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Despite College’s assurances, students return to campus from Italy

Bowdoin to release statement

March 7, 2020

Editor’s Note, 3/7/20, 3:02 p.m.: The college sent out a statement at 1:36 p.m. today regarding the contents of this article. The Orient has since published a story addressing those updates.

Despite assurances from the college that students studying in Italy would not immediately return to campus due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) precautions, several students who were studying in Italy returned to campus earlier this week.

The COVID-19 FAQ page on the Bowdoin website claims, “Students who had been studying in Italy have all returned home but will not be returning to the Bowdoin campus this semester.”

However, several eyewitnesses said they saw two students who they knew had been studying abroad in Italy on Bowdoin’s campus on Thursday. The students did not respond to the Orient’s request for comment.

On March 1, students studying abroad were sent an email by Director of Off-Campus Study and International Programs Christine Wintersteen regarding coronavirus. “When planning how you will make up your coursework, please remember that returning to Bowdoin this semester is NOT an available option, and our expectation is that anyone who does return from a program will reside at home,” Wintersteen wrote.

The students who were in Italy received a second email from Wintersteen on Friday, telling them to stay away from campus. “I believe you have all returned to the U.S. in the last week with dates ranging from 2/28 to 3/3. Please note that you are not to come back to campus to visit – not just to stay the night – but be on campus in general for any reason,” she wrote.

“Please implement the recommended 14-day quarantine that has been asked of people returning from Italy and stay abreast of any COVID-19 symptoms,” she added.

Additionally, those students also received phone calls on Friday from Janet Lohmann, senior vice president and dean for student affairs, who asked if they had been on Bowdoin campus.

Senior Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Scott Hood wrote in an email to the Orient, “Once [Dean Lohmann] has completed her investigation … the College will issue a statement.”

Wintersteen’s email and Lohmann’s phone calls—both of which happened Friday—came a day after the two students who were in Italy were seen on campus.

When asked if the Friday email from Wintersteen was triggered by the administration becoming aware that some of the students studying in Italy had been on campus, Hood said “I don’t know what prompted this message from [Wintersteen].”

The College updated the FAQ page yesterday to say “all of the students in Italy … have been instructed that they are not to come back to campus for any reason. They have also been advised to implement the recommended fourteen-day self-quarantine for people returning from Italy and to stay abreast of any COVID-19 symptoms.”

The page, however, makes no mention that two students studying in Italy had returned to campus.


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