Group gatherings at universities…exactly how small?

Limits on gatherings at local universities are suddenly a hot topic after Northeastern University dismissed 11 students on Friday for violating the campus’ coronavirus policy on parties and meet-ups.

The incoming freshmen were found together in a room at the Westin Hotel, where 818 students are staying in order to keep them further apart and comply with social distancing rules. Students had to sign off on the school’s no-party policy, which applies both on and off campus, in order to get housing. The residence hall living guide said no guests or visits are allowed in residential bed spaces, including students in adjoining rooms.

By violating Northeastern’s policies, the students were kicked out of school for the fall semester, given 24 hours to leave campus and get tested, and told their $36,500 in tuition would not be refunded.

“A lot of people feel for the students in that they still have to pay the tuition when the semester has not even started,” said student Kelly Chan to CNN. Undergraduate classes start today, September 9. The students were dismissed September 4.

While Northeastern is trying to send a message to its students about gatherings, Harvard University is slightly easing its rule on gatherings. According to the Harvard Crimson, administrators told students in a message they were being rewarded for adhering to socializing rules with a bump in the size of small groups, from two people to five. No disciplinary actions related to gatherings have been handed out so far by the university.

“Get to know your friends in groups of 2-5 people total,” the email said. “Socializing in small groups allows physical distance while still being able to hear each other and feel connected. We had previously recommended groups of only 2, but we are pleased to increase this to 2-5 given the success of our first few weeks on campus.”

All undergraduates who have received three negative coronavirus tests can socialize in groups of up to 10 while maintaining at least six feet of separation. While eating, they may gather in groups no larger than four students.

At Emerson College, students in hotel housing were told they can only be in their rooms with assigned roommates, according to the Washington Post. Common areas at Emerson have capacity limits listed, with furniture removed to increase the number of people able to congregate but still maintain social distance. But that limit can vary from room to room.

At least the state guidelines are clear. Gov. Charlie Baker reduced the limit on outdoor gathering from 100 people to 50 in a single space. In smaller indoor spaces, there’s a limit of 25 percent of the area’s legal capacity, or eight people per 1,000 square feet.




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FROM AROUND THE WEB             



Jeff Jacoby asks whether Gov. Charlie Baker’s sweeping shutdown orders were lawful, a question the Supreme Judicial Court will take up on Friday in a case brought challenging the governor’s authority. (Boston Globe)


New Hampshire-based contracting company Select Demo was fined $75,000 for making illegal campaign contributions to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and City Councilor Michael Flaherty. (MassLive)

Boston city councilors are weighing calls for a stronger civilian review board to oversee police practices. (Boston Globe) They heard testimony on a proposed ordinance to create a new civilian police oversight board that would investigate allegations of police misconduct or improper use of force, and would hold police officers accountable for improper behavior. (GBH)

New Bedford School Committee member John Oliveira says he has built an electric fence around his Trump political lawn sign to keep people away, after repeated thefts. (Standard-Times)


The state suspends Boston-based COVID-19 testing lab Orig3n Laboratory after the lab, which includes nursing homes as its clients, delivers nearly 400 false positive tests. (Associated Press)

A trial of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford has been put on hold following a serious adverse reaction in a participant in the UK. (Stat News)

A plan to build a $180 million patient care tower at Cape Cod Hospital is on hold indefinitely as the hospital’s parent company continues to struggle with the financial devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. (Cape Cod Times)

The Veterans Administration begins construction on a new VA clinic at UMass Medical School in Worcester, scheduled to open in the fall of 2021. (Telegram & Gazette)

Nine biopharma companies sign onto a pledge that they will not release any vaccine until it meets high ethical and safety standards. (MassLive)


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rolls out a slimmed down stimulus package that many Democrats and some Republicans dismiss as emaciated. (NPR)

The Justice Department is intervening in a defamation case brought by a woman who says President Trump raped her, moving the case from state to federal court and suggesting it wants to make the government, not Trump himself, the defendant. (Washington Post)

Congress will launch an investigation into sexual assault, disappearances, deaths, and the leadership’s response at Fort Hood after 28 soldiers stationed at the US Army base in Texas died this year, two subcommittee leaders announced Tuesday. US Army Sgt. Elder Fernandes, originally from Brockton, went missing from Fort Hood and was later found dead. (Associated Press)


Globe columnist Adrian Walker says City Councilor Michelle Wu is likely to pose a serious challenge to Mayor Marty Walsh “and that will only be good for the city.” (Boston Globe)


Springfield-based MassMutual sells its retirement plan business, affecting 2,000 employees, mostly in Connecticut. (MassLive)

Rents in areas of Cambridge and central Boston have fallen as much as 7 percent. (Boston Herald)

The Boston Celtics commit $25 million to address racial injustice. (WBUR)

A female employee at a Trader Joe’s store in Brookline says she was sexually harassed by a fellow employee — and management took no action. (Boston Globe)

Two Everett breweries close for cleaning after someone who tested positive for COVID-19 went “bar-hopping” while waiting for their test results. (MassLive)


A state labor relations board ruled that Andover teachers engaged in an illegal strike when they refused to enter school buildings last week for training sessions. (Boston Globe)

Methuen High School teachers return to school for professional development — and report two cases of COVID-19. (Eagle-Tribune)

Quincy city councilors tabled a vote that would have funded the renovation of a new special education center on Tuesday and instead demanded a presentation outlining the city’s financial priorities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Patriot Ledger)

Families are setting up pods and finding tutors to deal with remote learning. (Herald News)


Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts will reopen on September 26 with precautions for COVID-19 and a new focus on racial inclusiveness. (Boston Globe)


SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants had a heart attack and had two cardiac stents implanted, but expects to return to the court. (State House News Service)

The Boston Police Task Force will present their recommendations to improve the process of reviewing police misconduct cases to Mayor Marty Walsh on Thursday. (GBH)

Boston Police Commissioner William Gross calls on the court system to further reopen to handle cases in the wake of 12 shootings in Boston over Labor Day weekend. (Boston Herald)

Boston police unveil a memorial for officers who have committed suicide. (Boston Herald)


WCVB reporter Ted Wayman is recovering after he was stabbed while reporting a story in Copley Square Sunday. (Boston Magazine)