Bowdoin College campus. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — A second Bowdoin College student has tested positive for COVID-19, one day after classes started. 

The student is now in isolation and another student, the only person known to have been in close contact with the sick student, has been placed in a 14-day quarantine in a separate residence hall. 

Dr. Jeff Maher said in an email that the student has mild symptoms, just a runny nose, and has no contacts from home or on campus who are known to have the virus. The student received a negative test result from the pre-arrival test and quarantined for two weeks before coming to campus. The student was tested on Aug. 29 and Aug. 31 and was negative for both. The test from Wednesday was positive. 

“This is exactly what we would expect as we screen students arriving from around the country,” Maher said. “The peak in viral replication in the upper respiratory tract from someone exposed en route is five to seven days with 14 days as the outlier. Our system of three times weekly testing over 14 days is designed to pick up these cases specifically.”

This is the first case to be identified through the college’s testing program with the Broad Institute. 

According to the college’s online coronavirus dashboard, both coronavirus cases are students and both are still considered “active.” 

The college reported its first case of coronavirus last weekend when an out-of-state student received a positive test result while driving to campus for move-in, college officials said. 

The student notified the school before arriving and went directly to the college’s isolation facility without visiting any other parts of campus or the town.

The student participated in the college’s pre-travel COVID-19 testing program the week of Aug. 17 and received a negative test result. Before leaving, the student decided to take a second test, which came back positive. The student, a freshman, will remain in isolation with a private bathroom until cleared by health services. 

Bowdoin welcomed back roughly 700 students over the weekend, including first-year students, some transfer students, residential life student workers, seniors working on honors projects that require campus resources and students “for whom working at home presents great challenges,” Doug Cook, a college spokesman said last week. All other students are learning remotely for the fall semester and, with the exception of freshmen writing seminars, classes will be conducted online.

All students were tested immediately upon their arrival before being allowed into the dorms.  They’ll be tested three times per week during the first two weeks on campus. 

Following the first two weeks, all students will be tested twice weekly until they leave campus the week before Thanksgiving. They will finish the semester remotely. 

Bowdoin College is partnering with the Broad Institute in Massachusetts for a testing plan specifically designed for higher education. Matt Orlando, Bowdoin’s senior vice president for finance and administration and treasurer, said in an earlier interview that the college ordered more than 35,000 tests for the 11-week period. Testing and contact tracing for the fall is expected to cost roughly $3 million.

Students will conduct the self-administered lower nasal swabs under the supervision of a trained staff member or health care professional in the college’s testing facility at the Morrell Gymnasium. Tests are sent back to the lab for testing and results are available in about 24 hours, and data is posted on Bowdoin’s COVID dashboard the following morning.

Students living off campus and staff not expected to regularly interact with students will be tested once weekly through a partnership with Mid Coast Hospital and NordX. 

So far, Bowdoin has conducted 2,142 student tests and 2,034 staff and faculty tests, resulting in the two student positive test results. 

According to the college’s website, the campus will be in “orange” status until Tuesday “out of an abundance of caution.” 

The college has three status levels, yellow, orange and red, with red being the most restrictive and yellow being the least. 

In orange, students are prohibited from leaving campus for personal reasons and all meals are to-go only. Masks are required in the residence halls, common areas are closed and students are prohibited from visiting other residence halls. All classes will be outside in tents or online. Student support services are fully remote. 

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