COVID-19 Important Update—September 2, 2021

To the campus community,

As of this morning, nine additional students have tested positive for COVID-19, all but two of whom were linked to one of the positive cases that was reported on Monday. Over the past two days, fourteen students have tested positive. Through contact tracing, we have identified at least forty-six students who are close contacts of those infected and may identify more. All close contacts will be tested daily over the next several days, and we should expect that the number of infected students may rise. As an added precaution, we are also testing all students who reside in close proximity to where the infected students live.

Unfortunately, this was not unexpected. We have planned for situations like this, with a focus on our dual goals of protecting the health of the community and providing an in-person Bowdoin education and experience.

The Delta variant remains a serious concern as cases continue to rise across the country—Maine reported 624 new cases of COVID-19 today, which is the highest for a single day since the peak of the pandemic last January. The good news here is that virtually all of us at the College are fully vaccinated and the vaccines continue to be highly effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization. The other good news is that the students who were symptomatic requested tests. This is what we ask of anyone with even mild symptoms—to report symptoms and to test—and we are grateful to our students for coming forward. They are now isolating, either in a facility provided by the College or elsewhere.

As a precaution as we move into the early days of the semester, we are taking the following steps to help prevent as many additional cases of COVID-19 as possible:

  • We have now moved from Green to campus status Yellow, with the additional step of moving all meals to grab-and-go beginning with dinner tonight; please review the restrictions and requirements for Yellow, which are posted here on the Bowdoin website.
  • The current indoor mask mandate will be continued and expanded until further notice. Masks will be required indoors, including at all times in residence hall common areas and in dining facilities to pick up grab-and-go meals. Students may remove their masks outdoors, while actively eating, and in their private rooms. Faculty and staff may remove their face coverings in their private offices when the door is closed.
  • Private gatherings are not permitted, either in residence halls or in off-campus student residences—if you don’t live there, you shouldn’t be there, and please…no parties for the time being;
  • Students are permitted a maximum of one guest in their rooms.
  • Every one of the close contacts of the fourteen infected students will be taking antigen self-tests daily for at least the next four days.
  • Every student at the College will be given an additional PCR test on Monday and Tuesday (details about these tests are forthcoming).
  • We are asking all faculty and staff who are on campus at all during the week to take a rapid antigen test by the end of the day tomorrow, Friday, September 3, and to report any positive results to their supervisor and to Mary Cote in human resources (x3033). This does not apply to faculty and staff who are already scheduled for a PCR test today (those with last names beginning with A or B). For other faculty and staff, if you have not already picked up your BINAX Now pack of two antigen tests, please stop by the Mail Center in Smith Union or the Events Office in Coles Tower to get yours, free of charge. You may also arrange to take a test elsewhere. Any faculty or staff identified as a close contact should contact Mary Cote in human resources (x3033) for further instructions.
  • All courses originally scheduled in residential spaces have been moved to other classrooms. Students should consult their email and Polaris to find the new locations.
I am hopeful that, by acting quickly and by temporarily limiting some of our regular activities, we will be able to contain the virus and then lift most if not all of these restrictions before too long.
We continue to be focused on protecting the health and safety of our campus community and our neighbors in Brunswick while also learning to live with the reality of the virus. Thank you for helping us achieve these goals by masking, by reporting even mild symptoms, and by taking advantage of the testing made available by the College.
Mike Ranen
COVID-19 Resource Coordinator