LEWISTON — With three new cases of COVID-19 discovered on campus Thursday, Bates College told students “to remain on-campus as much as possible” until they depart shortly before Thanksgiving.
Joshua McIntosh, vice president for campus life, said in a message to the college community that two students and an employee tested positive this week for the new coronavirus. Three more students, who tested positive last week, remain in isolation housing.
At least 50 students who were found to have had close contact with those who tested positive are in quarantine to help control the spread on campus.
McIntosh said that with “a sharp rise in cases” in Maine and the new cases on campus, students should “take special care over the next several weeks to increase your attention to public health measures and avoid situations that may expose yourself or others to COVID-19.”
“Specifically, I encourage you to remain on campus as much as possible, adhere to all public health protocols, and not travel off campus until you leave for the November break,” he said. “For students who live off-campus, I encourage you to limit your travel to going from your residence to campus and vice versa.”
Contact tracers were not able to identify a common source of infection for the three students who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, he said. But tracers were able to find 20 students with close enough contact that they needed to go into quarantine as a precaution, he said.
“Today we learned that two more students and one employee have tested positive for COVID-19,” McIntosh said, “and we have not even received the full results from yesterday’s testing. ”
“We have completed contact tracing for these two new student cases and have identified 31 close contacts who have now entered in-room quarantine,” he said. “For these two new student cases, there also does not appear to be a common source of infection.”
“These unrelated cases suggest that as Maine cases increase, so does our students’ risk of exposure to COVID-19 through off-campus activities. This is cause for deepening concern,” he said.
McIntosh said that with the November break on the horizon, students should keep in mind that if they test positive or have to be quarantined staring next week because of exposure, they may not be able to leave campus in time to go home for the holiday.
Bates planned for all students, except a minimal number of special cases, to leave Lewiston before Thanksgiving, finish the semester remotely, and return for the next semester in January.
It said the school’s policy is for students who test positive to remain in isolation at Bates for at least 10 days.
Students who are close contacts with anyone who tests positive have to stay in quarantine in their own rooms for at least 14 days.