Nov. 10: Public Health Update — A Call to Limit Close Contacts
I write with important and timely information regarding COVID-19 transmission on our campus and in the state of Maine. Due to a sharp rise in cases of COVID-19 across the state and several recent cases on our campus, and with the November break on the near horizon, I write to remind you that you should be taking steps to reduce your number of close contacts.
Update on Infections
The following are key updates on student COVID-19 infections:
- Three students tested positive for COVID-19 today (Nov. 10) from yesterday’s tests, and two of these students are close contacts to another student who tested positive;
- Additionally, a student tested positive through a private healthcare provider having recently traveled home for non-COVID-19 related reasons;
- The total active student infections now stands at six;
- It is important to note that we are still awaiting the results of about 425 tests from yesterday, which we should receive later tonight; those tests will display on the Bates COVID-19 Dashboard tomorrow;
- Except for the student who tested positive for COVID-19 while at home, these students are in isolation housing. The contact tracing process for the students who tested positive today revealed 28 student close contacts who are now in quarantine. As of today, we currently have 62 students in quarantine.
Unfortunately, Maine is now seeing its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. The daily count of new cases in Maine for the past four days is:
|Date||Number of New Cases|
As of Nov. 9, the monthly state average is 158 new infections per day, including new cases near campus. A recent outbreak at a continuing care facility located across Russell Street from the Bates track and soccer field numbers more than 70 cases of COVID-19. As a point of reference, Maine saw an average of 29 new cases per day in September and an average of 42 new cases per day in October.
A Call to Action: Limit Close Contacts
As a reminder, a close contact is defined by the CDC as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
With this in mind, I want to remind all students that, besides your roommate(s), you should not have additional close contacts if you are following the physical distancing guidance. As you know, when you are in class you are masked and at least 6 feet away from others, meaning that being in class together does not make you a close contact.
Where we have seen close contacts to date is through social groups, small gatherings of less than 10 students in residence halls, roommates, and visiting friends in residence halls other than your own. Given the current infections on our campus and in Maine, it is critical that we all adhere to physical distancing guidelines and follow all public health protocols.
Limiting Off-Campus Travel
Students should remain on campus and limit any non-essential off-campus travel. With this in the mind, effective immediately, the Bobcat Express will only provide service for essential trips to stores (e.g., prescriptions, groceries, and personal hygiene products), medical appointments, and college-sponsored off-campus work approved by the Harward Center.
For students who live off-campus, you should limit your travel beyond going from your residence to campus and back. For students living at the Hampton Inn, we will continue to offer the shuttle to and from campus.
Testing Positive or Being a Close Contact with the November Break Near
With the November break approximately two weeks away, it is important to remember that per Maine CDC policy:
- Students who test positive must remain in isolation at Bates for at least 10 days;
- Students who are close contacts of someone who tests positive must remain in quarantine at Bates for at least 14 days; and
- Students in isolation and quarantine may not leave their residence hall room or isolation room until cleared to discontinue isolation or quarantine.
This means that beginning this week, students who test positive or are close contacts may well experience disruptions to their November break travel plans and need to remain at Bates until they are medically cleared to discontinue their quarantine or isolation from Bates Health Services. This further underscores the importance of following all public-health protocols.
Reminder About Leaving Early for November Break
Professors have worked diligently to create remarkable educational experiences for you this fall. While all courses have remote options, the specific needs of each course vary. Some courses have important in-person experiences planned for the final weeks of Module B. Please pay close attention to any in-class attendance expectations if they exist.
In all cases, before making any plans to depart campus early, we urge you first to communicate with your professors to determine their expectations about class attendance through Nov. 24. Please remember the need for flexibility, adaptability, and respect for the goals professors have set out for your courses.
Reminder about Departing Campus for November Break
As we announced in June, students will leave campus at the November break, and complete the final week of classes and Module B exams remotely.
- The final day of in-person classes is Tuesday, Nov. 24.
- The last day of student COVID-19 testing is Tuesday, Nov. 24.
- The college’s dining program will end with brunch on Wednesday, Nov. 25.
- Students are required to depart campus by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25.
Please remember that parents and family members who may come to campus to help you depart for break are not permitted to enter residence halls or other buildings on-campus as part of our continued effort to limit congestion and contacts in buildings. Family members must also observe campus health protocols regarding masking and physical distancing. College restroom facilities in Chase Hall, Gomes Chapel, and the Ronj will be available to family members on the following days/times: Tuesday, Nov. 24 from 8:30am-5:00pm and Wednesday, Nov. 25 from 8:30am-5:00pm.
We are planning to welcome you back to the college in January for a continuation of in-person learning. However, each of you must make contingency plans in case your personal circumstances change, or public health conditions make it unsafe for us to open the campus for in-person learning.
Specifically, all students are expected to take the following actions, regardless of their date of departure for break:
- Take with you any essential and valuable personal items from your residence hall room (e.g., computer, jewelry, textbooks, musical instruments, etc.)
- Organize, pack, and label for shipping all items left behind in your room.
- Pack your belongings “ship-ready” in boxes, luggage, and containers sealed and labeled with accurate information securely attached.
In the event we are unable to open the campus in-person in January, we expect that students who are within driving distance would be able to schedule times to retrieve their belongings. For those students farther away, Bates will facilitate shipping at the student’s expense. The college would provide need-based financial assistance for those students who do not have the resources necessary to ship their belongings at their own expense.
Questions about the move-out date and packing and labeling your belongings should be directed to the Office of Residence Life and Health Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank You and Where to Direct Questions
I appreciate the many ways you are working to enable us to continue to offer an on-campus experience this fall, but we have more work to do. Most important, all of you need to work quickly to limit the number of close contacts that students have with each other. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the appropriate office within Student Affairs or email us at email@example.com.
I will be back in touch when I have additional information to share with you.
All my best,
Vice President for Campus Life