Students just beginning to find themselves comfortable in their routines were met with a shock on Tuesday, Feb. 9 as Boston College announced cases of COVID-19 on campus were reaching a “critical stage.”
As of Feb. 12, 91 undergraduate students at BC were in isolation for COVID-19, with 48 positive cases being found over the past week—more than was seen in total the week prior. BC’s weekly community positivity rate continues to hover between .4% and .5%, where it has been since students began arriving on campus in mid-January. While this is better than the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s 2.65% weekly positive rate, the trends have nonetheless been concerning to the BC administration.
The consistency of positive tests on campus prompted BC to email the student body en masse late last Tuesday evening, with the university placing almost all of the blame on “social gatherings in residence halls.”
The burden was quickly placed at the feet of the Class of 2024, with the email stating, “The uptick in cases and close-contacts has been particularly apparent among members of the freshman class, who had been noticeably cooperative during the first semester.”
Interestingly, BC feels that the proper way to deliver this stressful news to the student body was to threaten to eliminate guest policies if cases continue to go up and possibly end in-person classes early this semester.
While quick to play the blame game with its own students, BC has neglected to address the serious concerns many members of the student body have with the administration’s handling of its on-campus services, including but not limited to cramped lines and packed tables at dining halls, the continuation of on-campus religious events such as Mass and in-person one-on-one reconciliation, or the enforcement of a double-mask policy, which has recently been shown by the CDC to reduce the chance of transmitting COVID-19 and can block up to 92% of viral particles.
The frustration for BC’s student body only began here, sadly. Last-minute building-wide Zoom conferences were organized to review COVID-19 guidelines and regulations, with many students being told just hours before that they would need to drop everything they had that evening. Students were not granted an opportunity to find a review session that best fit their schedule.
Most building meetings ended up devolving into a fifteen-minute hate on the part of BC’s administration, placing all the fault in the students while refusing to answer any questions raised.
“Though the program was meant to start at 8 P.M. and end an hour later, but it was abruptly cut short fifteen minutes after the start to avoid confronting an influx of questions,” explained Kristen Bayreuther, MCAS ’23, expressing her frustration with BC’s inability to take on-campus residents’ concerns seriously.
While it is unclear whether BC will take any steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus, The Gavel continues to encourage readers to practice proper hygiene, regularly washing hands and using hand sanitizer, along with wearing masks, physically distancing, and adhering to the University’s conduct policies.