In a Bowdoin Orient survey sent to the student body in October, nearly three-quarters of respondents said they had tested positive for Covid-19 at some point during the past two years. While the rates of Covid on campus dwindle and pandemic restrictions wane, there are continued implications of having once tested positive.
College policy surrounding its Covid-19 pandemic management has shifted dramatically over the past several months. In his August 3 email to the Bowdoin community, President Rose announced the outright discontinuation of many of the College’s previous Covid policies, including masking requirements in classrooms and mandatory, twice-weekly PCR testing.
In an email to the campus community on Wednesday, President Clayton Rose outlined the College’s Covid-19 plan for a semester that will look more familiar to the College pre-pandemic than any other semester that has come in its wake.
At the end of the fifth semester impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the College has had to adapt to various waves of infection on campus. Following the April 2022 outbreak, in which the College saw record numbers of positive cases on campus, restrictions have been mostly relaxed compared to previous semesters.
After a steep decline in active cases in the past week, Covid-19 Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in an email to the campus community on Wednesday that masks will be optional again in most locations across campus, with a few exceptions.
Over the last two weeks, the College has seen its largest Covid-19 spike since the beginning of the pandemic. As of 2:00 p.m. yesterday, there were a total of 191 active Covid-19 student cases. Unlike in past semesters, the College is not providing isolation housing for students who test positive.
In a March 3 email, Covid-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen instructed students to pick up an antigen test and take it within twelve hours of traveling back to campus after spring break. However, many students found that the expiration date printed on their test box had already passed.
The College currently has a total of 50 active Covid-19 cases, with 42 from students and eight from employees, according to the Covid-19 dashboard. “Some told us they were positive. Many were actually part of teams that were traveling together over break,” Associate Dean for Academic Administration and Covid-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen said.
In an email to the student body on Thursday, Covid-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced that all students are expected to take an antigen test before traveling back to the College after spring break. Some additional restrictions will be in place, as students will return to the Monday/Thursday PCR testing framework that has remained in place this semester.
Since the College reopened to students in late August 2020, students, faculty and staff have undergone rigorous testing for Covid-19 twice or even three times each week. While walks to the testing center—once Morrell Gymnasium and now Farley Field House—are ingrained in the collective conscience of the College community, what happens to Covid samples after they are collected remains a mystery to most.
With consistently low case numbers in recent weeks, the College further loosened its COVID-19 restrictions throughout campus this week. In a campus-wide email on February 11, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced that Bowdoin Dining Services would return to full capacity beginning on Monday, February 14.
In a February 4 email to the campus community, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced that some masking and dining restrictions would be relaxed effective immediately. This is the latest development in a series of recent updates loosening COVID-19 restrictions.
In an email to the campus community on January 28, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator and Director of Residential and Student Life Mike Ranen announced that the College’s COVID-19 restrictions would once again be lightened. Most of the new guidelines took effect on Monday as masked students returned to the classroom.
COVID-19 Resource Coordinator and Director of Residential and Student Life Mike Ranen notified all first-year students and students from select upperclassmen housing on campus Tuesday that a recent lack of adherence to indoor masking policies in dorm common spaces had elicited numerous complaints from housekeeping staff and had even caused some housekeepers to request a change to their building assignments.
Since March 2020, the College has fought the COVID-19 pandemic with restrictions intended to keep students as isolated as possible from the virus. Now, with the Omicron variant reaching its peak in Maine, the College has reimagined its approach to COVID-19, in the midst of the Omicron variant’s increased transmissibility.
While on-campus students began the spring semester adjusting to Zoom classes, grab-and-go meals and chilly January temperatures, over 100 students studying away this semester were dusting off their travel guides and practicing their “Bonjour!” or “Ciao!” as they packed their suitcases for the next four months.
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.
Masks will no longer be required in student residence halls, administrative or academic buildings, athletic facilities and Smith Union, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in an email to the campus community today. Additionally, dining halls will reopen for faculty and staff, effective immediately.
WINTER SPORTS FLURRY The winter athletic season will be in full swing soon. Competitions begin November 13, headlined by the women’s basketball team facing Nazareth College in the University of New England (UNE) Tip-Off Tournament in Biddeford and the men’s basketball team taking on Thomas College at home.
Masks will no longer be required in student residence halls, administrative or academic buildings, athletic facilities and Smith Union, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in an email to the campus community today. Additionally, dining halls will reopen for faculty and staff, effective immediately.
The College saw a small number of new COVID-19 cases as students and staff returned to campus after fall break. Two students and one staff member tested positive for the virus on October 14, followed by two more positive cases among staff members on October 17 and 18.
