Boston College plans to resume on-campus classes in the fall as scheduled, University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., announced in an email to the BC community on Tuesday. Classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 31, and the steps necessary for reopening will be carried out in phases this summer according to Massachusetts guidelines.
“University officials have been engaged for some weeks in considering current and future challenges related to the coronavirus, and I want to provide a sense of those discussions and plans for the future,” Leahy said. “Such review and analyses will continue in the coming months, mindful of educational needs and desires of students and their parents, concerns about protecting the health of our entire community, and economic realities facing American higher education.”
Leahy said that having some students stay on campus after most had departed has helped the University learn how to mitigate spread of the novel coronavirus. BC has learned how to better implement measures such as physical distancing and new food distribution protocols in the dining halls, increased sanitization of buildings, and use of technology for meetings and events.
Leahy added that University Health Services has developed testing and isolation procedures for COVID-19, though he noted that more needs to be done for testing, contact tracing, and treatment. Leahy said he believes these issues can be addressed if the University works cooperatively with other higher-education institutions and the local, state, and federal government.
“In its long history, Boston College has had to deal with a range of serious issues, including the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the attacks of September 11,” Leahy said. “Our University has already responded to the coronavirus with grace, generosity, and commitment; and I remain confident that it will continue to do so in the months and year ahead, drawing from our faith and trust in one another, and the strength of our mission and Jesuit, Catholic heritage.”
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released a four-phase plan on Monday morning detailing specifics for reopening the Commonwealth, with each phase to last at least three weeks. The plan states that it is possible for Massachusetts to return to prior phases if public health data reveals increased transmission of COVID-19.
Most of Massachusetts is currently in Phase 1, which allowed places of worship to reopen and manufacturing and construction to resume on Monday. As part of Phase 1, colleges and universities will be permitted to resume in-person lab work and to open functions necessary to plan for reopening on May 25.
Offices outside of the City of Boston will be able to open on May 25, though the plan instructs businesses to encourage employees to work from home and to limit in-person staff to less than 25 percent of their workspace’s maximum capacity. Offices in the City of Boston will be able to open on June 1, following these same guidelines.
In Phases 2 and 3, institutions of higher education may follow public health guidelines to create plans for course delivery, which the plan says will likely consist of a mix of in-person and online classes. Massachusetts could reach Phase 4, the “New Normal,” by July 20 at the earliest, depending on the trends in infection rates as the Commonwealth moves through the phases.
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Senior Staff