Mayor Marty Walsh said Tuesday that he plans to meet this week with the presidents of Boston’s many universities and colleges to discuss their plans for reopening in the fall.
“I’m certainly concerned about the thousands of young people coming to our city, especially from areas around the country that are experiencing recent surges in COVID-19 cases,” he said. “We’ve been talking to the colleges and universities on a regular basis throughout the reopening process. We’re working closely with our institutions to understand the new protocols and precautions and create a plan if someone were to test positive.”
Schools like Berklee College of Music, UMass Boston and Harvard have all said they plan to move to mostly online learning in the fall to prioritize safety. But others are still determined to host at least some in-person classes.
“Harvard’s coming back limited, MIT’s limited, Berklee might not be coming back,” Walsh said.
The mayor said he will meet with college leaders on Wednesday to discuss their plans.
“The common theme I’ve heard from colleges is they’re going to do lots of testing, they’re going to create a space for students who test positive, and they’re all going to have quarantine rules,” he said. “They’re going to be individual plans but they have similar themes among them.”
One thing that will be different this year is move-in day, more commonly known as Allston Christmas.
“Many communities are worried about move-in weekend,” Walsh said. “Historically it’s been one weekend. That is going to look very different this year. They won’t be able to move in all in one day.”
When Walsh last addressed the media on Thursday, he warned against large gatherings and crowds at beaches saying they, could lead to a coronavirus spike like those now being seen elsewhere in the country.
Despite his warning, large crowds were spotted again over the weekend at M Street Beach. And a photo showing crowds of people on a ship on Boston Harbor Saturday night went viral.
The Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards issued a cease and desist to the Bay State Cruise Company Monday. Effective immediately, the company is not allowed to operate under the state’s COVID-19 orders, according to the order.
After a photo went viral showing what appeared to be a very crowded sunset cruise leaving Boston Harbor, the company said it was operating withing state reopening guidelines. But two days later, they’ve been issued a cease and desist order.
Walsh also said he was concerned that the return of college students in the fall from areas of the U.S. with higher coronavirus numbers could lead to another surge in Boston.
“Seeing what’s happening around the country is concerning me,” he said. “Many of our college students come to Boston for school. The live here, they work here. They’re coming from high risk areas. We’re going to monitor this very closely.’
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Walsh added. “I’d love to see the college students come back, but I’m also concerned about if we don’t have a really good screening process, what does that mean for our numbers down the road?”
The move includes new resources for businesses to help them weather the economic downturn.
He said those returning college students should not be looking to hold parties, but he hopes he won’t have to use police to enforce that edict.
“College students that come here in the fall, we’re going to ask them to police themselves,” Walsh said. “People need to be careful. I would not advise college students to be having parties. I think colleges will be pretty strict with their regulations, but if I have to, I’d use police, yes.”
As of Monday, Boston had reported 13,995 cases of COVID-19, including 727 deaths.