News, Top Story, Coronavirus Updates

BC Reports .23 Percent Undergrad Positivity Rate, Looks Toward Next Semester

Boston College reported six new undergraduate cases of COVID-19 out of 2,605 undergraduate tests since the Tuesday update of its COVID-19 dashboard, a positivity rate of .23 percent. 

The updated numbers bring the weekly undergraduate positivity rate to .25 percent, slightly above Tuesday’s rate of .17 percent. 

Around half of BC’s undergraduate population opted to return home for Thanksgiving break and complete the remainder of the semester remotely, according to Senior Associate Director of University Communications Ed Hayward. 

Of the 4,300 students remaining at BC, some were called in for two asymptomatic surveillance tests both last week and this week, according to an email UHS sent to selected students.

In an email to the BC community on Thursday evening, Executive Vice President and Acting Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Lochhead and Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley said that they are grateful for the efforts of the BC community since last summer.

“While there were many challenges along the way, our community has modeled understanding, resiliency, and a commitment to a common purpose,” the email reads.

The email also said that in the spring semester, the BC community will likely follow the same health and safety protocols it did this semester, including wearing masks when not in residence hall rooms, following physical distancing requirements, avoiding large gatherings, and holding meetings remotely, whenever possible. 

In the spring, BC also intends to follow the same symptomatic and targeted surveillance testing, contact tracing, and quarantine and isolation strategies that it did this fall, the email said. 

The email also said that BC intends to test all members of the community that will be on campus during the spring semester, with testing beginning on Jan. 19 for faculty, staff, and graduate and professional students.

BC will test undergraduates who live on campus beginning on Jan. 24, depending on their scheduled move-in times, the email reads. 

On Aug. 19, the Massachusetts Department of Health announced that all students within the Commonwealth must receive their flu vaccination by the end of the year, in order to reduce the number of flu-related illnesses and the impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In an email to the BC community on Thursday, Director of University Health Services Douglas Comeau reminded students that they must satisfy this requirement by Dec. 31. Comeau also wrote that noncompliance with the requirement would result in holds on student accounts and access.

According to the Commonwealth’s weekly dashboard, Newton and Boston remain in the moderate-risk category for COVID-19 transmission.

Newton reported an average of 23.6 daily cases per 100,000 residents between Nov. 22 and Dec. 5—up from 20.2 in the previous two-week period. Boston reported 46.06 daily cases per 100,000 residents during the same period, a jump from the prior two-week incidence rate of 31.7.

Massachusetts, which only officially recommends that people get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms, have come into contact with someone who tested positive, or live in a high-transmission risk community, reported a seven-day average positivity rate of 5.67 percent on Thursday. Boston reported a positivity rate of 6.9 percent between Nov. 27 and Dec. 3. 

There are currently 38 undergraduate students in isolation as of Thursday, with 16 in isolation housing and 22 recovering at home.

BC has performed 130,784 total tests this year, with 459 positives. These numbers include 96,899 undergraduate tests and 427 undergraduate cases of COVID-19.

Featured Image by Madeleine Romance / Heights Editor

December 11, 2020