Mayor Walsh ‘Concerned' About Return of College Students to Boston

He said he plans to meet with the presidents of local colleges and universities on Wednesday to discuss their plans

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Mayor Marty Walsh said Tuesday that he plans to meet this week with the presidents of Boston's many universities and colleges to discuss their plans for reopening in the fall.

"I'm certainly concerned about the thousands of young people coming to our city, especially from areas around the country that are experiencing recent surges in COVID-19 cases," he said. "We've been talking to the colleges and universities on a regular basis throughout the reopening process. We're working closely with our institutions to understand the new protocols and precautions and create a plan if someone were to test positive."

Schools like Berklee College of Music, UMass Boston and Harvard have all said they plan to move to mostly online learning in the fall to prioritize safety. But others are still determined to host at least some in-person classes.

"Harvard's coming back limited, MIT's limited, Berklee might not be coming back," Walsh said.

The mayor said he will meet with college leaders on Wednesday to discuss their plans.

"The common theme I've heard from colleges is they're going to do lots of testing, they're going to create a space for students who test positive, and they're all going to have quarantine rules," he said. "They're going to be individual plans but they have similar themes among them."

Several New England colleges and universities have released their plans for the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic.

One thing that will be different this year is move-in day, more commonly known as Allston Christmas.

"Many communities are worried about move-in weekend," Walsh said. "Historically, it's been one weekend. That is going to look very different this year. They won't be able to move in all in one day."

The mayor also spoke about plans to reopen Boston Public Schools, reiterating that the hybrid plan for classroom and remote learning presented to the School Committee last week is just a first draft, and now is the time for people to provide feedback.

"We are looking at a hybrid model that would assign students to groups and bring students into school on a rotating basis," he said. "That is what we're looking at today. We've also developed a plan for all remote instruction if cases go up before September 10th or after the kids go back to school."

Colleges and Universities across Boston are scooping up hotel rooms to accomodate coronavirus capacity restrictions in their dorms.

When Walsh last addressed the media on Thursday, he warned against large gatherings and crowds at beaches saying they, could lead to a coronavirus spike like those now being seen elsewhere in the country.

Despite his warning, large crowds were spotted again over the weekend at M Street Beach. And a photo showing crowds of people on a ship on Boston Harbor Saturday night went viral.

The Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards issued a cease and desist to the Bay State Cruise Company Monday. Effective immediately, the company is not allowed to operate under the state's COVID-19 orders, according to the order.

Walsh continued to warn against large gatherings on Tuesday, while also continuing his criticism of Bay State Cruise Company's actions.

After a photo went viral showing what appeared to be a very crowded sunset cruise leaving Boston Harbor, the company said it was operating withing state reopening guidelines. But two days later, they've been issued a cease and desist order.

He said people should be very careful when holding backyard barbecues and birthday parties to keep from seeing outbreaks in the city.

"When we reopen, that doesn't mean relaxing any of our precautions we have in place," Walsh said. "We don't want to start seeing ourselves going backward."

He said the Bay State Cruise Company sunset cruise "was not well thought out.," and asked the company not to repeat its mistake.

"We think we're winding down on COVID-19, but we're not," Walsh said. "If we're in a sporting event, we're probably at halftime, so we still have to be very careful."

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