August 17, 2020
For more than four months we have been working to prepare to reopen Boston University and learning to live and work with COVID-19 in our midst. Our preparations are in place, and the repopulation of our residential Charles River Campus has begun. As we approach our first day of classes on September 2, we are welcoming our undergraduate and graduate students to campus. Based on student surveys, we expect approximately 72% of our undergraduates and 61% of our graduate students to join us on campus, with many of the remaining students studying remotely through our Learn from Anywhere modality.
In late July, we began welcoming students back, first to our Medical Campus and subsequently to the Charles River Campus. Early-arriving students have been placed into our testing protocols and have been part of our piloting for sample collection, testing, and information flow.
I know there is great interest in how the Move-In is going and what we are seeing in numbers of cases of COVID-19 as students return to campus from across the country and around the world. As of August 16, 5,376 samples have been collected at our sample collection sites and processed in our Clinical Testing Laboratory. These include samples from more than 3,800 incoming students. Of these, there have been eight positive tests; seven of these students are in isolation and one has been confirmed as non-contagious. Our focus is on early detection and isolation of infected students and direction to appropriate medical care.
Of the remainder of the samples taken, there have been 5,270 (98.03%) negative tests and 1.8% of the tests were deemed clinically inconclusive. Our sample collection staff is working to reduce the number of inconclusive tests.
The backbone of our expanded health services is the web-based platform, Healthway, that is now available to all students, faculty, and staff. Healthway is the website where you will perform all the functions necessary to comply with our expanded community health standards. These include:
- Completing the daily symptom attestation
- Scheduling of test sample collection when you receive an email prompt
- Receiving negative test results
Other important community health information will also be available at the Healthway website. Beginning today, faculty and staff can sign up for test sample collection at the Healthway website as we prepare for the beginning of our fall semester. Please sign in soon so that you can follow your assigned testing protocol.
Also starting today, the Boston University Healthway Dashboard is publicly available; it will be updated daily. The Dashboard provides information on testing, on numbers of cases of COVID-19 in our community, and data that puts this information in the broader context of disease rates in the counties proximate to our campuses. This information is part of a much larger data set we are monitoring.
The Healthway Dashboard will also include information on community compliance with two critical elements of our program: daily symptom attestation and COVID-19 PCR testing. We have put in place compliance measures for all students and for faculty and staff. As we are just beginning our compliance program, this data will be added over time.
At no time in the history of the University has our ability to fulfill our missions of teaching and research been so dependent on the collective actions of each and every member of our community. It is essential for the health of all at Boston University that each of us follows the guidelines for face covering and physical distancing, both on and off campus, and complies with protocols for symptom reporting and test sample collection. Individuals who do not comply and, by doing so, put all of us at risk, will be asked to leave.
Let me close by thanking all of you for all your work during this extraordinary summer. Your efforts put us in a position to restore our residential campus and offer an in-person educational experience that is as close as possible to the experience we took for granted not so many months ago. I look forward to seeing you back on campus.
Robert A. Brown