Sept. 8: COVID-19 Update for Employees

Dear Colleagues,

I write today with an update on campus public health policies and important information regarding our COVID-19 testing program.  This serves as an update to my August 16 message.

The return to the in-person campus experience has gone smoothly thanks to our 98 percent campus community vaccination rate, and your commitment to the public health measures in place.  However, the continued spread of COVID-19, both in our local community and Maine,  demonstrates that we must monitor the transmission of COVID-19 on campus beyond initial baseline testing.  All students will be required to participate in ongoing COVID-19 testing on September 14, 21, and 28, at our COVID-19 Testing Center at Underhill. Faculty and staff are invited to participate in testing on September 16, 23, 30Faculty and staff who are not fully vaccinated must test on these days.

Those interested in testing should register for a testing time. Please take a moment to log into Garnet Gateway to schedule your time. 

  1. Once you log into Garnet Gateway, on the home screen you will find that on your “To-Do” column on the left hand side is “Bates Campus COVID-19 Testing Appointments.” Click on this link.  
  2. You will then be brought to a schedule where your classes are on a grid.  You can choose from a list of appointment times. 
    • To register for a testing time, select the time block you want. Your selection will be highlighted in blue and saved automatically.
    • In the top left of the schedule you will see a “Show conflicts” button, once clicked this will fade out the times you have conflicts on your schedule and you will not be able to sign up for a testing time that overlaps with a class or scheduled dining times.
      • If you click that button to “Show Testing” you will be able to schedule any available times.   
    • Your selections will appear next to the schedule in a box in the top right labeled Your Test Times: This is how you will know your registration is complete. Please check to be sure you have scheduled yourself for an appropriate testing time.

Access to sign up for your testing time will be available on Friday, September 10, and will continue to be available until 4:00 a.m. on the day of testing. (i.e. if you are trying to schedule testing for Thursday, September 16, the window to select a testing time will close at 4:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 16).

After registering for a testing time, you will receive an email from the Testing Center with important details regarding the new pooled testing software platform known as Beacon, which will require you to take timely action in advance of your testing.

This testing will use a pooled testing approach with the Broad Institute. Initial samples will be tested in groups of ten using PCR tests. Should a pool indicate the presence of COVID-19, all individuals in that pool will be required to test again using antigen testing to determine which individual(s) are positive for the virus. 

This ongoing testing is critical to understand the transmission of COVID-19 on campus, particularly among individuals who are asymptomatic, and will provide the data we need to determine whether additional public health measures are necessary to protect the health of the community.  

We will continue, until further notice, with masking indoors. All Bates community members, vaccinated and unvaccinated, must wear a mask while indoors, both on-campus and off-campus. The limited exceptions to this requirement, where you do not need to wear a mask, include:

  • When seated in Commons or at a college-catered event (though masks will be required while entering Commons and in the servery or procuring food);
  • When in residence halls; and
  • When in other private campus indoor spaces by oneself.

Finally, no guests or external visitors, except for guest speakers, performers, or athletes, hosted by a college office or an academic department, may enter Bates buildings until further notice.

Should a rise in transmission on campus occur, we will consider measures such as increased testing frequency, suspending student universal access to residence halls, expanded masking requirements, changes to the dining program, restrictions on the size, scale, type of activity/program, and location of campus events, as well as  restrictions on off-campus travel. These measures may be necessary to avoid disruptions to the in-person classroom experience. 

We remain optimistic that compliance with current public health protocols and ongoing testing will allow us to continue our successful in-person learning and living and avoid the surges in COVID-19 transmission that we are seeing at other institutions across the country.

Thank you for your patience and commitment to keeping each other healthy and safe as we navigate this semester together.

Sincerely,

Geoff