Bates Updates COVID-19 Policies for Winter Semester in Light of Omicron


Katherine Merisotis/The Bates Student

“Grab-n-go” is one of many stricter COVID-19 restrictions being put in place by Bates College.

Bates Updates COVID-19 Policies for Winter Semester in Light of Omicron

On Wednesday morning Josh McIntosh, Vice President of Campus Life, released an update on winter semester plans. The plan calls for stricter masking guidelines, remote classes during the beginning of the semester, and “grab-n-go” meals from Commons. 

COVID-19 Testing

The statement reads that all students should obtain a COVID-19 test within 48 hours of their departure to return to campus. Students can look for testing locations here

If a student’s pre-arrival test result is positive, they should not return to Bates in-person.

Upon arrival to campus, students must immediately go to Muskie Archives to receive a rapid antigen test. They must also present a digital image or hard copy of their COVID-19 vaccination card with proof of the booster shot. 

Additional baseline testing will occur on Thursday, Jan. 13 and on Friday, Jan. 13. During the week of Jan. 3, students will receive an email from the COVID-19 Testing Center with direction on how to sign-up for testing times on Garnet Gateway.

After baseline testing is complete, the College requires all students to be tested two times per week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the same as the fall 2021 semester. This will begin the week of Jan. 17. 

McIntosh attributes the increase in testing to “the ongoing complexity and uncertainty associated with operating a residential college during this pandemic.” Administrators hope these precautions will help avoid large outbreaks and the need to switch fully to remote learning, which was the case for a number of colleges in December. 


Masks will be required indoors at all times, except for when students are in their own rooms with no student visitors or when actively participating in competition in indoor athletic events. This marks a change from the Fall semester, when students were able to remove their masks in common spaces in their dorms and houses. 


Additionally, Commons will be shifting back to the “grab-n-go” system that was put in place for the 2020-2021 academic year. Students will no longer dine inside Commons. Instead, they will pick up meals and return to their rooms to eat. 

In an email to students with allergies, Cheryl Lacey, Director of Dining Services, wrote that “all food will be self-service, with limited location changes. The exception will be the Bobcat Bar and Grill items, which will be moved to self-serve buffet lines in the dining room, to enhance traffic flow.”

The only differences from the fall semester dining experience will be the use of disposable containers for food and students will not be allowed to be seated in Commons, Lacey said.

Remote Classes

​​Classes on Wednesday, Jan. 12, Thursday, Jan. 13, and Friday, Jan. 14 will be held remotely. McIntosh states that “we plan to return to in-person classes as soon as conditions on campus permit, which we hope will be early in the semester.” 

While the intention is to hold classes in-person, the statement emphasizes that “we may need to switch to remote learning at times during the semester to mitigate transmission of the virus and manage new cases of infection.”

Additional Changes to the Public Health Policies

Other changes to the Public Health Policies from the fall 2021 semester include the suspension of universal card access—prohibiting students from being in other residence halls besides their own. 

Social programming on campus will also be remote and guests and visitors are no longer allowed in campus buildings until further notice. 

Due to the low local vaccination rate and high rates of infection in the Androscoggin community, it is likely that there will be some restriction for in-person community engagement programs. For this same reason, students have also been instructed to limit their time off-campus to do “only what is absolutely necessary, e.g., groceries, pharmacy, medical appointments,” the statement reads. 

McIntosh’s message further provided information on the College’s response in the case that isolation housing exceeded its maximum capacity. “We may require the roommates of a student who has tested positive to stay with friends, move to another on-campus room, stay at a local hotel, or return home for the duration of the roommate’s isolation period,” the statement explains. Furthermore, students who test positive may be asked to live with other students who are also positive or may be required to move from isolation back in with their roommates if their roommates become positive. 

As was the case during the fall 2021 semester, students who test positive and live in a single occupancy room will isolate themselves in their existing room assignment. 

The College has asked those who have further questions regarding the Public Health Policy changes to email [email protected]