Spring 2021 FAQ

1. What were the factors Bowdoin considered for 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 will be able to be on campus this spring?
We will bring seniors, juniors, and sophomores back to campus, plus first-year students for whom home is not a place where they can learn, including first-year international students. All other first-year students will study remotely.

3. Will classes be online or in-person for the spring semester?
Classes will continue to be offered primarily online. Faculty will have the opportunity to offer in-person classes, and we expect that there will be a number of in-person upper-level classes, including laboratory courses; we are working to ensure that course options needed by seniors for graduation will be available to them.

4. What will the testing program be for the spring?

We will again use the Broad Institute COVID-19 testing program, as structured this semester, including the same “entry program” used this fall for at the beginning of the semester—students will be tested immediately upon arrival and there will be a period of restricted movement and access (campus status level “orange”) until we have completed several rounds of testing—until we can ensure a virus-free environment. Additionally, prearrival COVID-19 testing and proof of a seasonal flu vaccination will be required of all students.

5. Will students living “in residence” be required to sign a community agreement again on behavioral protocols and an understanding of the sanctions in violating the protocols?

All students who chose to live “in residence” will be required to sign a community agreement that includes behavioral protocols and an understanding of the sanctions in violating those protocols.

6. Will seniors living off campus who are “in residence” be included in the testing program?
Any senior living off campus and who is “in residence” will be required to fully participate in College’s testing program.

7. With the increased number of students on campus, does the College have enough rooms for students needing to quarantine or isolate?
We will have significant space for isolating and quarantining students for the spring semester.

8. Can upperclass students choose to not be on campus?
Yes. Seniors, juniors, and sophomores who want to study remotely (not in residence) will be required to notify the Office of the Dean of Students by Monday, November 30. More information about this process will be shared in the next few days.

9. When do first-year students with challenging home environments need to request to be on campus?
First-year students (including international first-year students) who need to be on campus because home is not a place where learning can be done successfully should submit a request to do so by Friday, November 6. More information about this process will be shared with the Class of 2024 in the next few days.

10. Will any students be allowed to live off campus in Brunswick or other nearby towns?
Seniors will have the option to live off campus and still be “in residence” at the College (e.g., able to take any in-person classes, have access to College facilities (including dining), and engage safely with students living on campus.) All juniors, and sophomores who want to be “in residence” will be required to live on campus.

11. How can seniors living off campus make sure they are considered “in residence” and able to take in-person classes and have access to College facilities?
Seniors who would like to be “in residence” but not live on campus will need to notify the Office of the Dean of Students by Monday, November 30. More information about this process will be shared shortly.

12. Will seniors who are living “in residence” off campus have identical access privileges and priority as seniors and other students living on campus? Will they have the same building and resource access as on-campus students, even if campus goes into orange or red status?
Seniors living “in residence” off campus will have the same access to buildings and resources as on-campus students, regardless of the campus status level. However, any students who violate the Residential Community Agreement may have consequences, including restricted access to campus.

13. Will all on-campus students still be housed in single bedrooms?
All students living on campus will have single bedrooms.

14. If students were able to share bedrooms, couldn’t the College have all students back on campus in the spring?
Proper ventilation and practicing physical distancing, especially indoors, are seen by public health officials as important factors in preventing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. That’s why we are providing single bedrooms for all students who will be on campus. Based on an analysis of our residential spaces, we have enough rooms to provide seniors, juniors, sophomores, and a small number of first years a single bedroom while also setting aside enough space for isolation and quarantining.

15. What resources are available to first-year students who are struggling with the decision that they will not be returning to campus this spring?
Bowdoin is a community that supports each other. There are many resources available to support first-year students—counseling and wellness, first-year deans, coaches, proctors, and others who are ready to help.

16. When will the Spring 2021 semester begin?
The semester will begin on Monday, February 8, 2021—two weeks later than normal.

17. When will course registration take place?
The course registration period will be from Tuesday, December 1, through Thursday, December 17.

18. What is the deadline for requesting or ending a personal leave of absence (PLOA)?
The deadline for requesting or ending a PLOA will be Monday, November 30. Students should contact their dean directly to discuss this option.

19. Will there be a housing lottery?
Yes. A housing lottery for the spring semester will be held beginning Tuesday, December 1.

20. When can students get into their residence halls?
Students returning to campus will be permitted to be in their rooms beginning on Saturday, February 6.

21. Will there be winter or spring sports?
On Thursday, October 8, the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) announced the cancelation of conference competition for the winter season, including conference championships. View the complete announcement here and see the Bowdoin Athletics website for more information. Based upon anticipated ongoing concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 and current NCAA, CDC, and Maine safety guidelines, it remains uncertain, but is unlikely our spring teams will compete this year.

22. Will students be able to study away for the Spring 2021 semester?

We will continue to monitor the study abroad situation and will make an announcement about Spring 2021 study away by November 1.

23. Will there be a spring break?
A short spring break will begin after the last class on Friday, March 19, with classes resuming on Wednesday, March 24. Students will 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.

24. When do 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.

25. 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.

26. Will there be a “Senior Week?” What about Commencement?
Time for a “Senior Celebration” (slightly shorter than the normal “Senior Week”) will begin on Tuesday, May 25, followed by Baccalaureate on Friday, May 28, and Commencement for the Class of 2021 on Saturday, May 29.

27. When will the celebration for the Class of 2020 take place?
A celebration for the Class of 2020 will be held on campus on Friday, June 11, and Saturday, June 12.

28. Why is Bowdoin’s Spring 2021 plan more conservative than that at other schools?
Some peer colleges have more students on campus this fall, others have a 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.

29. 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.

30. 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.