Winter 2022 Public Health Policies Frequently Asked Questions

Maintaining the health and safety of the Bates community remains the top priority for the 2021-2022 academic year. The requirement that all students receive a primary vaccine series and booster for COVID-19 supports this goal.

Our public health policy decisions will continue to be informed by science and the guidance from public health experts at the Mayo Clinic, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Maine CDC.

Please keep in mind that these policies may shift based on the public health landscape and guidance from experts.

What is the Public Health Agreement?

All students were required to read and electronically sign the Student Public Health Agreement documents prior to returning to campus. The full Student Public Health Agreement can be found here.

What is the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement?

All students are required to be fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine and booster prior to their arrival on campus for the Winter 2022 semester. 

Students must present a digital image or hard copy of their COVID-19 vaccination card upon arrival at Muskie Archives for COVID-19 testing and check-in for the Winter 2022 semester on January 9th, 10th, or 11th. More information about the COVID-19 booster requirement can be found here.

What will COVID-19 arrival and onboard testing look like?

Pre-Arrival Testing – All students should test for COVID-19 within 48 hours of departure to travel back to campus. If you are unsure of where to secure a test in your area, this website may be helpful

Arrival Testing – Upon arrival to campus, all students must first go to Muskie Archives, located across the street from the Bates College Store, to receive a rapid antigen test. All students can schedule their arrival testing time through Garnet Gateway until December 31.


Additional Baseline Testing – All students must test on Thursday, January 13 and again on Friday, January 14. Students will receive an email during the week of January 3 with directions on how to sign up for testing times in Garnet Gateway.

What are the Public Health Restrictions during the Onboarding Period?

One of the more vulnerable times for the college community will be during student arrival back to campus and managing through the first several days. As such, we need to take a cautious approach to the baseline testing and onboarding period. 

  • During the onboarding period, students must be masked when indoors. The limited exceptions to this requirement, where you do not need to wear a mask, include:
    • When in your own room in your residence hall with no student visitors; and
    • When actively participating in competition in indoor athletic events (e.g., on the court) [Note: Winter season student-athletes competing during the onboarding period will be tested three times before a competition.] 
  • Commons will be operating as a “grab-n-go” dining program during the baseline testing and onboarding period. Students will pick up meals in Commons and return to their residence hall room to eat. It is our plan to relax these public health measures progressively as our experience with omicron permits. These measures are intended to give us a strong start to the semester as we learn how to manage through omicron. Please reference the DCCE  website for specific dining details and direct all questions related to diningfood@groups.bates.edu 
  • During the onboarding period, universal card access will be suspended and students may only be in their own residence hall. It is our plan to relax these public health measures progressively as our experience with omicron permits. These measures are intended to give us a strong start to the semester as we learn how to manage through omicron. 
  • Social programming on campus will be remote for the onboarding period. It is our plan to relax these public health measures progressively as our experience with omicron permits. These measures are intended to give us a strong start to the semester as we learn how to manage through omicron. 
  • Recreation (e.g., working out) and athletics practices and competitions will continue, but only Bates students, faculty, and staff may be spectators (see below). Please remember that masks are required in all athletic facilities, including Merrill and Underhill.
  • Only Bates students, faculty, staff, and vendors may enter buildings on campus. Guests and visitors may not be in campus buildings until further notice. This limitation includes audience members for musical performances, theater and dance productions, and art exhibits, as well as spectators at athletic events.
  • Minimize your time off-campus, doing only what is absolutely necessary, e.g.,  groceries, pharmacy, medical appointments.

The public health measures we are putting into place as we bring students back to campus and run the baseline testing program are a response to the high transmissibility of the omicron variant. They are intended to be temporary measures that will allow us to establish a manageable equilibrium as we start the semester. With a highly vaccinated and boosted campus community, we hope and expect that we will be able to return to the practices that worked so well for us this past fall. However, it is worth emphasizing that should we find ourselves in a more complex and longer-term situation with respect to the current phase of the pandemic, we will need to assess options for moving forward.

What can I do during the baseline testing and onboarding period that allow me to be with friends and connect with others on campus?

For emotional wellbeing, we know it is important for students to be able to connect with each other. During the baseline testing and onboarding period, students may still gather and connect with one another in small groups while masked. Recreation and fitness spaces will remain open, along with other administrative and academic buildings on campus. We just want to avoid doing so in already dense spaces on campus (residence halls) or in those spaces where there is both density and unmasking (Commons) as we balance emotional wellbeing with the physical precautions of coming back to campus. 

Will we be required to wear a mask following the onboarding period?

All Bates community members, vaccinated and unvaccinated, must wear a mask while indoors. The limited exceptions to this requirement, where you do not need to wear a mask, include:

  • When seated in Commons or at a college-sponsored indoor event with food at Commons, Chase, or Mays (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.

Music, Theater, and Dance

At the discretion of the professor or director, students, faculty, and staff actively participating in college-sponsored indoor musical, theater, and dance performances may be unmasked while participating in the rehearsals or performances, (i.e. on the stage) but will remain masked at all other times (i.e. off-stage, between sets). For those productions involving singing, brass and/or woodwind instruments, there should be at least 12 feet between the front of the stage and where people are seated, which may result in certain rows of seating not being used. 

