March 7: Campus Update

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

We write today to provide you with a summary of our COVID-19 test results from last week and to share with you changes to masking, visitor, and dining policies.

Summary of Test Results from Last Week

Last week we completed three rounds of testing for students as they returned from the February break. During last week (Sunday, Feb. 27 – Saturday, Mar. 5), 12 students 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 student testing last week was:

Sunday, Feb. 27 & Monday, Feb 280.5%
Tuesday, March 10.1%
Thursday, March 30.2%

During the past week, employees have also participated in the testing program, and 1 employees tested positive for COVID-19 through the college’s testing program.

As of this morning, we have 5 active COVID-19 cases, representing 3 students and 2 employees. 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. 

For now, students will continue to test two times per week at their scheduled times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As with other changes to our public health policies, as the campus, local, and national trends continue to improve, we hope to make modifications to our testing program later this semester. 

Policy Changes

We have consulted with our advisors at the Mayo Clinic and with the Maine CDC. Given our low positivity rates and the low number of cases on campus coupled with a steady downward trajectory nationally and locally, our masking, visitor/guest, and dining policies will change, effective Tuesday, Mar. 8

Masking

Masking, with a surgical, KN95, or N95 mask, is now optional on-campus, except in the following locations:

  • In classrooms, studios, and laboratory spaces, unless the faculty member waives this requirement to make masking optional for the duration of class; 
  • In private offices, unless the faculty or staff member occupying the office releases this requirement and makes masking optional in their personal office;
  • At indoor events, meetings, and other gatherings, unless the host(s) releases this requirement. Note that if outside guests or visitors are present at these activities, the host(s) is not able to release this requirement;
  • In healthcare facilities (i.e. Health Services, Sports Medicine, COVID-19 Testing Center, and Counseling & Psychological Services); and
  • In Lindholm House, the Bates Art Museum, the Bates College Store, performing art spaces (i.e. Olin, Schaffer) when attending a performance or production, and athletic facilities when a spectator (i.e. Merrill, Alumni, Boathouse), due to the public nature of these buildings and the high volume of non-Bates visitors/guests.

If you fall into a higher risk category, as described by the CDC, you should continue to wear a mask. 

Those who are unvaccinated or who have vaccine/booster exemption must remain masked at all times.

Visitors/Guests Indoors

Academic and administrative departments may host guests and visitors in the college’s buildings. However, in order to be admitted to the venue, guests must show proof of being fully vaccinated and boosted at the door (digital image or hard copy of vaccine card, indicating final vaccination completed at least 14 days prior) or proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR, rapid antigen, or at-home) within the previous 48 hours. The event host must provide a staff member to check for proof of vaccination for non-Bates guests. Guests unable to provide proof of being fully vaccinated and boosted or a negative test within the previous 48 hours will not be permitted to enter the venue. 

Guests who are on campus to interview for employment at the college must follow the on-campus interview policy

Attendance at student social events on campus remains limited to Bates students, faculty, and staff. Vendors, third-party contractors, and other services that have been hired by Bates College to provide essential services at these events are the only exceptions to this policy.

Dining and Catering

Commons will be open to faculty and staff for lunch and dinner begining on Tuesday, Mar. 8. Please note that only Bates students, faculty, and staff may eat in Commons at this time. Catered events and meetings must be arranged through Bobcat Catering. External food service vendors are not allowed on campus without prior approval from the Dining, Conferences, and Campus Events. For indoor events open to non-Bates visitors/guests and serving food, the event host should be mindful of density and plan for three-feet of physical distance while eating. 

Where to Direct Questions

For students, 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. For faculty and staff, please email hrcovid@bates.edu

Thank you for your time and attention.

All the best,

Joshua McIntosh
Vice President for Campus Life

Geoffrey Swift
Vice President for Finance and Administration