to present appropriate applications
  • Explore more asynchronous content augmented by faculty office hours
  • Automatically assign applications to students based on course enrollment
  • House all applications that a student will need in one place

The benefits of these recommendations are:

  • Any laptop that can access the internet can run any application
  • Eliminates the worry that students may have the wrong laptop for specific software types
  • Eliminates need to support physical lab environments
  • Makes all software accessible to faculty from anywhere (teaching at a lectern or teaching remotely from home)
  • Some products allow instructors to see and interact with students’ screens during class


Lab Classes
  • Use virtual labs to help reduce in-person lab attendance
  • Create custom video content
    • Work with a videographer to create custom reusable lab demonstrations
Graduate and Professional Students

Plans for graduate and professional students are school specific, please consult school leadership.

Research & Lab Safety

Laboratories and research-based spaces are unique to their associated purpose, project, number of participants and location. We will be providing, and continually updating, university guidelines for safe research practices, but specific decisions on how our laboratory-based research returns to full operation should be overseen by the appropriate dean, on a case-by-case basis, considering all safe work practices, including social distancing, face covering or respirator use and laboratory disinfection methods.


Travel is an important part of our mission. Tulane-related non-essential travel is prohibited through June. Requests for exceptions can be submitted to the Senior VP for Operations or the Senior VP for Academic Affairs.


Facilities & Campus Operations

Cleaning and Sanitization

Tulane has retained a certified industrial hygiene consultant to develop sanitization and daily cleaning protocols for all campus spaces. These protocols will include increased cleaning and wipe down frequencies in high-touch, heavily used areas; common spaces; door handles; handrails; elevator buttons; shared and communal bathrooms

Additional hand sanitizer units and wipe dispensers are being added to building entrances, elevator lobbies on each floor, high-use buildings, i.e. LBC, Commons, libraries, dining and common areas, classrooms, and athletic and recreational spaces.

Facilities maintenance and building enhancements:

  • HVAC: Establish protocols using guidance from the CDC, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the health department to determine if modifications should be made to existing systems
  • Elevators: Install remote elevator monitoring (REM) system in downtown elevators that allows elevator to auto call OTIS when an elevator goes down taking the reliance off of the customer to report the outage
  • Service Requests: Develop new protocols to allow for social distancing and downtime of buildings and equipment for deep cleaning
  • Hands-Free: Physical changes for more hands-free navigation, such as automatic door openers; bottle filling stations. Ensure that all enhancements are sustainable and accessible
  • Increased schedules for deep cleaning of campus buildings; window cleaning and pressure washing of buildings

Contractors and Vendors:

  • Developed protocols with Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) for vendors and contractors working on our campuses or making deliveries

Uptown Campus:

  • New dining locations in addition to the Commons and existing retail locations
  • Explore options for temporary outdoors commissary options
  • Schedule student dining times through ticketing or apps such as Open Table, Dine Time
  • Employ meal pick-up lockers (like Amazon)
  • Greater reliance on mobile dining (food trucks)
  • Additional hand sanitizer and wipe dispensers in dining locations
  • Add queue lines using stanchions and floor decals to indicate social distancing
  • Add directional signage for entry/exit doors and food stations
  • Add plexiglass partitions at entry points, food stations and registers
  • Add signage throughout the area speaking to social distancing and only allowing a restricted number of people in the serving area at a time

Downtown Campus: School of Medicine (SOM) reopened on May 18, 2020

Medical School Food Court:

  • Placed signage throughout the area encouraging social distancing and only allowing 10 people in the serving area at a time
  • Installed a plexiglass shield at the point of sale
  • Placed floor decals for queuing and social distancing
  • Installed a portable hand washing sink at the entrance to the food court
  • Added hand sanitizer dispensers
  • Removed chairs from some of the tables to support social distancing
  • Provided to-go meals (boxed meals) through catering in the evening
  • Added a food truck to offer additional option and handle increase in population
Safety and Security

The following recommendations are the collective work of the safety and security committee based on the noted assumptions. Emergency response by its nature is reactive and as such all plans are subject to change based on the decisions of other committees in an effort to support the University mission.

