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Newton mayor calls for greater state oversight of Boston College’s COVID-19 response

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller called for Boston College to ensure that students follow public health rules, and said city officials are seeing a concerning number of cases at the school.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/file

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller is urging state officials to strengthen oversight of Boston College’s handling of campus COVID-19 cases after the university reported dozens of new coronavirus infections this month.

Fuller, who also called for Boston College to ensure that students follow public health rules, said city officials are seeing a concerning number of cases at the school.

“We are continuing to urge Boston College officials that their students strictly adhere to public health guidelines and to urge the state to strengthen the oversight,” Fuller said in a statement to residents Thursday.

The school’s campus straddles the border between Newton and Boston.


From Feb. 1 to Feb. 14, Boston College had 143 positive cases, according to Fuller.

“It appears a little more than half [of them] live in Newton,” she said.

Boston College reported 81 new cases of the coronavirus last week, Monday through Friday, according to its website. Currently 124 undergraduate students are in isolation, the university said.

Since August, there have been 858 cases of COVID-19 at Boston College and among those cases 721 were undergraduate students, according to the university’s website.

In Newton, the city reported a total of 3,459 cases through Thursday, and 200 deaths as of Wednesday, according to its Department of Health & Human Services.

Newton’s population was 88,414 as of July 2019, according to the US Census.

Jack Dunn, a Boston College spokesman, said in a statement Saturday that Boston College has “worked diligently” to control COVID-19.

The university will continue in its university-wide efforts to limit the virus’s spread and keep the campus and the local community safe, he said.

Fuller’s calls for the university to address COVID cases follow similar concerns she raised In September, when she said Boston College needed to increase testing and cut down the number of students on the campus.


At the time, the number of coronavirus cases at Boston College concerned some students and local officials, including Dr. Rochelle Walensky, now the head of the US Centers for Disease Control, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, and Fuller.

“It’s very hard to put the genie back in the bottle,” said Walensky, who was then chief of the infectious disease division at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Now they are on a massive chase, and time is not on their side.”

BC suspended dozens of students following the fall surge in cases, according to the university, for violating rules regarding social gatherings.

On Monday, the university announced that its second-leading basketball scorer, Wynston Tabbs, will miss the remainder of the season due to a violation of the university’s COVID-19 protocols.

On Saturday, Dunn said the school continues to remind students through e-mails and mandatory Zoom conferences of the vital importance of following the university’s health protocols and the state’s public health guidelines.

“The University experienced a high number of positive cases at the start of the fall semester, followed by a reduction in the subsequent weeks,” Dunn said. “We have every confidence that we will have similar success as the spring semester progresses.”

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.