Boston University announced that it will lift social distancing requirements but still require masks in classrooms and other populated indoor spaces as the University plans to repopulate campus for the Summer and Fall in an email from the Dean of Students.
Starting June 14, physical distancing requirements will no longer be in place on BU campuses, according to the email, including the Charles River, Fenway and Medical campuses.
BU spokesperson Colin Riley said the University will begin taking down all signage no longer applying to the updated rules, but the “thousands” of signs will take time to remove.
The email also stated that masks will still be required indoors in classrooms, the BU shuttle, public common areas, offices and healthcare facilities. Additionally, as has been in effect since June 1, private offices, apartments and residence halls are exempt from this rule, and masks are already no longer required in outdoor spaces on campus.
Riley noted that looking ahead towards the Fall semester, he anticipates masks will be worn indoors “as students return and as the campus is repopulated” and said the University will be looking at community vaccination rates.
“As information is known and available, it’ll be shared with the community,” Riley said.
COVID-19 testing protocols for the summer have not undergone any changes, according to the email. Students will still be expected to show green badges to enter the Fitness and Recreation Center, BU dining halls, the George Sherman Union, the Howard Thurman Center and testing centers.
Neha Shabeer, a rising junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she likes the new mask policies for the summer, but she is curious to see if they change for the Fall given the University’s vaccine requirement where all students must submit proof of vaccination by Aug. 1.
“I’m interested to see how it will progress in the Fall because vaccines are mandatory, so if we hit that 80 to 90% threshold, [I wonder] if they’ll take away that mandate,” Shabeer said.
Shabeer added that if she were on campus now, she “would feel comfortable and safe” with the guidelines.
Along with the updated mask policies, BU updated the campus visitors policy this summer to allow invited visitors who are coming for official University business or who are prospective or admitted students to enter campus buildings. All visitors to campus are expected to adhere to safety protocols as well.
However, “personal visitors” such as family and friends of students will not be allowed into campus buildings with the exception of resident building lobbies. Overnight non-residents and guests are also still prohibited in University residence buildings, according to the updated Campus Visitors Policy.
Shabeer said a system where guests could upload their own vaccine passports could be a useful way to help keep the whole community safe.
“Because all the students who are actually at BU would be vaccinated and also the surrounding colleges I think as well, so I think it would be cool if there’s a way to have guests but just do it in a safer way,” Shabeer said.
The COVID-19 vaccination requirement still stands for all students who will be on the Charles River, Fenway and Medical Campuses in the Fall.
For graduate students starting Fall semesters in July and August, proof of vaccination is due by July 1.
The email also stated that students who are not yet vaccinated can find resources for finding a vaccine through the Back2BU webpage, as well as on how to upload proof of vaccinations.
In a letter detailing information to International students regarding vaccines, University Provost Jean Morrison wrote that the University plans to accept all COVID-19 vaccines and hopes to reopen vaccine clinics for BU community members in August.
Tony Levy, a rising sophomore in CAS, said he thinks the vaccination requirement is a good “safeguard” for the community and will keep everyone protected and safe equally.
Levy also said he likes the new guidelines and sees them as a good step to returning to normalcy.
“They’re taking good steps to start lifting the restrictions, but gradually enough so that if anything does happen to go wrong, it’s not so overwhelming,” Levy said.
Riley also pointed to the University’s success at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 during the past year as well as the community’s compliance, citing the University’s current COVID-19 data.
“It’s been an extraordinary system that we’ve put in place,” Riley said. “We’re relieved. I think maybe we do see some return to normalcy, and we want to make sure that positive trends continue.”