Spring 2021 FAQ

Don't Forget
1. Wear your mask properly (covering your mouth AND your nose)
2. Practice physical distancing (six feet)
3. Practice good hygiene
4. Show up for your scheduled COVID test

Key Dates and Deadlines

March 22: Off-campus housing lottery for juniors
March 23–24: Shortened spring break
April 7: Deadline for students on a personal leave of absence (PLOA) to complete the "Intent to Return" form or request. and extension of their PLOA
May 18: Spring semester classes end
May 19–20: Reading period
May 21–24: Final exams
May 25: Non-graduating students must be out of their residence halls
May 25–28: Senior week
May 29: Graduation ceremony
May 29: Graduating seniors must of out of their residence halls 

Overview | Academic | On-Campus Privileges | On-Campus Students | DiningFirst-Year Students | Personal Leaves of Absence | Graduation | Other


1. What factors did Bowdoin consider in determining its Spring 2021 plan?

Bowdoin’s decision is anchored by our twin priorities of protecting the health and safety of our campus and local communities and delivering an excellent Bowdoin education to all of our students. To accomplish the first priority, we are relying on a three-part program: reduced density on campus and in the residence halls, compliance with safety protocols, and frequent testing with quick turnaround and accuracy.

2. Which students are able to be on campus this spring?

Seniors, juniors, and sophomores, and first-year students who have home situations that make online learning nearly impossible are able to be on campus this spring. Seniors will have also the option to live off campus, participate in the testing protocol, and have on-campus privileges at the College.

3. What does it mean to be an off-campus household with in-residence privileges at Bowdoin for Spring 2021?
Seniors who live off-campus in Maine may receive in-residence privileges, which gives the entire household access to all facilities and resources available to students living on campus except Bowdoin's residential spaces. This option is only available if the entire household opts in and commits to the Campus Community Agreement. These households are considered an extension of Bowdoin’s residences and will be held to the same standards as our on-campus residential spaces.

4. What is the testing program for the spring?

We are again using the Broad Institute for COVID-19 testing this spring, including the special “entry program” testing that was held at the beginning of the semester that included prearrival COVID-19 testing and proof of a seasonal flu vaccination. Students were tested twice immediately upon their arrival, and then there was a period of restricted movement and access (campus status level “hibearnation”) for the first ten days of the semester. Students were then tested three times a week through February so that we could begin the semester with a virus-free environment. From the end of the “entry program” testing, until April 11 all on-campus students and off-campus students with on-campus privileges were tested twice each week. In response to an increase in COVID-19 cases in Maine in early April, beginning on Monday, April 12 all students, faculty, and staff who normally test twice each week will be testing three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the remainder of the semester.

5. Are students able to study away for the spring 2021 semester?

Information about study away for the spring 2021 semester is available here.

6. What is happening with winter and spring sports and other athletic activities?
The most updated information about winter and spring sports and other athletic activities for the spring 2021 semester is available here.

7. Will there be a spring break?

A short spring break was held after the last class on Friday, March 19, with classes resuming on Wednesday, March 24. Students were not be permitted to travel off campus or, in the case of those seniors in residence but off campus, leave their area of residence during this short break with the exception of any off-campus activities permitted under the current campus status level.


1. How are courses being offered this spring and how are they defined?

  • Online: The instructor intends to teach this course online in Spring 2021.  
  • Online with In-Person Components: The instructor intends to deliver this course online and provide in-person experiences (such as discussion groups) for students on campus and equivalent experiences for students taking this course online. Additional details about in-person components of particular classes can be found (when available) in the “comments” section of Class Finder. 
  • In-Person: The instructor intends to teach this course in-person and therefore it will only be available to students with permission to be on campus.  

2. Are in-person classes also be available to students studying remotely?
No. In-person classes are only available to on-campus and in-residence students. If a student moves to study remotely, they will be dropped from any in-person classes in which they are enrolled.

