Katherine Merisotis/The Bates Student
In an email to students on Thursday, Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students Joshua McIntosh wrote that Bates is implementing an immediate campus-wide in-room lockdown in response to a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases this week.
The lockdown is set to begin at 2:00 p.m. Thursday and extend until at least Tuesday afternoon. According to McIntosh, students are not permitted to leave campus and can only leave their dorm rooms or off-campus housing to attend mandatory COVID-19 testing appointments, stop by Post and Print after their tests, pick up Dash meals, use the bathroom, pick up prescription medicine, or go to Bates Health Services or a different medical provider.
Currently, there are 34 active cases, with an additional 50 students in quarantine. According to the COVID-19 Dashboard, there were seven new cases on Monday and three new cases on Tuesday. McIntosh noted that Bates has not finished contact tracing from today’s new cases, so the number of students in quarantine is “expected to increase.”
The Student has received reports of on-campus gatherings this weekend. It is unclear, however, if this week’s cases stem from those events.
Final examinations scheduled for Thursday will be shifted to Friday at the same time, with Friday’s exams moved to Monday. As a result, Module D classes are expected to begin on Wednesday instead of Monday.
Student spaces such as the Merrill Gymnasium and Ladd Library will be closed.
Dining has also been adjusted; students are allowed to leave their room to access two Grab n’ Go meals in Commons a day (brunch and dinner). Convenience-packed breakfast items and snacks will be made available at dinner, McIntosh wrote. Commons now has reduced hours and is only open from 10:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9:00 p.m.
COVID-19 testing on Friday and Monday will now include both an antigen test and a PCR test. Normally, students only get antigen tested on Friday and PCR tested on Monday. McIntosh hopes that using both methods of testing “will help [Bates] identify positive cases and limit further spread.”
Students are not permitted to gather in small groups in their residence hall rooms, hallways, and common areas. All co-curricular activities have also been suspended, including all intercollegiate and club athletics contests and practices.
Students with off-campus medical appointments must be “approved in advance for extenuating circumstances” which include timely and necessary medical appointments. In addition, all Bobcat Express shuttle services have been suspended.
Those who fail to comply with the campus lockdown will “result in immediate referral to the student conduct system, which will likely result in being removed from college housing and being switched to remote learning for the remainder of the semester,” according to McIntosh.
In addition, McIntosh apologized about the timing of these restrictions.
“I am very sorry that we need to take these actions at such a stressful point in the semester, and we need your help in adhering strictly to these guidelines so that we succeed in containing this outbreak,” he wrote.