Following the change in the College’s COVID-19 status level from Yellow to Green, Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan announced in an email to all athletes a loosening of masking restrictions for athletes and coaches during indoor athletic events.
In an email to the Bowdoin community on Thursday, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Residential and Student Life Mike Ranen announced that one student tested positive from over 2,000 PCR tests administered Tuesday and Wednesday.
In an email to the campus community on Thursday, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced that the College would be moving back to Yellow status that evening following an uptick in cases after Homecoming weekend. This change came on the heels of an email sent Tuesday in which Ranen announced that the College would transition back to Yellow beginning Monday, October 11 after fall break.
Cancelled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-awaited field excursion to Bowdoin’s field station on Kent Island in New Brunswick, Canada, finally took place last weekend. Since the recent readmission of American citizens across the Canadian border on August 9, 2021, 16 Bowdoin students taking Ecology and Biology of Marine Organisms this semester were able to cross the border and participate in the Kent Island trip, led by Ian Kyle, assistant director of the Bowdoin College Scientific Station on Kent Island, and Patricia Jones, assistant professor of Biology and director of the Bowdoin College Scientific Station on Kent Island.
In an email to the campus community on September 17, President Clayton Rose announced a range of changes to upcoming activities and events and a continuation of the indoor mask mandate in light of the recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases on campus and continued concerns related to the Delta variant.
Despite initial expectations that self-reporting and antigen testing would provide an effective surveillance system for this semester, the College has shifted to becoming more reliant on PCR testing as it was last year, when students were PCR tested two to three times each week.
In an email to the community yesterday, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced that the College would be moving back to Green status this morning. As was the case with the transition to Yellow status three weeks ago, there will be some alterations to the guidelines posted before the start of the semester.
Following an 18-month pause of social and athletic activity on campus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the athletic department has noted an increase in the number of spectators at sporting events in comparison to past academic years as the College’s full student body inhabits the campus for the first time since February 2020.
In response to the improved COVID-19 infection rate on campus, the College will relax some of its Yellow status restrictions related to dining and residence halls effective today, Friday, September 17. Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Director of Residential and Student Life and COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced the change in an email to the Bowdoin community Wednesday afternoon, crediting the original restrictions for the low levels of transmission over the past ten days.
In a September 9 email, Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Janet Lohmann introduced NAVICA, a mobile app to help the College’s effort in managing COVID-19 outbreaks on campus. After moving to Yellow status and extending the mask mandate in the past two weeks, this marks another step in the College’s effort to curb infection rates.
Mike Ranen usually starts his morning by checking the College’s COVID-19 test results around 6 a.m.. The results of those tests will dictate the course of his day. On a good day, Ranen can balance his job as the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Residential and Student Life, as well as his role as the College’s COVID-19 Resource Coordinator.
In light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak on campus, some students have been experiencing breakout-room déjà vu as a handful of professors have been faced with the decision to either navigate hybrid learning or temporarily make the switch to remote learning for their classes.
In light of the recent number of positive COVID-19 cases on campus, the College has increased the number of mandatory PCR tests from once a month to twice a week. COVID-19 Coordinator Mike Ranen announced the change in an email to the community on September 3.
Due to the College’s transition to Yellow Status, the Class of 2024 Convening Brunch, President’s Welcome and Class Photo—which were planned for Sunday, September 5—have been postponed until further notice. These three events traditionally take place when a new class arrives on campus each fall.
As students finish week two of classes and workloads begin to increase, so has the number of COVID-19 cases. According to current manager of isolation housing and Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Assistant to the Dean for Student Affairs Katie Toro-Ferrari, there are 30 students in isolation as of Friday morning.
After lacking a masking requirement for the summer, on August 23 the College imposed an indoor mask mandate beginning on move-in day and requiring masks to be worn inside all public areas on campus. Although the College intended to reconsider the mandate on September 4, due to a flurry of positive tests the mandate was expanded to include student common spaces and extended indefinitely on Thursday.
In an email to the campus community yesterday, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced that the College would be moving to status Yellow effective immediately. The decision was made after 14 students tested positive for COVID-19 over the last two days.
While the majority of Bowdoin’s student body was fully vaccinated prior to arrival on campus, a few students—primarily international students unable to obtain one or both doses of the vaccine in their home countries—were vaccinated upon arrival through Bowdoin Health Services or at Mid Coast Hospital.
