August 3, 2020
Dear Members of the Boston College Community:
We write to provide an update on our plans and preparations for the fall semester, four weeks before the start of classes on August 31. Having received similar questions from many within the BC community, we will use this week’s correspondence to address the issues that are foremost on the minds of students, parents, faculty and staff.
We encourage you to continue to monitor the Reopening Boston College website, and to look out for emails from academic and administrative offices in the coming weeks.
When will Boston College communicate which classes will be online or in-person?
During the past six weeks, a cross-University team has been working to update room assignments for the nearly two-thirds of courses that will be taught on campus this fall. The need to de-densify classrooms has meant that many courses required new locations, and the bulk of that work has just been completed. Students can now view “Course Information and Schedule” on the Agora Portal to see if their classes will be meeting online or in-person.
Online classes may be asynchronous, in which there are regular assignments and deadlines but no required meeting times, or synchronous with a regular meeting time. Note that some online synchronous meeting times are outside the typical teaching day (early morning or late evening) to accommodate the international members of our BC community who are unable to travel to the United States this fall. The majority of in-person classes have been placed in full-sized, de-densified classrooms; other in-person classes will be taught in a hybrid mode in which half the class is present at each in-person meeting. The course descriptions for most classes have been updated to indicate that they may be hybrid, though some courses–particularly labs and discussion groups–will be updated this week.
Instructors teaching hybrid courses will reach out prior to the first meeting to let students know how in-person class attendance will be managed. More information on course formats and schedules will be sent to students this week from the University Registrar’s office.
Given that the majority of classes will be taught in-person, can you say more about what the classroom experience will be like in the fall?
As you would expect, the in-classroom experience will be different this year as we all work together to deliver rigorous, formative learning experiences while safeguarding the health and safety of our students and instructors. Classroom furniture is being rearranged and marked to maintain appropriate distance between students and should not be moved from designated locations. Classrooms will be cleaned nightly, and equipped with sanitizing wipes for everyone to use in disinfecting their chairs and writing surfaces. Students and instructors are asked to move quickly through the halls and stairwells without congregating on the way to and from class, and students will remain seated throughout class unless they need to leave the room. And, of course, masks will be worn at all times when inside Boston College buildings, including in the classroom, as well as outside when six feet of physical distance cannot be reliably maintained. When combined with daily self-monitoring of all members of the campus community, enhanced ventilation and air filtering in campus buildings, and our initial and ongoing testing protocols, these steps will help our community stay safe and healthy throughout the fall semester.
How will BC community members arrange to be tested during the weeks of August 17 and 24?
As communicated, all students, faculty, and staff who intend to be on campus during the fall semester must participate in mandatory testing for COVID-19.
Faculty and staff will be tested the week of August 17. Most students will be tested the week of August 24. Boston College has partnered with The Broad Institute to conduct the testing, and with the firm CoVerified to create an app that will enable community members to schedule their testing appointment.
We anticipate that the app will be available between August 12 and 15. Once it is ready, we will email information on how to download it and use it to schedule tests. During the semester, the app will also provide community members with daily symptoms monitoring, subsequent test scheduling, and test results.
The executive order from the Massachusetts Governor’s Office has raised concerns for parents coming to the state. Will parents from the designated higher-risk states be required to quarantine for 14 days if they are dropping their son or daughter off at BC?
The Governor’s executive order does provide an exemption for transitory travel. If parents plan to drop off their student and then leave the BC campus and the state, they would meet the exception for transitory travel and be exempt from the 14-day quarantine provision. Please see the state’s website for more information.
What is the student move-in plan for BC’s residence halls?
As stated in the letter to students from Residential Life on July 31, the COVID-19 Testing and Move-in Appointment sign-up is now live and available to undergraduate students. Students must sign in using their BC credentials and follow the on-screen instructions. All students will need to sign up for a COVID-19 Testing and Move-in Appointment time by August 15. The move-in slot will correspond with the COVID-19 testing appointment. Students will not be able to move into their rooms without first being tested. Specific details on the testing location will be forthcoming.
To help ensure physical distancing, there are limited appointments for each day and residence hall, and they are on a first-come, first-served basis. Move-in times are on the half-hour from 8:00 am - 6:30 pm on most days.
A testing and move-in appointment will consist of the following steps, in this order:
- Park at the space designated by Residential Life (Specific parking information will be mailed later this week). For those given a parking location at a residence hall, a parent, family member, or friend accompanying the student may begin unloading as space allows. For those given an alternative parking location, the parent, family member, or friend accompanying the student should proceed to the designated parking space and wait for the student to return from their COVID-19 test and then proceed to the residence hall for unloading. If students are arriving via ride-share, they may drop belongings off at the designated cart check-out location for their area.
- While the parent, family member, or friend remains with the student’s belongings, the student will proceed to their designated testing area to be tested for COVID-19. Only Boston College students will be allowed entry into the testing sites.
- Students who have been tested and received a wristband should proceed to their residence hall check-in site, which will be located adjacent to their testing location. Power Gym in Conte Forum will serve as the residence hall check-in site for students living on Lower Campus. For students living on Upper Campus or on the Newton Campus, the residence hall check-in site will be located in tents next to the testing sites.
- During the move-in period, students will only be permitted to have one guest enter the building with them to help with the move-in process. (This policy is designed to limit the number of people in the residence hall stairwells, elevators, and hallways). We ask that students move in as quickly as possible and complete the process within 60-90 minutes.
- Once a vehicle is unloaded and all items are in the residence hall, the vehicle must be moved away from the residence hall. Parking is available on the Newton or Brighton campuses, or in the Commonwealth Avenue or Beacon Street garages. To help de-densify the area, we ask that parents or other move-in helpers depart campus as soon as possible.
All students and their guests must bring and wear a mask at all times, including in their residence hall rooms.
Unless students have received a negative PCR (nasal swab) test within 72 hours prior to their arrival, and can provide University Health Services with appropriate documentation (uploaded to the laboratory section of AGORA), they are required to quarantine in their residence hall rooms on campus, or in their apartment rooms off campus, once they check-in. They must also continue to wear their face masks and maintain proper physical distancing protocols until they receive the results of their COVID-19 test. The tests results should be available within 6–26 hours.
Is Boston College hosting webinars/training sessions to help students prepare for the coming year?
The Undergraduate Student Government of Boston College (UGBC) and the Division of Student Affairs have partnered to present a series of six webinars beginning August 5. The webinars are designed to provide students with more information about the changes they will experience on campus to safeguard against COVID-19. Students will also have the opportunity to ask questions through the webinar facilitators. More than 20 faculty and administrators will discuss how their respective areas have adapted their programs and services to meet COVID-19 guidelines. Webinar session topics include: Health and Safety, Residential Life and Student Conduct, Academic Affairs, Dining Services, Student Involvement, and Student Affairs. An email invitation has been sent to all students with instructions to register for the webinars.