Athletics

At the discretion of the head coach, students and coaches actively participating in practice or competition in indoor athletic events (i.e. on the court) may be unmasked during practice and competition, but will remain masked at all other times (i.e. on the sidelines). Masks must be worn at all other times when in Athletic facilities.

Please note that while wearing a mask may not be required under these conditions, students, faculty, and staff always have the option of continuing to wear a mask.

What type of mask should I be wearing?

The CDC recommends masks that:

  • Completely cover your nose and mouth;
  • Fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps; and
  • Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask.

Given the transmissibility of omicron, it is more important than ever to wear the right mask and to wear it correctly. Multiple sources indicate that simple, readily available surgical masks perform better than single-layer fabric masks to protect the wearer and those around them from getting infected. 

What will COVID-19 testing during the semester look like?

The college will require all students to test two times per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning the week of January 17, until further notice. Students will receive an email during the week of January 3 with directions on how to sign up for testing times in Garnet Gateway.

If you have questions about COVID-19 testing, please direct them to the COVID-19 Testing Center team at testingcenter@bates.edu. The COVID-19 Testing Center team will begin responding to these inquiries when the college reopens on Jan. 3.

Any student with a COVID-19 vaccine medical exemption may be required to follow additional testing requirements as directed by the Testing Center.

What do I do if I had COVID-19 in the last 90 days?

If you tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days, please email Student Health Support & Outreach Specialist Brenna Callahan at healthservices@bates.edu. 

  • If the test was taken at a pharmacy or with a medical provider, send a contact phone number and documentation of the positive test result to Brenna Callahan at Bates Health Services at healthservices@bates.edu.
  • If the test was an at-home test, please send documentation of the positive test result to Brenna Callahan at Bates Health Services at healthservices@bates.edu. Please include (1) a photo of the test, (2) the type of test, (3) test expiration date, (4) the date and time of your test, (5) the number of minutes it took for the test to return a positive result, and (6) the best phone number to reach you.
  • After receiving the email, Brenna will be in touch to assist with your arrival to campus plans.

What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19 on my pre-arrival test?

If you test positive for COVID-19 on your pre-arrival test, do not travel to Bates and take the following steps:

  • If the test was taken at a pharmacy or with a medical provider, send a contact phone number and documentation of the positive test result to Brenna Callahan at Bates Health Services at healthservices@bates.edu.
  • If the test was an at-home test, please send documentation of the positive test result to Brenna Callahan at Bates Health Services at healthservices@bates.edu. Please include (1) a photo of the test, (2) the type of test, (3) test expiration date, (4) the date and time of your test, (5) the number of minutes it took for the test to return a positive result, and (6) the best phone number to reach you.
  • After receiving the email, Brenna will be in touch to assist with your late arrival plans.

Will non-Bates guests be allowed to enter buildings on campus?

Only Bates students, faculty, staff, and vendors may enter buildings on campus. Guests and visitors may not be in campus buildings until further notice. This limitation includes audience members for musical performances, theater and dance productions, and art exhibits, spectators at athletic events, and guests in residence halls during student arrival.

Will Bates faculty and staff be allowed in student residences during the semester?

Only Bates faculty and staff required to provide services in student residences are allowed in residence halls at this time.

Will students be able to travel out of Maine during the semester?

We ask that all students keep their out of state travel to a minimum during the semester. Many cases of COVID-19 from last academic year came from off-campus locations, and remaining on campus and in-state is a great way to support the health and safety of your peers.

When travelling out of state during the semester, all students should follow Maine CDC guidelines

Any student with a COVID-19 vaccine medical exemption will need to report their travel to testingcenter@bates.edu as it occurs throughout the semester. This will be to ensure that these students remain on their testing schedule.

Will classes be held in-person this semester?

Our plan for the winter semester is to hold classes in person, with masking required, as we did in the fall semester. However, we will ask faculty to conduct their classes remotely during the baseline testing and onboarding period. Classes on Wednesday, Jan. 12, Thursday, Jan. 13, and Friday, Jan. 14 will be held remotely. Before the first day of classes, faculty will provide students with details about what to expect for classes during these three days. We plan to return to in-person classes as soon as conditions on campus permit, which we hope will be early in the semester.

Why isn’t the college providing a remote learning option for students who do not want to return to campus?

We do not believe that conditions warrant this decision based on what we know now and based on our expectation that, with a fully vaccinated and boosted student body, the restrictions during the baseline testing and onboarding period will be temporary.  

We offered a fully remote option last academic year when we had an entirely unvaccinated student population, and there was even greater uncertainty entering the 2020-21 academic year. Requiring faculty to teach in-person and remote simultaneously placed significant burdens on faculty as well as students, and was particularly challenging in classes that depend on discussion, or experiential components such as dance, theater, music, or labs.

Any student wishing to be enrolled for the winter semester will need to return to campus on Sunday, Jan. 9, Monday, Jan. 10, or Tuesday, Jan. 11.

If I don’t want to come back to campus this semester, what are my options for taking courses elsewhere to help me try to stay on track to graduate on time?