Athletic department introduces new protocols in preparation for the return to a full competition schedule
Supported by a campus community that boasts a vaccination rate of 99% and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Bowdoin’s athletic department is preparing to return to an unabbreviated schedule of competition for the first time since the fall of 2019.
An indoor mask mandate will be in effect on campus for all students, faculty, staff and visitors beginning Tuesday, August 24, President Clayton Rose announced in an email to the College community Monday morning. There are three exceptions to the indoor mask mandate: face coverings are not required for individuals while actively eating, for students in their own residence halls or for faculty and staff in their own offices.
Students who were set to study abroad in the fall of 2021 have had a tumultuous few weeks. Following the U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) decision to merge its travel advisories with those set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these students were notified during the first round of course registration that, if they were traveling to a country that the DOS had just categorized as Level 4, they were strongly encouraged to withdraw from their prospective study abroad status with Bowdoin and register for courses.
As a compressed and atypical academic year comes to an end, some graduating seniors are wrapping up their honors projects despite delays caused by limited access to laboratories and difficulty obtaining sources remotely. For seniors conducting scientific research, the pandemic’s biggest impact on their work was the closure of on-campus labs last summer.
The release of the Summer Campus Community Agreement this week painted a clear picture of what life on campus will look like for students who sign it, and it is a picture that strongly resembles this past semester at the College.
This academic year has been defined by the measures taken by the Bowdoin community to protect against COVID-19, and the cornerstone of the College’s plan to prevent an outbreak on campus has been a robust testing program.
The College saw fewer acceptances for the Fulbright Student Program this year than is typical, despite a record number of applicants, many of whom advanced to the semi-finalist stage. Of the 62 applicants for the 2021-2022 program year, 39 were recommended to be semifinalists and eight students were selected for English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) programs, while five were selected for the study/research award—a 20 percent acceptance rate.
As vaccinations became available to all Maine residents over the age of 16, including Bowdoin community members, students from the Pre-Health Society and Bowdoin Underrepresented in Medical Professions (BUMP) have teamed up to contribute to the historic rollout by volunteering at Mid Coast Hospital’s Brunswick Recreation Center vaccine clinic.
On Thursday, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen addressed Governor Janet Mills’ decision to loosen the state’s mask mandate in an email to the College community. Despite new state guidelines that people do not need to wear masks outdoors when they are practicing social distancing, Ranen asked in his email that members of the community continue wearing masks on campus.
Yesterday, Moulton Union re-opened for lunch for the first time since closing last week after six positive COVID-19 cases emerged among the dining hall’s staff beginning April 6. After the initial case, the College began administering rapid antigen tests to Moulton employees, which led to the identification of four more positive cases.
A student reported symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and subsequently received a positive result from Health Services’ rapid PCR testing instrument, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in an email to the community on Monday. The student is being moved to isolation housing, and through contact tracing, the College determined that no additional students are required to quarantine.
On Sunday at 5 p.m., registration opened on CampusGroups for students to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Mid Coast Hospital’s clinic at the Brunswick Recreation Center beginning Wednesday. Despite website glitches and slowdowns, according to COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen, over 900 students were registered for an appointment within half an hour.
Two months into a spring semester like no other and with over 1,000 students on campus Bowdoin has managed to keep its positive COVID-19 case numbers relatively low. Despite a recent uptick in cases, it has also managed to stay in the least restrictive campus status level—”yellow”—since leaving “Hibearnation” and three days of “orange” in mid-February.
Moulton Union will be closed until breakfast tomorrow after three employees tested positive for COVID-19 this week, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen wrote in an email to the community on Thursday. Ranen wrote that the College closed the dining hall as a “precautionary measure.” Moulton dining employees will come to campus to receive a rapid antigen and PCR test every day, but they will leave campus immediately after they complete both tests.
Outside contractor tests positive for COVID-19; College to prohibit contractors to enter campus building
An outside contractor who worked in Kanbar Hall this week tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in an email to the community Thursday evening. As a result, outside contractors will not be permitted to enter campus buildings, effective immediately.
A second staff member in Moulton Hall tested positive for COVID-19, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in an email to the community on Tuesday. Ranen clarified in his message that the case was not related to the positive case reported on Monday.
On Tuesday, one employee in Moulton Hall tested positive and one student who received an inconclusive test in Monday’s testing received a positive result on an antigen test, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in two separate emails to the community.
Editor’s Note on Friday, April 2, at 12:02 p.m.: This article has been updated to reflect additional information released to the student body about the College’s vaccination partnership with Mid Coast Hospital. The College will work with Mid Coast Hospital to provide Pfizer vaccinations to all Bowdoin students after vaccine eligibility is extended to all Maine residents over the age of 16 on April 7, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in an email to students on Thursday afternoon.
