• Doug Most

    Assistant VP, Executive Editor, Editorial Department Twitter Profile

    Doug Most is a lifelong journalist and author whose career has spanned newspapers and magazines up and down the East Coast, with stops in Washington, D.C., South Carolina, New Jersey, and Boston. He was named Journalist of the Year while at The Record in Bergen County, N.J., for his coverage of a tragic story about two teens charged with killing their newborn. After a stint at Boston Magazine, he worked for more than a decade at the Boston Globe in various roles, including magazine editor and deputy managing editor/special projects. His 2014 nonfiction book, The Race Underground, tells the story of the birth of subways in America and was made into a PBS/American Experience documentary. He has a BA in political communication from George Washington University. Profile

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There are 32 comments on Taped Lectures, Workplace Flexibility among Changes as BU Adjusts for Spring Classes

  1. Thank you for this article. Out of curiosity sake, can you share what our sequencing efforts have revealed over the past month? When, for example, was Omicron first detected on our campus? What proportion of our positive cases have been Omicron and how has that evolved to date?

  2. Will the university begin providing KN95s or N95s for everyone, since we know that cloth masks don’t work against Omicron? Or at least can the university provide and require surgical masks? I’m really uncomfortable being in a classroom with people wearing cloth masks, especially now that the quarantine period is being shortened too.

  3. With all of these precautions in mind, it’s concerning that staff who previously worked remotely with great success are required to be on campus during intersession at a normal schedule. Students are not on campus, so a residential campus looks different during break. With the high cases we’re seeing around the holidays, it’s disheartening that staff were not given an option to work remotely during these few weeks in consideration of our own health.

    1. I agree. Harvard and MIT have directed staff to work remotely if possible during this time. It’s nice to see that those institutions consider the health and well-being of their workforces.

  4. Thanks for your leadership President Brown ! You are in an unenviable position and I appreciate the reasoned manner in which BU has carried on during the pandemic. I feel my daughter has had at least a semblance of the college experience at BU, unlike that offered by many other institutions.

  5. I wish we were remote for a few weeks but hey, I don’t make the rules. Also testing twice a week is insane, especially given how long lines to test usually are and other things students have to do. If everyone is vaccinated and boosted at this point and the quarantine period is shorter, testing twice a week seems odd to me. These guidelines are super weird but let’s see if it will work. Only time will tell. Thank you for the informational article about what students and faculty are walking into for the start of the semester.

  6. I am in complete agreement with those who are questioning the university’s decision to start in person during this surge. Starting off remotely even for just a couple of weeks could put us on the other side of the surge, and it would provide the breathing room needed to see where BU is with spread and the number of cases, and we could avoid how disruptive this will be to the functioning of the university. So many people are going to be infected at the same time that it may necessitate a temporary shutdown anyway. Even with asymptomatic cases of Omicron, developing long Covid is a real possibility. The mental health of those who really don’t want to contract this virus is being ignored. At least please provide a remote option for those who feel that they need it. The infrastructure is in place, and it has been done before. Not everyone shares the same risk tolerance. And, N95 masks should be required everywhere indoors, and the university should be providing them.

  7. As a parent of student . I agree with other concerned students remote option to get to other side of this quick moving virus would be a better option to keep more students safe and healthy. Also it will help to keep a lower number of people in the local hospitals which are currently overloaded. It is a huge concern that people may not get the best quality care because hospitals are to full . I think it’s a responsible move to help the hospital systems also. Just a couple to few week delay for in person learning could help both situations tremendously at this point . The students will stay safe remotely which is most important at this point in time.

