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Boston Concerned About Spread Of Coronavirus With Return Of Off-Campus Students

BOSTON (CBS) -- College move-in may not come with the same flurry of suitcases and boxes this Fall but Boston is still bracing for thousands of students to move into off-campus houses and apartments, raising concerns that an increase in coronavirus infections will follow.

"We are very worried about off-campus housing. I think everyone is," said Dr. David Hamer, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health and Medicine.

B.U. plans to test students living on and off-campus for COVID-19 twice a week and make them attest to symptoms daily.

Hamer said it is difficult to control what happens beyond campus.

"As of right now, there's no plan to have any enforcement of what happens off-campus. I think there's going to be guidance and education," he said.

Roughly 60% of undergraduates who study in the Boston area are from other states, according to data colleges submit to the federal government about first-year students. Many of them live in communities like Fenway and Allston.

"We have a lot of elderly and retirees living in our community. They're concerned," said Anthony D'Isidoro, President of the Allston Civic Association.

D'Isidoro said some colleges have promised to quarantine on-campus students if they test positive for the virus but have only asked their off-campus students to quarantine in their apartments.

"They should be given access to a college and university-run facility where they can self-quarantine and isolate themselves from not only student population, but more importantly, the community as well," he said.

Mayor Marty Walsh said he does not want to use Boston Police to patrol off-campus parties but he will if necessary.

"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," Walsh said.

Walsh is meeting with college presidents later this week.

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