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Northeastern looks to move not just students but classrooms into Westin Copley Square; other schools also file 'de-densification' plans with city

Several Boston colleges have filed plans with the city to take over all or parts of local hotels and apartment buildings to house students this fall.

Even with anticipated reduced numbers of students on campus, schools say they need extra space because Covid-19 planning means eliminating triples and four-person units and making room to house any students who test positive on Covid-19 tests for two weeks at a time. The proposals need the approval of both the BPDA and ISD.

Among the filings with the BPDA:

Northeastern University

Northeastern has proposed renting 11 floors in the Westin Copley Place to house up to 575 students in 290 rooms - and up to 40 staffers in 40 more rooms. Northeastern says it is talking to the hotel about possibly renting several ballrooms and conference rooms, as well as the Gretta Luxe and IJ Fox stores, for use as classrooms, faculty and staff offices, a "grab and go" dining area and a mailroom for students housed there.

The university also wants to rent the entire Midtown Hotel on Huntington Avenue for to house up to 297 students and 8 staffers in 157 rooms, and wants to increase the number of students it houses in apartment buildings with which it already has leases on Hemenway Street, Huntington Avenue, Symphony Road, Westland Avenue, St. Stephen Street and Columbus Avenue by as many as 328 in 147 apartments.

The school also wants to rent Symphony Hall's Cohen Wing for use as a student cafeteria.

Northeastern filing.

Boston University

BU wants to take over the six-story 1047 Commonwealth Ave. in Allston's Packard Corner to house up to 179 quarantined students after positive tests. The building, which has the Caffe Nero on the first floor, served as spillover housing for BU when it renovated Myles Standish Hall a few years ago.

While in quarantine, students will have full access to wireless internet in their accommodations, so they are able to attend classes remotely and participate in virtual student activities. Each unit is equipped with a full kitchen and a washer/dryer. Bed linen, pillow, and towels will be provided by BU. The accommodations also include a supply of groceries and beverages, and BU Dining Services will provide regular delivery of prepared meals for reheating, fresh fruit, produce, and dairy products.

The building would have full-time security at the door, BU says.

BU filing.

Suffolk University

Suffolk has proposed parts of several hotels to house both well and quarantined students.

The school is proposing to rent 75 rooms in the Hyatt Centric Faneuil Hall to initially house all students arriving from outside New England, New York and New Jersey for two weeks of quarantine at the beginning of the semester and to then reserve the rooms for any students who test positive during the school year.

The school is also proposing to rent 162 rooms in the DoubleTree Hilton on Washington, 156 rooms in the Wyndham Hotel on Blossom Street and 80 rooms in the Boxer Hotel on Merrimac Street.

Suffolk filing.

New England Conservatory

The school wants to rent up to 98 single-occupancy rooms in the Revolution Hotel, 40 Berkeley St. in the South End, with an area for students to pick up dropped-off meals and possibly with space to set up two to three practice areas for students.

New England Conservatory filing.

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More Than 6,300 Coronavirus Cases Have Been Linked to U.S. Colleges

Voting closed 0

There's only been a single case at Boston area college: 1 person at BC.

The colleges are going to test and track the shit out of everyone. Had Massachusetts had that level of preparedness back in April there never would have been a big spike.

I'm worried about the party boat type crowd of "young professionals" and the Trumpies who think the masks are a political statement.

Voting closed 24

That one more test for a college student necessarily implies one fewer test for communities with high "essential worker" populations?

There's a finite amount of testing capacity in Boston and in MA. It's very unlikely that every college/university will be "self-sufficient" with their Covid tests (e.g. using only their own science labs to process tests, as opposed to an external commercial lab).

Voting closed 22

At least in the case of BU, they are developing their own robust, internal testing capability. As stated so eloquently by others, the colleges are planning to test the shit out of the kids, but it will not mean there is less testing available for non-students.

Voting closed 17

Does that "robust, internal testing capability" include their own internal manufacture of supplies? Because that's an issue - I'm hearing that shortages of swabs and reagents is holding up testing and processing of results. What source does BU have that doesn't draw from the same supply pool?

Voting closed 0

Under Northeastern's plan, every student and employee setting foot on campus will be tested regularly, though an internal testing program. Considering many of these individuals are already in our population, the ability to be tested by NU would mean they actually free up testing capacity that the general public has access to.


Voting closed 20

...i.e. you stay home and don't mingle unnecessarily, you don't have as much need to be tested.

Voting closed 19

What makes you think the party boat was young professionals? Where do you think that came from?

Voting closed 21

Great, they can spread themselves all over the city instead of Allston and the Fenway.

Stay out of the supermarkets.

Voting closed 43

Increasing the student population will lead to a spike. Looking forward to when the colleges have to shut down again, which might be as soon as October.

Voting closed 36

like wearing masks, social distancing and washing/sanitizing hands, it shouldn't be a huge spike. I have no doubt that numbers will go up but unless everyone in the world is on strict lock down for at least two weeks, covid is not going away so the best we can do is use precautions. At this point, those who have underlying health conditions or who are afraid of getting covid should stay home as much as possible.

Voting closed 15

That not all students will take precautions. Increased testing is good and will hopefully help, but what if the student who test positive just came back from an unauthorized party in Allston or the Fenway? How many from that party will then go shop a the local grocery store, and infect year round residents before they realize they have the virus? I live in a student neighborhood. I work at a University. They can control student behavior to some extent on campus, but if you think students aren't going to party and co-mingle off campus, you are deluded. I see people in that age group partying now and not wearing masks.

Voting closed 13

It's like an episode of that TV show about abandoned places. I'll never forget the one about an abandoned shopping mall. Creepy but now it's a common reality.

Voting closed 13

Let's be honest: while many college kids are in it for the sheepskin, only a few are really in it for the education. Take away the funsies from the former group, and they're not gonna want to be there. At the same time, they'd probably do just about anything to get away from mom and dad in the cul de sac, so this might seem halfway attractive. But having observed Boston college kids over many years, I can't believe they won't do everything they can to socialize, or that they'll care about their impact on the surrounding community any more than they ever did.

I can't see any way this won't lead to the colleges sending them all home again within a relatively short period of time, and that is a much worse outcome, for everyone, than never opening up in the first place.

Voting closed 25