The Case for Masks

Dean Hashimoto

Dean M. Hashimoto, Associate Professor at Boston College Law School and Chief Medical Officer for Workplace Health and Wellness at Mass General Brigham, gave a presentation supporting mask use and further measures during the coronavirus pandemic. Based on his upcoming book, his lecture for the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy at Boston College explains why masks are the most critical public health tool for controlling the pandemic. His legal research revolves around recognizing and enforcing rules within organizations, primarily hospitals, and has recently focused on coronavirus masking policies.

Watch the Lecture on the Clough Center YouTube.

Online Education in the COVID-19 Era: 3 Questions to Help You Define Your Strategy

Aleksandar (Sasha) Tomić

Sasha Tomić, Associate Dean for Strategy, Innovation, and Technology in the Woods College of Advancing Studies, has put forward three questions to help institutions of higher learning establish and maintain a COVID-19 response plan. He begins: “To say that COVID-19 is disrupting the economy in general and higher education in particular would be one of the biggest understatements of the century… whether the attitudes to online learning will change in the long run, and how [is still not clear]. Also, it is not clear how long the COVID-19 disruption will last and which institutions will survive it.”

Read the his questions and the full editorial in The Evolllution.

How Ready Are We to Support Kids Through This Trauma?

Heather Rowan-Kenyon

Heather Rowan-Kenyon, Associate Professor and Director of the Educational Leadership & Higher Education Program at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, has recently published a report on supporting students through trauma in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rowan-Kenyon and Mandy Savitz-Romer, at Harvard University, surveyed counselors to aggregate their needs in a time that is uniquely challenging to students’ mental health. In Education Weekly, they write: “It will be tempting for schools to direct resources and attention this fall to bolstering the instructional core, given well-founded fears of learning loss and the widening of academic inequities. But our research suggests that districts need to focus just as much on deploying staff and policies that promote students’ social and emotional development. School counselors have a critical but often overlooked role to play in meeting this urgent need.”

Read the full editorial in Education Weekly.

“Una salud”: la clave para evitar una próxima pandemia global

El covid-19 será sin duda el tema que marcará este año. Desde sus tratamientos y prevención hasta el desarrollo de vacunas. Sin embargo, ¿qué pasa si no prevenimos sus causas?

Generalmente, cuando sufrimos una enfermedad, lo primero que hacemos es ir al doctor, descifrar qué es lo que tenemos y ver un tratamiento oportuno. Sin embargo, generalmente este proceso no se queda ahí. Viene acompañado de una serie de exámenes que buscan analizar algo base: ¿por qué estamos enfermos? —Read more

COVID-19: The Internationalization Revolution That Isn’t

Hans de Wit
Phillip G. Altbach

Hans de Wit and Phillip Altbach recently authored an article on COVID-19’s effects on higher education: “The COVID-19 crisis will have major implications for global student mobility, with declines overall, most probably from China. Additional implications will be felt concerning internationalization generally. Universities and national systems relying on international student enrollments for income are likely to suffer a significant blow. However, overall, it is likely that the broader trends of recent years will continue, but only after considerable disruption.”

Read more in International Education’s special 2020 edition.

Association Between Universal Masking in a Health Care System and COVID-19 Spread Among Health Care Workers

Dean Hashimoto

Dean M. Hashimoto, Associate Professor at Boston College Law School, along with several other researchers recently authored an article discussing the effectiveness of masks in health care systems among health care workers. Studying an intervention within the Mass General Brigham health care system, they found universal masking substantially limited the spread of COVID-19.

Read the full article in Jama.

Studying the Experience and Sustainability of Work-From-Home

Wen Fan

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many in U.S. found themselves suddenly working from home and, with the closing of schools and childcare centers, working from home coupled with a change in family life.

Assistant Professor of Sociology Wen Fan has launched a research project, funded by the National Science Foundation, that will examine the experience of remote work from a variety of methodological angles as well as the potential sustainability of the work-from-home model post-COVID.

‘The pandemic resulted in a sea change in working conditions and family lives, effectively introducing a large-scale social experiment,’ explained Fan, the principal investigator for the ‘RAPID: Remote Work in the Time of COVID-19’ project.” — from BC News

Read more

Boston College Law School Lex Latinx Webinar Series

Daniela Urosa
Susan Simone Kang

Boston College Law School’s Lex Latinx webinar series is a series of five online conferences in Spanish with simultaneous translation to English, with speakers from different Latin American Universities and BC Law Faculty discussing human rights protection during the pandemic as well as perspectives for the post-pandemic.