  8. I would like to add to my previous comment above . Remote learning for first few weeks will help to keep students and staff healthy . Few weeks can be the difference in helping with less people getting sick and having to be stuck in dorms remote anyway. That type of situation could be even more disruptive to learning having a roommate sick , having to find a place to stay if they are sick, having to get medical care if you yourself are sick especially if you can’t go home and need help. It’s a lot of stress for students and staff alike to focus on work and being afraid of getting sick at the same time . Mainly because this virus is spreading like crazy and hospitals are too full at the moment as it is. I’m sure students and staff will feel safer when this virus slows . A few weeks remote will keep students safer during this high volume omicron case stage as I said until it slows . We dont want covid to control us but unfortunately at the moment it is. That’s the reality of it.

  9. As a parent of a college and elementary school students and as a pediatrician I applaud BU to act in accordance to the scientific evidence and resume classes in January. This decision is not going to be approved by 100% of the BU community, but we have learned that this epidemic has generated strong individual opinions (some not even based on any scientific data), therefore it is up to strong, confident leaders that base their decision on objective data, current guidelines and scientific data/evidence to determine the plan to follow that will serve best their communities.

  10. Could we at least given an option for remote learning for a couple of weeks of spring semester? Now the test positivity rate is almost 13 percent (when the cmpus is nearly empty) and I’ve seen it increasing everyday by a small increment.
    I need to live at a dorm where we share one communal bathroom for each floor and approximately 20 individuals will be infected if one gets it. Considering the size of BU community including Undergrad/grad students, staffs, and faculty members, I’m concerned about our own health and it would be greatly appreciated if we could go remote until the number goes down.

  11. I second the suggestion above – that the University delay in-person instruction for a few weeks after move-in while cases on campus subside. Otherwise, we run the risk of needlessly infecting our faculty and staff, which could bring operations to a grinding halt.

    Going forward- now that we know Omicron is evasive to both vaccination and previous infection- will the University be changing our post-infection testing protocol?
    Currently, any community member who has recovered from an infection is EXEMPT from all testing for 3 months. The theory was- PCR tests often pick up inactive viral proteins- resulting in a false positive for several weeks post-infection. Antigen testing, on the other hand, does not.

    With reinfection and asymptomatic spread of such serious concern with Omicron (and possibly whatever comes next), would it not be prudent to require a series of negative antigen tests for recovered students during that 3 month window?

    I would also like to encourage the University to devise a plan to distribute KN95 or better masks on a weekly basis to our community. I saw far too many students with old or otherwise inadequate masks last semester. This variant will not be as easy to control the spread of as Alpha, especially not with ineffective masks in congested classrooms.

  12. I agree with these last posts about delaying in-person instruction and distribution of KN95 and N95 masks to the BU community. Imagine what a 13%+ positivity looks like in a community of nearly 40,000 and how disruptive that could be. What about long Covid and subjecting the BU community to that possibility (which is real with Omicron even if asymptomatic). Many faculty and staff members also have very young children (too young for vaccination), and there is new information that Covid in children significantly increases their risk of developing Type I diabetes. We need to protect the vulnerable and keep our hospitals from being overrun. No one wants in-person instruction more than I do, but at what expense? Correlations cannot be made about controlling the spread as was done with Delta. Apples and oranges. Along with measles, Omicron is the most highly contagious virus we have ever seen. I am having a difficult time understanding why delaying for just a few weeks is such a big deal, and this plan for in-person right off the bat is like throwing everyone into the lion’s den. Many experts are now advising to work from home over these next weeks to a month when possible — and a student’s work is their education, and they should be starting from home/remote. Our local schools started in person and are now shut down/remote due to a massive wave in infections. No cafeteria workers, custodians, enough teachers, nurses, etc. Why not avoid this scenario? BU, please wait for this surge to subside or at the very least provide a remote option for those who feel they need it to feel safe.

  13. With clear data that vaccines + boosters do not protect against infection, it seems unfair to force students to attend in person during a nation-wide surge. Offering LfA at least for the initial 2 weeks of classes allows the individual to choose their own risk level. Insisting that the entire student population travel through a surge, with no flexibility or choice is cruel. Students should be given the right to choose to protect themselves from likely exposure and infection that occurs when requiring all students return in person. Exposure will still be very likely in dorms, cafeterias, and other spaces where masking is not required. Especially when there is a tried and tested method to provide remote option for those who do not feel safe, and might prefer a choice to postpone a return to Boston.

