Boston-Area Colleges Prepare for Fall Semester

Boston-Area Colleges Prepare for Fall Semester

by Grace Ferguson

With the spring semester coming to an end, colleges in the Boston area are looking ahead to the fall. But their plans for reopening range from ambitious to ambiguous.

Boston University, Northeastern University, and Tufts University have already released details on how they intend to bring students back to campus this fall.

All three schools are considering a hybrid teaching model, where classes will be taught both online and in-person. To prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, the schools are planning to implement strategies like testing, contact tracing, and quarantining.

President Robert Brown of Boston University told the Freakonomics Podcast last week that he hopes to test thousands of people per day. Brown hopes to get results for each test in under 24 hours. He also said a contact tracing app could be mandatory for those who return to campus.

Brown did not mention specific plans for dorms, but Northeastern University has announced that it’s expanding student housing into new buildings like apartments and hotels to reduce density.

Meanwhile, some schools have been more cautious. MIT does not officially favor any plan, but the university has hinted that undergraduates are unlikely to be on campus this fall. MIT said in the same announcement that bringing graduate students back could be more feasible.

Harvard announced last week that first-year programs in its medical school will be taught online this fall, but the university hasn’t made any announcements for its other programs.

Two other large schools, Boston College and UMass Boston have made no detailed announcements about reopening.

The unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic makes it hard to commit to one plan or another, but leadership at most schools has said they want to make a final decision in late June or early July.