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Here's how Boston University is recording its coronavirus data

Here's how Boston University is recording its coronavirus
data 1

Boston University has launched a dashboard to display the results of the up to 6,000 daily coronavirus tests the school intends to perform every day.

The tool, unveiled Monday, tracks the number of tests performed, positive and negative results, and tests deemed inconclusive, the university wrote on its website.

According to BU Today, the dashboard aims to provide students, professors, and staff transparency and “a certain level of confidence” surrounding how the institution is handling the pandemic.

The page will be updated daily and also displays seven-day averages and comparative figures from Suffolk, Norfolk, and Middlesex counties and Massachusetts at large.


“Additionally, it may eventually show the attestation rates of students, meaning how effective they are being at submitting their own daily symptom check into B.U.’s system,” the website says.

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Students started to arrive on campus Saturday for the fall semester, which will feature a mix of in-person and remote instruction. Students are slated to be tested twice per week under the university’s coronavirus protocols, and the school envisions performing between 5,000 and 6,000 tests per day.

School officials said that while the dashboard currently only shows student testing data, faculty and staff metrics will be added in about two weeks as “testing continues to ramp up.”

“The dashboard data will provide everyone with a snapshot of B.U.’s community health on a daily basis, serving as a daily pulse check on the community,” BU Today wrote.

The data will be used to monitor cases and to “direct tracking, treatment and intervention efforts,” although administrators and health officials will also have other information at their fingertips to help keep an eye on any virus spread, officials said.

“There will be cases—that is inevitable for a disease that has infected more than five million people nationwide,” the website says. “What’s important is encouraging awareness of what is happening on campus and using the dashboard information as a reminder of the importance of how critical it is to adhere to the individual health practices of hand hygiene, consistent use of facial coverings, and physical, social distancing.”


As of Monday, the university had logged a total of 12 positive tests, with 11 students currently in isolation and one case confirmed to be non-contagious, the dashboard indicates. Since July 27, the university had performed 6,462 tests, with 6,339 negative results and 111 tests considered inconclusive.

School officials said inconclusive tests could happen for a number of reasons, including a swabbing error when the sample was collected or due to an inadequate sample size. The occurrences are rare and require that a new sample be gathered from the individual tested, the university said.

What impact the anticipated fall influx of students to Boston will have on public health during the pandemic has worried some city officials.

Councilors Kenzie Bok and Liz Breadon have urged Boston University and other major higher education institutions to reconsider plans for an in-person reopening and opt to host classes fully online instead.

“People coming to Massachusetts must quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test administered 72 hours before arrival,” Breadon wrote in a letter to Boston College President William Leahy and Boston University President Robert Brown over the weekend. “The penalty for non-compliance is a $500 fine, yet I have little confidence that we can enforce this regulation for returning students living off-campus.”

A Boston University spokesperson told Monday that if a student, regardless of where they live, fails to follow health protocol expectations and commitments, they will be prohibited from “full participation in the B.U. community.”

“Boston University’s testing protocols, contact tracing, and agreement to COVID-19 Health Commitments & Expectations as a condition of being a member of the B.U. community apply to students living both on-campus and off-campus,” the spokesperson said.


See the Boston University COVID-19 Testing Dashboard.

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