Coalition urges BU public health school to go virtual

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A student listens to a live lecture on a laptop computer at home during a remote learning class in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Illinois reported 1,337 new coronavirus cases Wednesday as the state’s positivity rate dropped below 4% for the first time in weeks. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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BOSTON (SHNS) – A group of faculty, students and alumni of the Boston University School of Public Health, along with others in the BU community, on Wednesday asked the public health school’s dean to start the spring semester in a virtual-only model.

The letter to Dean Sandro Galea says that COVID-19 infection rates were in a lull when the School of Public Health opened for hybrid classes in the fall, but the state is now “in the midst of the largest surge of cases” since the pandemic began and it is not clear that the peak has been reached. “We do not see how a school of public health, with any serious respect for the health of its community, can — at this time — force faculty and staff to face potential COVID-19 exposure in indoor settings with large numbers of people present,” the letter said.

The signatories, led by faculty member Dr. Michael Siegel, argue that the decision to hold in-person classes, which they say was made in late April during the first surge, “has hamstrung our ability to lead because we are hardly in a position to advise other institutions to close down.”

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