Executive Vice President and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Lochhead sent an email to students on Tuesday attributing the recent rise in COVID-19 cases at Boston College to “students letting their guard down.” If the trend continues, BC may implement further restrictions, including possibly sending students home early for the semester, the email said.
“The pattern of cases clearly demonstrates that many students are ignoring the basic health and safety protocols that allowed us to remain in-class and in-person on campus during the first semester,” the email said. “This behavior threatens the health and safety of our shared campus community.”
The email said that because the University is reaching a “critical stage” with respect to COVID-19, BC may impose additional guidelines to curb the number of students testing positive or being placed into quarantine from contact tracing. Restrictions may include requiring students to quarantine in their rooms, implementing a no-guest policy, and ending the on-campus semester early.
The University reported 68 new undergraduate cases of COVID-19 out of 10,990 undergraduate tests performed since Feb. 1, according to its COVID-19 dashboard, a positivity rate of 0.62 percent. There are currently 72 undergraduate students in isolation as of Tuesday, with 44 in isolation housing and 28 recovering at home.
Lochhead said that the uptick in cases and close-contacts is particularly evident among members of the freshman class, whom he noted had been largely compliant with the University’s’ COVID-19 safety protocols during the fall semester.
During the past two weekends, students held gatherings in which they exceeded the guest limit and failed to wear masks, Lochhead wrote. BC has removed many of the students responsible from BC housing or suspended them from the University, and it is still evaluating other cases, according to the email.
“This rise in cases is a direct result of students letting their guard down with respect to pandemic health precautions, including not wearing masks, lack of maintaining physical distancing, hosting and attending parties/gatherings, and other risky social behavior,” Lochhead wrote.
Lochhead urged students to follow the University’s safety protocols, including social distancing and wearing masks at all times.
“We understand everyone is fatigued by the restrictions on in-person gatherings and that the cold weather makes it difficult to gather outside,” Lochhead wrote. “However, our goal is to be able to finish the semester on campus. We need everyone to adhere to the conduct policies that have been clearly and consistently communicated.”
BC will require students to attend meetings on Zoom, which will begin as early as Wednesday night, due to the growing concerns.
“We call upon you to think about the ramifications of your actions when considering behavior which may not be in compliance with public health and BC COVID-19 health safety precautions and policies,” Lochhead wrote.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor