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BC to students today: Leave starting tomorrow; Brandeis also moves to online classes but gives students some more time to leave

Boston College President William Leahy told students today that they have to leave campus for the rest of the semester between tomorrow and Sunday as the school prepares to get them online for classes starting Monday.

Brandeis University President Ron Liebowitz told students today that all classes with more than 100 students will move online by Monday, and all other classes by March 20, but that students don't have to leave campus for good until March 25, although they can leave earlier if they want.

BC students with extenuating circumstances can petition to stay on campus, but they will likely have to change rooms, Leahy wrote.

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Comments

When I was a college student I would not want to have had to plead the case that my upper middle class complicated family situation sucked and that having to move back home would destroy my mental health. I don't even know that I could have articulated it.

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Though I think I might have gone in crying "I can't go back there!"

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And here I thought that kids going to college meant no more acting as an emergency sanctuary.

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I wonder... Could these dorm closings be counter-productive? They're advising students to not travel, but they're also telling them, "Leave. Travel now." ...and for the ones who can't easily travel now, they're going into improvised temp housing - crashing with friends off-campus. Might more-crowded apartments just create tiny hotspots?

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Just like shutting a public K-12 school - kids just end up in less-controlled community centers and group care settings. But if they get kicked out, BC isn't liable!

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but think about being the first college campus with a COVID-19 outbreak? College campus's are petri dishes and it would be a Washington state all over again. Dorm buildings would sweep with the virus and it would be a massive outbreak. In addition to how unsafe this is, its a PR nightmare. The hands of these institutions are tied. They have to tell them to go home until things calm down.

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I agree on that. A friend works a lab job at a university in CT and we were discussing it - he said that once one U implements something all the others will end up doing it because independent of whether or not there's a sound basis for it, the PR cost if they don't and one yute gets sick is armageddon.

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Get people out of crowded dorms before the spread becomes too large and travel becomes much harder/riskier. Also, if students are on campus, many staff members (facilities, food service, etc) need to come to work which puts these people at risk too. If the students go home or with friends there is more containment and less person to person contact.

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So the logic is this: if you don't have the infection around as yet or low levels of infection right now, it is time to split people up into their homes to create physical and social distance between students. Spring break is a great time to make that switch as people already had to have travel plans.

This isn't about preventing individuals from getting the disease or the chance that they might be bringing it home, but eliminating a prime habitat for it - spreading people out and reducing the interactions that give rise to rapid spread. If students do bring it home, that could result in a slow spread. However, slow spread is still a public health win - see this NYT article: Flattening the Coronavirus Curve https://nyti.ms/2IDOOpC

There is a substantial body of scientific literature on other epidemics, notably flu and norovirus, that show that lots of people living together is a cozy breeding ground for epidemics. This is especially true if the virus in question doesn't stop them in their tracks. Think of a college as a land-locked cruise ship. It is very hard to isolate people living three to a small room, sharing showers and toilets and food service facilities. Even my son's single was hard to isolate when he had mono, because he still needed to have somebody bring him food and still needed to use the restrooms (until I made him come home for two weeks).

The 1918 bug spun up in ships and barracks - Boston and Philly got "deliveries" of infected troops who spread it aboard ship and then into naval yards and troop trains and barracks. My parents had their schools closed for a couple of weeks when the Asian Flu hit the west coast in the late 1950s, because schools were thought to be a potential place where outbreaks could get a foothold. These closures may have helped contain the outbreak and kept it from spreading eastward through the US.

In the case of Community Colleges, it is time to remove that mixing factor from the lives of the students. State colleges and a lot of community colleges also train people for nursing and medical careers - we may need these people soon and want them to be healthy.

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