August 18, 2020
Dear Members of the BC Community:
In our last scheduled weekly email of the summer, we write to provide an update prior to the start of the fall semester on August 31. Faculty and staff have worked diligently and creatively during the past several months to prepare for the start of classes, and we look forward to welcoming students back to the Heights in the coming days. We are grateful for the patience, hard work, and commitment of the entire BC community in helping to position the University for the new academic year under challenging circumstances.
Yesterday was the first full day of COVID-19 testing in Conte Forum for faculty, staff, and some students, and it went well and according to plan. The lines moved quickly, with an average testing time of 10-15 minutes, and a total of 2277 tests were administered.
COVID-19 testing for faculty and staff, as well as graduate/professional students and undergraduates arriving early or living off campus will continue throughout the week. Testing for undergraduates living on campus will begin the week of August 24 immediately prior to their scheduled move-in. Undergrads living off-campus will be also tested next week on a walk-in basis. The following link provides a map of the testing plan for Conte Forum.
To assist with scheduling COVID-19 tests this week and help balance demand, BC’s Information Technology Services (ITS) has set up a scheduler using a Google Form application that will enable BC community members to schedule a testing window between Tuesday, August 18, and Sunday, August 23. Times will be organized in half-hour blocks, and individuals will receive an automatic confirmation of their selected window. Faculty and staff are welcome to walk in at any time during testing hours. We urge all BC employees, however, to get tested before the end of this first week. Separate email messages with details on accessing the scheduler will be sent to faculty, staff, and students living off campus.
A number of questions have arisen regarding the CoVerified app since the announcement of a delay in its availability. The app was never intended to be used for contact-tracing purposes. Boston College’s plan for contact tracing will be carried out in conjunction with local departments of health. Our testing capabilities remain unaffected by the absence of the CoVerified app. Testing this week and next, and ongoing symptomatic and asymptomatic surveillance testing through University Health Services, will proceed as planned. We are still planning to have a daily self-health check. Details will be distributed when available.
As was mentioned in our communication on Friday, all faculty, staff, and students are required to sign a consent form from the Broad Institute prior to testing. Further, to help expedite the registration process at Conte Forum, individuals are asked to bring their Eagle ID or have their Eagle ID number readily available. Please note that no food, beverages, or large bags are allowed in Conte Forum during the testing process. Once tests have been analyzed, individuals will receive notice of negative results via email from the Broad Institute. Those who test positive will be contacted by the ordering physician or a designee.
All students are reminded that they must be tested at Boston College prior to gaining access to their residence hall. Students who are living on campus this semester received specific information this weekend from the BC Office of Residential Life regarding the student move-in process which will begin the week of August 24. Given the mandatory testing component and the limit of one parent/guardian or friend accompanying the student into their residence hall, move-in will be different this year, but our colleagues in Residential Life are confident that it will go as smoothly as possible. We ask students and parents to be punctual regarding their move-in arrival times to enable Res Life to stay on schedule.
As we approach the first day of classes, our faculty are making final changes and improvements to fall courses, while our facilities and space planning teams complete the de-densification of our classrooms. Sanitizing wipes are being distributed, HVAC filters have been upgraded, microphone equipment enhanced, and the last of more than 40 new classroom recording systems are being installed. We are looking forward to welcoming faculty the week of August 24 to visit their improved classroom spaces, ensuring that everyone is comfortable and ready for a great launch on August 31.
One key change that everyone will see in our classrooms and academic buildings is a set of posters reminding students, instructors, and staff that the success of our year is dependent on the willingness of every member of the community to follow the health guidelines that have been outlined in our Eagles Care Pledge. Properly worn masks will be required at all times in the classroom and while moving through BC's buildings; all will need to disinfect seats and desks before using them; and we ask that everyone stay seated throughout class. By following these guidelines, we show that we care for one another's health and safety, and that we are committed to preventing COVID-19 from disrupting our fall semester.
The Margot Connell Recreation Center will open on August 24 with capacity limitations as set by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The September 2 University Convocation for faculty and staff will be moved to a virtual format, as will the First Year Academic Convocation featuring Bruce Springsteen. Details will be provided as they become available.
While 87 percent of students have already signed the Eagles Care Pledge, we ask those who have not yet responded to do so today. We are proud that BC students, when asked, always rise to the occasion. We need you to do so this year more than ever if the semester is to be successful. That means adhering to the expectations stated in the Eagles Care Pledge, strictly following state and federal health guidelines, and acting responsibly during days, nights, and weekends, both on and off campus. An important reminder: no parties will be allowed on or off campus.
As we proceed from planning for the fall to our long-awaited semester, we hope we can count on that same patience, hard work, and commitment demonstrated by members of the BC community over these past few months.
Returning to and sustaining campus activities this fall will require all members of our community to take personal responsibility and do their part to help limit the potential spread of the coronavirus on campus.
Thank you all–students, faculty, and staff–for your patience, understanding and support. We look forward to having you back at Boston College.