Boston University President Robert Brown yesterday detailed more of the steps the school will be taking to tamp down any potential Covid-19 infections as school re-opens this fall. Among the steps: Required weekly Covid-19 tests for students who live on campus, their professors and any other BU employees who have regular contact with students - as well as for any students and employees who take public transit to and from the school.
However, they will not have to have the more annoying of such tests - which involves a thin plastic probe stuck all the way up the back of their noses. Instead, Brown wrote, the school is laying in a supply of less intrusive, and self-applied "anterior nares" test, in which the student or staffer collects, far less intrusively, a sample from his or her nose.
The test can be performed at any one of several testing stations that will be deployed on campus. At the station they will receive a test kit with a bar-coded vial for the sample. They will perform the test under observation and leave the vial for transport to the testing facility.
Brown continued that BU is setting up a "high-throughput facility" for analyzing all those nasal swabs in the Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering, with a capacity to test 5,000 samples a day - and to deliver results in 24 hours or less.
Students who test positive will be contacted by Student Health Services. The individual will also be retested to verify the positive result. Residential students who test positive will be moved to special isolation rooms with supervised medical care. We are setting aside rooms for this purpose.
Coupled with this will be a contact-tracing system to talk to close contacts of anybody who tests positive.
Life on campus will not look or be the same as it was last fall. However, our plans to return to campus operations with new protocols and policies will enable us to reconstitute the vibrant residential community that is the foundation of the learning environment that our students and their parents expect from Boston University.