July 6, 2020
Dear Members of the Boston College Community:
With eight weeks remaining before the start of the fall semester, we write to provide additional updates on our planning for the academic year. While many aspects of campus life will look different, our goal is to have the coming fall semester be as normal as possible and to adapt as necessary to meet current circumstances.
Academics This Fall
Deans and faculty continue to work to refine our plans for teaching, learning, and research during the fall semester. Classes will begin as planned on Monday, August 31. Our intent remains that classes will conclude on December 10 and final exams will wrap up on December 21.
We understand that some first-year students are facing visa and travel problems beyond their control. Those students will be provided the opportunity to take online classes, and we hope they will be able to continue their studies with us later in the academic year here in Chestnut Hill.
Planning for the utilization of classrooms and other teaching facilities emphasizes safety and health for teachers and students alike. Classrooms will be reduced to 50% of previous capacity to enable appropriate physical distancing. All students, faculty, staff, and visitors will be expected to wear masks while on campus, except in their residence hall room or private office, or while able to maintain 6 feet of separation. This policy means that our classrooms will feature professors and students wearing face coverings at all times. Sanitizing measures will be increased throughout the campus, including having wipes and gels in all classrooms
At this time, approximately 25% of faculty have received accommodations to teach online. In addition, many large lecture classes have been moved online in accordance with state guidelines. As a result, students can expect courses taught in a range of modalities this fall. The majority of classes will feature in-class instruction. For some courses, all students will be in attendance for each class meeting. For others, while the faculty member will be in class for each meeting, students will alternate between attending in person and participating remotely. A hybrid mix of in-person and online instruction will characterize other classes as we work to offer our full range of courses in a way that engages students and helps protect the health and safety of all.
In consultation with deans and department chairs, and using newly-determined "distanced" room capacities, the Registrar's Office is beginning the complex process of reassigning courses to classrooms for the fall. Starting this week, you may see changes to course descriptions (e.g. "online" or "hybrid"), and room locations will be removed for most courses as the process unfolds. These are necessary steps in the reassignment process, as current information must be cleared to facilitate analysis and reassignment. Changes you see should be considered temporary until the entire process is complete, which will likely take a few weeks. We will be back in touch with an update in our weekly community email at that time.
Testing and Contact Tracing
Boston College, in consultation with medical professionals, has developed the following protocols related to COVID-19 testing and contact tracing:
- All students, faculty, and staff who intend to be on campus during the fall semester will be tested at no charge for COVID-19 at temporary campus sites supervised by University Health Services staff (UHS) before classes begin on August 31. Further details will be provided by August 10.
- The test samples from students, faculty, and staff will be analyzed by The Broad Institute, a biomedical and genomic research center in Cambridge, Mass. Those found to be positive for the virus will be required to isolate in their homes, apartments, or in designated campus housing for at least 10 days, the last three of which they must be symptom free. Undergraduates living in campus residence halls and seeking to be isolated in University facilities must follow required health protocols. BC Dining will deliver food to their room doors, and they will be able to participate in classes remotely.
- During the semester, the University will test on a weekly basis students and staff in high-contact positions, such as Resident Assistants, Dining Services and Facilities staff, Athletics personnel, Boston College Police, etc., to check for asymptomatic presence of the coronavirus. These tests will also be done without cost and will be analyzed at The Broad Institute. Results will be disclosed only to the individual tested and the ordering UHS physician and, if positive for COVID-19, to public health officials and appropriate University officials.
- UHS personnel will work with staff in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to identify via contact tracing individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19. If judged necessary, students, faculty, and staff could be required to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
- The entire Boston College campus community will be urged to be mindful of personal health through daily “self-checks,” facilitated by a mobile application selected by the University. Undergraduate students with concerns about their well-being should immediately contact UHS; all others should consult with their personal physician for assessment and next steps.
- Medical care (diagnosis, treatment, quarantine, and isolation) of undergraduate students with symptoms of COVID-19 will be coordinated by UHS.
In order to accommodate physical distancing and enhanced safety protocols in the University’s dining halls, several changes are being made:
- McElroy Commons, Stuart Dining, and Corcoran Commons will serve as the primary dining halls on campus with decreased seating and changed service layouts.
- BC Dining will increase its “grab-and-go” options and delivery locations for GET Mobile orders, which will minimize volume in the main dining halls.
- Dining halls will be closed for 60 minutes between meals to sanitize service areas and dining rooms and to re-stock product.
- Self-serve areas will be eliminated and all service-ware items will be disposable.
- Sanitizing wipes will be made available in the dining halls, and community members will be expected to clean their dining area before and after each use.
- Members of the BC community will be able to remove their masks to eat, but otherwise masks or face coverings must be worn inside the dining halls.
- Planning is ongoing in keeping with changing guidance from state and federal health authorities. Additional details pertaining to dining service locations, hours, menus, and other information, will be forthcoming and made available on the Dining Services website as well as the FAQ section of this website.
Thank you for your patience and support as we unveil our plans for the fall semester. We will provide additional information as it becomes available in the coming weeks.