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Bates College considers housing students in local hotels

Bates College in Lewiston is still determining how many of its 1,800 students will be on campus this fall, which will impact housing decisions.

LEWISTON, Maine — As the fall semester quickly approaches, colleges and universities across Maine continue to make plans for what campus life could look like for students amid the pandemic. Bates College says their preparations include considering housing some students in area hotels.

Mary Pols, a spokesperson for Bates College, says Bates is still determining how many of its 1,800 students will be on campus this fall.

“We expect some international students will have difficulty coming to campus because of visa or travel issues. On the other hand, some of our students who planned to study abroad, most of them juniors, may end up staying on campus,” Pols explained. “We need to make sure we can house our new and returning students while also setting aside a sufficient number of beds on campus for any health concerns that may arise.”

As far as logistics would work if the hotel housing plan goes through, Pols said their planning process includes ensuring access to transportation to campus, residence life staff support, laundry, and other student services for those who could be placed in hotels. 

Pols said although housing plans aren’t finalized yet, it’s “unlikely” Bates will need hotel accommodations.

According to Pols, some students have already received their housing assignments and Bates is getting feedback from students. 

"We want to be flexible with students as they and their families work through their individual circumstances," Pols said. 

Bates has a phased arrival plan in place for students that will likely begin during the third week of August and end before classes start on September 2.

RELATED: Bates College will invite students back to campus for fall semester

Two rounds of COVID-19 testing for students will be conducted leading up to the first day of classes. Testing was an important milestone in the decision-making process around reopening campus, Bates says.

“The capacity to test and screen students effectively is essential to the reopening of the campus to students,” guidance for students on its website explains.

Other ways Bates is trying to combat the spread of COVID-19 include policies students are expected to follow while both on- and off-campus.

  • Physical distancing and universal face covering
  • Limits on the size of gatherings
  • Only enter your own residence hall
  • Except for emergencies, no travel outside of Maine from the time of campus arrival until departure before Thanksgiving
  • Full participation in population screen testing for COVID-19
  • Self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19
  • Adhering to quarantine and isolation policies, as necessary

If a student has a confirmed positive case of COVID-19, they will be isolated and required to move into isolated housing, and any roommate must follow their in-room quarantine policy. 

Last month, Bate College President Clayton Spencer wrote to the Bates community explaining the changes and outlining plans for the fall semester.

"I also want to emphasize that however thorough and carefully laid our plans are, we must be prepared to adapt our policies and practices, or even to change course, if and as the public health situation requires," Spencer said. "We are keeping a close eye on developments with the pandemic in the state of Maine, nationally, and globally. I appreciate the understanding and flexibility of our students and their families and the entire Bates community as we work together to navigate a climate of ongoing uncertainty."

Read the complete letter and outline of Bates' plans here

RELATED: Family members of Maine students: The Dept. of Education wants your input on returning to classrooms

RELATED: University of Maine System commits to fall campus return, with safety principles in place

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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