Opinions, Editorials

To Combat Confusion, Release Details on Contact Tracing Procedures

When cases spiked on campus during the second week of classes, Boston College gained the attention of Newton, Boston, and the state. Many students on campus were suddenly faced with questions about how contract tracing worked.

Many of those questions have been left unanswered by BC’s reopening guidelines and subsequent emails sent throughout the semester.

BC’s contact tracing efforts consider someone a close contact if they were within 6 feet of a person who tests positive for more than 15 minutes within the 48-hour period prior to the test. But many students are unsure of what to do if they are not considered a “close” contact, but still feel they may have been exposed to the virus. 

What if their roommate, for example, is contact traced and called in for a test? Should they then quarantine themselves in their rooms until their roommate receives a negative test result?

What, if anything, should students do if they’ve been in contact with the person for less than 15 minutes? What should they do if they were exposed 72 hours before the test? Answers to questions such as these are up in the air, leaving students confused and unsettled. 

Director of University Health Services Doug Comeau told students at a webinar Thursday that anyone concerned that they may have come into contact with someone who tested positive should call UHS, where the contact tracers can determine if they need a test. Of course, some situations need to be considered on a case-by-case basis, but instead of having every confused student calling in, UHS should post general guidance that is publicly available about situations that fall outside the definition of a close contact.

Having the information readily available—as the University has made other questions about academics, dining, and more—will give students the peace of mind of knowing that they are following guidelines. This clarity will cut back on the frustration, confusion, and anxiety felt on campus.

A group of Heights editors who are committed to participating in the consistent writing of editorials comprise the editorial board. Editors who report on topics discussed in editorials are not permitted to participate in the discussion or writing of the editorial.

Members: Colleen Martin, Abby Hunt, Maddie Haddix, Brooke Kaiserman, Meegan Minahan, Jillian Ran, Danny Flynn, and Rachel Phelan.

September 21, 2020

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