Message to Students, Faculty, and Staff—COVID-19 Update (April 10, 2020)

To students, faculty, and staff,

As I write, the snow flurries continue outside. That’s right—it’s nearly mid-April and Mother Nature remains firmly in charge, dropping about three inches of seriously heavy wet snow last night in Brunswick and up to twenty inches in other parts of the state.
Today, there are 586 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maine, with seventeen deaths. The good news is that 246 Mainers have recovered, and we know of no new cases connected to our campus community. The other good news is that social distancing and the stay-at-home orders that are essentially nationwide have clearly worked in reducing the spread of COVID-19, allowing the health care system and those who serve there a chance to recover from unprecedented and unsustainable demand. The doctors, nurses, staff, and first responders waging this fight across the country and around the world are heroes.

Yesterday, I wrote to our students who will graduate next month (and also to their parents and family members) to say that we will gather virtually on Saturday, May 23—the day we would have celebrated Bowdoin’s 215th Commencement—and that we will hold an on-campus ceremony and related celebrations in May 2021. As I noted in my message, nothing can replace these lost last weeks of senior year on campus, and a virtual event will be nothing like the real thing. But it is important that we pause to recognize the many individual and collective achievements of those who will graduate, and we will all do our best to make that happen. Then, when it is once again safe to gather together on the Quad, we will do it again and even better in person. Planning for both events is underway, and I can’t wait to celebrate the Class of 2020 with all of you.

I’ve decided to take these biweekly messages down to one per week on Wednesdays, beginning next week. If circumstances require it, you will hear from me at other times.

Many of you are observing Passover or Easter this weekend, and I wish you and your families all the joy and the chance for reflection that come with these holidays. I am so proud to be part of a community that has pulled together and supported one another through this crisis. It takes patience, strength, and also—as we saw today in The Bowdoin Orient editorial—a dash of humor.

Stay safe.

All the best,