Top Ten Tips to Dodge Delta and Make the Most Out of This Year—August 31, 2021

Welcome and welcome back students,

You made it! Every one of you navigated the past eighteen months—both the heart-wrenching challenges and the hidden opportunities, some unique and others shared—and now, here you are: ready to begin your first, second, third, or fourth year at Bowdoin.

Heading into this summer, our hopes rode high. With a fully vaccinated campus, we anticipated a “return to normal” in the fall. And then Delta made its presence felt around the country and the globe.

“Normal” is a funny word in the middle of a pandemic. We have all felt disconnected from our individual and collective versions of “normal” for so long now, the term has many of us reassessing what it means. For those of you who are sophomores and juniors, “normal” is a foreign concept at Bowdoin, given the fact that not one of you has experienced a full, “normal” year at this magical place. Let that sink in for a second.

Our first-years are joining us this fall, many without ever having set foot on campus prior to August 23. And our seniors—well, you hold the distant memory of a “normal” 2018–2019 academic year.

So, as we get ready to dive into classes tomorrow, I’m sharing my Top Ten Tips to dodge Delta and make the most out of the school year:

  1. Reset: Painful as the past eighteen months have been, know that the vacuum left behind by all the loss has inevitably created space for restoration, renewal, and rebuilding. And, as you launch yourselves into the semester, I hope you will frame your time here with that in mind.
  2. Mask up: Wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The College will reevaluate this policy in a few days, but, regardless, it is a good practice. If you leave campus or travel, err on the side of masking. (And no, you do not have to wear a mask in your own residence, but if you visit a friend in a different residence, mask up!)
  3. Get tested: With surveillance testing, we are testing less frequently, but everyone will play a role in helping us keep tabs on COVID spread in our residential community. Don’t miss your monthly cohort test in Farley Field House!
  4. Wear a lanyard: Lanyards help us quickly recognize each other as Bowdoin community members as we navigate the reality of a semi-open campus.
  5. Gather in smaller numbers: Throughout the month of September, we are enforcing gathering limits in residential spaces (see the Fall FAQs for full details). Make sure you know what they are and that you are following them. Again, the College will reevaluate at the end of the month.
  6. Entertain guests outside: For a whole host of reasons related to public health on campus, non-Bowdoin guests are not permitted in residential spaces this year.
  7. Monitor yourself: Take stock of your physical and emotional well-being every day and seek help if needed. If you have any symptoms, even if they are minor, pick up a self-swab antigen test from Health Services.
  8. Tune into TikTok: Follow Janie_At_Bowdoin on TikTok and keep up with the @BowdoinCollege Instagram account to get an idea of what to expect for the next couple of weeks while we get our bearings, and for answers to lingering questions.
  9. Read your emails: Our success this year will continue to depend on how well each of us cleaves to public health protocols on our campus, so I am asking you to carefully review emails from the College throughout the semester. Go ahead and bookmark our Fall 2021 FAQs if you haven’t already done so. I can guarantee that our protocols will evolve as COVID ebbs and flows, so it is critical that you keep up to date on our expectations and policies. Per Dean Odejimi’s message yesterday, COVID protocol violations will be met with a conduct response.
  10. Reframe: Let this be a year when we let go of the things that haven’t served us well and embrace new traditions. Let’s prioritize relationships and reconnection with each other, revive student culture, and recommit to values of inclusion, community, and leadership. COVID is not going away anytime soon, but I am bullish on our ability to live with it in our midst and make good on the Offer of the College for each of you.
And, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions, need support, or want to connect. Our email address is a great place to start if you have a COVID-related question and aren’t sure where to turn.

See you at Convocation,

Janet K. Lohmann
Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs
Bowdoin College
Brunswick, Maine 04011

Grace. Growth. Gratitude.