A College employee who works in Rhodes Hall tested positive for COVID-19 in Wednesday’s testing, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in a community-wide email Thursday afternoon. According to Ranen, this case is the second positive reported in Rhodes Hall in seven days.
One student tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in an email to the community. Through contact tracing, three additional students were identified as close contacts and have been moved to quarantine housing.
Two students tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. The cases are not believed to be “connected to each other or to any of the cases reported last week,” COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen wrote in an email sent to the Bowdoin community on Tuesday afternoon.
One College employee tested positive for COVID-19 in Wednesday’s testing, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in an email to the Bowdoin community on Thursday afternoon. This case marks the fifth on campus in the last week, after three students and one employee tested positive on Friday.
A year ago, during the first week of March, the Department of Theater and Dance staged a performance of Shakespeare’s “Henry VI, Part II” in Pickard Theater. One week later, students returned home for spring break.
Following an order issued by Maine Governor Janet Mills on March 5, Bowdoin has modified its rules for travel related to official College purposes, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in an email to all students and employees on Wednesday.
Despite Maine’s relatively efficient rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine—the state is currently ranked tenth nationally in percentage of the population that has been fully vaccinated—the state’s transition to an age-based distribution plan has placed many Bowdoin students at the end of the line, resulting in a sense of uncertainty, disappointment and a scramble to find alternate solutions.
In an email to the community sent on Saturday afternoon, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator announced that an employee of the College tested positive for COVID-19 in Friday’s on-campus testing. The employee is isolating at home. One other employee was identified as a close contact through contact tracing and is now quarantined at home.
President Clayton Rose sent an email to the campus community on Thursday afternoon announcing that the College expects to welcome all students back to campus in the fall. Rose also outlined plans for commencement and summer on-campus activity.
This weekend, the fifth annual production of “RISE: The Untold Stories of Bowdoin Women” will be available for students to watch remotely. The production, put on by the student-led club fEMPOWER, includes over 30 student performers and will be streamed at 7 p.m.
Last semester, the College offered free COVID-19 testing to all students living off campus in the Brunswick area. The program was established in partnership with Mid Coast Hospital to help keep Brunswick safe, recognizing that off-campus students would interact with the greater community at grocery stores and other essential businesses.
With the week of February 21 coming to a close, all 11 NESCAC schools have now welcomed students back to their campuses for the start of the spring semester. While Colby brought students back to start their January term on January 8, most NESCAC schools made significant adjustments to their academic calendar in order to delay the start of their spring semester until early or mid February.
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) has announced it is releasing its Student-Driven Behavioral Expectations—a document meant to help clarify how students can safely enjoy the spring semester. “We’ve already signed a community agreement form, and the purpose of this is to help explain how to live student life,” said BSG President Marcus Williams ’21 in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
As the Class of 2021 enters their final semester, seniors are planning for life after Bowdoin. For international students, however, the matter is much more complicated. Some will return to their home country and some will explore other countries, while others are intending to stay in the United States to pursue citizenship and a career here.
When Emma Hargreaves ’23 was hired as a server at Thorne Hall in February, she anticipated regular hours and a steady income. “I wanted to do two or three shifts a week,” she said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
The College welcomed over 1,000 students back to campus earlier this month, but the majority of the Class of 2024 was not among them. After spending the fall semester on campus, many first years returned home, but some were able to find alternate housing to spend the semester elsewhere with friends or family.
A College employee tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced in an email to the community this afternoon. The employee is on campus infrequently and was found to have been in close contact with one other employee, who is now quarantining at home.
College tours are typically most high schoolers’ first chance to get to know a school on a deeper level and get a glimpse of campus life. At a time where visiting Bowdoin’s campus is not possible, given COVID-19 restrictions, the Office of Admissions has shifted to an online format for its tours and information sessions.
As Bowdoin’s most important mechanism for tracking campus coronavirus (COVID-19) infections, Bowdoin Health Services has taken on a more prominent role in campus life as they work to manage routine testing, conduct symptom evaluations and provide regular medical care to students and College employees.
Nearly one year after the initial projected start date, the College is slated to break ground on both the Barry Mills Hall and the Center for Arctic Studies (CAS) in mid-March at a total cost of $36.5 million.
This semester, 179 students have taken a personal leave of absence from the College—a slight increase from the fall, when 164 students took leaves. For these students, taking a personal leave of absence provides an escape from Zoom classes and an opportunity for creative or professional pursuits.