Teaching Public Health Will Never Be the Same

Nadia Abuelezam

Students will likely be flocking to public health courses and programs in upcoming semesters. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has piqued the interest of many in society, among them college students. Students who have an interest in health, medicine, or science now may see public health as a viable career option, especially with numerous public health researchers being featured in stories and social media around the globe. Although this is an important moment for our field and discipline, universities training future public health professionals will need to recalibrate how they approach their teaching in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more:

Nadia N. Abuelezam, “Teaching Public Health Will Never Be the Same”, American Journal of Public Health 110, no. 7 (July 1, 2020): pp. 976-977.

Tracking seismic noise and human activity during the time of COVID-19

Alan Kafka

COVID-19 lockdowns are resulting in a reduction of background noise recorded at many seismic stations: We’re seeing quieter seismic stations around the world, including at BC campus and at Weston Observatory.

Tom Lecocq (of the Royal Observatory of Belgium) explains the story very well in the middle of this news report:

Read the full article in Science
doi: 10.1126/science.abd2438

Read More: BC News | Boston Globe |

Here are some of my findings:

Air pollution interventions: Global research report released by BC’s Schiller Institute and partners identifies top five actions to benefit health and climate

Philip Landrigan

“Climate change and air pollution are major threats to human health and economic development that must be addressed. The COVID pandemic has raised the stakes considerably,” says report co-author and Professor of Biology Phil Landrigan, M.D., director of the Schiller Institute’s Global Observatory on Pollution and Health. “It is essential to understand the extent to which these issues can be tackled together. Policymakers can use this report to prioritize investments that are the most effective in generating co-benefits across health and climate.” —from BC News

Read more

Vivere ai tiempi del coronavirus | Living in the Time of Coronavirus

Andrea Vicini, SJ

A few years after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez published his novel Love in the Time of Cholera.[1] Years earlier, the Swedish doctor Axel Munthe, who came to Naples in 1884 to treat the victims of a cholera epidemic, wrote his Letters From A Mourning City.[2] In both cases, an epidemic caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae is the background for deeply human stories (imaginary in Márquez’s novel and real in Munthe’s letters). Márquez and Munthe invite us to contemplate how it is possible to live “in the time” of an epidemic, as involuntary witnesses of human suffering, eager to help the most needy and aware of the risks of contagion.

Read more in English

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Syllabus: #Shop-Apocalypse: Consumer Culture’s Past and the Fate of the Planet

Juliet Schor
Robin Fleming

Course Description: Although we are increasingly aware that our habits of consumption affect the environment, it is hard to imagine that consuming patterns are capable of being changed. In this class, students will learn that practices of consumption are both socially and historically constructed, that they change dramatically over time, and that there are (and always have been) urgent moral issues connected to practices of consumption. We will explore the global, social, and environmental dimensions of consumption, studying things like the 1897 Sears catalog, 1950s television shows, Canada Goose jackets, DIY manuals and makerspaces, and hippy cookbooks of the 1960s.

History 1710 / Sociology 1714

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Cross-border implications of the US response to covid-19: an escalating health crisis on Mexico’s northern border

Alejandro Olayao-Méndez, SJ

Alejandro Olayao-Méndez, SJ contributed to a 9 July 2020 blog post on >>>

On 20 March 2020, the Trump administration announced that it would be limiting nonessential travel across US land borders [1]. Citing the threat of covid-19, the processing of asylum seekers or those who enter the US without appropriate documentation or authorization would, without delay or legal process, be deported [2]. These policy changes, and subsequent others, have created an acute-on-chronic health crisis amongst asylum seekers and migrants on Mexico’s northern border [3]

Consistent with previously unsubstantiated claims that asylum seekers pose a public health threat to the US, the United States government purported that these policies were needed to safeguard Americans from covid-19 [4,5]. Yet at the time of the announcement, there were over 17,000 confirmed cases of covid-19 in the US, compared to only 164 cases in Mexico, and 37 cases reported in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras combined [6,7]

Diamond, M., Novak, C., Testa, L., Olayao-Méndez, A. (2020, July 9). Cross-border implications of the US response to covid-19: an escalating health crisis on Mexico’s northern border. TheBJMOpinion. <>

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Improving Ventilator Rationing Through Collaboration With Experts on Resource Allocation

Utku Ünver
Tayfun Sönmez

As the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic evolves, questions regarding the fair allocation of scarce medical resources, such as ventilators, antiviral drugs, and vaccines, abound. Piscitello et al1 provide a valuable summary of US state ventilator allocation guidelines during public health emergencies. Even if guidelines for ventilators have not been widely implemented during the current pandemic, the principles they articulate are an important statement of social values. The variation among guidelines that Piscitello et al1 uncovered suggests that there is no consensus on the adequate balance between different ethical considerations.

Pathak PA, Sönmez T, Ünver MU. Improving Ventilator Rationing Through Collaboration With Experts on Resource Allocation. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(6):e2012838. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.12838

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