Feb. 4: Campus Update for Students

Dear Students,

Thank you for your continued participation in our testing program and for your help as we have navigated the first few weeks of the semester together. I write today to provide you with an update.

Summary of Test Results

During the past two weeks (Jan. 21 – Feb. 4), 156 students have tested positive for COVID-19 across all testing sources (on-campus COVID-19 Testing Center, Bates Health Services, off-campus testing location, self-administered test, etc.) The positivity rate (positive results as a percent of all tests taken) for recent on-campus student testing was:

Tuesday, Jan. 253.7%
Thursday, Jan. 272.2%
Tuesday, Feb. 11.8%
Thursday, Feb. 30.8%

It is also helpful to review data for the new cases that emerged over the past two weekends, between the Thursday and Tuesday testing days (Friday – Monday):

  • Friday, Jan. 21 – Monday, Jan. 24: 36 new cases
  • Friday, Jan. 28 – Monday, Jan. 31: 4 new cases

During the past two weeks, employees have also participated in the testing program, and 23 employees tested positive for COVID-19 through the college’s testing program. 

This afternoon, we have 46 active COVID-19 cases (37 students and 9 employees), as compared to 122 active cases on Friday, Jan. 28. This includes all students and employees who tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of the testing source (on-campus COVID-19 Testing Center, Bates Health Services, off-campus testing location, self-administered test, etc.) You can see a summary of our testing results on the COVID-19 Cases webpage. Most of the students who have tested positive have experienced mild or moderate symptoms or no symptoms at all.


With the decline and stabilization of the transmission rate, the reduced number of new and active cases, and with the amount of dedicated isolation housing currently available, we are able to return to in-person seated dining in Commons for students beginning with dinner on Saturday, Feb 5. Please remember to properly wear your mask in Commons at all times, unless you are seated and eating. Commons is often described as the heart of the Bates campus, and we look forward to being together again in this community space.

Public Health Policies

What Remains the Same?

  • Masks are required in all indoor common and public spaces, including the residence halls. (Please be mindful that we have custodial staff who work in our residence halls and residence life staff who both live and work in our residence halls. As you move around your residence halls, please be respectful of their health and well-being, as well as that of your fellow students.) 
  • Students are required to test every Tuesday and Thursday at Muskie Archives; 
  • Only Bates students, faculty, staff, contractors, and vendors may enter buildings on campus; (see limited exceptions here);
  • Faculty and staff may use the college’s athletic facilities;
  • Students may participate in outdoor, in-person community engagement activities; 
  • Students, faculty, and staff actively participating on the stage in an indoor theater, dance, or musical performance may be unmasked but must remain masked at all other times (i.e., off-stage, between sets); For productions involving singing, brass and/or woodwind instruments, there must be at least 12 feet between the front of the stage and where people are seated, which may result in some rows of seating not being used; and
  • Students actively participating in indoor athletic competition (e.g., on the track, on the court, etc.) may be unmasked while competing, but must be masked at all other times (e.g., during practice, on the sidelines, etc.). [Note: There are some sports where it is not safe or possible to wear a mask while practicing given the requirements of the sport (e.g., swimming). Athletics will work with these teams to communicate expectations around masking.]

What Has Changed?

Beginning, Saturday, Feb. 5:

  • Indoor co-curricular activities no longer have a capacity limitation beyond what is set by fire codes, but sponsoring departments have discretion to establish lower capacity limits if they deem them appropriate; and  
  • Indoor arts and athletic events no longer have capacity limits on audience members and spectators beyond what is set by fire codes, but sponsoring departments have discretion to establish lower  capacity limits if they deem them appropriate.

Please remember that you must remain masked at all times when indoors, unless seated while eating and drinking.

Winter Carnival

This annual tradition will continue as scheduled and will begin on Saturday, Feb. 5. You can find a calendar of events here. As with all indoor events, masking will be required.

We Continue to Need Your Help

Thank you for your care and diligence over the past few weeks. While we are pleased to see progress in reducing the rate of infection and the number of active cases on campus, we still need your ongoing help to sustain this momentum. Please continue to mask when indoors and be mindful of what unmasked social gatherings can quickly do to your experience and that of your peers. With your help, cooperation, and vigilance, we can expect to see improved testing outcomes that will enable us to continue to loosen and reconsider public health policies and protocols.

Take a Moment to Thank Our Staff

As many have experienced first hand, it takes an entire community of staff to manage through COVID-19 effectively and to support students who test positive. More specifically, it is important that we remember the impact of the required public health measures on staff. These staff work around the clock to support students with meal delivery, mail and medication deliveries, and provide maintenance, custodial, and waste management services. When you see people working in these respective areas, please take a minute to thank them for what they have done, and continue to do, to support students and the in-person experience.

Where to Direct Your Questions

If you have questions and are not sure where to direct them, please email studentaffairs@bates.edu, and you will be connected to the right person to assist you.

We will closely monitor transmission and operational sustainability on a week-to-week basis and make adjustments as necessary.  

Again, thank you for your continued cooperation and patience. Have a nice weekend.

All my best,

Joshua McIntosh
Vice President for Campus Life