  14. The article acknowledges the “mental health toll” on students as a result of the “loss of personal interactions” – Can we also acknowledge the mental health toll on immuno-compromised employees and employees with chronic illnesses, for whom a “milder” strain of the virus may still result in severe illness? The struggle is real for those who have a medically documented need to limit social interaction. Just because we don’t look “sick” doesn’t me we aren’t.

  15. BU’s response the entire time has been a joke. I am a staff member who has been working IN PERSON the ENTIRE pandemic. I was literally one of the only people on Comm Ave letting students in to get their belongings while everyone else sat at home safely.

    My wife is a nurse and the hospitals are doing the same crap. One thing has been clear to me the entire time. BU is prioritizing its bottom line over the lives and safety of the students and staff. Rather than avoid possible shutdowns this will only increase the chances of it happening.

    I haven’t received a raise the entire pandemic (the 2% BS doesn’t even cover the cost of living increases) even though I’ve overperformed on every review and called a hero for helping the school function. I have taken on more job responsibilities from coworkers who were let go in 2020, yet they hire no one to replace them. My colleague who literally has been safe at home the entire pandemic gets a raise and a promotion…

    This is laughable at this point. The school literally wasted tens of thousands if not more on all this LfA equipment and signage to get rid of it when it is still needed. They don’t plan on contact tracing anymore and don’t seem to care about infections hitting the campus. I am student-facing and the response to noncompliance has also been a joke. Students are maskless around faculty and administrators and they just ignore it and reporting it has led to no action taken.

    My anxiety is only getting worse, but the school doesn’t seem to care about the risk this poses to the staff who make it possible to even be on the campus. The science of capitalism is not science, don’t be surprised when staff just start walking off the job.

    1. right on. we need a good general strike. millions of us have been forced to make dangerous decisions every day just to keep food on the table. although that’s getting more expensive, funny how that happens. no hazard pay, no raises. it’s BU and everywhere else. we’re a shambles. when will enough be enough?

  16. The email that we got that said ” We also recognize that many people will be close contacts or test positive for COVID-19 despite being vigilant over the next several weeks” was a slap in the face. Hospitals are almost at capacity. Where are we supposed to go if we get sick and need care? Is BU prepared to take care of all of us? They even said they dont have capacity to do contact tracing anymore. Whereas hospitals across the country are urging folks to get vaccinated and stay home if possible, BU is like, come back, we want your money, you’ll get sick, but at least you can’t sue us for your tuition money back.

  17. It is very concerning that BU is not providing any alternatives options for both staff and students who are uncomfortable being in person. I feel terrified going back onto campus with this high of a positivity rate. BU should understand that if they are making uncompromisable decision regarding everyone’s HEALTH, then they are a liability if a “healthy” student or employee infects someone with previous health issues, or if a student or employee themselves DIE from the virus. I do not want to go back to in person school. My personal health is at risk, and I am so disappointed that this institution is breaching personal boundaries. I think I speak for many people when I say the cause of my mental stress stems from not being able to make choices regarding my own body and my own health.
    I understand that BU is trying to make things “normal” again. But a pandemic is not normal. A 7% positivity rate (with less people on campus by the way) is not normal. Stop trying to make something that is not normal, normal. It is a reckless and selfish decision for a school to make. I understand that this is a complex situation, and that every institution is trying their absolute best. But I beg BU to at least provide options for people who are uncomfortable.

