Boston University is seeing a "worrisome" increase in coronavirus cases in the last week, officials told students, faculty and staff Tuesday, and is increasing the use of a safety protocol as a reminder of how important safety measures are.
Beginning Thursday, the university will increase the use of compliance badges around campus, according to emails from university President Robert Brown and Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore.
Students will be required to display a green compliance badge, which signifies they have been tested and have submitted daily symptom attestations, in order to enter campus spaces, such as dining halls, the George Sherman Union and more. Professors had already been allowed to ask students to leave classrooms if they didn't have the green badge.
"We hope this will be a reminder to everyone of the importance of daily symptom attestation and testing for keeping our campus safe," Brown and Elmore said in an email to students.
"I’ve found that most of the students are receptive to the green badge, everyone does their symptom surveys so pretty compliant," said Aiden Cardozo, a freshman at BU.
Over the last week, BU's daily coronavirus dashboard, tracking the positive test results on campus, has reported the largest number of new cases among students and faculty since the final week of student move-ins on campus in August, according to the email.
The dashboard shows that at least four tests turned positive on six of the seven days from Oct. 13 to Oct. 19, including eight on Saturday, the second most for a single day since tracking began. From Sept. 10 to Oct. 12, there were just four days with four or more positive tests.
Nevertheless, the total test positivity rate from Oct.13 to Oct. 19 remains under 0.01%, much lower than either Boston or Massachusetts as a whole.
"Although the number of cases per day is still relatively low, our growing concern is driven by the number of cases in Massachusetts and declining compliance with our mandatory requirement for testing and daily symptom attestation that applies to all students living on and off campus who come to campus," Brown and Elmore said.
BU attributes a large portion of the increased infection rate to social gatherings, whether it be on or off campus, in addition to personal travel and visits with family and friends where safety guidelines, like social distancing and wearing masks, are not followed.
“I think people have been getting more lenient with themselves saying I haven’t gotten it yet so I’m just going to keep going out and doing what I’m doing,” said senior Vanessa Krytusa.
Brown and Elmore are calling on students and faculty to "recommit" themselves to following the university's protocols and restrictions, saying everyone has a responsibility to bear in order to minimize the spread of the coronavirus on campus.
"We started the year with protocols in place to protect our in-person learning environment and for us to be able to gather, safely, in the midst of this pandemic," they wrote. "For the common good, we resumed in-person operations with necessary restrictions to keep us safe."
A group of BU students launched a unique campaign prior to the academic year to warn young people and students about the seriousness of the pandemic.
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