The following was sent to all students by Dean Elmore on Monday, November 2, 2020.
We have had a good start to the semester, and overall, the prevalence of the virus on our campus continues to be well below what public health authorities are reporting for the city, state, and many areas across the country. However, last week, President Brown and I wrote to you about our growing concern regarding increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, and declining compliance with our mandatory requirement for testing and daily self-symptom attestation that applies to all students living on and off campus in categories 1-3. Based on our examination of the positive cases to date, we’ve been able to learn how people are getting infected, and what additional public health steps we should take as a result.
There is no one single cause or “super spreader” party behind the increase we have experienced. Instead, it is being driven by several factors that include:
- several larger groups of students getting together and socializing or “partying” on weekends;
- many smaller gatherings taking place every day of the week where people are getting together, without face coverings or masks, and in close proximity, while socializing over an extended period of time;
- an increase in the number of students traveling to other parts of the state, or out-of-state, on holidays and weekends, and being exposed to the virus while traveling and gathering with family members and friends; and,
- a large number of mainly off-campus students who are either not submitting their daily symptom attestation, or getting their COVID-19 tests, as required (which makes it more difficult to track and contain the virus on campus);
I acknowledge and understand that we may all be experiencing a weariness and fatigue from what we’ve been asked to do with regard to interrupting the spread of COVID-19, however, it is critical for us to respond to the factors I outlined above and adjust our behavior to continue to interrupt the spread of the virus. Therefore, it is necessary for us to take additional steps.
Effective immediately, if you do not comply with your assigned testing frequency and/or daily symptom attestation we will take the following actions:
- The first time that you are overdue with your testing and/or completing your daily symptom attestation, you will receive notification from the Dean of Students Office informing you that unless you schedule and complete testing and/or attestation within 48 hours of the notification being issued, your Terrier ID Card and campus WIFI access will be automatically disabled; you will be banned from all University properties except for purposes of coming on campus to complete testing; and, you will be prohibited from participating in any classroom or academic activity, either in person or remote, including the ability to access your courses through Blackboard or other platforms, or complete quizzes, examinations, and other course assignments.
- If you have not scheduled and completed testing and/or attestation within 48 hours of the initial notification being issued, the following administrative actions will be taken:
- your Terrier ID Card and campus WIFI access will be automatically disabled;
- you will be banned from all University properties except for purposes of coming on campus to complete testing; and,
- you will be prohibited from participating in any classroom or academic activity, either in person or remote, including the ability to access your courses through Blackboard or other platforms, or complete quizzes, examinations, and other course assignments.
- After a third 48-hour period failing to schedule a test, being overdue with your testing, failing to complete your daily self-symptom survey, or coming on campus (except to complete testing) or participating in classroom or academic activities after have been prohibited to do so you will be subject to University disciplinary action, which may include suspension or expulsion.
I must also update the actions of my August 26, 2020, letter regarding attendance at large off-campus or on-campus gatherings, socials and parties. In light of recent analysis (mentioned above) and public health guidance, I will, immediately, take the following administrative actions and follow up via the disciplinary process outlined in the Boston University Code of Student Responsibilities:
- If you host a large – more than 10 people – gathering, social or party off campus or on-campus, you will be suspended through the remainder of the academic year and will not be able to attend classes in-person or remotely.
- If you attend a large – more than 10 people – gathering, social or party off campus or on campus, you will be suspended through academic year, and will not be able to attend classes in-person or remotely.
- If your student organization, club sport, or team hosts a large – more than 10 people – gathering, social, party or event, the organization will be suspended and University recognition withdrawn, throughout the academic year.
- If you live in one of our on-campus student residences and violate these guidelines, you will have to move out of your room, suite or apartment, immediately, and will not be permitted to live on campus for the remainder of the academic year.
- Students residing off-campus should adhere to public health guidance that considers 8 guests per 1,000 square feet to be a low-risk gathering; assuming social distancing and mask wearing is observed, as well.
If you are suspended for the semester, you will not receive a tuition or, if applicable, room and board refund.
In the last two weeks, we saw a significant increase in people under the age of 30 testing positive for COVID-19 in Massachusetts. The State is currently averaging 300 people under the age of 30 contracting COVID-19 daily (38,000 cases since March). At the end of last week, the positive test rate for Boston had increased significantly. Massachusetts’ Community Tracing Collaborative is reporting that half of new cases can be attributed to informal, indoor gathering where COVID-19 protocols are being ignored. This has serious implications for transmission, especially with regards to off campus living and travel. The prevalence of this virus has caused many institutions, business, and governments to take more assertive approaches to testing, curtailing gatherings, and asking us to be more cautious about our socializing.
Good judgment – and the virus – demands your caution and thoughtfulness to do the things that are necessary and make an enormous difference: wear a mask; socialize in small groups only; maintain a safe distance between each other; stay outdoors, as possible, when you socialize; and, limit your off-campus travel. I have learned that with this virus, small missteps add up and make it easier for the virus to make its way into our communities. Let’s continue to band together to outsmart COVID-19.
With appreciation for your continued efforts,
Associate Provost and Dean of Students