March 7, 2020 — COVID-19 Updates

To Bowdoin students, faculty, and staff,

We learned yesterday that a student who had been studying in Italy, and who returned home following the outbreak of COVID-19 in that country, visited campus from 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, until 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 6, when we became aware of their presence and they were asked to leave campus and return home. While here, they visited a Brunswick Apartment, Chamberlain Hall, and the lobby of Coles Tower.

This student left Italy when it was still considered an “Alert-Level 2” country by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has been following CDC “Alert-Level 2” guidelines. A second student who also returned from Italy when the country had an “Alert-Level 2” designation and who has also been observing “Alert-Level 2” protocols visited downtown Brunswick this past week. This student encountered a Bowdoin student-in-residence while in town, but did not come to campus. These students had both left Italy before the CDC had raised the country to a “Warning-Level 3.”

In consultation with our campus physician, we do not believe that there is a significant risk that these students were exposed to the novel coronavirus while in Italy, nor is either student presenting any of the symptoms of COVID-19. In an abundance of caution, we will be sanitizing the areas of campus that the student who came to campus visited. We have confirmed that our other four students who returned from Italy have not been on campus, and all six students now understand that they will not be returning to campus until further notice (they will be finishing their coursework from home). 

Separately, we also learned late Thursday that one of the six students who studied abroad in Italy (and who was in a program different from the student who came to campus and the student who visited Brunswick), had someone from a separate college in their program who has tested positive for COVID-19. Bowdoin’s director of off-campus study and international programs, as well as our director of health services, reached out to that student to further discuss public health protocols and to offer support. Our student has not presented any symptoms of COVID-19, has been self-isolating at home, and has not been to campus since returning to the United States.

As reported in the Portland Press Herald, the state is currently testing at least a dozen Maine residents for COVID-19 (we do not believe that any of those being tested are in the Bowdoin community). Given how rapidly the virus is spreading in the US and around the world, we anticipate that it is simply a matter of time before it is here in Maine.

Our work to prepare for this likelihood is centered on protecting those most at risk, as well as the broader campus community, presents unique challenges in a situation that is changing rapidly and where there are significant uncertainties. In spite of these challenges, together there is much we can do to safeguard one another. Please continue to follow best practices for protecting your own health and that of others in our community, and please continue to check your email and the COVID-19 FAQ on the Bowdoin website for the latest information and advisories.

Sincerely,

Matt Orlando
Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer

Janet Lohmann
Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs