Boston University moving to ‘more rigorous enforcement’ of COVID protocols instead of ‘simply tracking compliance,’ school says

Boston University announced Wednesday it will start taking more rigorous action to ensure faculty and staff are abiding by the school’s health and safety protocols set up to stave off coronavirus transmission on campus.

Starting this week, so-called “unit leaders” will begin taking corrective action with individuals who are not following testing and daily health screening requirements, according to a statement from Dr. Jean Morrison, BU’s chief academic officer, and Gary Nicksa, senior vice president for operations at the school.

“We are moving from simply tracking compliance with testing frequency and daily health screening requirements to more rigorous enforcement,” the statement said.

BU’s announcement comes a week after the school said it would start requiring students, staff and faculty to show online badges in certain locations on campus indicating they tested negative for the virus following the completion of daily health screenings online, according to a statement from the university.

Campus community members must display their green “cleared” badge to be allowed to enter dining halls, the George Sherman Union and several other spaces at the school, the statement said.

The university implemented the public health rules after seeing an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases last week, with BU reporting its largest number of new coronavirus diagnoses among the campus community members since the final week of move-in in August, according to the school.

From Oct. 13 to Oct. 19, the university identified 23 students and 10 staffers who tested positive for the virus, data from the school’s daily coronavirus dashboard showed. No faculty members tested positive during that time frame.

The following week, from Oct. 21 to Oct. 27, another 32 students, two faculty members and seven BU staffers tested positive for coronavirus, according to the dashboard.

Stepping up its efforts to combat transmission of COVID-19, the university said Wednesday it is changing its health screening requirements, making it so all faculty and staff have to be screened on weekdays, regardless of whether they come to campus that day.

Screenings are not mandatory on weekends, holidays or regularly scheduled days off, unless campus community members go to the school for any reason on those days, the university said.

The school is also expecting to boost the availability of testing for faculty and staff across campus to address a shortage of appointment times at some sites, according to BU.

“It is critical that we treat the testing site employees with respect,” the university said. “We know it is a stressful time for everyone; however, several unfortunate interactions have taken place that have prompted the need for this important reminder.”

With support from BU Human Resources, unit leaders – managers, supervisors, deans and department chairs – are tasked with taking appropriate corrective action with faculty and staff who do not abide by the safety and health requirements, the university said.

The primary goal of the corrective actions BU will potentially be taking in the future is to reach “full compliance” with its public health protocols, according to the school.

“Taking corrective action is itself not the goal,” the university said. “However, corrective action is necessary in some cases to ensure we can maintain a healthy and safe campus.”

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