Despite detecting 11 new active cases of COVID-19 following Thanksgiving break, the College remains in status level Green. Although COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen had previously reported that the College hoped to loosen mask restrictions on Wednesday, given the current number of cases, the indoor mask restriction will remain in place until at least today, until further notice. Students must continue to don masks in every indoor setting except their own private residences or when actively eating or drinking.
The College saw a similar uptick in COVID-19 cases following fall break, resulting in a shift to Yellow status. Having learned more about the ways that COVID-19 is transmitted on campus since October break, Ranen is hopeful that cases were contained early this time around.
“[Our continuance in Green status] is a reflection of how we’ve learned more and more about how COVID-19 is transmitted, especially in a fully vaccinated campus and looking at the number of close contacts and how people may have been exposed to the virus,” Ranen said. “Right now, while we have a large number of cases, we feel they’re independent of each other. We feel, for the most part, that we’ve contained them early.”
COVID-19 continues to be an ever-changing phenomenon on campus. As of this week, everyone over 18 in the Bowdoin community is eligible to receive a booster shot, but students must go off campus to receive one.
“Mid Coast Hospitals, which we partnered with last year, are [currently] focused on vaccinating the 5 to 11 year-olds, children who just got their second dose. So right now, we’re in conversations with them about whether or not we’d be able to have a clinic for Bowdoin faculty, staff and students,” Ranen said, noting that more information was to come.
All students were required to be fully vaccinated for this semester. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of being vaccinated for COVID-19 continues to be two doses of Moderna/Pfizer or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of booster shots, this definition is subject to change. A decision concerning what the College considers to be fully vaccinated has yet to be made, although it will likely evolve with time.
In another shift, Ranen announced in an email to campus that pooled testing previously slated to begin after Thanksgiving break will not start until the spring semester.
“We didn’t want to make students and faculty learn a new system at the end of the semester, as they’re trying to finish it up,” Ranen said. “We thought it would be easier to do in January when we come back with a fresh start.”