April 8: COVID-19 Campus Update

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I write this afternoon to provide you with an update about COVID-19 as of 12:00 p.m. today and the need to extend in-room restriction through next Tuesday, April 13.

COVID-19 Testing Results and Contact Tracing

Early this morning, we received the full set of results of Wednesday’s student PCR tests. From yesterday’s PCR and antigen tests, two students tested positive for COVID-19. Both of these students were previously identified as close contacts and already in close contact quarantine. Our total number of active student cases as of 12:00 p.m. today is 74. 

Contact tracing has been completed for these two students who received positive test results, and no close contacts were identified. Our total number of students in close contact quarantine as of 12:00 p.m. today is 47. 

As a reminder, the COVID-19 dashboard is typically updated each day around 5:00 p.m. Please continue to monitor this website for COVID-19 test results. 

Extending In-Room Restriction through Tuesday, April 13

While Monday’s high number of positive test results was very concerning, it is encouraging to see far fewer students testing positive in this latest batch of results from yesterday. I want to thank all of you for your cooperation in adhering to the layers of public health measures required to make this happen. I also want to caution you that we still have a number of close contacts who remain in quarantine and may still test positive for COVID-19 in the next few days given the rapid transmission rate we have seen over the past week.

As I shared with you earlier this week, our Mayo Clinic consultants and the Maine CDC have advised us that we need to complete several full testing cycles that demonstrate a declining trend of positive results before we can be confident that we have contained the current outbreak. Accordingly, we will pay close attention to testing from this coming Friday and next Monday, with the hope that today’s low numbers of positive results will be sustained. 

We will receive Monday’s full test results on Tuesday, April 13, at which point we will have the information we need to assess whether or not we have contained the outbreak and can end the in-room restriction. We continue to update our in-room restriction FAQs to assist you. 

Updated FAQs for In-Room Restriction

Since the message I sent to the campus community on Tuesday, we continue to update and add to our in-room restriction FAQs. Please read these FAQs carefully.

Accessing a COVID-19 Vaccine

Earlier today, we heard from our Central Maine Medical Center partners, who are operating the Auburn Mall vaccination clinic, that appointments remain available for the coming days. Please visit our COVID-19 vaccine FAQs webpage to learn more about how to access a vaccine. 

Public Health Protocols and What to Expect this Weekend

You need to continue with physical distancing and wearing your face covering at all times when outside of your residence hall room. This is absolutely essential to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 on campus.

Unmasked social gatherings are the largest contributors to COVID transmission on campuses across the country and here at Bates. It is critically important that you respect the in-room restrictions and refrain from participating in unmasked or undistanced social gatherings of any size.

Your cooperation is the single most effective thing you can do to help us bring current case counts down so that we can lift restrictions and resume in-person classes and other activities. As we prepare to head into the weekend, please note that you can expect to see more Bates staff monitoring campus and the residence halls. While this is not something we want to do, there is too much at stake right now, and we must do all that we can to keep us safe.  

If you see students engaging in unsafe activities (e.g., social gatherings, congregating in common rooms, gathering outside, visiting residence halls or rooms not your own, etc.), please encourage them to stop for the sake of their fellow students. If you feel uncomfortable engaging in this way, you may also call Campus Safety at (207) 786-6254 to request assistance. 

We know it may be tempting to gather and socialize when your own tests continue to be negative, and we sympathize deeply with the strain of these restrictions. However, with the rapid spread that characterizes this outbreak, any violation of the public health protocols—no matter how small—risks our ability to maintain an on-campus experience, our collective goal all year. 

Where to Direct Questions

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.

As always, thank you for your continued understanding as we work together to manage this challenging situation. 

Sincerely,

Josh

Joshua G. McIntosh
Vice President for Campus Life