Campus Safety and Testing Protocols

Polar bear weathervane close-up


The science is clear that a combination of face coverings, social distancing, proper hygiene, and symptom monitoring is very effective in preventing transmission of COVID-19 and that regular and frequent testing and contact tracing are the most effective ways of interrupting the spread of the virus and preventing outbreaks.

Pre-Arrival Testing

The College has invested significant time and resources to offer a robust testing program this spring for the campus community. Given recent nationwide developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, Bowdoin will send self-administered COVID-19 tests from Let’s Get Checked (LGC) to students currently in the continental United States who will be on campus and off campus/in residence this spring. Unfortunately, kits cannot be shipped to students who only have a post office box. We have implemented this requirement in order to:

  • determine your COVID-19 status before you arrive in Brunswick so that, if you test positive, you can recover and quarantine safely and comfortably at home, rather than having to move to our isolation building during your first days on campus; and
  • reduce the risk to the local Brunswick community as students travel and arrive on campus.

The sample collection is self-administered, using a shallow nasal swab, much like a Q-tip. For more information, you can watch this video describing LGC’s at-home sample collection process.

Students will receive the kit in the mail the week of January 25. They should hold onto the kit and keep it in a safe place. Bowdoin asks that students take the test on the morning of Friday, January 29. The kit comes with a prepaid envelope that students will need to drop off at a UPS store or other UPS pick-up location by noon on Friday, January 29.

Semester Testing

Bowdoin College has developed a testing protocol in partnership with the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that is central to our return-to-campus plan. Throughout the month of February, all students residing on campus and in residence in our local community will be tested three days a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Starting in March, all students residing on campus and in residence were tested twice a week, either on a Monday/Thursday schedule or a Tuesday/Friday schedule. In response to an increase in cases in Maine in early April, beginning on Monday, April 12 all students, faculty, and staff who normally test twice a week will be testing three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the remainder of the semester to maximize a fast response to any potential campus outbreak.

Diagram of testing stations in Morrell

Bowdoin’s testing site will be in Morrell Gymnasium, and students, faculty, and staff will schedule their test times in advance. Testing will be via a self-administered, observed nasal swab. Results should be provided within twenty-four hours. (See Student Self-Quarantine and Isolation for more information about isolation after a positive test.) Faculty and staff who are likely to interact with students often will also be tested twice a week. Faculty and staff who will be on campus daily or occasionally but are not as likely to interact with students will be tested once a week.

In the event of a one-off conflict on your testing day, you may email (at least 24 hours in advance) to request approval to reschedule your test. For more information about the testing policy this spring (including missing tests), click here.

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is the process used to identify those who come into contact with a member of the on-campus Bowdoin community who has tested positive for COVID-19. Working in conjunction with Maine CDC, the College has trained professional staff to perform contact-tracing procedures. Procedures include remote interviewing of an infected member of the community and contacting Bowdoin community members who were in close contact with the infected individual for more than fifteen minutes within seventy-two hours of the positive test. Throughout the process, the identity of the infected individual will remain anonymous. Students identified as a contact will have to go into quarantine. (See Student Self-Quarantine and Isolation for details on what it means to be in quarantine.) Faculty and staff identified as contacts will be asked to stay home until medically cleared by their primary care physician.

Symptom Tracking

Bowdoin community members will utilize a symptom tracker for self-reported symptom screening. Students residing on campus will complete a daily survey prior to leaving their residence halls and will receive direction from Health Services if symptoms are reported. Faculty and staff will complete a symptom survey prior to arriving to campus for work and will be directed to their primary care physician if they are symptomatic.

Face Coverings

Students, faculty, and staff will all receive two cloth face coverings. Faculty and staff are required to wear face coverings at all times indoors on campus except when alone in a private office or research lab with the door closed. Face coverings are required to be worn by students at all times in common spaces indoors, with the exception of certain times in a student's residence hall. Please see the information in the On-Campus Student Living and Learning for more information. Face coverings are also required outdoors when you are not able to keep at least a six-foot separation from others. If the campus status level is red, adequate face coverings are required at all times, inside and outside. Bandanas, neck fleeces or gaiters, and turtleneck sweaters are not protective face coverings and so are not adequate. Students who have a medical condition that precludes the use of a mask must register with Lesley Levy, director of student accessibility. Faculty and staff who have a medical condition that precludes the use of a mask should contact the Office of Human Resources. Certain staff whose work tasks have been evaluated and require a more protective level of PPE may be issued a KN95 mask.

Social Distancing

Students, faculty, and staff will be asked to maintain at least a six-foot separation from others at all times. Where applicable, floor markings for queuing will be used to show a six-foot separation.

Sample of campus signage reminding people to maintain six feet of distance