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BC to Establish State-Certified Lab on Campus for Rapid COVID-19 Testing

Boston College sent a letter on Monday providing additional updates regarding its plan for testing students who return to campus in August. The University will test all students, faculty, and staff returning to campus at the University’s expense during the third and fourth weeks of August, prior to the start of classes. 

The Broad Institute, a biomedical and genomic research center in Cambridge that is affiliated with Harvard and MIT, will analyze the test results within around 24 hours, and BC is in the process of securing equipment to deliver single test results within one hour, the letter said. BC is also working on establishing a state-certified laboratory on campus with the ability to analyze 200 to 300 samples per day, as needed.

The letter, signed by Vice President for Student Affairs Joy Moore, said that students living in residence halls on campus will not be able to access their buildings until they have been tested.

Testing sites will be available at locations throughout campus during the move-in period, which begins as early as Aug. 25 with the arrival of first-year international students. Due to international travel bans and restrictions, many first-year international students may be unable to enter the United States in time and will have to complete the semester remotely. Students living off campus will be contacted with information about their tests.

BC will conduct weekly tests of various students and employees in high-contact positions to identify asymptomatic cases on campus and ensure that infected individuals are treated as rapidly as possible. Among those who will be tested weekly are hall directors and residence assistants, BC Police Department officers, BC Dining, custodial and facilities staff, Margot Connell Recreation staff, and BC Athletics personnel, according to the letter. 

Students will be emailed with their test results, and UHS will contact those who tested positive to provide them with further instructions, the letter said. Students living on campus who test positive will be moved to isolation housing, including a primary location approximately a mile from campus, although the letter did not specify the location.

The University will provide students with transportation to quarantine and isolation housing, and the locations will be staffed by professionals from the Office of Residential Life. BC Dining will provide meals for students, and UHS will provide health care daily, according to the letter.

Students in quarantine and isolation should continue their coursework online, the letter said. The letter encouraged students to update their parents on the status of their medical conditions while they are in quarantine and isolation. 

Students deemed to have been in close contact with another infected student may be quarantined in their own rooms or relocated to University quarantine housing, as determined by the University. 

Undergraduates who live within a certain distance may be asked to return home for quarantine or isolation, and students who live in off-campus houses or apartments should quarantine or isolate there, the letter said.

“As stated in previous updates, we anticipate a school year with the same high-level academic expectations for teaching and learning through in-class, online, and hybrid classes, as well as a wide range of student activities, and longstanding student support services through University Counseling, disabilities services, and Career Education,” the letter said.

Although many students will be taking at least some courses online, the University has still increased tuition by 3.69 percent for the coming academic year. It has also raised financial aid by 4 percent. 

The letter also said that certain student activities, including theatre productions and musical performances, will be conducted virtually, in order to comply with state and local guidelines. Student retreats will be held in a combination of in-person and online formats.

The letter said students will receive an email later in the week with the Eagles Care Pledge, which asks students to act to maintain their own well-being and that of others, and that they must sign it by Aug. 7.

Featured Image by Maddy Romance / Heights Editor

July 21, 2020