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Amid COVID-19 spike at BC, students continued to gather over the weekend, student paper reports

Newton, MA 9/14/2020:   
 Scenes at Boston College, where there had been a coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak during the pandemic. 
 Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
Newton, MA 9/14/2020: Scenes at Boston College, where there had been a coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak during the pandemic. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe StaffSuzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

In an email Friday, Joy Moore, Boston College’s vice president of student affairs, urged students to “be vigilant” and “act responsibly” following an increase in positive COVID-19 cases on the Chestnut Hill campus.

But multiple outdoor gatherings were reported on campus over the weekend, according to the school’s student newspaper, The Heights.

The paper reported “large groups of students gathered outside freshman residence halls” on Friday, just hours after Moore’s email arrived in students' inboxes. Many of the students were not practicing social distance or wearing masks, the paper reported.

“No university officials were seen on site to enforce the university’s restrictions this past Friday night as dozens of students gathered adjacent to residence halls, many not wearing masks while standing in close proximity,” the Heights reported.

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But Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn described “a quiet weekend with no incidents” that was the result of “raised concerns among students” after last week’s increase in positive cases.

“Students are following the rules, with the exception of a few gatherings earlier in the semester in which students did not wear masks or practice physical distancing,” Dunn wrote in an email.

Boston College has suspended dozens of students since the beginning of the semester, the Globe reported Saturday, while others lost their on-campus housing for the year for violating the rules around social gatherings.

“Students have been disciplined for violation of our conduct and we will continue to hold them accountable,” Dunn wrote. “We have every confidence that they will rise to the occasion, as BC students always do.”

Sixty-seven undergraduates tested positive at the college last week, bringing the total number to 104, according to data the college released Saturday. Among the school’s 750 varsity athletes, 30 had tested positive.

Students were tested at BC when they arrived at the beginning of the semester. The university has been spot testing asymptomatic people since then.

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On Saturday, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller called on the college’s leaders to increase testing and reduce the number of students on campus.

Meanwhile, a Change.org petition calling for increased testing and a two-week quarantine is circulating among students.

The petition, which had nearly 400 signatures Monday, urges BC to test students twice a week and keep testing facilities open every day, a system supporters said would match other area institutions.


Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.