Questions loom as colleges look to reopen in the fall

An aerial view of Boston College from the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
An aerial view of Boston College from the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe

Boston College sets a poor example in leaning toward return to campus

Given the severity of the current public health crisis, Boston College’s intention to return its students to campus in August is ill-advised and precipitous (“BC plans to bring students back in fall” by Laura Krantz and Deirdre Fernandes, Page A1, May 20).

This decision was made despite the absence of reopening guidelines from the Commonwealth and without meaningful consultation with the City of Boston or the Boston Department of Public Health. BC students will return to campus — and to live in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood — from all over the United States and from overseas. Without a careful and well-coordinated plan, driven by good data and reliable public health advice, bringing thousands of students back to our neighborhood is a recipe for disaster, especially for our most vulnerable residents.


As of May 21, there were 12,349 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 599 deaths in Boston. Allston-Brighton is one of the lowest-tested neighborhoods in the city, with only 412 tests per 10,000 residents as of mid-May. Of those tested, Allston-Brighton had a 17.3 percent positive test rate.

These numbers clearly show that this public health emergency is far from over. Students living in residence halls and off-campus apartments have the potential to produce hot spots with an exponential growth in new cases in Boston neighborhoods.

BC and other Boston-based colleges and universities have an obligation to engage in coordinated planning with the state and the city to ensure the safety of their students, their staffs, and Boston residents.

Sadly, Boston College failed to meet this obligation, setting an unfortunate precedent for other schools.

Councilor Liz Breadon

District Nine, Allston-Brighton

Boston City Council


Huge influx of students in the fall could undo all our hard work

I was startled to read that Boston-area colleges are planning to bring students back to campus in September. They are making plans to keep students safe on campus, but what about when they are off campus? Why hasn’t there been more discussion of the impact on Boston residents?


Massachusetts is flattening the curve thanks to wise decisions by Mayor Martin Walsh of Boston and Governor Charlie Baker. There is hope that soon we can enjoy a meal in an outdoor cafe and feel safe enough to take public transit to visit places we haven’t seen in months. We long to see the city we love.

If we let more than 100,000 college students back into the city, it could undo all our hard work. It is difficult to persuade local young people to wear masks and stay apart. Out-of-town students will never comply. Many come from places that think the pandemic is overhyped. If they show up, we will be forced back into our homes.

I ask that the mayor, City Council, and the governor do what they can to keep an influx of students out of Boston until there is a vaccine, or that at least they explain to us why they won’t. September is just too soon.

Susan Forti


Youth have suffered with their higher-ed path blocked

Ironic juxtapositions of opinions occur daily during the current pandemic, none more so, perhaps, than in the two front-page articles in last Thursday’s Globe (“Colleges optimistic for the fall, but experts balk“ and “For the NFL, a lot to tackle”). Local college and university leaders meeting to discuss how to safely welcome students back to their campuses this fall were told by some infectious-disease experts that the hurdles are insurmountable, while NFL brass struggling with how to resume their sport this fall were told by other infectious-disease experts that the hurdles can be overcome.


Much as I miss the NFL and other professional sports currently in hiatus, our priorities are scrambled. Our nation’s priority must be getting our students and educators back to campuses and classrooms in the fall, not getting players and fans back to stadiums. Our youth have borne the brunt of the stay-at-home orders, and an entire generation of students risks irreparable educational harm if college and university campuses remain closed. Without a return to the classrooms, these students may never learn the skills needed to combat the next pandemic that occurs when they are the nation’s leaders.

Larry Shind