  18. Time and Time again BU shows how much they do not care for the students and only care about profits. How are you risking 40,000+ lives just for classes that could be done online? Admitting your students will catch Covid but also putting them in a position to catch it is just ridiculous! Other smaller schools nearby went online WHY DOESN’T BU do the same??? It’s not fair AT ALL for the concerned students to go to class with a real life disease spreading. It’s either i go to class and catch Covid or I stay home, risk not being able to learn, and possibly be kicked out of school. This is ridiculous. Shame on BU to the fullest extent for forcing their students to catch covid and deal with the consequences!

    1. Seriously??!! You think ALL classes CAN JUST BE DONE ONLINE??? Not true! The one size fits all solution of just going remote is WRONG! You want to hide away, fine. But that should not be forced on the rest of us who want to live our lives. And are you at home watching Netflix and watching shows where all of those people put their lives at risk for your enjoyment? Do you order food from establishments where those people don’t have remote options? The sense of entitlement is gross.

      We have all been trained at this point to think COVID is the end. Yet with vaccines and boosters it is not. Yes, you are going to catch COVID. Just like you will get the flu or a cold. it is inevitable at this point. And for the vast majority it will be mild and we will move on. Even Dr. Fauci has admitted so himself. And what, you are going to just hide for the rest of your life?

      1. HA! This is coming from a student who worked the whole pandemic to support herself because she isn’t privileged like most people at BU. THE ENTIRE PANDEMIC AT THAT. I was probably the one making your food. So no I’m not watching Netflix. Im at work watching people catch it left and right. I caught Covid and it wasn’t pleasant so why would i want to risk myself to be reinfected?? For the first 2 weeks, ALL CLASSES like i said can be done online to prevent a surge. You’re not learning anything too advanced in the first two weeks. If you want to risk your life fine, but don’t tell other students to and then want to call them lazy after when you don’t know them and are anonymous right now. I don’t want to hide away but I don’t want to be in a room with 50+ Kids that tested positive. Risk your life not mine buddy. Watch who you call privileged and entitled because you have no idea who you’re talking to or what people went through during this pandemic and the trauma it could of cause. So just because you weren’t impacted by Covid as much, doesn’t mean others didn’t feel the impact and aren’t scared. You’re extremely inconsiderate right along with BU.

  19. We as individuals also need to practice some common sense. In my observation, some of the infections I hear about were due to individuals going to gatherings when they were not feeling well and not necessarily practicing safe social distancing. So if your not felling well stay home and don’t spread your cold, flu, etc. We should at least do our part to keep sickness from spreading.

  20. What would it look like to dedensify campus by allowing staff to work remotely? Staff have been in person at alarming capacities. This takes a toll on their mental health. As noted above, we have not caught up to the cost of living increases… it’s depressing and bleak to turn up to this. It’s depressing and bleak to witness immunocompromised employees prove they need consideration and care. It’s depressing and bleak that after two years of scrambling we are still in triage mode. What is the plan to catch up to all of the operational debt that protects our functionality. This is not sustainable. Scarcity mindset is preventing advancement and advocacy. Bridging BU shed kore light on the lack of understanding of what individuals work consists of. Peoples skillsets are under utilized, temporary assignments are still in full effect with no trajectory to balance or change.

  21. I can’t keep quiet anymore. I know this will not be a popular post but I need to say this. You all sound like you are entitled to something. Why? What does BU owe you? If you are working here, you know how they operate. You chose to take this job. If you don’t like the way BU is operating, leave. If you are a student here, BU has been transparent the ENTIRE time about what their goals are and that is in person learning. They had a record number of applications last year. Why? THEY STAYED OPEN!!! That is what students want! I am a professor here and I HATE teaching remotely. It is ineffective and the students tune you out 10 minutes in.

    If you think BU has done such a terrible job then transfer out. if you work here and don’t like how they have operated, fill one of the thousands of positions at another university or company desperately looking for people. Wages, no argument. BU needs to raise wages. But how they have handled the pandemic….you cannot argue with that. No one has gotten critically ill, their numbers on an open urban campus are incredibly low, and they have been up front with all of their plans. Boston had to post 2 separate positivity rates, one with higher ed and one without because BU and Northeastern were dragging the rate down by almost 2%! How, with effective mitigation measures that proved you could live and operate safely in a pandemic.

