Boston College

September 23, 2021

Dear Students:

Beginning tomorrow, when you perform your daily self-health check on the BC Check app, you will notice slight changes to the symptoms assessment questions.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the departments of public health in Boston and Newton have recommended that University Health Services and all healthcare providers statewide adjust the standard for individuals to be screened for COVID-19.

Previously, in accordance with public health recommendations, students had been advised to seek medical attention if they had one of the following symptoms within the past 24 hours:

  • Fever (temperature over 100.4) or chills
  • Muscle or Body Aches
  • Headache
  • Sore Throat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion or runny nose (not associated with allergies).

Now, students are being advised by DPH to seek medical attention only if they have two or more of these symptoms.  If you have two of the above symptoms, you should not leave your room or come to campus, but you should contact University Health Services right away.

Additionally, students should now seek screening for COVID-19 if they have one of the following symptoms:

  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough (not associated with allergies)

If you have one of the above symptoms, you should not leave your room or come to campus, but you should contact University Health Services right away.

The University has updated these new recommendations on the BC Check app. 

The changes were implemented by the DPH to help clarify what is likely to be a positive case of COVID-19, as opposed to a lesser illness such as a cold or sore throat.

The new standard is designed to help symptomatic individuals get seen faster by medical professionals, and for people with symptoms of other illnesses—such as strep throat or viral illness—to be able to be seen by healthcare providers at a health center or clinic.

Here at BC, these changes mean that students with only one symptom of COVID-19 (other than new loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, or cough) will no longer get the X on their daily symptom app, which would have prevented them from getting an asymptomatic test in the Margot Connell Recreation Center, or visiting the non COVID-19 side of University Health Services.

Students should know that experiencing symptoms such as loss of taste and smell and shortness of breath are more likely to be a sign of COVID-19, whereas an isolated runny nose is more likely to be something else. If you have any doubt about your symptoms, or related questions, please contact University Health Services. 

BC students are required to perform a daily self-health check each day before coming to campus. Please continue to use the BC Check app, as it is a vital asset in our community-wide effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 on our campus and in the surrounding communities, and should be used daily.     

In addition, I ask that you continue to make good decisions when engaging in social activities.  Contact tracing shows that students who test positive for COVID-19 most often do so after having visited restaurants, bars, and clubs off campus, or having attended parties or large gatherings, especially with individuals outside of the BC community who are not vaccinated at the same high levels we have attained on campus.

Limiting your exposure to high-risk situations is the best way to keep yourself and other members of the BC community healthy and safe.

We have had much success in managing the pandemic on campus this year, but we must not let our guard down.  By taking the appropriate cautions, we can meet the goal that we all desire—to have a successful and healthy academic year. 


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Dr. Douglas Comeau

Director of University Health Services