Students who prefer to take courses elsewhere, including online, this winter semester may wish to consider taking an academic leave of absence and enrolling in transferable courses at a local institution or one offering online courses. This approach could allow students to continue to make academic progress. Please note, Coursera and EdX courses are not transferable to Bates. Please contact the Registrar’s Office at registrar@bates.edu for more information.

What is the policy around singing and woodwind instruments?

Students who received a medical exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine may not share or play musical equipment that touches their eyes or mouth on campus, including woodwind instruments. Students who received a medical exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine may participate in chorus, singing, and musical theater activities as long as they remain masked at all times and are in compliance with testing requirements.

Will students diagnosed with COVID-19 need to isolate?

Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to follow isolation protocol. Students may be required to move to an isolation housing assignment, or may isolate themselves in their existing single occupancy room assignment and strictly adhere to all public health protocols. Students who test positive may be asked to live with other students who are also positive or may be required to move from isolation back in with their roommates if their roommate becomes positive. Students’ isolation housing assignment will be made with consideration to medical presentation and isolation housing capacity.

If we exceed the capacity of our isolation housing, we may require the roommates of a student who has tested positive to stay with friends, move to another on-campus room, stay at a local hotel, or return home for the duration of the roommate’s isolation period. 

A medical provider will speak with any student following isolation protocol and ensure that they are safe to discontinue their isolation between days 5 and 10 since their positive test. This determination will be made based on BHS medical providers’ clinical assessment.

What is our current isolation housing policy?

Isolation Housing During Baseline Testing Period

Isolation housing during baseline testing met the standards outlined by both the CDC and public health advisors. During the baseline testing period, we implemented an isolation housing plan that took into account the potential for exceeding our isolation housing capacity, which is why students who tested positive and have their own single-occupancy bedroom were required to isolate in their existing housing assignment.

Isolation Housing Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 18

Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 18, all students who test positive for COVID-19 and opt to stay on campus will move to temporary isolation housing given operational capacity to do so.   This includes students in single occupancy rooms. Students will also have the option to return home via car and with no others in the car for the duration of their isolation period.  Students who test positive may also live with other students who have also tested positive.

If isolation housing capacity becomes strained, students may be required to:

  • Move to another temporary housing assignment;
  • Isolate themselves in their existing single occupancy room assignment and strictly adhere to all public health protocols;
  • Live with other students who are also positive; or 
  • Move from isolation housing back in with their roommate if their roommate becomes positive. 

Students’ isolation housing assignment will be made with consideration to medical presentation and isolation housing capacity. Finally, if we exceed the capacity of our isolation housing, we may require the roommates of a student who has tested positive to stay with friends, move to another on-campus room, stay at a local hotel, or return home for the duration of the roommate’s isolation period. 

Getting Cleared from Isolation

Termination of isolation will occur after having an appointment with medical staff in Bates Health Services (BHS). Students will have an appointment with BHS after serving five 24-hour periods in isolation, and BHS will call daily to evaluate symptoms starting on day 6. It is possible that students will be released from isolation between days 6 and 10 based on clinical evaluation of symptoms. Students will only be cleared based on complete resolution of symptoms or remaining asymptomatic for the entire isolation period. Following being cleared to discontinue isolation, students must continue to wear a surgical or KN95 mask in all spaces and pick up grab-n-go meals from Commons through day 10 since their positive test result.

If I test positive for COVID-19, may I return home for the duration of my isolation period?

Students who test positive for COVID-19 and can safely return home for the duration of their isolation period, should do so. The Bates Health Services (BHS) support team will be in contact with all students who want to return home to make a safety plan that ensures no additional exposure to others. Students must submit a plan in writing and have it approved by the BHS support team before returning home for the duration of their isolation period. Students who return home are required to be cleared by BHS before returning to campus. 

What policies will students identified as close contacts need to follow?

Students who are fully vaccinated and have received their booster who have been identified as a close contact of an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 will be required to follow additional protocols until being cleared by the Testing Center. These individuals will be required to wear a mask when with others inside and outside, and be required to eat grab and go meals from Commons until receiving a negative test result on day 10 since their exposure to the positive individual. These students may continue to attend classes and other activities on campus.

Any student with a medical exemption or who has not yet received their booster after becoming eligible will be required to in-room quarantine until receiving a negative test result on day 5 since their exposure to the positive individual. After being cleared from in-room quarantine, these students will be required to wear a mask when with others inside and outside, and be required to eat grab and go meals from Commons until receiving a negative test result on day 10 since their exposure to the positive individual. They may attend classes and other activities on campus after being cleared from in-room quarantine.

Where do I direct questions?

Should you have any general questions, please email studentaffairs@bates.edu, and you will be connected to the right person to assist you.

Please direct questions related to arrival, onboarding, and semester testing to testingcenter@bates.edu.

Please direct questions related to a leave of absence to Lisa Hardej, Associate Dean of Students, at lhardej@bates.edu.


Please direct questions related to testing positive for COVID-19 or about the booster requirement to Brenna Callahan, Student Health Support & Outreach Specialist, at healthservices@bates.edu.