April 13: In-Room Restriction Lifted – In-Person Courses and Co-Curricular Programs May Resume on Wednesday

Dear Students,

I want to begin with a thank you. Over the past eleven days, including this past weekend, you have honored our in-room restriction policy and worked hard to adhere to public health protocols. As a result, beginning with last Wednesday’s testing, we have brought down COVID-19 cases to low single digits. Based on consultation with our medical advisors at the Mayo Clinic, we are confident that we have contained the outbreak that began with social gatherings on the weekend of March 26 and 27.

Summary of COVID-19 Transmission

For context, the student testing results were as follows:

  • Tuesday, April 6: 30 students received positive test results for COVID-19. 
  • Thursday, April 8: Two students received positive test results for COVID-19. 
  • Saturday, April 10: One student received a positive test result for COVID-19. 
  • Tuesday, April 13: Three students received positive test results for COVID-19.

As of 10:00 a.m. today, we have a total of 38 active student cases in isolation, with two scheduled to be cleared from isolation later today and an additional 26 scheduled to be cleared on Thursday, April 15. There are also six close contacts who remain in quarantine. The number of close contacts in quarantine may increase based on contact tracing being completed this morning for the new cases.

Status of In-Room Restriction

Effective immediately, we are lifting the in-room restriction. In-person classes and co-curricular programs may resume tomorrow, Wednesday, April 14.

Where We Go From Here

Beginning today, you may return to the public health protocols that were in place prior to this recent outbreak. Specifically, you must continue to wear face coverings, practice physical distancing, stay out of residence halls other than your own, and limit informal gatherings to 10 or fewer people. This is not a moment to let down your guard and revert to the practices, like unmasked gatherings, that led to the recent outbreak. With the growing presence in Maine of highly transmissible variants of COVID-19, even small lapses in public health behaviors, whether on campus or off campus, could land the campus back where we’ve been over the past two weeks, which is not an outcome any of us wants.

The events we have all endured should serve as a powerful reminder that poor choices by a small group of people can have a powerful negative impact on the campus as a whole. With six weeks of the academic year remaining, as you make choices for how you plan to spend your time, I urge you to think about your friends, your professors, and the staff on campus who work so hard to support your experience. It will take consistent effort by all of us to preserve the in-person classroom experience, to enable co-curricular activities to go forward, and to be in community together through the end of May.

If you see students engaging in unsafe activities (e.g., social gatherings, congregating in common rooms unmasked, gathering outside unmasked, visiting residence halls not their 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. 

To assist with compliance with our public health protocols, you can expect to see staff from Campus Safety and Student Affairs present on campus and in residence halls. 

COVID-19 Testing for Remainder of the Week

As you know, our typical testing program this semester has been a PCR test on Mondays and Wednesdays and an antigen test on Fridays. However, out of an abundance of caution, we will continue testing this week as we did last week, with both a PCR and antigen test on all three days this week.

COVID-19 Vaccines

Please visit our COVID-19 vaccine FAQs webpage to learn more about how to access a vaccine. It is good to see so many students getting vaccinated, and we continue to provide shuttle services to vaccine appointments and provide approval for students to leave the state to get vaccinated in their home state.

As a reminder, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots and you are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after your second shot. For the Pfizer vaccine, the second shot occurs 21 days after the first shot, and for the Moderna vaccine, the second shot occurs 28 days after the first shot. With this timeline in mind, we need to continue to operate the college with the full range of public health practices that have been in place this 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.

Many thanks again for your cooperation in helping us get to the other side of a very challenging situation. I look forward to working with you over the next six weeks to end the year on a strong and positive note.

Sincerely,

Joshua McIntosh
Vice President for Campus Life