News, On Campus, Top Story, Coronavirus Updates

Student Living on Campus Tests Positive for COVID-19

A BC student currently living on campus has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from Executive Vice President Michael Lochhead that was released on Monday. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health notified Boston College of the case on Sunday night, the statement said, and it is the only confirmed case among students, faculty, or staff on campus.

The student was placed in quarantine before all students remaining on campus moved to Upper Campus housing, the statement said. Approximately 375 undergraduate students remain on campus as of Monday, according to a later update from University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. that was sent to the BC community.

The student was in quarantine as a precaution before the test came back positive, and the student is now in isolation, Associate Vice President of University Communications Jack Dunn said in an email to The Heights on Monday. Dunn said that the student was “handled” through University Health Services (UHS). 

The student is currently in isolation in 2150 Commonwealth Ave., which also houses UHS, according to Leahy’s email. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health could not be reached for comment.

The University has now received 19 self-reported cases from students who are not on campus, according to Dunn, an increase from the 12 self-reported cases the University had reported on Saturday. 

The majority of the cases involved students who studied in Europe and returned directly home, but others were on campus this semester, according to Dunn. Dunn did not answer repeated questions about how many students who were on campus this semester self-reported cases of COVID-19, or if any students said they had symptoms while on campus.

Dunn did not answer questions about how many students have been informed they came into contact with someone who self-reported COVID-19, when students tested positive for COVID-19, and if the coronavirus was on campus before the residence halls closed on March 15.

Dunn said that he does not have answers to some of these questions, while others would violate patient confidentiality, though he did not specify which.

The students’ local health authorities will work with them to do “contact tracing,” Dunn said. Contact tracing involves finding UHS is also working with students who self-report cases, and it is encouraging them to contact anyone they were in close contact with. 

Individuals who are notified of having been in close contact with the student on campus who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days, Lochhead’s statement said. Additionally, if they experience symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, they should contact their health care provider for assistance. 

The statement defined close contact as being “in a closed room for more than 15 minutes while the student was symptomatic.” 

“Given that the student is in isolation, there is no risk of contracting the virus from the individual at this time,” Lochhead’s statement said. “However, all community members are encouraged to monitor their health, and contact University Health Services or their primary care provider if symptoms emerge.”

BC Facilities staff will continue to sanitize and clean common areas throughout campus, the statement said. Lochhead urged all individuals remaining on campus to follow the recommended social distancing guidelines.

March 23, 2020