The following was sent to all members of the Boston University Community on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021 from Dr. Judy Platt, MD
To the members of our Boston University community,
We are well into the semester with the upcoming Thanksgiving break a few weeks away and then intersession shortly after. After so many unique challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the many difficulties caused by continued isolation, it is understandable that many are looking forward to more gatherings and opportunities to connect in the coming months. To that end, I am writing to update you all on where we are with respect to some of the health aspects on campus including COVID-19 vaccinations, rates of COVID-19 on campus, and the preventive measures we are encouraging you all to take to keep yourselves healthy and well.
Collectively, we have achieved several incredible feats:
- High vaccination rates across our faculty, student, and staff populations collectively averaging above 95%
- A low COVID-19 positivity rate with a cumulative positive test rate of 0.14% since the beginning of the fall semester with our most recent weekly COVID-19 positivity rate at 0.11%.
- A complete return to in-person living and learning with no evidence of classroom transmission
We are experiencing a more typical fall in terms of coughs, colds, and the beginning of the flu season. We are seeing a number of fall viral illnesses at Student Health Services including rhinovirus, adenovirus, and influenza. For those members of our community who are reporting symptoms on their daily symptom survey and getting expedited testing results from the Health Services Annex, just under 6% of those symptomatic tests are coming back positive for COVID-19. Currently, the vast majority of people with nasal congestion, sore throats, and coughs are experiencing non-COVID-19 illnesses.
While our on-campus residences will remain open over the Thanksgiving holiday, we know that many are planning to travel. We encourage everyone to follow the guidance from the CDC to celebrate the holidays safely. In addition, there is an important update from the Biden Administration for anyone traveling to the United States after November 8. Non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated, with a vaccine that is FDA or WHO authorized/approved, and provide proof of their vaccination status to fly to the United States. Fully vaccinated air passengers, regardless of citizenship, will continue to be required to show a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before they board their flight to the United States. If you do travel or engage with multiple households during the Thanksgiving break, we are strongly advising that you schedule a COVID-19 test at Boston University upon your return and observe a stay-in-place until you receive a negative result.
Many members of our community have experienced tremendous loss, frustration, and worry about how we will adjust to the next phase of the pandemic. For some, the pandemic worsened existing mental health issues. Many have experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression for the first time or have struggled with more severe symptoms. There has never been a greater need to embrace our shared responsibility to look out for one another. At the Boston University 2025 Matriculation, President Brown said that “More than any other time in our history, our behavior—students, faculty, and staff—impacts all of us.” We all have an opportunity to choose the way in which we will impact each other, and every kind word and every good deed has an effect.
For those who struggle or those who have witnessed someone struggling—you are not alone. There are so many resources right here on campus that can help with a variety of challenges. Regarding mental health support and services, students can reach out to Behavioral Medicine and receive individual support or take part in our group programs. Faculty and staff can reach out to Faculty & Staff Assistance and take a mental health screening or take advantage of their many other offerings.
Finally, we are already planning for the 2022 Spring Semester. We currently anticipate entry testing upon move-in and return to campus followed by some form of regular community testing for COVID-19 as we welcome everyone back to campus. COVID-19 vaccination will remain a requirement, but we have not mandated a booster at this time given the lack of universal eligibility and recommendations. Most importantly, we look forward to collectively keeping our campus safe in terms of COVID-19 transmission while continuing to shape this vibrant community who has endured so much yet continues to thrive.
With gratitude for all you have done and will do to keep our campus safe,
Judy Platt, MD
Chief Health Officer
Executive Director, Student Health Services