Prior to Re-opening:

  • Establish response protocols for all emergency response based on CDC recommendations and best practices
  • Modify disaster response and shelter-in-place plans to incorporate social distancing as possible

Operational period:

  • Incorporate additional off-campus student housing into security response and Clery geography
  • Establish modified response tactics. This will include meeting complainants and respondents in open areas to promote social distancing
  • Restrict all sanctioned university events to established spaces pre-selected to promote social distancing.
  • Direct all social gatherings to established spaces pre-selected to promote social distancing
Auxiliary and Administrative Services
Paper-to-Digital Business Process:

Adopt a central tool that will meet the requirements of simple form routing with the ability to extend to more complex routing if needed (In final contract negotiation, will require concerted university effort to go digital)

  • Develop sample Tulane forms in the software now for approval
  • Easily build forms and workflows without coding
  • Provide quick turnaround
  • Offer multiple data output options (Email, PDF, Word, Excel, Database, Box)
  • Separation of formal legal documents from internal process documents


Health Strategy

Environmental Protocols

Face Coverings & Personal Hygiene:

  • Face coverings:
    • All employees must wear face covering while at work in accordance with CDC Guidance
    • Students must wear face coverings on campus in common areas, including classrooms
    • Establish disposable face-covering distribution points at key locations (LBC, Commons, Library, Business School, etc.)
    • Bulk procurement of face coverings (non-surgical masks) can be sourced through Materials Management
  • Frequent handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds or more. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water not available
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Do not share items such as phone, computers, desk or other work tools or equipment
  • Faculty, staff and students disinfect their own work areas and living areas frequently and clean frequently touched surfaces, such as computer keyboard and phones

Physical (Social) Distancing

Establish social distancing protocols and reduce capacity utilizing CDC, OSHA and State Fire Marshall policies for all areas (classrooms, labs, clinics, dining venues, res halls, offices, elevators, etc.)

  • When possible, maintain a minimum six feet of distance from the nearest person as a normal practice
  • Decrease in-person contact by utilizing phone conference or video conferencing instead of in-person meetings. If in-person meeting is necessary, maintain physical distancing
  • Eliminate contact with others (handshakes, hugs, embracing, etc.)
  • Avoid touching common surfaces in public and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after you do contact a public hard surface
  • Avoid persons appearing to be sick (coughing, sneezing, wheezing)
  • Break rooms and kitchens should be temporarily closed and utilized as hand washing stations only
  • Where safe distancing cannot be maintained due to the design of the workplace, arrange work environment to achieve separation by installing physical barriers to avoid face-to-face alignment through body orientation
Testing & Contact Tracing

It will be essential to monitor and manage COVID-19 on campus. Tulane is developing a robust testing and contact tracing program to deliver frequent testing of students, faculty and staff and proactive contact tracing. When a COVID-19 is detected identification of contacts will commence. For students appropriate quarantine of the positive student and their contacts will be necessary.


Our goal is to test individuals as they return to campus and to provide frequent testing during the school year. Prompt identification and isolation of positive individuals and their contacts is necessary to increase the health and safety of the Tulane community. Constant monitoring of symptoms must be done in conjunction with regular testing.

Contact Tracing

Campus Health is developing and implementing a Tulane community contact tracing program. This program will utilize in-person staff in addition to technology to notify people who were potentially exposed. This is based on CDC best practices and will be coordinated with City and State efforts.

Treatment & Quarantine

Once a positive case is detected in the Tulane community, it will be imperative to effectively address the social, medical and practical needs of individuals so they can remain in quarantine without hardship. Campus Health and Human Resources & Institutional Equity will coordinate this effort.

Campus Infirmary

Campus Health, in coordination with Housing & Residence Life, will operate an infirmary in Paterson House for any student testing COVID-19 positive or a known contact who is awaiting results. Testing will be provided to identify risk and illness quickly.

Communications Strategy

Key to re-opening will be a comprehensive communication strategy that will allow for clear and consistent messages about new expectations and norms for campus life. This includes addressing issues such as workplace safety, wearing face coverings, physical distancing and personal responsibility.