3. Are there any changes in policy for the fall 2020 and the spring 2021 semesters?
Through the spring and fall semesters of 2020 a number of temporary policies have been in place. The following have been extended for the spring 2021 semester:

  1. Credit/D/Fail
    1. Normally, Credit/D/Fail is an option that students may choose by the sixth week of the semester, for one course in a full load of four, and for up to four courses total. This spring we have Emergency Credit/D/Fail, allowing students to choose up to two courses in this grade mode, and the window to choose this is longer. This same policy will be in place this spring. Dates can be found on the registrar’s calendar.
    2. Students may choose one course Credit/D/F with a full load of four credits, and this will not count against their career total of four; this option will be open 2/8/2021 to 5/3/2021.
    3. As is standard policy, students may not choose the Credit/D/Fail mode for first-year writing seminars, distribution and division requirements, and in most cases, major and minor requirements, though there are temporary adjustments in place for some major/minor requirements.
    4. From week seven to eleven (3/31/2021 to 5/3/2021), all students carrying four credits or more who have already chosen to take one course Credit/D/Fail will be able to choose to take a second course Credit/D/Fail, and it will not count against the student's career total of four Credit/D/Fail courses. Students will initiate this request via a form that must be approved by the instructor of the course, the student’s advisor, and the student’s dean. 
    5. Some departments have decided to allow some courses to be taken credit/d/fail and count toward the major or minor; a list of these courses is available on the Registrar’s Office website
  2. Limits on a Fifth Full Course: the temporary policy that students require permission of their advisor, and dean in the case of first-year students, to add a fifth, full credit course has been suspended and the Credit Restriction Override Request Form is no longer available. As such, students who have obtained "Instructor Permission" in Polaris, and any other needed overrides, may add a fifth, full credit course in Polaris on their own until the close of the Add/Drop II registration period on Monday, February 22 at 5:00 p.m. EST.
  3. AP/IB score submission: Normally students must have all AP/IB scores submitted to the College by the end of their sophomore year. Last spring CEP temporarily lifted this deadline to accommodate students. This policy has been extended through the spring 2021 semester. 
  4. Community College credit for transfer: Last spring CEP also temporarily authorized the use of community college credit, as long as the normal transfer credit process was followed. This has been extended so that students can take courses at community colleges for transfer credit through next summer. Courses that take place after next summer may not be from community colleges.  

4. Is anything changing about the major/minor declaration process?
The College is adjusting the major/minor declaration procedure this spring to simplify the process. Normally faculty declare a major/minor on behalf of a student using the form provided by the office of the registrar; this year eligible students will receive a link to a form on February 11 that will ask them to request to declare up to two majors and a minor. The information from these "Intent to Declare" forms will be provided to departments/programs in late February so that faculty can follow up with students and confirm their declarations. This streamlined process allows faculty to have the oversight and input without as much administrative burden. Further detailed instructions will be provided by the registrar.

5. If I took a leave and now want to remain at Bowdoin for an additional ninth semester, do I need special permission?
In the Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook, it states, “No student will ordinarily be permitted to remain at Bowdoin for more than eight semesters of full-time work.” All Bowdoin students must be enrolled full time and are expected to make normal progress toward their degree, which includes taking no fewer than four credits each semester. See the Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook for more information. Generally, students are not allowed to remain at Bowdoin for a ninth semester. There may be rare and exceptional circumstances that impact a student’s ability to complete their degree within eight semesters. Students should speak to their dean for more information.

6. Has class scheduling changed for the spring?
We are using the time block system again for the spring, but with some changes based on what we learned this fall. The spring 2021 timeblock schedule is available here.

7. Is the College offering more synchronous, rather than asynchronous, classes this spring?
All online courses include a combination of both synchronous and asynchronous activities.

8. What is Bowdoin doing to gauge the difficulty of students’ online workload?

Bowdoin surveyed faculty and students about their experiences this fall, including an assessment of course workloads, and is using that information to gauge the difficulty of students' online workload.

9. When did course registration take place?

The course registration period was Tuesday, December 1, through Friday, December 11.

10. When will classes end for the semester, and what is the schedule for exams?

Classes will end on Tuesday, May 18. Reading period will be May 19–20, with final exams conducted May 21–24.


1. Are seniors living in an off-campus household with on-campus privileges included in the testing program? 

Any senior living in an off-campus household with on-campus privileges is required to fully participate in the College’s testing program.

