McIntosh Provides insight to Module C Decision in Interview with Cats V Covid

McIntosh+Provides+insight+to+Module+C+Decision+in+Interview+with+Cats+V+Covid

Cats V Covid Instagram

Eleanor Boyle, Managing Arts & Leisure Editor

Tuesday night, Vice President of Campus Life Joshua McIntosh spoke to Imani Boggan ‘21 and Mary Corcoran ‘22, both members of Cats V Covid, on Instagram Live. Boggan and Corcoran asked McIntosh students’ burning questions and got some answers.

Cats V Covid is a newly-formed group tasked with helping students adjust to Bates’ new pandemic normal. This is the second Q&A the group has conducted with McIntosh.  

We order his answers (largely paraphrased) below by theme. To learn more about any of this, check out the recording of the Instagram live Q&A on @CatsVCovid’s Instagram page. 

Infections

Current active infections: 14 

– On Friday, Bates had 12 active infections 

– 11 on campus 

– Six of those had some connection to each other 

– Others did not have an identifiable common source 

– Two cases were cleared making infections go to 10, but on Monday two more students tested positive. 

– On Monday one faculty member tested positive as well

– More than 60 students currently in quarantine 

Numbers of Students on Campus

– Oct. 1, 1705 students on campus 

– Nov. 6, 1688 students remained 

– 17 switched to remote

– 181 students studied remotely

– 480 people departed as early as Tuesday

Life on Campus for Students in Quarantine Over Break

– It won’t be fun, but McIntosh said Bates will make sure those students are fed and cared for.

Module C, Second Semester, and 2021-2022

– When will there be more information for students on when they’ll return and if they will return? 

– No clear answer due to the fact that the situation continues to change rapidly.

– McIntosh anticipates students will return on Jan. 8. Bates is planning around that date, but there are contingency plans.

– Why are students all coming back on the same day?

– McIntosh said Bates took a deeply cautious approach this fall in order to see how long testing results would take. Bates plans to consolidate move-in so it is more streamlined in January.  

– Does Bates have a threshold for cases in Maine or nationwide which would cause Bates to go remote? 

– There isn’t one number.

– It’s a combination of variables, McIntosh said. Bates has leaned on the guidance of Harvard University and the Mayo Clinic and remains in close contact with them. 

McIntosh said Bates is watching state and government restrictions closely, specifically related to travel. “How will those infection rates inform or make decisions for governors?” he queried.

– Will Bates use similar standards to evaluate whether students should be sent home if already on campus? 

– There’s no option to take off the table, but what Bates might do first if there is a rise in cases is an on-campus, in-room quarantine for all students. This restriction would stabilize the situation and reduce contact among the Bates community. Students would be able to leave their rooms when using restrooms, leaving to get tests and meals and to visit Post and Print. Students would attend classes remotely.

– If Bates decides not to return to module C, would it just be module C or the entire semester? 

– McIntosh said he would prefer not to make a call for the full semester. If Bates didn’t feel it was smart to bring students in January, they would look for another time, potentially between module C and module D, to bring students back. However, if Bates sees no reasonable path for students to return, McIntosh said the school could go remote for the full semester. 

– How will Bates take mental health concerns into consideration during the winter weather?

– McIntosh recognizes that Module C will be challenging, but stated that students will still be able to see roommates and people in residence halls. 

– He acknowledged there are some students where this may not work and he said Bates will do its best to support them.

– McIntosh wanted to make clear that no student should feel like they have to come back or that they have to remain on campus the whole semester. It will be okay for students to change their minds and Bates accepts that students and parents want agency in this decision.

– If this would be an issue for students Bates of course has CAPS and numerous support structures, but the other options are to do remote or take a leave.

– Can a student leave at any time during the winter semester?

– Yes, any student can choose to go home at any time. 

– What will housing look like for students who are coming back to Bates after not being on campus for the fall semester?

– As of Tuesday, 1794 students are planning to be on campus for the winter semester and 89 plan to study remotely. Bates has floors in the Hampton Inn reserved for students. Students that weren’t on campus in the fall will most likely be in the hotel to start but may be able to move back on campus if people leave. 

– Reach out to Bates Housing for any other questions. 

– Can seniors come back for short term if they studied remotely during the winter semester? 

– Winter semester status informs short term status. So if students are studying remotely in winter, they cannot come back for short term. 

– Is it possible that Bates may choose to bring back some, but not all, students in the winter? Or, is it likely all or nothing?

– If it is safe to bring students back, McIntosh said Bates would bring all students back. However, nothing is off the table.

– Will there be an in-person graduation for seniors? 

– McIntosh said that Bates hasn’t planned that far in advance yet. 

– When will spring athletes know about spring sports? 

– They do not have a deadline yet, but it most likely will be determined after the winter semester decisions are made.

– Is a module system on the table for next year?

– It’s not off the table. 

– What drives these decisions is if physical distancing is required next fall. If Bates didn’t do the module system this semester then McIntosh said there would have been more night and weekend classes.

Public Health 

– Is it true that some students have been caught violating public health, but have not been sent home?

– There are three types of students who have gone through the conduct system, according to McIntosh.

– Nine students were switched to remote learning for severe violations.

– Another group of students was given warnings. 

– Other students appealed their violation; students who could show that switching to remote learning would have an outsized effect on their learning were given a second chance. 

– COVID-19 isn’t getting transmitted out of nowhere, he said. Students following the rules mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.  That is why Bates is testing so frequently.

– What is the definition of a ‘close contact’? 

– A close contact is a person who was within 6 ft. of a positive person for a total of 15 minutes in a 24-hour time span. Bates contact-traces people from two days prior to developing symptoms or testing positive.

– My roommate got contact traced, but I was not, should I be concerned about contracting the virus? 

– Only people who have direct contact with a covid-positive person must quarantine. Secondary contacts are at a low risk of contracting the virus.

– Are policies the same for on-campus and off-campus contacts? 

– Yes. Students who are in close contact with a Covid-positive person must quarantine in their room for 14 days whether they are living on campus or not. Students who live off-campus and test positive for COVID-19 are given the option of living in Bates isolation but must remain in isolation for the full ten days. 

– Will Bates administer COVID-19  vaccines?

– Bates will listen to advice from experts when it comes to deciding whether or not it will administer vaccines, but it has the internal capacity to do so.

Travel 

– Will Bates ship items back to students? Would this include larger items such as minifridges and rugs? 

– “If it isn’t ship ready,  it won’t be shipped,” McIntosh said. 

– Students should make plans for retrieving their belongings before they leave campus. Students within driving distance would likely be able to sign-up for a time slot to grab their things if students are unable to study on-campus during the winter semester.

– What if students can’t get to Bates safely on Jan. 8?

– Bates will help students in that situation, but there’s no set plan.

– Would students come back to campus on Jan.  8 if the COVID-19 situation in Maine and the country is the same as it is now?

– Given the current conditions, Bates worries about what the next weeks will look like. However, McIntosh said, “If I were [deciding] it [based on conditions] today, then yes we’d return.”

– What will Bates do for students who have to stay on campus and have had to cancel flights or other plans? Will there be financial aid for those students?

– Bates will help students that have high financial needs. Reach out to Carl Steidel for more information.