    Omicron has been proven time and again to be much less dangerous and especially so for vaccinated and boosted individuals. And guess what, BU has requirements for both so what are we doing at this point. Fauci just said that it is inevitable that we will all get COVID. It is only a matter of time. So….why put this off. We have hit pause on our lives for 2 years now. Either we accept that COVID is a part of our lives and learn to live with it, as BU has done a very good job, or we hole up in caves and don’t come out anymore. Yet the stop and start method that all of you seem to be advocating for is not a way to live. People have jobs, kids in school, and lives that they want to live. This is not a one size fits all solution.

    Lastly, education and college are not just about lectures in large classrooms that might transfer to a Zoom class easily. BU teaches hands on skills in the arts and sciences that need people in person. Additionally, what about the small businesses that have been ravaged along Comm Ave because we are all so scared to go near another person. Remote learning only exacerbates these issues. And college is a time to form life friendships and cultivate relationships and learn to be an adult. These are not things that can be done from your parents’ basement.

    If you are still living in abject fear at this point, I feel sorry for you. I really do. The world can be scary and mean but if we just hide away at this point then it will only get worse. How do we come out of this? We need to trust the science and vaccines and get back to life. Go to the theatre. See a hockey game. Go to Ottos or Canes and have dinner with friends. And if you can’t do that, then don’t. That is fine. However, there is no one size fits all solution and we need to stop pretending there is.

    1. “[in person] is what students want!” – I’m a student, and I didn’t want in person from the start. I did not feel safe, and I still am very concerned about this spring semester. There are other students just in the comments here who are also concerned, and who are calling for LfA.

      “If you think BU has done such a terrible job then transfer out.” What a mean and unwelcoming thing to say.

      I feel very sorry for your students, and I hope I never take a class with you. Based on what you said here, I know you also hope I am never in your class, since you’ve made it clear that you think students like me should leave. I can’t imagine having a professor with such little compassion for other people. For immunocompromised people this isn’t just the world being “scary and mean,” it’s actually life and death. This whole comment is so hurtful to me as someone who lives with someone who is immunocompromised.

      1. Yeah I absolutely agree with you, and I applaud you for replying to him/her. The attitude of “just transfer out” is cruel. We’ve worked our butt’s off in high school to get to BU, and personally BU was always my dream school. I’m beyond grateful to be here, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have a voice when I feel my health is in jeopardy. It’s called speaking up for yourself when you feel personal boundaries have been breached – aren’t you a professor? It shouldn’t be that hard if a concept to grasp.
        Shame on you for saying such a thing, I hope I never take a class with you.

  22. Proving your disabled and obtaining the recognition from the university is already a disheartening experience; arguing that you are Immuno compromised and terrified of what widespread infection can do, regardless of your cautious behaviors, creates anxiety and depression. Students with disabilities attend school knowing that they have needs for their health and well-being, and these needs are not going to be met or considered by their university. I am already suffering from increased anxiety because of how the university handles disabilities; I am petrified to be in person because a small cold for most equals the inability to move or function for myself and others in my situation. The university has disappointed myself and my healthcare team. These regulations only increase my distrust towards faculty and administration.

  23. Oh my god. I’m transferring out as soon as I can. The lack of consideration to provide options for people with disabilities/underlying health issues/or those who are just extremely uncomfortable is astonishing.
    I understand that this is a complex situation, many institutions are dealing with financial issues, lack of employees, etc. But come on, if other schools can figure out a way to provide options so can we.

    STOP MAKING HEALTH CHOICES FOR EVERYONE, LET US DECIDE OURSELVES WHAT WE ARE COMFORTABLE WITH AND LET US WEIGH OUT OUR OPTIONS. DO BETTER BU!

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