Jan. 19: Winter Semester Planning Update

Dear Students,

I hope this message finds you healthy and doing well.

This academic year has been particularly challenging on a number of fronts, and I anticipate the remainder of the academic year will require us to continue to be flexible and adaptable as we navigate changing circumstances.

For Students: An Arrival Checklist

Required Items
  1. Sign up in Garnet Gateway for an arrival testing time. (Signup email will be sent on Jan. 18.)
  2. Complete a symptom self-screening form. (Self-screening email will be sent to students prior to arrival date.)
  3. Sign up for twice-weekly testing. (Signup email will be sent Tuesday, Jan. 26.)
  4. Register for Module C mealtime pickup. (Registration opens in your Garnet Gateway To-Do list by Wednesday, Jan. 27.)
  5. For students who were not on campus in fall: Read and sign documents in your To-Do list in Garnet Gateway. 
  6. Upon arrival, go to the Bates COVID-19 Testing Center for testing and check-in immediately.
  7. Review the full list of student public health policies.
  8. For in-bound international travelers: Show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to boarding their flight, following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements.
Optional Items
  1. Get tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to arrival on campus.
  2. Reserve a free ticket for shuttle service from Portland to campus on Thursday, Feb. 11, or Friday, Feb. 12.
  3. Reserve a spot for campus recreation and fitness activities.
  4. Switch to on-campus learning for the winter semester, if you wish, by emailing studentaffairs@bates.edu by Friday, Jan. 29.
  5. Switch to remote learning for the winter semester, if you wish by emailing studentaffairs@bates.edu Wednesday, Feb. 10.

I write today to provide information about a number of important issues as we plan for the winter semester. Please take a few minutes to read the important information provided below:


Returning to Campus Guidance

Prior to Traveling

There are three public health precautions we ask you to take as you prepare to travel to Bates:

  1. Close your social circle. Ten days prior to arriving on campus, start to limit non-essential interactions with other people outside of those with whom you live and work. Be mindful of how you can reduce your chances of exposure.
  2. If possible, get tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to arrival on campus. No matter where you are currently residing, if COVID-19 testing is available in your area, please get a test before you begin traveling. If you test positive, you should not return to campus. Rather, contact Bates Health Services (healthservices@bates.edu) to notify the staff of your positive test. Reminder: Regardless of a negative test prior to arrival, all students will be tested upon arrival. 
  3. As your arrival date nears, you will receive a symptom self-screening form via email from the Bates COVID-19 Testing Center and Bates Health Services. Complete and submit  this form within 24 hours of your departure to travel to campus.
Arrival and Move-in 

To create more flexibility for students and ensure smooth operation of the Bates COVID-19 Testing Center, we are expanding student arrival, move-in, and testing to two dates: Thursday, Feb. 11, and Friday, Feb. 12. Consistent with the fall semester, the arrival process will include COVID-19 testing followed by student ID activation to access residences. When you arrive on campus, please go directly to the Bates COVID-19 Testing Center, located at Underhill Arena. Following completion of the test and check-in process at Underhill, students will be allowed to move into their residence hall/house. 

Family Members Traveling to Maine

Anyone traveling with a student to Maine must follow current Maine CDC guidelines for entering Maine, including a 10-day quarantine for all out-of-state travelers. The state has testing information available to forgo this guideline. Regardless of testing status upon entering Maine, family members, visitors, and other guests are not permitted to enter residence halls or other campus buildings with the exception of bathroom facilities in Chase Hall, Gomes Chapel, and The Ronj during arrival times.

Arrival Testing Sign-up 

Later today, an email will be sent to all students providing detailed instructions on how to sign up in Garnet Gateway for your arrival testing time. (You will sign up for your regular, twice-weekly semester testing later.) Students will be able to sign up for times in 15-minute increments. The schedule will be as follows:

Thursday, Feb. 11 (900 students, first test) 

  • Testing Center Hours: 10:30am– 8:30pm 

Friday, Feb. 12 (900 students, first test) 

  • Testing Center Hours: 10:30am–8:30pm 
If You Tested Positive for COVID-19 Over the Break

If you tested positive with COVID-19 over the break, please email Bates Health Services (healthservices@bates.edu) with documentation of your positive test result. A Bates Health Services medical provider will review this information and be in contact with you about next steps. Please email this information by Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Arrival Quarantine 

Upon arrival at Bates, and until you receive your first PCR COVID-19 test results, all students will be restricted to their campus room under an arrival quarantine protocol. This quarantine period is extremely important to ensure that students do not transmit COVID-19 while awaiting their PCR test results. 

