January Public Health Reminders

Please find a message regarding Spring 2023 public health reminders from Chief Health Officer Judy Platt, MD, below.

Dear Members of our Boston University Community,

Welcome back to campus as we head into the spring semester!

Please read below for important public health reminders about:

  •  Masking requirements and recommendations
  • COVID-19, including US travel requirements and updated recommendations for rapid antigen test use
  • Influenza (flu) and flu vaccinations
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

We continue to see high levels of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, flu, and RSV circulating in our communities. There are simple things you can do to protect yourself and others against all respiratory conditions this season including staying home when you are not feeling well, being up to date on your immunizations, avoiding contact with people who are ill, washing hands frequently, and masking.


Masks are required in all healthcare spaces at Boston University until further notice. For January, we strongly recommend that everyone in our community, regardless of symptoms, mask in crowded indoor areas including classrooms, shared common spaces, and the BU Shuttle. We also recommend masking inside your home if you or others in the home are not feeling well. We encourage the use of high-quality masks (such as N95s, KN95s, KF94s, and FFP3/2s) that cover the nose, mouth, and chin and fit securely to reduce the risk of viral transmission. We will continue to evaluate masking recommendations for the upcoming spring months.


Effective treatments, mitigation strategies and public health interventions are continuing to help us in managing COVID-19; however, the winter months are a time of higher circulation. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health continues to monitor rates of COVID-19 through testing positivity rates and wastewater data. The best ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 and reduce transmission are to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccineswear a mask in crowded, indoor spaces, and test if you are not feeling well.

COVID-19 Testing

We encourage you to test upon returning to campus if you are experiencing any symptoms and/or have recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Depending on your travel over intersession, you may be required to test prior to traveling to the United States. Please review the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requirements that went into effect on Jan. 5 here.

Free PCR testing at BU, for those with symptoms or exposures, remains available at the Health Services Annex in the rear of 925 Commonwealth Ave Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. For more information about COVID-19, students can visit the Student Health Services COVID-19 website and faculty/staff can visit the Occupational Health Center COVID-19 website.

While PCR testing remains the gold standard for COVID-19 testing, at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests have greatly increased access to testing for many individuals. However, with newer variants the reliability of a single at-home rapid test is a concern. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is now recommending the following repeat testing instructions below to reduce your risk of false negative results:

  • If you receive a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test result, the test did not detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus at the time of that test.
    • If you have COVID-19 symptomstest again 48 hours after the first negative test, for a total of at least two tests.
    • If you do not have COVID-19 symptoms, but you have been exposed to COVID-19, test again 48 hours after the first negative test, then 48 hours after the second negative test, for a total of at least three tests.

Influenza (Flu)

Flu is circulating at higher levels this year than the same time in previous years. Massachusetts is currently at a very high level of transmission. Symptoms of flu may include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, headache or fatigue. The best way to reduce your risk of seasonal flu is to get vaccinated. To find out where to get the flu vaccine, search in your area on the CDC’s website dedicated to vaccines.

Student Health Services will be offering flu shots Monday, Jan. 23 through Friday, Jan. 27, from 9AM-3PM at our Immunization Clinics. Students seeking an appointment can schedule online via Patient Connect

Occupational Health Center is now offering additional flu shots by appointment only. Faculty/staff seeking an appointment can call Occupational Health Center at 617-353-6630 to schedule. 

More information on what to do when you’re sick is available on the Student Health Services website.


RSV is a common respiratory virus that causes cold-like symptoms. While most people recover in a week or two, RSV can be serious for infants and older adults. There is currently no available RSV vaccine, however hand hygiene, frequently cleaning high touch surfaces, avoiding sharing cups and utensils, and covering coughs and sneezes can help reduce your risk and transmission of RSV. For more information on RSV, please visit the CDC’s website.

As always, taking time for yourself, eating nutritious foods, engaging in regular physical activity, and sleeping 7-8 hours nightly will help to improve your overall health and may prevent adverse outcomes from respiratory illnesses. Look for ways to stay well throughout the semester by checking out resources on employee wellness and student wellness.

Wishing you all a healthy spring 2023 semester,

Judy T. Platt, MD (she/her/hers)Chief Health Officer and Executive DirectorStudent Health Services
Boston University