2. How did seniors living off campus secure on-campus privileges and ensure that they are able to take in-person classes and have access to College facilities?

Seniors who wanted to have on-campus privileges but not live on campus were required to notify the Office of the Dean of Students by Monday, November 30. 

3. Are seniors living in an off-campus household who wish to have on-campus privileges required to sign a community agreement that outlines behavioral protocols and possible sanctions if protocols and the Code of Community Standards are violated?

Yes. All seniors who live off campus with on-campus privileges are required to sign the spring semester community agreement.

4. I am living off campus, but have on-campus privileges. I would like to forfeit those and study completely remotely now, what do I do?
You must fill out the Learning Location form.  Please note that you will be dropped from any in-person courses in which you are registered.


1. Are all residence halls and College houses in use this spring?
Yes. In order to accommodate all of the upperclass students, every residence hall (including the Bricks) and house on campus—with the exception of Stowe Inn, Howard Hall, and Stowe Hall, which are being used for quarantine and isolation housing—are housing students this spring.

2. Are all students being accommodated in single bedrooms for the spring?

Yes. This is the recommendation of many public health officials and scientists.

3. Do sophomores and juniors have the option to live off campus with on-campus privileges like seniors?
No, sophomores and juniors must live on campus if they want to have access to campus, in-person courses, etc.

4. With the increased number of students on campus, does the College have enough rooms for students needing to quarantine or isolate?

The College has sufficient space to isolate and quarantine students for the spring semester.

5. Can upperclass students choose to not be on campus?

Yes. Seniors, juniors, and sophomores are able to study remotely for Spring 2021. 

6. When do non-graduating students need to be out of their residence halls?

College housing will close for non-graduating students at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 25.

7. Were on-campus students required to get a flu shot?
All students living on campus or off campus with on-campus privileges were required to provide proof that they had received the flu vaccine prior to their arrival at Bowdoin.

8. Are there be on-campus jobs available for students living on campus or off campus with on-campus privileges?
Yes, there are on-campus jobs available for students living on campus or off campus with on-campus privileges for the spring semester. Additional information is available here.


1. How are dining services working this spring?
There are three meals available daily with a variety of menu options. Both Thorne Hall and Moulton Union are open, and they offer the same menu selections and accompaniments. Students have been assigned a meal location where they will eat for the semester. There is a 2.5–3-hour window for each meal to make it as easy as possible for students to find a mealtime that works for their schedule. Webcams have been installed in each dining hall in order for students to observe the length of queuing lines. Dining service are following the Maine CDC guidelines to protect the health and safety of students and staff.

2. How do I know which dining hall I am assigned to?
Dining hall assignments are based on which residence hall you live in. Residents of Appleton, the Brunswick Hotel and Tavern, Burnett, Coleman, Hyde, Helmrich, Howell, Ladd, MacMillan, Mayflower, Maine, Moore, Osher, Pine Street Apartments, Quinby, Reed, Smith, West, Winthrop, and off-campus students with in-residence privilege are assigned to Moulton. Residents of Baxter, Boody Johnson, Brunswick Apartments, Chamberlain, Harpswell Apartments, Park Row, and Coles Tower are assigned to Thorne.

3. What meals are served?
Moulton Union and Thorne Hall both serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday–Friday, and breakfast, brunch, and dinner on weekends.

4. What are the meal hours for the dining halls?
Meal hours at Moulton Union and Thorne Hall are:

Monday – Friday

  • Breakfast 7:30 a.m.–10:00 a.m.
  • Lunch 11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
  • Dinner 5:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

Saturday – Sunday

  • Breakfast 9:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
  • Brunch 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
  • Dinner 5:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

If a student has an ongoing schedule conflict please contact the Assistant Director of Business Services, Trish Gipson at tgipson@bowdoin.edu or call (207) 725-3912.

5. Are SuperSnacks available?
SuperSnacks will not be available in the spring. Light snacks will be available each night at dinner for takeout.

6. Can students eat in the dining halls?
Limited seating in the dining halls is available by reservation when the campus is in yellow status. For students who have not reserved seating in the dining halls, meals are available for takeout only. 

