The University announced today that it will give students the option of leaving Boston College and the state of Massachusetts for Thanksgiving break and completing their courses and finals remotely from home, or remaining at BC or elsewhere within the Commonwealth for Thanksgiving and finishing the semester on campus.

The announcement was made in a letter to the community from Executive Vice President Michael Lochhead and Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley, following a survey last week of undergraduate students.

Students living on campus who choose to return to their homes outside of Massachusetts must inform the Office of Residential Life of their choice by November 13. Pro-rated room credits and board balances will be applied to these students’ accounts for the spring semester.  Students living in off-campus apartments who choose to leave Massachusetts for the Thanksgiving break will also complete their courses remotely, and will not be able to return to campus until the start of the spring semester.

Students who choose to remain on campus for the remainder of the semester must also register with Residential Life to continue their access to campus facilities and services. Campus residence halls will close on the last day of exams, currently scheduled for December 21, and will reopen at the start of the second semester. 

BC administrators said the University is providing these options in light of a nationwide uptick in COVID-19 cases reported this month. Boston College, they said, is in a position to allow students to remain on campus through the scheduled end of the fall semester as a result of a steady decrease in its COVID-19 positivity rate since the spike that occurred during the week of September 7-13. BC’s average weekly positivity rate has fallen steadily due to support for BC’s testing, contact tracing and mask wearing protocols. Overall, since testing began on August 16, University Health Services has conducted 61,816 tests, including 43,952 tests of undergraduates, for a cumulative community positivity rate of 0.35%, well below the state average of 1.3%.  

University Health Services Director Dr. Douglas Comeau said that the requirement for students traveling out of state for Thanksgiving to remain at home makes sense, given Massachusetts travel orders that require 14 days of quarantine for individuals returning from out-of-state travel. As a result, he said, students returning to the Commonwealth would not be eligible to attend in-person classes, which end upon the completion of the semester on December 10.   

In addition, the announcement said that while the schedule for the second semester has not yet been determined, the University is reviewing the benefits of beginning the spring semester during the last week of January, eliminating Spring Break and hosting classes on Holy Thursday (April 1) and Easter Monday (April 5).

The letter also stated that all undergraduates would be tested the week of November 16, in advance of Thanksgiving travel, and that the University would require that students, faculty, and staff who plan to be on campus during the spring semester be tested before classes resume.

University Communications | October 19, 2020