July 27, 2020
Dear Members of the Boston College Community:
We write to provide additional information concerning the University’s plans for the fall semester, and to assure you that Boston College is taking all necessary precautions to help protect the members of the BC community and the surrounding neighborhoods.
As was referenced in more detail in the July 20 letter from Vice President for Student Affairs Joy Moore, the University is establishing comprehensive testing and contact tracing protocols, and has secured additional housing capacity for quarantine and isolation purposes. These steps, along with daily symptom monitoring, mask wearing, frequent hand washing, and good personal hygiene, will help to limit the potential spread of the virus. We continue to modify our plans in accordance with evolving guidance from federal and state authorities.
On Friday, July 24, Massachusetts Governor Baker signed an executive order requiring all individuals arriving from out of state to complete a Massachusetts Travel Form and quarantine for 14 days, unless coming from one of eight low-risk states, or possessing a negative test result for COVID-19 from a test taken prior to their arrival in Massachusetts. Travelers from the following states are exempted from the travel quarantine requirement: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. (Please see the MA DPH Website for updates.)
How does this executive order affect Boston College?
As previously announced, during the weeks of August 17 and August 24, Boston College will initiate mandatory testing of all students, faculty, and staff who intend to be on campus this fall. Students from the states currently not exempted by the Governor’s order will be able to comply with the Massachusetts travel quarantine requirement either by obtaining a negative test result within three days of their arrival or testing negative upon arrival at Boston College. We anticipate that student test results–conducted by The Broad Institute–will be available within 6-26 hours. Students awaiting test results must follow strict protocols, which require wearing masks or face coverings at all times during this waiting period. In accordance with state guidelines, any student living in University residence halls testing positive for COVID-19 will be moved to University isolation housing. Graduate students and undergraduate students living off-campus testing positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate in their off-campus residences. Students in University isolation will be able to attend classes remotely, will have food provided to them by BC Dining Services, and will be under the care and supervision of University Health Services.
Boston College is finalizing its plans for an app to assist with test scheduling and confidential results reporting, and symptom monitoring. More details on the app, including information about the iPhone and Android versions for smartphones, will be provided around August 10.
Faculty and deans at Boston College have been working throughout the summer to prepare for a combination of in-class, hybrid, and on-line courses during the fall semester. While student evaluations of the online courses offered during the spring semester were positive, faculty have been working since May with the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Center for Design Innovation in Learning, and University librarians to design classes that are even better in meeting our teaching standards and expectations, regardless of modality. BC colleagues from Information Technology Services, Facilities, and Space Planning continue in their efforts to re-design classrooms to meet state health and safety guidelines, enhance technological capacity, and provide the best possible environment for teaching and learning. We are creating a video of how a typical classroom will look as modeled in Fulton, Carney, and Campion, and anticipate sharing it in early August.
Plans for Transportation and Parking have been developed to accommodate physical distancing and to ensure the safety of faculty, staff, and students. Additional buses have been added to the Newton and Commonwealth Avenue shuttle routes in order to comply with reduced ridership targets, and comprehensive cleaning and sanitizing protocols are being put into place for all of our buses. Limited bus shuttle operations will begin on August 3, with the full schedule resuming on August 31. Detailed information is available on the Transportation and Parking website: bc.edu/transportation.
We are now nearly one month away from the start of the fall semester. Our planning continues, guided by our stated principles: to keep delivering quality, rigorous formative education despite challenging circumstances; to ensure the safety of our community; to follow the recommendations of medical experts and public health officials in our planning and assessment; and to continue regular communications with the Boston College community.
We remain grateful for your patience and understanding, as we navigate the unique challenges of this global pandemic together.