A passerby skates near an entrance to the Tsai Performance Center on the campus of Boston University. (Steven Senne/AP) AP
After what it calls an alarming rise in coronavirus cases, Boston University said this week it will start requiring that students wear badges in certain locations on campus indicating they tested negative for the viral respiratory infection.
Students must wear green “daily attestation" badges starting Thursday to be allowed to enter dining halls, the George Sherman Union and several other public spaces at the university, the school said in a statement Wednesday.
“We hope this will be a reminder to everyone of the importance of daily symptom attestation and testing for keeping our campus safe,” the statement said.
Over the past seven days, the university reported the largest number of new COVID-19 diagnoses among its campus community members since the final week of move-in in August, according to the statement.
From Oct. 13 to Oct. 19, BU reported 23 students and 10 staffers tested positive for the virus, data from the school’s daily coronavirus dashboard showed. No faculty members tested positive during that time frame.
“If you look at our dashboard, you will see a very worrisome increase in the daily numbers of cases of the virus among our student body, as well as our staff, over the last week,” BU President Robert Brown and Associate Provost and Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said in the statement.
Although the number of daily cases is still “relatively low,” Brown and Elmore said, their growing concern is driven by the rising caseload in Massachusetts.
Daily new cases have increased statewide, and last week, the number of communities in the commonwealth labeled high risk of coronavirus transmission jumped by 23. Boston remains one of the 63 communities deemed in the “red.”
The administrators also cited “declining compliance” with the school’s testing and daily symptom reporting requirements, which apply to both on-campus students and off-campus ones who go to campus.
In September, the school reported nearly two dozen students would potentially face suspension after attending an outdoor party.
The partygoers reportedly did not follow university-mandated COVID-19 guidelines, including restrictions on gathering sizes, face coverings and social distancing. They were also spotted with alcohol.
A BU fraternity was placed on probation as well after video circulated of more than a dozen people at an off-campus gathering in September in violation of health and safety protocols, according to the college’s newspaper, the Daily Free Press.
“From our analysis of our cases, we know that a critically important driver for our increasing infection rate is the number of social gatherings (on and off campus), as well as personal travel and off-campus visits with family and friends where participants do not adhere to physical distancing and mask-wearing,” BU said.
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