Features, Science

How various BU departments are tackling the pandemic

Since the onset of COVID-19, researchers and scientists have been racing to develop widespread testing and a vaccine. Boston University is no exception — School of Medicine researchers are hard at work in the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories while others develop data collection technology to ensure students can return safely and stay healthy on campus in the coming months.

A member of the National Guard prepares COVID-19 test samples in Cheyenne, Wyoming. COURTESY OF JACQUELINE MARSHALL VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering

As the University plans for its coronavirus testing program, which will provide materials for the 40,000 students and faculty, the Kilachand Center will serve as the primary location for samples to be tested. In other words, the building will house a lab that will run COVID-19 tests and diagnose patients.

The University plans on routinely testing its entire community, but with varying frequency — factors such as dormitory density and potential susceptibility will determine how often an individual is tested. And while on-campus research has been on hiatus for the last few months, BU has released extensive lab safety precautions and preparations for technicians to return to their labs.

College of Arts and Sciences
Computer scientists in CAS are working with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a contact tracing app. Contact tracing is the act of tracking an individual’s whereabouts to pinpoint when and where they could have contracted or spread the virus.

Though still in its preliminary stages, the app will send a notification directly to the user’s phone if they are near someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Contact tracing is an important component of infection prevention, as outlined by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

BU’s Center for Molecular Discovery is gathering potential drug candidates to test against the virus, working with NEIDL to better understand the composition of the virus and its weaknesses. While vaccine development may be months away from approval, the path toward effective treatment is on the horizon.

Student Health Services

Student Health Services is currently monitoring patterns in the spread of the coronavirus while also offering telemedicine appointments to those off-campus. Whether by Zoom or phone, the clinic is operating on multiple fronts, including its Wellness and Prevention and Sexual Assault Response and Prevention services.

Through September 30, students with the Student Health Insurance Plan can use SHS without a co-payment. 

While SHS does not currently test for COVID-19, members of the BU community can reach out and be connected to facilities in Boston that do provide testing.

 

BU’s informational websites

Back2BU

Back2BU provides information on the University’s reopening plans for the Fall. The University will be implementing its Learn from Anywhere plan, allowing students to opt for remote classes. 

In further efforts to slow and stop the potential infection rate on campus, Back2BU states residential life and dining halls will look different in the Fall, with dormitories pushing for smaller communities and dining locations anticipating strategies to limit exposure.

The website is also an instructional for faculty and lab workers on appropriate protocol and personal protective equipment.

COVID-19 Information

The University developed a COVID-19 website to house resources, FAQs concerning student health and formal updates regarding BU’s reopening strategy in response to the virus. For those worried about having contracted the virus or are experiencing symptoms, the site provides a hotline open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for BU community members

BU Today

The University-affiliated publication has been covering the coronavirus since January and releases frequent updates and summaries of BU’s response to the health crisis. The site’s “coronavirus” tag contains pages of past updates and information specific to the University and life on campus.

 

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19, please contact the BU COVID-19 hotline at 617-358-4990.

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