News, On Campus, Academics, Administration

Fall Update Details Classes, Testing, Contact Tracing

Boston College released a letter on Monday that provided information on how testing and contact tracing will be conducted throughout the fall semester and gave a more detailed look at the University’s plan for a mix of online and in-person course instruction.

The letter, signed by Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley and Executive Vice President Michael Lochhead, said that University Health Services staff will test students, faculty, and staff for COVID-19 prior to the start of the semester at no charge. The Broad Institute, a biomedical and genomic research center in Cambridge, will analyze the tests. 

Other Massachusetts colleges have also contracted out the institute for COVID-19 testing, including Smith College and Harvard University.

Students who test positive will be required to isolate in their on-campus apartments, in designated campus housing, or at their off-campus residence for at least 10 days—the final three of which they must exhibit no symptoms of the disease. BC Dining will bring meals to isolated students’ doors, and they will be able to continue with their classes remotely.

BC will continue to conduct COVID-19 testing for students and staff in “high-contact positions,” which includes BC Dining staff and resident assistants, the letter said. 

UHS staff will work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to conduct contact tracing, and some people who may have been exposed to the virus may be required to quarantine for two weeks. The letter said that students with health concerns should immediately contact UHS.

The letter said that the University has granted approximately a quarter of the faculty with accommodations to teach remotely. Some larger lectures will be moved online, but a majority of classes will be taught with at least some in-person instruction. Some courses will be taught entirely in person, while others will alternate between in-person instruction and remote learning.

Classrooms will be reduced to 50 percent capacity, and in line with the University’s previously stated policy that students must wear masks when social distancing is not possible, students and professors will be required to wear masks at all times during in-person instruction.

BC Dining will expand its “grab-and-go” options and delivery locations for mobile orders to minimize the amount of students in dining halls, while self-serve options and reusable utensils will be eliminated, the letter said.

Sanitizing wipes will be available in dining halls for students to clean their dining areas before and after use, and each dining hall will be closed for an hour between meals to allow for sanitizing and restocking of product.

The letter comes the same day Harvard announced only freshmen and approved students from other class years would be allowed on campus in the fall, and all Harvard classes will be taught online for the semester. BC reiterated the University’s intent for a normal calendar during the fall semester, with classes beginning Aug. 31 and concluding Dec. 10, and finals scheduled for completion on Dec. 21. The email made no mention of BC’s plans for Thanksgiving Break, when students will have five days off classes prior to the end of the semester.

Last week’s update stated that the University is encouraging students to pack lightly, instituting phased move-in, advising students not to travel or make off-campus excursions during the semester, limiting elevator capacity to four people, and prohibiting off-campus visitors.

Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Editor

July 6, 2020