Some students on Boston University’s campus became non-compliant this Thanksgiving. BU’s COVID-19 testing centers closed early Wednesday for the holiday, causing confusion and preventing students staying on campus over break from getting tested.
All coronavirus testing facilities closed at noon on Wednesday, according to the Boston University Human Resources web page. The testing facilities remained closed for the Thanksgiving holiday and returned to regular hours Friday.
Students were able to maintain compliance by scheduling a test for Friday morning, according to BU spokesperson Colin Riley.
Until that time, students with yellow overdue compliance badges were allowed to enter BU facilities such as residences and dining halls. Typically, non-compliant students are denied entry to all buildings requiring badge checks.
Jonathan Pena, a junior in the School of Hospitality Administration, said he was unable to get the COVID-19 test he had planned to schedule for 1 p.m. Wednesday, which resulted in his compliance expiring at 11 p.m. that night. Because of this, his daily attestation badge turned from green to yellow.
Despite the University’s assurances that students with yellow badges could enter BU facilities, Pena opted to “play it safe” and avoid the dining hall while having a yellow badge.
Pena said he called Healthway and was told he would receive an email with a ticket that would temporarily act as a green badge. However, he said he did not get an email, but was able to enter his dorm after explaining his situation to the security guard.
Pena said BU could have done a better job notifying students because he did not find any emails that clearly stated testing centers would change their hours on Wednesday.
“If you’re going to have testing facilities for COVID-19 during a pandemic close for two days,” Pena said. “That’s going to be something that you’re going to want to really emphasize to your student body.”
Losing his green compliance status negatively impacted Pena’s Thanksgiving experience, he said.
“I don’t think it really helps the situation,” Pena said. “I kind of dampens it a little bit more, this little mishap. I think that BU recognized … the mistake that they had made.”
College of Arts and Sciences junior Venus Chau, a resident assistant for 1019 Commonwealth Avenue, said no one on her floor lost compliance while she was on call, but she heard from other RAs and students about the issue.
Chau said students with yellow badges typically will be let into dorms if they are scheduled for the next testing appointment they can attend, but she did not receive additional instructions specific to Thanksgiving break.
“We can only recommend them to just get the nearest time that they can get for testing,” Chau said. “We usually just let them back in.”
Although Emily Goodrich, a junior in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, managed to get a COVID-19 test Wednesday morning, she said she did not know testing centers were closing early Wednesday.
Goodrich said students staying on campus for Thanksgiving break during the holiday deserve to stay in compliance by having access to testing facilities.
“A lot of people are already disadvantaged by staying on campus,” Goodrich said. “There are things that have been shut down surrounding us and obviously not being able to go home due to COVID restrictions.”
But, Goodrich said, closing the testing facilities for Thanksgiving allowed workers to celebrate the holiday with their families. Still, she said BU could have used a rotating schedule so workers would not have to work the full day and testing facilitates could remain open for students.
For future holidays, Goodrich said she would support workers having the full day off as long as BU does an effective job at communicating schedule changes to students beforehand.