How Universities in Boston Are Preparing for the Delta Variant

Many schools are requiring students and staff to be fully vaccinated before classes start, and those who are enrolled are running out of time to get their shots

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With the delta variant spreading and the fall semester looming, colleges across Massachusetts are scrambling to make decisions about COVID-19 protocols.

Boston University, MIT and Harvard have all decided to keep their indoor mask mandates in place. Students and staff will be required to mask up indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Northeastern University and Boston College are among the schools that have yet to make a decision about their mask policies, but students are expecting them to follow suit. 

"I'd say they're probably leaning toward it anyway. They're just waiting to pull the trigger," Northeastern student Dylan Manning said. 

The delta variant of COVID-19 is fueling a summer surge in infections.

Many students said they were looking forward to a normal college experience, but with cases popping up among those who are vaccinated, they understand why schools are taking precautions. 

"It's a minor inconvenience, but you are generally helping people," Boston University student JohnMichael Jurgensen said. 

Not everyone felt that way, however. Boston University student Daniel Jones said he thought a mask mandate was ridiculous: "We are all vaccinated and I think if people are vaccinated, then their chance of getting COVID at this point is very low."

Many schools are in fact requiring students and staff to be fully vaccinated before classes start, and those who are enrolled are running out of time to get their shots.

It’s still unclear whether or not delta-plus is more infectious than the original variant, and the CDC will continue to evaluate its classification.

Students at Northeastern, for example, must submit proof of vaccination by Sept. 8. The school is also requiring everyone be tested for COVID-19 once a week regardless of vaccination status. 

"The hope is that once you get vaccinated you can live your life, but unfortunately that's not possible right now," Northeastern student Erika Wheeler said. 

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