BU’s Coronavirus Plans

by Julia Dickinson

News

December 14, 2020

It’s almost winter break, almost time to relax after putting in hard work all semester. We’ve been able to complete this semester in person four days a week, much to the surprise of many. There are many reasons as to why we’ve been able to attend in-person school all semester, but one stands out from them all: BU’s COVID-19 plans.

At BUA, we are beyond lucky to have BU’s resources at our disposal during the pandemic. We’re tested in their facilities multiple times a week, and we’ve implemented Learn from Anywhere (LfA), a hybrid model of learning that allows students to choose in-person or remote classes.1,2 The planning instituted by BUA and BU has allowed us to learn on campus for the entirety of the fall semester, and as such, our main aim has been met. But if we now look more closely at these past few months, a question arises: how well have these plans truly held up?

BU has been testing members of the BU community with the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) COVID-19 test, since this test is known for having a very low false-positive rate and quick results.3 BU built its own lab over the summer to accommodate the sheer number of students needing testing — over 4,000 tests are administered every day.3 Initially, the university struggled to keep its promise to provide results the day after testing.4 The lab, however, quickly rose to the challenge, and although testing turnaround time still hiccups sometimes, the issue has largely been fixed.4 There appears to be a trend with the results: positive tests have increased after major holidays such as Labor Day, Halloween, and most recently, Thanksgiving.4 The rise in positive cases following these holidays hasn’t caused any major changes in BU policies yet, but an eye still should be kept on these spikes.

The LfA plan was introduced to allow students to learn in a way that made sense for their health.2 Under this program, any student who prefers or needs to stay off-campus can learn from home, while students feeling more comfortable with returning to campus can learn in the classroom again.2 At BUA, adjusting to hybrid learning took some time; those in person struggled to hear their classmates online, and students learning remotely faced a similar problem, struggling to hear their in-person classmates and then sometimes even feeling ignored. By October, however, the major kinks were worked out. BU has faced similar issues with their program — many students feel that LfA has been more awkward than helpful.5 But nonetheless, LfA has allowed students to learn safely.

Both frequent testing and flexible learning environments have been great opportunities this fall. And now, with the semester coming to a close, many of us are starting to look toward spring. BU will still offer testing and LfA next semester.6 And BU has chosen to push forward the start of next semester, adding one more week of winter break and eliminating spring break.6 This plan has been met with mixed feelings from BUA students taking university classes and BU students alike. It was made in an effort to avoid a rise in the number of positive cases on campus brought about by mid-semester travel.6 But the decision does not come without its shortcomings: spring break is essential for students’ mental health, and without it, more students will likely suffer from mid-semester burnout, diminishing the quality of their work. 

BU’s COVID-19 plans have been a success; they’ve effectively allowed members of the BU community to return to in-person school. The plans aren’t perfect, but they’ve worked much better than many of those implemented at other colleges in America. We at BUA are extremely lucky to have access to BU’s resources during the pandemic. Now, as we head into winter break, it’s time to leave campus for a bit and take some time to unwind safely at home.


1 Joel Brown, “BU Details Campuswide COVID-19 Testing Plan for Fall,” BU Today, June 17, 2020,
http://www.bu.edu/articles/2020/campuswide-covid-19-testing-plan-for-fall/.

2 Robert A. Brown, “Letter to Returning Students on Learn from Anywhere,” June 9, 2020,
https://www.bu.edu/president/letter-to-returning-students-on-learn-from-anywhere/.

3 “COVID-19 Screening, Testing & Contact Tracing,” Back2BU,
https://www.bu.edu/back2bu/student-health-safety/covid-19-screening-testing-contact-tracing/.

4 Kat J. McAlpine, “Boston University Weekly COVID-19 Report: September 2-8,” The Brink, September 9, 2020,
http://www.bu.edu/articles/2020/boston-university-weekly-covid-report-09-10/.

5 Sara Rimer, “BU Students: Zoom vs In-Person Classes? It’s Complicated,” BU Today, November 9, 2020,
http://www.bu.edu/articles/2020/students-learn-from-anywhere/?utm_campaign=bu_today&utm_source=email_20201110_full&utm_medium=1_featured_story&utm_content=student.

6 Art Jahnke, “BU Pushes Back Start of 2021 Spring Semester, Cancels Spring Break,” BU Today, September 29, 2020,
http://www.bu.edu/articles/2020/bu-pushes-back-start-of-2021-spring-semester-cancels-spring-break/.

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