In an effort to be more transparent about COVID-19 policy violations, the College has launched a COVID-19 Student Conduct Dashboard on February 16. The dashboard reports the number of students found responsible for COVID-19 policy violations and who have been removed from campus for such violations during the spring semester.
After recognizing potential obstacles not addressed by the College’s formal plan for welcoming students back to campus last week, Thomas Bao ’21 and Maddie Hikida ’22 launched Polar Bear Community Action (PBCA), a mutual aid network intended to streamline the process for students arriving back on campus.
Over the weekend, the College welcomed back 1013 on-campus students and 64 students who are living off campus but have on-campus privileges. This meant the launch of Bowdoin’s second semester of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing protocols—this time with a significantly greater volume of tests to process each week.
In addition to transforming life on campus, COVID-19 has complicated the plans of students who were intending to study off campus during the 2020-21 school year. Only 15 of the 29 students who, as of this past fall, intended to study off-campus were able to, three of whom are studying with domestic programs while the rest are at various institutions in the United Kingdom.
After welcoming more than 1,000 students to campus on Friday and Saturday, two students have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), wrote COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen in an email to all students and employees early this afternoon.
The Office of Off-Campus Study (OCS) is allowing 29 students to study away next semester, significantly more than the five that did so this fall, but small in comparison to the 130 to 160 students that study away in a typical semester.
The overwhelming majority, 81 percent, of survey participants believe the College is handling COVID-19 well or very well, with 19 percent believing the College is handling the pandemic poorly or very poorly. This is only a slight decrease from the 85 percent of participants who thought the College was handling COVID-19 well or very well last semester.
Staff from Residential Life and the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs—including Director of Residential Education Whitney Hogan, Associate Dean of Upperclass Students Khoa Khuong and Dean of Students Kristina Bethea Odejimi—offered several clarifications about the Campus Community Agreement on Monday, November 23 during an informal question-and-answer office hours session with students.
When Renske Kerkhofs ’24 left their home country of Belgium to go to Bowdoin this fall, they did not expect to return home until May. “My plan was to stay all through winter break and then just go straight into the spring semester.
A second Dining Services employee tested positive for COVID-19 this week, Mike Ranen, COVID-19 resource coordinator, announced in an email to all students and employees on Thursday afternoon. Both employees work in Thorne Hall. Two additional employees were identified through contact tracing as having been in close contact with the second individual who tested positive.
Coronavirus and counseling: how the pandemic has left one of the College’s most crucial resources vulnerable
Editor’s Note 11/20/20 at 10:42 a.m.: This article has been updated for accuracy. In a period of stress and uncertainty that has contributed to increasing mental health issues in college-aged adults, Bowdoin’s mental health care, which students can access without paying any extra in tuition and fees, is as important as ever.
As COVID-19 cases surge nation-wide, the Bowdoin community has not been immune. Confronting rising cases of the virus on campus, the administration and on-campus students are evaluating steps forward as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. In a Microsoft Teams interview with the Orient, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen said that he was not surprised about the recent positive cases on campus.
The Dean’s Office granted permission for 104 students to reside on campus after November 21. These students, with either home lives unsuitable for remote learning or other extenuating circumstances such as an inability to travel home due to safety concerns, will be allowed to remain in residence until December 22.
The majority of courses will continue to be taught remotely for the spring semester, but students in residence will have limited opportunities for in-person learning, according to an email sent to students from the Registrar Martina Duncan on Monday.
The College released its Campus Community Agreement on Blackboard Thursday for students who intend to live on campus or be in residence for the spring semester. Dean of Students Kristina Bethea Odejimi also sent the agreement to these students in an email yesterday evening.
An employee of the College who works at the Schiller Coastal Studies Center tested positive for COVID-19 late last evening informed COVID-19 Resource Director Mike Ranen in an email to the community this afternoon. The employee is isolating at home, but the College did not disclose whether the employee is showing symptoms.
A first-year student living on campus tested positive for COVID-19 this morning, informed COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen in an email to the community this evening. The student does not have symptoms and is isolating on campus.
A College employee who works in Thorne Hall and a first-year student living on campus tested positive for COVID-19 today, wrote Mike Ranen, COVID-19 resource coordinator, in an email sent to the community at noon. The employee and student are both asymptomatic and are both isolating.
In an email sent to students on Thursday morning, Dean of Students Kristina Bethea Odejimi shared an update on the College’s spring residential plan for on-campus students. Odejimi laid out the various options, or “tracks,” available to students this spring.