During arrival quarantine, students may not move about campus or their residence halls except to pick up their Dash (grab-n-go) meals and use the restroom. Students should plan to remain in arrival quarantine for the initial 36–48 hours on campus while awaiting their first PCR test result. After receiving the first negative PCR test result, students may discontinue arrival quarantine and move about campus; however, students may not attend any classes until receiving a second negative PCR test result. 

Students who choose not to follow arrival quarantine protocols are in violation of the public health agreement and will likely be removed from campus housing and be required to return to their home to continue the semester via remote learning. For repeated or egregious violations, students may be referred to the Student Conduct Committee where a minimum one-semester suspension will be the likely outcome. The arrival of students to campus from all over the country and world is a challenging and vulnerable time, and it is important that we all do our part to mitigate the risk of transmission. For questions about arrival quarantine, please contact Assistant Dean of Students Blake Reilly (breilly3@bates.edu).

No Guests, Visitors, or Family Members Allowed in Buildings 

Consistent with the fall arrival process, family members, visitors, and other guests will not be allowed to enter residence halls or other campus buildings. Maintaining the safety of our campus community remains our first priority. All visitors to campus are asked to cooperate with these important safety measures. Because testing and vaccine availability remains limited, negative tests or vaccination status will not be used to grant exceptions to the visitor policy. 

Visitor bathrooms will be available in Chase Hall, Gomes Chapel, and The Ronj during arrival times. 

Shuttles from Portland Transportation Center and Jetport

Shuttle service will be provided via Concord Coach Line on Thursday, Feb. 11, and Friday, Feb. 12. Tickets are free, but you must reserve a seat. Buses will depart from the Portland Transportation Center and the Portland Jetport. All students will be dropped off at the Bates COVID-19 Testing Center. Note that students flying into Boston may take a bus to the Portland Transportation Center where they can then board one of the Concord Coach buses back to Bates. For questions about the shuttles, please contact the Office of Campus Life (campuslife@bates.edu).

Academic Calendar and Important Dates

As announced in December, the start date for winter semester courses is Wednesday, Feb. 17. Please see the Registrar’s Office academic calendar for the adjusted winter semester dates and registration deadlines. To provide a respite from the pace of the modules, there will be three days in Module D that will be “rest days” with no classes. These dates are April 20, April 28, and May 6. However, should we find ourselves in the unfortunate position of having to switch from in-person learning to remote learning, or vice versa, between the modules, these “rest days” will be used to create a longer break between Module C and Module D to allow enough days to make the transition.

Additional information from the Registrar’s Office will be forthcoming about new courses, new course sections, and/or additional seats in current sections that will be added to winter semester given the cancellation of Short Term. 

Changing Your Plans

Switching to Remote Learning

If you would like to switch to remote learning for the winter semester, you may do so until Wednesday, Feb. 10. Please email studentaffairs@bates.edu to make this adjustment.

Switching to On-Campus Learning

If you would like to switch to on-campus learning for the winter semester, you may do so until Friday, Jan. 29. Please email studentaffairs@bates.edu to make this adjustment.

Leave of Absence

If you wish to take a leave of absence for the winter semester, you may do so. For questions about a leave of absence, please contact Assistant Dean of Students Lisa Hardej (lhardej@bates.edu).

COVID-19 Testing Center Schedule for Winter Semester

The schedule for the the winter semester will be:

  • Monday and Wednesday 7:30am–1pm
  • Tuesday and Thursday 7:30am–1pm

Testing days will continue to be scheduled according to residence assignments.

This change allows us to send all of our samples via a single courier each day to the Broad Institute. This earlier drop off at the Broad will provide us with a more efficient return time on results and allow our staff and contact tracers to more efficiently and effectively mitigate COVID-19 transmission on campus.

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, an email with detailed instructions on how to sign up for your twice-weekly testing time in Garnet Gateway will be sent to all students. There will be expanded opportunities for students to be able to sign up for times in 15 minute increments. For questions about testing, please contact the COVID-19 Testing Center team (testingcenter@bates.edu).

Public Health Policies

Reviewing Public Health Policies

All public health policies from the fall semester will remain in place for the winter semester. This means that students will still not be permitted in residence halls other than their own and informal student gatherings will be limited in size to 10 or fewer individuals. Students must also adhere to all arrival quarantine directives and any quarantine or isolation directives they may receive during the semester. Please be sure to review the full list of student public health policies

If you missed a COVID-19 testing appointment last semester, please know that the count of missed appointments will be reset at the start of the winter semester. As in the fall semester, students who miss three or more COVID-19 tests over the course of the semester will be referred to the student conduct system.

