Campus, Coronavirus, News

BU transitions to unobserved testing at Charles River Campus

unobserved testing
A COVID-19 nasal swab test wrapped in its packaging. Unobserved COVID-19 testing for students at Boston University’s Charles River Campus will begin Feb. 3, a Healthway email said Wednesday. ANGELA YANG/DFP FILE

By Jesús Marrero Suárez, Tanisha Bhat and Lauren Rowlands

Boston University will begin unobserved COVID-19 testing for students at the Charles River Campus. Observed testing will no longer be available at 808 Commonwealth Ave. after Feb. 10.

According to a Healthway email sent Wednesday, students will receive a “kit” — a swab tube and plastic bag — after their standard observed testing appointment starting today. When it comes time for their next appointment, students will take their at-home test to a check-in location at 808 Commonwealth Ave. or at a new East Campus location at 700 Beacon St.

Now that classes have been in session for two weeks, we are confident that everyone is performing their tests accurately and they can now be done without observation,” the email read.

Self-scheduled, symptomatic tests will continue to be observed and “will receive the highest priority,” according to the email. The transition marks the latest in a series of BU’s COVID-19 mandates which shift more of the responsibility to the individual student. 

Judy Platt, director of Student Health Services and chief health officer, addressed concerns about the possibility of students falsifying their tests before dropping them off in an email, writing some individuals “may not be as truthful as we would hope.” 

“This is unfortunate, but we do believe that the majority of BU students are appreciative of testing and are committed to the health of our campus,” Platt wrote. 

Rachel Neil, a freshman in the College of Communications, said the University’s testing protocols last semester were one of the reasons she enrolled at BU, but said the change makes her feel “scared and apprehensive” because students could purposely fabricate inaccurate test results.  

“I feel like a lot of positive COVID results will be underrepresented because people could be manipulating how they’re recording them,” Neil said.  

Platt wrote staff “will be present” at both the 808 location and 700 Beacon St. when asked about their future employment status at observed testing centers.

BU spokesperson Colin Riley said the decreasing trend in positive cases on campus “guided” the University’s decision to switch to unobserved testing. 

BU reported 133 COVID-19 cases Tuesday — 1.57% of the total campus population. The case count has trended downward since early January. However, case counts are still higher compared to previous semesters, where the daily positivity rate rarely exceeded 1%.

Ata Yalcindag, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he doesn’t see much of an issue with the change as long as the COVID-19 test itself does not change.

“It’s basically the same thing,” Yalcindag said. “We’re just dropping it off instead of doing it at the site.”

The collection site in Medical Campus at 72 E Concord St. will transition to a full unobserved drop-off site next week.


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