Students will return to Bowdoin’s campus for the start of the spring semester on Jan. 24. John Terhune / The Forecaster

In the wake of the nation’s recent COVID surge, Bowdoin College will hold all classes remotely during the first week of its spring semester, according to Mike Ranen, the school’s COVID resource coordinator.

The move to remote classes for the week of Jan. 24, part of several changes to Bowdoin’s COVID policy, will give students returning to campus time to isolate before stepping back into the classrooms, said Ranen, who also serves as the school’s associate dean of student affairs and director of residential and student life.

Bowdoin’s buildings are currently closed to visitors due to the pandemic. John Terhune / The Forecaster

“Based on where we are around the country and the world we anticipate a number of new COVID cases, and we anticipate there will be a number of students who are in isolation,” Ranen said. “We know how essential the first week of classes are, so we want to make sure that everybody is on an equal playing ground.”

Students returning from winter break will take rapid tests before departing from their homes and upon arriving on campus, and then resume twice-weekly PCR testing, according to a Jan. 10 message Ranen sent to members of the college community. Until students receive their first negative PCR test, they will pick up to-go meals from campus dining halls and “hibernate” in their dorms as much as possible.

Among other policy changes crafted by a group of about 10 administrators, including college President Clayton Rose, senior staff and Ranen, are a booster mandate for eligible students, faculty and staff,  and a ban on cloth masks in favor of surgical and N95 masks, Ranen said.

Bowdoin had planned to switch from individual to pooled PCR testing, but the omicron surge has indefinitely put that move on hold.


The changes come after the college largely avoided breakouts during the fall semester, when restrictions were relaxed or tightened based on the current situation on campus, Ranen said. According to Bowdoin’s online COVID dashboard, 93 students and 25 staff members tested positive for the virus during the fall.

Bowdoin women’s basketball coach Sacha Santimano draws up a play during a timeout in a game against the University of Southern Maine. Contributed / Bowdoin Athletics

“I think the administration is handling this very well,” said Student Body President Ryan Britt, a senior from Mantua, Ohio.

Students generally respect the school’s COVID policies, he said, because they understand the rules will help limit cases and allow for more freedom later in the semester.

“Obviously, no one wants to be locked down,” Britt said. “But going into (the semester) with these precautions, I think, is the best thing for Bowdoin in general.”

Bowdoin’s sports teams will continue to play their winter schedules, though outbreaks, should they arise, could force game cancellations or postponements, said Jim Caton, assistant athletic director and sports information director.

Currently, only members of the Bowdoin community can attend indoor athletic events in person, he said, but outsiders could get a chance to watch the tail end of the winter season if the omicron surge dissipates.

“It’s a major disappointment that we can’t have (fans) for the full season, but hopefully, we’ll have everybody back on campus and back in action come February,” Caton said. “I would imagine the next three weeks are going to be very important in that respect.”

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