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July 2021

The Tufts University Continuity of Operations Plan that follows is the university’s plan for the continuation and/or resumption of the university’s mission and supporting activities. The plan was reviewed by the Emergency Management Program Committee on June 22, 2021 and approved by the Director of Emergency Management on July 1, 2021. The plan will be reviewed annually and revised every 5 years or as updates to plans, policies, or procedures determine necessary.


To accomplish its mission, Tufts University must ensure its operations are performed efficiently with minimal disruption, especially during an emergency.  This document provides planning and guidance for implementing this Continuity Plan to ensure the organization is capable of conducting its essential functions under all threats and conditions.


This plan is designed to provide an effective all-hazard approach to both natural and man-made events.  The coordination measures described in this Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) enable effective management of a disruption affecting a large number of departments or otherwise necessitating extraordinary university-wide coordination.

Continuity Priorities

Tufts maintains extensive and varied functions spanning from undergraduate and graduate education, research, patient care, public safety, university operations and support services.  With geographically separated campuses, diverse stakeholders, and wide-ranging potential impacts, the order for continuation and/or resumption of business activities cannot be pre-determined. Instead, university leadership uses the following priorities to guide the recovery of processes, functions, critical applications and vital records:

  • Critical functions of departments having an approved continuity plan.
  • Student Residential Services, including residential living, dining, and essential personal care needs.
  • Patient care, including dental clinics, animal hospitals/clinics, and student healthcare services.
  • Laboratory research, particularly processes that need to be stabilized to reduce hazard, the preservation of stored materials that are unique, rare, or extremely valuable, and care of specimens in animal vivaria (which have their own disaster plans).
  • Functions rated “critical 2” that were paused, and “critical 3” from departments with an approved, current Continuity Plan (“critical 1” functions should be sustained or resumed as part of response).
  • High-priority courses, whose interruption would most threaten the progress of students and integrity of the curriculum, including courses that are 1) large enrollment, 2) a core requirement for a major, 3) part of a sequence, or 4) pre-professional courses (e.g., health professions, engineering, teaching) if they are required for licensure eligibility.
  • Courses that can be easily conducted remotely (e.g., via WebEx or Zoom) or in available alternate facilities.
  • Technology supporting communications, critical systems, and distance collaboration (e.g., WebEx or Zoom).

Roles & Responsibilities

Organizational Units

Organizational units (a university school, division, department, center, or office) are at all times responsible for ensuring their ability to sustain critical business activities. This is significantly aided by the unit/department’s development and maintenance of a unit/department continuity plan that identifies coping strategies and action items for increasing preparedness.  For the purposes of this plan, “unit” and “departments” may be used interchangeably.

Organizational units meeting the criteria for continuity planning are responsible for:

  • Developing and maintaining a continuity plan using the system provided by the Office of Emergency Management.
  • Reporting annually to the Office of Emergency Management on the status of its continuity plan, to include any implementations, updates, personnel training, and completed action items.
  • Communicating its plan with relevant stakeholders across the university.

Executive Leadership

Executive Leadership (e.g. executive deans, vice presidents) is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that organizational units within their school/division have adequate plans and procedures in place to prevent or minimize disruption to their own critical functions and those of dependent units.

Executive Policy Group

The Executive Policy Group is chaired by the Executive Vice President, or successor, and makes high-level policy decision related to continuity of operations. Such decisions could include establishment of criteria for allocation of limited resources or reallocation of existing resources, alterations to or the suspension of university policy, or allowing circumvention of established business practice.

Emergency Manager

The Emergency Manager operates in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and ensures coordination of continuity of operations activities and maintains situational awareness of the university’s operational status and resource needs.

Office of Emergency Management

The Office of Emergency Management is responsible for:

  • Developing and maintaining a university-wide Continuity of Operations Plan, with which organizational unit continuity plans dovetail.
  • Providing organizational units with a system  (Kuali) for developing and maintaining continuity plans and related training as needed.
  • Assisting organizational units with plan review, exercise, and evaluation.

Related Policies

Emergency Management Program – University Policy


The above are excerpts from the University Continuity of Operations Plan. The full plan resides with the Office of Emergency Management.