By Bill Shields

BOSTON (CBS) – Like just about every other school in the nation, Boston University is doing a balancing act right now of bringing students back amid the pandemic. But at the BU School of Public Health, there’s an uprising taking hold.

Teachers and students are demanding their graduate studies be done online. Over 150 teachers, staff, and students at the School of Public Health have signed a petition asking that classes be fully online starting next week.

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“There are a large number of faculty and staff that are essentially being forced to go into class, into risk in person exposure,” said Michael Siegel, a Professor at the BU School of Public Health.

Some of the students say it’s ironic that they feel jeopardized while studying public health.

“We have had, what, over 400,000 deaths in this country? I think it’s inexcusable that we would return to the class,” said student and teaching assistant Montgomery Smith.

But BU is insistent, saying they have put in place measures such as screening, testing, contact tracing, isolation, building upgrades, physical distancing, masking, and risk stratification, with adjustments for those at high risk.

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But other students say it is too much to ask right now.

“Yes, I would love to be in the class. I value the face-to-face time. But safety is my priority right now,” said student Dani Brooks.

Professor Siegel says last fall, the virus was at a low point. Right now, it is at its zenith.

“We don’t force people to be exposed to substantial risk without their consent,” said Siegel.

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Still, BU officials say they have strict protocols in place.

Bill Shields