  • All COVID-19 communications should be reviewed to assure compliance
  • Messaging should be via multiple media forms: social media, short videos, posters, yard signs, emails, etc.
  • Central repository for signage and information that all Tulane staff and faculty have access to as it relates to cleaning, use of PPE, protocols to be followed while on our campus and in our buildings, visitors, contractor protocols, etc.
  • Signage to be displayed at major campus entrances and intersections on Tulane's COVID-19 requirements



Campus Infirmary (Paterson House)

The safety of our students in the residential environment is paramount. An on-campus infirmary provides a safe, effective space for us to manage ill students – who are living on or off campus – while still operating the traditional residential model. Paterson hall holds 110 beds in our current model but will be reduced to 50+ beds for isolation only, in a single configuration through the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 academic terms. Upper-class students assigned to Paterson are being relocated to on-campus rooms based on their preferences with their preferred roommates.

Housing Strategy

The creation of an infirmary allows for the normal occupancy of our buildings because it provides a safe, effective space to quarantine ill students while still operating the traditional residential model. The only exception to this is the triple bed occupancy, which will be eliminated during fall 2020 and spring 2021 academic terms. The university is also planning to provide an option for students to select a single room, which may be accommodated off campus. The university would develop a term rate for this option and detailed service level agreements (cleaning, sanitization) for operation. A limited number of single rooms for students with accommodation requests will be available as normal on the uptown campus.

Move-in Logistics

Move-in planning for fall and spring semesters will rely heavily (if not exclusively) on the ship-to-room program. This program has been in place for three years for first-year students. Students and parents will receive detailed instructions on how to ship their belongings to campus by a pre-determined date. Items will be dropped in their room prior to students’ arrival. In addition, many students used a storage vendor when moving out, those students’ items will be placed into their fall housing assignment prior to arrival. The runway for move-in will be staggered to accommodate social distancing guidelines. Communication to students and parents will detail limits of personal belongings students can bring to campus when arriving, to reduce the handling of packages and to decrease crowds.

Personal Behavior

Housing & Residential Life will follow and implement all public health guidelines to help reduce the spread of the virus, including social distancing and other individual behavior and community responsibility protocols. Guidelines will be shared with students prior to, and repeatedly after arrival on campus. Students will be expected to follow these guidelines strictly. While we will hope to appeal to students’ sense of responsibility in encouraging this behavior, student conduct protocols and formal changes to our housing agreement will be articulated and strictly enforced.

Environmental Protocols

Multiple considerations will be vetted and implemented for decreasing risk in the residential student environment. Recommendations are evolving but will likely include:

  • New rules regarding shared community bathrooms that require residents to only use the bathroom on their floor. Defined cleaning protocols for community bathrooms and suite bathrooms
  • Required use of personal face coverings in common areas
  • Frequent reminders of proper hand hygiene (verbally, posters, videos) with hand sanitizer widely available in common areas and rooms
  • Enhanced cleaning in all common area and high-touch surfaces, consistent with enhanced cleaning practices of other non-residential areas
  • Training on public health measures and signs/symptoms of COVID-19 for all live-in professionals, graduate hall directors, residence advisors (RA), and others in similar roles
  • Restrictions on events and social activities as per current physical distancing guidance
  • Reconfiguring seating in common areas to ensure proper physical distancing
  • Establishing allowable occupancy and developing plans to monitor and enforce
  • Restrictions on building access by non-residents, including outside guests, non-residential staff and others



Repopulating Athletics

Sports Activities follow this summer timeline:

  • June 15: return to campus for voluntary workouts for football student-athletes
  • June 28 men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball back to campus
  • August 15 return for all fall sports student-athletes

From now until August 15, the following medical precautions should be taken:

  • A rigorous testing protocol for student-athletes upon their arrival, and throughout the summer
  • Prescreening/medical questionnaires of all student-athletes at least weekly
  • Extra precautions in training rooms, locker rooms and weight rooms include, but are not limited to, installation of engineering controls like plastic shielding and adding space between equipment and lockers, using additional spaces to distribute density, and adding additional cleanings as recommended by industrial hygienist
  • Development of guidelines, in conjunction with university and NCAA guidelines, on how to handle student-athletes that require quarantining, isolation and those who are predisposed to certain illnesses
  • Procurement of all additional PPE and cleaning devices that will be needed

