• Art Jahnke

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Art Janke

    Art Jahnke began his career at the Real Paper, a Boston area alternative weekly. He has worked as a writer and editor at Boston Magazine, web editorial director at CXO Media, and executive editor in Marketing & Communications at Boston University, where his work was honored with many awards. Profile

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There are 4 comments on Q&A: BU’s Contact Tracing System Explained

  1. “I’m in a classroom with students for three hours at a time—doesn’t this make me a close contact even if we are six feet away and wearing masks?

    There may be unique circumstances that require identification beyond close contacts and these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.“

    Since this response appears to be asserting that there are exceptions to stated policy, could we please be provided with some examples of circumstances where it might be decided that someone will count as a close contact even though people were wearing masks and were six feet away from each other?

    I recommend:
    https://www.wgbh.org/news/education/2020/09/10/as-campuses-reopen-colleges-struggle-to-balance-privacy-and-public-safety

  2. There seems to be some contradictions in this article (not surprising really). The flow chart you provide for faculty and staff say that if a student identifies a faculty or staff member as a close contact they will be notified and asked to quarantine. But then you not only say that you are still not notifying if a student in class tests positive. BUT THEN you say that in the information you give the contact tracers you identify potential contacts, including faculty and TFs.

    I would trust BU’s testing and tracing system much more if there weren’t such discrepancies and if it did the right thing and gave a blanket notification of ‘someone in one of your classes tested positive.’ The excuse that you’d know who it was based on who wasn’t in class is a pretty big stretch given the fact that under the LfA model a student could not be in class for a variety of reasons.

    I feel sorry for and anger on behalf of the faculty, staff, and TFs who did not receive workplace adjustments because they do not fit the narrowly defined ‘high risk’ category, even if they have underlying medical conditions. They are putting their lives at risk and their trust in a system that doesn’t care for their safety or well-being. COVID is a new disease and we don’t know yet how it will effect ANYONE, with or without underlying medical conditions.

    1. I completely agree, there is a contradiction in the flow chart vs what they are saying about informing classroom instructors. I would feel so much better knowing that I would be automatically considered a close contact if a student in my class tests positive. The contradiction is confusing and undermines the attempt at transparency.

      Given the way aerosols spread, the 6 feet rule makes no sense. Any of us who are in a classroom for ANY standard class time with someone who tests positive deserve to be considered a close contact. I don’t need to be “informed” but I’d like to be automatically given close contact status. I will happily quarantine.

      Given that BU gave us no choice and forced us to risk our lives and teach in person, they should treat an entire class as a close contact if someone tests positive.

  3. Taking a closer look at the following quote raises questions:

    “We have not yet recommended such an app because their privacy and accuracy is still rapidly evolving … ”

    Looking at existing exposure notification apps that have been developed with and by privacy experts (e.g., SwissCovid[1] was co-developed by EPFL faculty members who regularly publish in the most prestigious venues for computer security and privacy) one has to wonder what kind of credentials justify the “privacy” caution raised by whatever BU-entity makes decisions here.

    Of course, there are other apps that have plausible privacy postures too, and SwissCovid is but one example.

    [1] https://actu.epfl.ch/news/first-pilot-for-the-google-and-apple-based-decentr/

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