In Hancock County, Maine, community level is low. People may choose to mask at any time. If you a...In Hancock County, Maine, community level is low. People may choose to mask at any time. If you are immunocompromised, learn more about how to protect yourself. Please refer to the COA campus status levels color chart for more information.

Our COVID response plans for spring term 2023

The US federal government recently announced that the Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 is set to expire this spring, on May 11. The ending of the federal emergency also puts an end to remaining state emergency procedures related to COVID-19 across the US.

For some context around the federal change: Since the peak of the Omicron surge at the end of January 2022, daily COVID-19 reported cases are down 92%, COVID-19 deaths have declined by over 80%, and new COVID-19 hospitalizations are down nearly 80%, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). COVID-19 is still considered a top priority by HHS, but with vaccines and treatments now widely available, their focus will shift to improving standards of care for patients.

Due to the timing of the federal change midway through the spring term, COA’s COVID-19 protocols are going to stay the same as they are now through the end of the academic year. This means, among other things, we will continue to provide free masks (delivered to your mailbox on request) and rapid tests for COA community member use, and we ask community members to report cases using this form, to isolate for five days if you contract COVID-19, and to remain masked for 10 days if you are a close contact. I’ll continue to serve in the role of COVID coordinator through the end of the school year, monitoring the status of cases on campus and in Hancock County (as the data allows) and communicating with you to respond to questions as needed. All of our current protocols are outlined at

One change for spring term is that COVID tests will be available at the COA nurse’s office Monday-Friday, according to the nurse’s schedule. Student Life staff will make tests available on the weekends. We will no longer stock COVID tests in Turrets as of the beginning of spring term.

One other note about rapid tests. Some of you have noticed that our tests are marked expired as of Feb. 2023. Rest assured, these tests are still good! The US Food and Drug Administration granted a nine-month extension of the expiration dates for the ACON Flowflex tests that we use, making them good through November of this year. You can read more about that here.

HHS said the following on Feb. 9: “We have come to this point in our fight against the virus because of our historic investments and our efforts to mitigate its worst impacts.” That really speaks to us here at COA as well. This community has put great effort into protecting one another, being empathetic and caring, and supporting one another through these challenging pandemic years. Our partners at MDI Hospital tell us we have been major contributors to a thoughtful COVID-19 public health response that has helped keep our small, rural hospital safe and functional. We have a lot to be proud of in our COVID-19 response.

If you’d like to learn more about the ending of the public health emergency, HHS’s COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Transition Roadmap has a lot of information.