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COVID outbreak forces Bowdoin College to move to yellow status

Yellow COVID status on the Bowdoin College campus steps up spread prevention methods such as requiring masks in all public indoor spaces

BRUNSWICK, Maine — According to a letter sent to the Bowdoin College community, a COVID outbreak has forced the school to move the campus to "yellow status." The COVID-19 information page on the Bowdoin official website details the "yellow status" guidelines.

COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen sent the letter to the community Thursday, informing them that 14 students, over the last two days, have tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the move to yellow. 

According to Ranen, through contact tracing, the school has identified 46 close contacts.

Ranen said the school has increased testing to possible close contacts and expects the case numbers to rise. 

"Unfortunately, this was not unexpected," said Ranen in the letter. "We have planned for situations like this, with a focus on our dual goals of protecting the health of the community and providing an in-person Bowdoin education and experience."

Ranen had a request for all Bowdoin students.

"This is what we ask of anyone with even mild symptoms—to report symptoms and to test—and we are grateful to our students for coming forward," said Ranen. 

According to the school newspaper, the Bowdoin Orient, Bowdoin's contact tracing program traced 13 cases to Coles Tower, an upperclassman dormitory on the Brunswick campus. 

The paper reported, "every resident and housekeeper in Coles Tower was asked to take a self-administered antigen test, and every resident who was not scheduled to take a PCR test on that day will be required to take another self-administered antigen test Friday alongside their scheduled PCR test."

Ranen detailed some of the additional prevention methods:

  • We have now moved from Green to campus status Yellow, with the additional step of moving all meals to grab-and-go beginning with dinner tonight; please review the restrictions and requirements for Yellow, which are posted here on the Bowdoin website.
  • The current indoor mask mandate will be continued and expanded until further notice. Masks will be required indoors, including at all times in residence hall common areas and in dining facilities to pick up grab-and-go meals. Students may remove their masks outdoors, while actively eating, and in their private rooms. Faculty and staff may remove their face coverings in their private offices when the door is closed.
  • Private gatherings are not permitted, either in residence halls or in off-campus student residences—if you don’t live there, you shouldn’t be there, and please…no parties for the time being;
  • Students are permitted a maximum of one guest in their rooms.
  • Every one of the close contacts of the fourteen infected students will be taking antigen self-tests daily for at least the next four days.
  • Every student at the College will be given an additional PCR test on Monday and Tuesday (details about these tests are forthcoming).
  • We are asking all faculty and staff who are on campus at all during the week to take a rapid antigen test by the end of the day tomorrow, Friday, September 3, and to report any positive results to their supervisor and to Mary Cote in human resources (x3033). This does not apply to faculty and staff who are already scheduled for a PCR test today (those with last names beginning with A or B). For other faculty and staff, if you have not already picked up your BINAX Now pack of two antigen tests, please stop by the Mail Center in Smith Union or the Events Office in Coles Tower to get yours, free of charge. You may also arrange to take a test elsewhere. Any faculty or staff identified as a close contact should contact Mary Cote in human resources (x3033) for further instructions.
  • All courses originally scheduled in residential spaces have been moved to other classrooms. Students should consult their email and Polaris to find the new locations.

Ranen stressed that the school is committed to keeping the Bowdoin campus safe. 

"We continue to be focused on protecting the health and safety of our campus community and our neighbors in Brunswick while also learning to live with the reality of the virus," said Ranen. "Thank you for helping us achieve these goals by masking, by reporting even mild symptoms, and by taking advantage of the testing made available by the College."

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