7. How are meals being served?
Dining staff are serving students their choice of entrees and side dishes in single-service containers with prepackaged accompaniments, condiments, and similar items available for student self-service. To maintain sanitary guidelines, beverage holders and bags are being provided. Disposable flatware is available, although each student has been issued a personal reusable silverware kit. Wide-mouth reusable beverage containers are allowed in the dining hall, backpacks are not be allowed.

8. May I make more than one trip through the food service line at a meal?
To allow all students to access the dining halls during each meal period only one trip through the serving line is possible. However, students are able to request more than one serving for most items when they go through the line to ensure they are able to get enough to eat. Paper bags and biodegradable plastic bags are available to make it easy for students to transport their food from the dining halls.

9. What do the menus offer?
A variety of menu items are offered each day, including many of the students’ favorite recipes. To accommodate the grab-and-go service we have made some menu adjustments and have introduced some new menu items. Dining services continues to offer its high-quality dining program is committed to using high-quality and local products. Menus are posted at the queuing lines and on the dining website, and we encourage students to preview the menus before they arrive.

10. What if I have a special diet or allergy?
The menu selections available daily meet the requirements of common restrictions for food allergies and intolerances. Food items are labeled at the service lines using special diet terms. A selection of special dietary items is available as well. A trained chef is available at each meal to help students make safe choices. If you have a medical condition or concern that requires additional accommodations, please contact our Registered Dietitian, Susanne D’Angelo-Cooley, MS, RDN, LD, CDE at sdangelo@bowdoin.edu or call (207) 725-3542 to make an appointment. Additional information is available here.

11. Will accommodations be made for religious diets and special holidays?
Information about menu accommodations for religious diets and special holidays is available here.

12. Are masks provided at the dining halls?
All students were issued two cloth masks when they arrived, and we encourage students to have those masks with them when coming to the dining hall. However, disposable masks are available for students who forget their masks.

13. What physical changes to the dining halls have been made?
Entrances, queuing space, and exits have been adjusted to address distancing guidelines. Most dining seating has been removed to enable six-foot spacing and to allow the extra space required for dining staff workspace allowances. Plexiglass barriers have been installed at strategic locations.

14. What if I forget my ID card?
We are using a contactless entry system this spring that requires students to use their ID to enter the dining halls, so we strongly encourage them to make sure they have it before heading over! Using a card holder in a lanyard is a helpful way to remember.

15. Are the restrooms in the dining halls open?
Yes, there are designated restrooms open to students during meal hours.

16. Is there a place to hang my coat/backpack?
Students need to keep their coats with them as they move through the serving area. Students should leave their backpacks in their dorm rooms. Additionally, students are asked to not handle their cellphone in the serving area after they have sanitized their hands upon entering.

17. Can I bring guests to the dining halls?
To allow students to get their meals as quickly as possible and to protect the health and safety of the community, access to the dining halls is limited to students on a meal plan.

18. What should I do about meals if I don’t feel well?
Students who are not feeling well should not come to the dining hall! For details about getting meals for students not feeling well, please contact Health Services at (207) 725-3770 or healthservices@bowdoin.edu.

19. Are Magee’s Grill & Pub, The Café and Bowdoin Express Convenience Store open?
The Café and the Bowdoin Express Convenience Store were closed initially but are now open subject to staffing availability and the campus status level.  Magee’s Grill and the Pub are not currently open, but may open later in the semester.

20. Do we have points to spend at Smith Union?
Points are available to use at Smith Union this semester. Students with a full board plan receive 75 points.

21. Are your takeout containers recyclable/compostable?
Dining service is committed to providing all compostable disposable products. There may be times, however, when some compostable products are not available and we will have to use standard-disposal products.

22. Can I use my meal plan off campus?
Bowdoin meal plans are available for use at Bowdoin dining halls only.

23. Are the dining halls open between meal periods?
The dining halls are closed between meals so dining service staff can thoroughly sanitize and disinfect the facilities.

24. Does dining service have student jobs available?
Dining services has a limited number of students working in the dining halls this semester—they are an integral part of our program and we are happy to see them again. Students interested in working for dining should contact the Student Employment Office. We are not able to have student employees in our Smith Union retail operations.