Remaining student-athletes are phased a week before the start of fall classes

  • Review department protocol with coaches and sport administrators
  • Medical staff to allow time for testing and screening
Risk Management Recommendation
  • Screening all upon entry into the Wilson Center, this will include a questionnaire and forehead temperature scans
  • Work with our partners like Sodexo, Barnes & Noble to ensure compliance with contactless service delivery
Athletics Events
  • Football is scheduled to begin on Sept. 3 and volleyball is scheduled to begin on Sept. 1, contingent on government-issued events and athletics guidelines.
  • Assuming spectators can attend under government rules, event modifications to address guidelines may include ticketing sections, longer queue lines for entry; for catered areas, food may be served to patrons; and, technology permitting, seat delivery solutions and contactless points of sale may be available


Workforce Resumption

Returning to the Workplace

Tulane’s goal is to implement a phased return to normal operations in a thoughtful and careful manner to provide guidelines and protocols to protect our students, faculty, researchers and staff. Tulane departments should continue their current instruction and remote work protocols with a phased reduction of off-site work requirements.

The following is a recommended framework to provide instructions for supervisors to follow to prioritize the order of return and management of administrative staff. Supervisors need to coordinate with and receive Senior Vice President approval before employees are allowed to return to the workplace. Information regarding faculty and research staff is covered separately below.

Some Schools and units (such as the School of Medicine and the Primate Center) are following a similar phased approach but with a different timeline and parameters. Certain employees will continue to work on campus throughout the pandemic.


Decisions on faculty staffing will be determined by the appropriate dean, with the recommendation that faculty continue working remotely as much as possible until the start of the Fall semester.  

Research & Clinical Staffing

Laboratories and research-based spaces are unique to their associated purpose, project, number of participants and location. We will be providing, and continually updating, university guidelines for safe research practices, but specific decisions on how our laboratory-based research returns to full operation should be overseen by the appropriate dean, on a case-by-case basis, considering all safe work practices, including social distancing, face covering or respirator use and laboratory disinfection methods.

Phase 1

In this phase, 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 to support a safe return to the workplace. The broad goal is to return a small percentage of the workforce throughout June, inclusive of those already working on-site. Many employees may continue working remotely. Department leaders should manage this process consistent with work needs and to protect the safety of students, faculty and staff.

Workforce Assessment

Supervisors should analyze their workforce and prioritize the order of return based on operational needs and in consideration of which employees are necessary to accomplish essential departmental functions.

Supervisors should consider the points below when planning for employee return:

  • Consider beginning phased return with no more than 25% of the workforce at a time, staggering every 2–4 weeks; percentage may vary depending on the size, needs and workspace available to the workforce
  • Stagger shifts and/or rotate schedules to reduce the number of people in the workplace at the same time
  • Allow those with increased risk of illness to continue working remotely to the extent possible
  • Allow those who can work effectively from home to be the last to return and/or delay their return to the campus
  • Conduct meetings electronically, even when working on campus. If meetings cannot be conducted virtually, keep participation to fewer than 10 participants and enforce appropriate physical distancing and wearing of masks or face coverings
  • Seating arrangements should be planned to allow enough space between people to be seated at least six feet apart and not face to face
  • Avoid gatherings of greater than 10 people or other situations of potential exposures, including travel
  • Encourage single occupancy in work rooms whenever possible
  • Encourage single flow of traffic through workspace, whenever possible
  • Employees who exhibit symptoms or test positive are not allowed in the offices/labs for the safety of others until they have been cleared to return to work per CDC guidance
  • Supervisors and employees should contact their HR Business Partner with questions

Notifying Employees & Addressing Concerns

As they plan for a return to work on-site, we recommend that employees be notified to return to campus in phases and based on business-related reasons. Employees who are notified to return to work on-site but have concerns about returning, should contact their supervisor who should coordinate with their HR Business Partner to determine available options to address the employee’s concern. Flexibility by supervisors and employees is important in these circumstances. An option for temporary remote work arrangements may be provided by the supervisor to address an employee’s concerns such as self-quarantine, currently positive with COVID-19/other illness or childcare/eldercare. Additionally, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take job-protected leave for qualified medical reasons. The Americans with Disabilities Act may be considered as well.

Phase 2

Tentatively July 8

We should seek to return another phase of employees to on-site work to a level not exceeding 50% of full-time employees in a given area.

Phase 3

Tentatively September 8

Remaining workers can return to on-site work, presuming public health conditions do not change. Some employees may be authorized to continue remote work at management’s discretion.