Update from Boston University

Message from President Brown, COVID-19 Update

March 17, 2020

From Dr. Robert A. Brown, President

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,

This last month we have experienced unprecedented uncertainty as Boston University and the rest of the world have confronted the spread of COVID-19. It has been amazing to watch our students, faculty, and staff quickly adapt to changes in the way we live and teach, especially the extraordinary efforts needed to take our courses online. Knowing that online delivery is not a substitute for living and learning in our academic community, we have held open the hope that we might be able to safely return to in-person instruction in the second half of April. This hope now seems to be unrealistic, and thus I am making a number of decisions today. To safeguard you and our community, I am announcing that:

  • All classes and examinations for the remainder of the spring semester will be held remotely.
  • We ask all our undergraduate students to leave Boston University residences and return home by Sunday, March 22, or sooner if possible. We understand that going home is not possible for everyone; please see the instructions below if you need an exception.

More details are discussed below.

I recognize that this is a painful decision for all our students, who thrive on the interactions with others as part of their experience as members of the Boston University community. I know this is especially difficult for our seniors and other candidates for graduation who undoubtedly have questions about how we will celebrate their achievements. Our hope is that our virtual technology will allow us to stay connected as we study and interact remotely, but I know it will not be the same. I will feel this as I walk the empty Charles River Campus. We are living through unprecedented events requiring new levels of adaptation for all of us.

Please stay safe and healthy. I look forward to the day when we all return to the vibrant University along Commonwealth Avenue.


Robert A. Brown

Undergraduate Housing

Packing Up and Leaving Your Room
All students, unless granted an exception as described below, must leave Boston University housing by no later than noon on Sunday, March 22, or sooner if possible.Room-and-board refunds will be pro-rated for the remainder of the semester.

If you are currently on campus, you must begin the move-out process immediately.

In a forthcoming e-mail, Residence Life and Housing will send you details on checking ­­out of your residence, including what to do if you are unable to take all of your belongings with you now, or if you are currently away from campus and unable to return to campus for your personal belongings.

In a forthcoming e-mail, Residence Life and Housing will send you details on checking ­­out of your residence, including what to do if you are unable to take all of your belongings with you now, or if you are currently away from campus and unable to return to campus for your personal belongings.

Exceptions to Leaving Housing

There may be some students who have exceptional reasons that require them to stay in Boston. Those seeking exceptions should complete this appeal in order to be considered. Appeals to remain on campus can be requested, but will be granted on a limited basis and, generally, only for students who have a permanent address in a country to which travel is currently restricted (as of Tuesday, March 17, 2020) and have no alternative place to reside in the United States; or, for students with extraordinary, extenuating circumstances that make leaving housing an impossibility. Students who seek to remain should be aware that they will likely be asked to move to a different residence hall. Also, campus services, activities, and interactions will be severely limited.


Room and board costs will be prorated for the remainder of the semester for all students leaving campus. Additional information on calculating and processing credits or refunds will be forthcoming.

Closing of Other Facilities and Related Programming

Libraries : All branches of the University Libraries’ system on the Charles River Campus—including African Studies, Astronomy, the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Mugar and all units and divisions within Mugar, Pardee, Pickering, Science & Engineering, and Stone—are closed effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 5:00 pm ET.1

BU students and faculty will continue to receive virtual services and resources effective Thursday, March 19 at 12:00 noon ET via the Libraries’ Ask A Librarian page, which also will provide further details about circulation policies and additional service adjustments.

Varsity Athletics: The winter and spring seasons for all of our athletic programs, no matter their conference affiliation, have been cancelled. No instruction, practices, or workouts will be occurring on campus, and all athletics facilities are closed until further notice.

Fitness & Recreation Center (FitRec) will be closed for informal fitness and recreational activities for the remainder of the semester.

The Howard Thurman Center (HTC) will modify hours to have the Ryan-Miller Great Room open Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19 from 1 to 4 pm. The staff will continue to hold meetings via the internet and plan to move many of the HTC’s regularly scheduled programs online. Beginning Friday, March 20, the Howard Thurman Center will be closed.

International Students and Scholars: For international students and scholars with questions about travel and their ability to return for future semesters, please contact theInternational Students & Scholars Office at isso@bu.edu. Appointments will be conducted via phone or internet. Please email your appointment request to isso@bu.edu or call 617-353-3565.

Study Abroad Programs: We will provide guidance soon on reimbursement of expenses associated with the cancellation of the residential portion of our Study Abroad programs.

The Alan & Sherry Leventhal Admissions Visitor Center at 233 Bay State Road and the Yawkey Center for Student Services at 100 Bay State Road will close beginning Wednesday, March 18. Services and information for prospective and enrolled students will be fully available online, as well as via email and telephone.

Student Health Services (including Primary Care, Behavioral Medicine, the Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center (SARP), Wellness & Prevention Services, and Athletic Training Services) will be providing the majority of health care to students via telemedicine by appointment only by calling 617-353-3575. The office will remain open with abbreviated hours that can be found here: https://www.bu.edu/shs/hours-offices/ . If this is a COVID-19 related concern, please follow the directions to complete the secure form online and connect with a nurse. https://www.bu.edu/shs/coronavirus/ .

If you are a student experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact Behavioral Medicine at 617-353-3569. A crisis counselor from SARP (Sexual Assault Response & Prevention) is also available 24/7 at 617-353-7277 (SARP).

Clinics run by the College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College and the College of Arts & Sciences have cancelled in-person appointments and are transitioning to exclusive tele-health service delivery where possible.

Instructions to Staff on the Charles River Campus

Our intent is to have as small a staff presence on our campus as is feasible for us to meet our obligations to support online education, research that must continue, and students who are not able to go home and have permission to remain on campus. We ask all supervisors to work with their staff to make it possible for them to work from home while fulfilling their responsibilities.

Faculty Staff Assistance Office: To offer support and assistance while maintaining safe physical distances, the FSAO is now offering free and confidential counseling and consultation sessions to BU faculty, staff, and their immediate family members via a HIPAA compliant Zoom platform. Schedule an appointment via the websitehttps://bu.edu/fsao/ or by phone: 617-353-5381.

Research on the Charles River and Medical Campuses

Laboratory research is being minimized to the greatest extent possible for a period of several weeks, while limiting the loss of critical research resources and momentum. More information can be found at https://www.bu.edu/researchsupport/2020/03/11/research-coronavirus/.

School of Medicine and Goldman School of Dental Medicine

Students in the School of Medicine on clinical rotations and students in the BU Physician Assistant Program are currently receiving orientation or additional online instruction. They have been instructed not to provide direct care to patients with presumptive or confirmed COVID-19 at any clinical site to minimize unnecessary exposure and to conserve Personal Protective Equipment and will follow policies at various hospitals and clinical sites if more restrictive.

Students in the Goldman School of Dental Medicine are currently receiving online instruction and participating in small-group exercises, especially those that involve hands-on components (e.g., medical emergency simulations at BMC; preclinical implantology). All non-emergency patient care at the 635 Albany Street Patient Treatment Center and the BU Dental Health Center at 930 Commonwealth Avenue will be discontinued, effective March 18 through April 13.

Additional Resources

The University’s COVID-19 website is continually updated and is a useful resource for answers about issues as they emerge and change.

Recent BU Updates