25. What procedures are in place to keep students and dining staff safe?
Dining employees have an essential role in protecting the health and safety of students who are on campus. We take seriously the responsibility of providing a safe and healthy meal service for students and protecting the safety of the dining staff and have implemented processes and procedures to promote a safe environment during this health emergency.


1. What resources are available to first-year students who are struggling with the fact that they will not be returning to campus this spring?
There are many resources available to support first-year students—counseling and wellnessfirst-year deanscoaches, proctors, and others who are ready to help students who may be struggling with the fact that they will not be returning to campus this spring.

2. Is there an exception process that will allow first-year students who will be living in the Brunswick area spring semester to apply to have on-campus privileges?
No. First-year students will not have the opportunity to live off campus with on-campus privileges.


1. What is the process for applying to reenroll at Bowdoin after a PLOA?

Any student on a PLOA who wishes to return to Bowdoin for Fall 2021 needs to complete the Intent to Return form sent by the dean of students on March 4. Once a student submits this form, and after April 7 has passed, their information will be sent to the Office of the Registrar so that they may register for Round 1 of classes on April 22. Failure to submit an Intent to Return form by the deadline may delay their status change, making them ineligible to participate in Round 1 of course registration.

2. If students opt to take a leave of absence, does that affect their class year?

No, a PLOA does not affect a student’s class year.

3. Are students who take a PLOA still able to graduate with their class?

It is possible for students who take a PLOA to have sufficient credits to graduate with their class, but they should talk with a dean and/or their pre-major advisor to discuss their specific situation.

4. If students take a PLOA, can they access CXD resources to research internships or job opportunities for the spring semester? 

Students will continue to have access to some CXD resources and programming, but individual advising and some internship opportunities may not be available to students on a PLOA.

5. Does a PLOA impact a student’s financial aid?
Generally, a PLOA will not impact a student’s eligibility for financial aid in future semesters, but all students considering a PLOA should speak to their student aid counselor to discuss their specific situation.

6. Can students transfer credits to Bowdoin that they earned at other institutions while on a PLOA?
Bowdoin does not accept credit from other institutions earned while a student is on a PLOA.

7. Can Bowdoin help a student on a PLOA find a study-away program (non-credit) to participate in during their leave?

Bowdoin doesn’t offer any study away programs directly, and all of the programs we work with are intended for students enrolled at the College, so we aren’t able to assist students with finding non-credit alternatives.

8. Can a student who has taken a PLOA still apply for College-sponsored summer internship funding?
Availability of College-sponsored summer internship funding for a student on a PLOA depends on a number of factors including the sponsoring office or department, its sources of funding, placement location(s), relationships with employers, and other policies. Students taking a PLOA for the spring 2021 semester, but who plan to return for the fall 2021 semester (or when the College allows), are eligible to apply for funding opportunities through the McKeen Center and the Center for Co-Curricular Opportunities. Students taking a PLOA are not eligible to apply for funding opportunities through CXD. Specific questions should be addressed to the relevant office or department directly.


1. How many credits does a student need to have in order to participate in Commencement activities?
Students are normally expected to complete all degree requirements before they participate in graduation exercises. Students with two or fewer credits remaining may be allowed to participate in Commencement but will not receive a diploma until they have fully completed their degree requirements. Please refer to the Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook here for additional information about the College's policy about participation in Commencement activities.

2. Will the College allow students who have twenty-eight credits (one semester/four credits left at Bowdoin) to participate in “Senior Week” activities?

Students are allowed to participate in one "Senior Week," so a student with twenty-eight credits will be able to choose whether they would like to participate in “Senior Week” this spring or in a future “Senior Week,” regardless of when they participate in Commencement activities.

3. Will there be an in-person graduation for the Class of 2021 in May?

The College is planning for an in-person ceremony for students on the steps of the Walker Art Building on Saturday, May 29. Each graduating student will be able to invite two guests, who will be seated in pairs and appropriately distanced from other guests, for Bowdoin's Commencement Exercises on the Quad. However, if weather forces the proceedings indoors—something that has happened only once in the last thirty-five years—we will not be able to accommodate guests at the ceremony. Please visit the Commencement website for the most current information, and you can read the most recent message with details about Commencement 2021 here.

