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BC Breaks COVID-19 Records Amid National Omicron Surge, Return to Campus

The University broke its record for the highest-ever number of cases of COVID-19 on campus with 330 undergraduates testing positive after returning from Winter Break, according to an update to the BC Forward website

Boston College’s undergraduate positivity rate during pre-semester testing was 4.52 percent—the highest reported so far this academic year—with 330 undergraduate students testing positive out of 7,305 tests.                       

“The reported test results are based on tests administered at the University,” Senior Associate Director of University Communications Ed Hayward wrote in an email to The Heights. “BC’s positivity rate remains well below the rates for the U.S. (28.6 percent), Massachusetts (20.4 percent), Boston (31.6 percent), and Newton (13.18 percent).”

The University also reported 292 non-undergraduate cases of COVID-19 out of a total of 6,406 tests—a positivity rate of 4.56 percent. The cumulative positivity rate of both undergraduate and non-undergraduate tests during pre-semester testing was 4.54 percent, according to the update. 

The high number of positive cases on BC’s campus reflects a nationwide surge of the Omicron variant, which has led to increased COVID-19 restrictions on campus including a temporary mask mandate and heightened penalties for testing noncompliance

Students were tested twice for COVID-19 before being allowed to attend classes on campus—first by submitting either an antigen or PCR test before arriving on campus, and the second time upon arrival.

Alden Hirsch, MCAS ’25, said he received a COVID-19 test after his arrival to campus on Saturday and received an email on Sunday morning from University Health Services (UHS) telling him to contact UHS as soon as possible. 

After trying to call four or five times, Hircsh said he reached UHS and was informed he had tested positive for COVID-19.

“It’s definitely tough because coming back to college, you don’t expect to spend your first week in isolation alone,” Hircsh said. 

According to Hayward, the University is not facing a shortage of isolation housing. 

“The University has an ample supply of beds for isolation housing,” Hayward wrote. “This past weekend, some students entering isolation housing were given the option of having a roommate. Students are isolating both on campus and at home.”

Despite his frustration at being isolated during the start of the semester, Hircsh said he is glad he received the positive COVID-19 test before coming in contact with other friends and students.

“I’m happy that they did catch it pretty quickly or else, obviously, I would have been kind of walking around the first week giving people COVID which would have sucked,” he said.

Featured Image by Vikrum Singh / Heights Editor

January 19, 2022