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Bowdoin College students will not return from spring break due to coronavirus concerns

Bowdoin College will be completing the spring semester through remote learning.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Bowdoin College will be completing the spring semester through remote learning amid the coronavirus outbreak that has now spread to at least 100 countries and 35 states. 

Bowdoin students will not be permitted to return to campus after spring break. However, in an update on the school's website, President Clayton Rose did write that while it is quite unlikely given all we know, "if the crisis resolves itself in the near term, we will reevaluate whether students might return to campus."

Rose wrote that the COVID-19 outbreak represents an unprecedented health crisis and is creating challenges for every aspect of our society. He apologized to the school's seniors as well, writing in part:

"I am particularly pained for our seniors. These last few weeks on campus were to be a remarkable, wonderful, and fun capstone to your four years at Bowdoin. This extraordinary circumstance and necessary decision preclude the opportunity to finish out your time as students at Bowdoin in the best possible way. I am sorry that there was not another way to manage this crisis."

First-year Bowdoin students Quiverline Ochieng and Ines Dushime are pictured below, picking up free boxes to begin packing their belongings.

Credit: NCM

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Rose also provided an overview of the school's key decisions and changes:

"General Information

  • The College is not closed. We remain open and focused on our central mission of teaching, learning, and creative and scholarly work.
  • Staff will continue to work their full scheduled hours and receive regular pay.
  • For the time being, we are requesting that faculty and staff refrain from College- sponsored international or domestic travel.
  • Admissions tours and information sessions are cancelled for the remainder of the semester.

Continuity of Instruction

  • Classes will not be held on Monday, March 23, or Tuesday, March 24, so that faculty and staff will have sufficient time to enable the best possible remote-learning experience under these challenging circumstances. Classes will resume, remotely, on Wednesday, March 25. Faculty will be in touch with their students before classes resume.
  • The offices for academic affairs and information technology have been at work creating a plan and organizing resources and support to help faculty adapt their courses to a distance learning format.

Student Life

  • All students who are currently on campus for spring break will be expected to vacate their rooms by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18. For students who are currently off campus, there will be opportunities to return to campus to collect your belongings or make other arrangements to get essential items necessary to complete the remainder of the semester.
  • An email will be sent directly to students, no later than 12:00 p.m. today, with additional information and a link to a detailed FAQ. Student affairs personnel will operate a help line beginning this afternoon to answer questions.
  • We are ending spring athletics, both practices and competition, beginning Saturday, March 14. The NESCAC presidents met and concluded unanimously that conference competition, including championships, will be cancelled for the 2020 spring season. Winter sport athletes competing in national championships will be permitted to participate, although, as previously announced, spectators will not be permitted in Morrell Gym for the women’s basketball NCAA sectional round this weekend.

Operations

  • Until further notice, we will restrict any gatherings on campus to fewer than one hundred (100) people.
  • Because of our concerns around COVID-19, and in order to ensure that our essential work can continue, as of Monday, March 15, we will—for now—restrict access to College facilities to students permitted to remain on campus, and to faculty and staff, including those with emeritus status.
  • One of the two dining halls, Jack Magee’s Grill, the Smith Union Café, and the Buck fitness center will remain open on their regular schedules."

Rose said he will hold three live-streamed virtual "town hall meetings" on Thursday - one for students, one for faculty, and one for staff - to provide an opportunity for people to ask questions. 

Bates College President Clayton Spencer said in a message on the school's website that Bates does not have a spring break on its academic calendar between now and the end of the semester. It plans to continue the semester on campus while monitoring developments concerning COVID-19.

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