The sanctions for violating our public health policies remain the same: students will most likely be removed from campus housing and required to return to their home to continue the semester via remote learning. For repeated or egregious violations, students may be referred to the Student Conduct committee where a minimum one semester suspension will be the likely outcome.

Students Coming to Campus Who Were Not On Campus in the Fall Semester

If you were on a leave of absence or were a remote student last semester and are returning to campus for the winter semester, you must read and sign four documents on Garnet Gateway. You may find these forms in your To-Do list when you first sign into Garnet Gateway. These forms must be completed by Friday, Jan. 29. If you do not complete these forms by this deadline, you will be automatically switched to a remote learning status for the winter semester. For questions about these documents, please contact Senior Associate Dean of Students Carl Steidel (csteidel@bates.edu). 

Dining Update

While we will continue with our Dash dining format, we have expanded to a four-week menu that includes a wider range of selections. These additions feature old favorites and newly developed recipes as well as expanded vegan and gluten-free offerings. We will be reintroducing Adventures in Dining, providing opportunities to reserve space for you and your friends to dine in a communal setting and adding additional outdoor seating options as spring approaches. For up-to-date dining information, please go here.

Registration for meal time slots in Module C will open Wednesday, Jan. 27. To sign up, log into Garnet Gateway and look under your To-Do list. 

You will note that we’re asking you to sign up for pickup times for more meals during Module C: Saturday–Sunday brunch and dinner; Monday–Friday lunch and dinner. While we do not anticipate a change from the existing model of requiring pickup times only for Monday–Friday lunch, collecting additional registration information will allow Dining Services to quickly activate additional meal period schedules if required.

For questions about dining or if you are unable to schedule a time that meets your needs due to a class conflict, please contact Dining Services Business Manager Jenny Graves (jgraves2@bates.edu). 

Athletics and Recreation

Varsity Athletics

As previously announced, the NESCAC has canceled winter competition. However, should public health conditions permit, we will allow our student-athletes to participate and practice with their teams after everyone’s arrival on campus. A NESCAC decision about the spring season has yet to be made. 

Recreation

Merrill Gymnasium will be open for student use beginning on Sunday, Feb. 14, from noon to 8 p.m. Regular hours will begin on Monday, Feb. 15. You must register to reserve a spot for recreation and fitness activities. This includes use of the fitness center, cardio room, indoor track, indoor tennis courts, pool (open swim), and in-person B-Well fitness classes. Click here for more information on setting up an account and making reservations. Reservations for the first week of the winter semester will open at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

We also have numerous Virtual Group Fitness classes on Zoom that you may access either live or through the archived class recordings so that you may do them on your own time. Classes are primarily bodyweight-focused and require little to no equipment. All participants are muted on entry and you may elect to hide your screen. There is no need to sign up for these offerings. 

International Travel and International Student Assistance

Travel, especially international travel, continues to be complicated, and we are mindful of the challenges you may be facing as you plan your travel to Bates. The Center for Global Education is available to help you. For assistance with travel planning and advice, please contact Associate Dean for International Student Programs James Reese (jreese@bates.edu). For questions about your I-20 or visa, please contact Global Education Coordinator Shelley Palmer (spalmer@bates.edu).

Effective Jan. 26, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released an announcement regarding inbound international travel to the U.S. requiring all incoming international travelers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to boarding their flight. All airlines will be required to adhere to this policy. Please review the information provided in the above link, as it provides detailed information and FAQs about this policy. Additional information about this policy was sent last week to international students and students with an international home address.

COVID-19 Vaccines

As you are seeing in the news, accessing a vaccine remains challenging in most parts of the country and around the globe. We have been, and will continue to be, in frequent communication with the Maine CDC to coordinate vaccination efforts. Should we be permitted to do so, we are prepared to set-up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on the Bates campus for members of the Bates community. We are already partnering with local officials to offer a campus COVID-19 vaccine clinic for local first responders (e.g., EMS, fire). We will continue to offer our support and resources to assist vaccination efforts, not only for members of the Bates community but also the broader community. 

Any student who received a COVID-19 vaccination over break must still follow all public health guidelines and directives as laid out in the student Public Health Agreement. While data indicate that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines prevent severe illness in individuals who receive the vaccine, experts do not know the duration of immunization nor the ability of a vaccinated individual to transmit the virus.The requirement for vaccinated students to follow public health practices will remain in place until further notice.

Closing Comment and Where to Direct Questions

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we work together to provide an on-campus learning experience during this challenging time. If you have any questions and are not quite sure to whom you should direct your question, please send your inquiry to studentaffairs@bates.edu and we will be sure to connect you to the person best situated to assist you.

All my best,

Joshua McIntosh

Vice President for Campus Life