4. What is planned for the virtual commencement experience?  
We are working on what the full virtual experience will be with assistance from outside experts, alongside input from student leaders.

5. Will students receive their diploma during the in-person graduation ceremony?
Unfortunately we will not be able to hand out actual diplomas during the in-person graduation ceremony. Given the compressed time period between the end of exams and the commencement exercises, and without the customary Senior Week in between, there is just not enough time for the faculty to submit final grades and for diplomas to be prepared in time for the ceremony Saturday morning. As a result, signed diplomas will be mailed to students as soon as possible in the weeks following graduation.

6. When will “Senior Week” take place?

A “Senior Celebration” (slightly shorter than the normal “Senior Week”) will begin on Tuesday, May 25, and conclude on Friday, May 28. 

7. When will graduating students be required to vacate their on-campus residences?
Graduating students will be required to vacate their on-campus residences following the ceremony and depart campus that afternoon

8. When will the celebration for the Class of 2020 take place?

An on-campus celebration for the Class of 2020 is still planned for Friday, August 13-Saturday, August 14, 2021.


1.  Can families and friends who have been fully vaccinated visit the campus?
At this time the campus remains closed to the public and will continue to be closed to the public at least through the end of the spring semester.

2. Can students, faculty, and staff who are in the testing protocol and who have been fully vaccinated gather indoors with other fully vaccinated students (outside of their pod), faculty, and staff without wearing a mask?
Students, faculty, and staff must continue to follow the College’s gathering, masking, and physical distancing protocols regardless of their vaccination status.

3. Will the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and the Peary-MacMillan Artic Museum be reopening to the public based on the new Maine CDC guidelines?
The Bowdoin College Museum of Art and the Peary–MacMillan Arctic Museum will remain closed to the general public through at least the end of the spring 2021 semester.

4. Why is Bowdoin’s Spring 2021 plan more restrictive than that of other schools?

Some peer colleges had more students on campus this fall, others had roughly the same number as Bowdoin, and others have fewer students. Each school—including Bowdoin—is making decisions that are right for them based on their evaluation of the issues and risks and how they apply that analysis to their campus.

5. How long does it take to receive my Broad test results?
Your test results should be available by the evening of the day following your test.

6. Are there opportunities for student employment this spring?
There are opportunities for student employment this spring, although there will be fewer jobs available than usual due to COVID. Full details about those employment opportunities are available here.

7. Can on-campus students and students with on-campus privileges work off campus?
On-campus students and students with on-campus privileges may only work for off-campus employers if the positions are completely remote. 

8. Why did housing and meal plans increase by $1,000 each for the spring semester?

The increase in room and board for the spring is a reflection of the extra weeks that students will be on campus for the spring 2021 semester versus the fall 2020 semester.

9. How safe is Brunswick and its surrounding community, including Portland, in regard to COVID-19 infection rates and testing?

Brunswick and Cumberland County have experienced a sharp increase in COVID 19 infection rates since November, and those increases have been sustained through the holiday season and into mid-winter. This will make following the guidelines set out by the Maine CDC and the College crucial, not just to keep Brunswick safer from an influx of people from all over the country and world, but to maintain a safer campus from a growing prevalence rate off campus.

10. Why did students need to observe a ten-day pre-arrival self-quarantine, particularly when the College is providing pre-arrival testing?
While the pre-arrival test is a useful snapshot in time, it doesn't guarantee that students arrived on campus COVID-free. The test may be taken at a time when the infected person did not have enough viral load to show up as positive, or the person may test negative and then be exposed during travel so a negative test is not enough to protect the community. Because of this, pre-travel quarantine was an important part of Bowdoin’s mitigation strategy. We strongly encouraged all returning students to quarantine for at least ten days before traveling to campus in order to reduce the likelihood that they would spread COVID during travel or upon arrival to campus. 

11. Is there any chance that these plans could change?

Yes. If conditions change before the spring semester begins or during the semester then the plan will change and fewer students may be on campus.

12. Where can I find the town hall meetings held about the Spring 2021 plan?
The first-year student and upperclass student town halls are available here.