College of the Atlantic is committed to providing a safe, thoughtful, academically inspiring environment for our students, staff, and faculty. Together, with grace and empathy, we will co-create our community of human ecologists. We will adapt to the protocols and guidelines that come with our efforts to stay safe, and we will find ways new and old to communicate, connect, and create.

College of the Atlantic is committed to serving our students by using science-informed plans to reduce the spread of COVID-19, accommodate vulnerable members of our community, respond to incidents of COVID-19 infection, and protect each other and our community.


Fall term updates

Updated July 12, 2021

We’re really looking forward to seeing you this fall! Thank you so much for your patience as we work with our medical experts and closely follow the news around COVID-19 to prepare the College of the Atlantic Campus Safe plan for Fall 2021. While work on the plan is underway, we thought it would be helpful to share some of what we do know so far. As always, please get in touch with questions!

As we have so far throughout this pandemic, COA is committed to making science-informed decisions in order to best protect the health of our community and those around us, while also working to optimize our learning environment. What the science tells us now is that with a vaccinated population, our campus community will be able to return to a much less restrictive environment than the one we instituted during Maine’s 15-month, COVID-19 civil state of emergency (which ended on June 30!) However, even with a vaccine requirement in place*, it is very likely that there will be some unvaccinated individuals on campus, as both law and ethics indicate that we must make exemptions for medical and religious reasons. Our aims for the fall are to create as much of a reduced-risk environment as possible with regards to COVID-19, but it’s important to note that we cannot eliminate risk entirely.

Please have a look at the following, and, as always, reach out with questions.

College of the Atlantic Fall 2021 COVID-19 Primer

  • General
    • All COA students, staff, and faculty are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for fall term.*
      • Exemptions
        • Documented medical reason for not being vaccinated
        • Documented, sincerely held religious reason for not being vaccinated
      • Vaccinated students, staff, faculty, and visitors are not required to wear a mask while on campus, but are welcome to do so if they choose.
        • The college may require masking in some circumstances or settings in order to mitigate risk.
        • Students, staff, and faculty are required to file proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Please stay tuned for more information about this.
      • Unvaccinated students, staff, and faculty are required to wear a mask while on COA campus.
        • Exemptions
        • When outside and at least six feet from others
        • When in their campus residence
        • When alone in a private office that does not have shared airspace
  • Campus move-in
    • Students are welcome to have family/friend support for move-in.
    • All members of the COA community, family, and other visitors are required to wear masks when inside dorms and campus buildings during move-in.
  • Dining
    • Dining services will be open to COA students, staff, faculty, and invited, vaccinated guests.
    • There will be no general public access to COA dining facilities.
    • Consistent with our protocols for indoor spaces, unvaccinated students, staff, and faculty are prohibited from eating in indoor common spaces, such as Take-a-Break.
  • Services
    • All campus services, including the Thorndike Library, computer labs, and studios, will be operating as normal.
  • Academics
    • Classrooms will be seated at regular capacity.
    • Accommodations will be made for potential COVID-19-related issues that cause a student to remain outside of the classroom temporarily, such as a positive COVID-19 test, a required quarantine period, or documented medical risk of vaccine failure during an outbreak period. These accommodations will be handled through the usual process.
    • Students and faculty exempt from the vaccination requirement for documented medical or religious reasons will be required to wear a mask in the classroom at all times.
    • Students and faculty exempt from the vaccination requirement for documented medical or religious reasons will be required to wear a mask when on field trips unless they are outside and able to distance themselves from others.
  • International arrivals
    • According to CDC guidelines, all air passengers, two years of age or older, traveling into the US, including US citizens and legal permanent residents, are required to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to present the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight.
    • Fully vaccinated international travelers are required to:
      • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel
      • Isolate if test results are positive
      • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if symptoms develop
    • Unvaccinated international travelers are required to:
      • Quarantine for a full week after travel
      • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel
      • Isolate if test results are positive
    • All students arriving from abroad will be tested twice within the seven-day period after they arrive.
    • International students who are having trouble getting vaccinated at home should arrive on campus on August 22
      • We will work with this cohort to begin getting them vaccinated as soon as possible.
      • Students in this cohort going on an OOPs trip will be on campus for a week and will be tested for COVID-19 twice prior to the trip. They will not be required to wear a mask while on the trip.
  • Transportation
    • College vans will be run at full capacity and the night and day buses will be back on the road.
    • We will offer start-of-term transportation from Bangor airport and bus stations
  • *Vaccine information
    • Acceptable vaccines
      • College of the Atlantic will accept vaccines that have been approved for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization:
      • According to the CDC:
        • People who have received all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that is listed for emergency use by WHO do not need any additional doses with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine.
        • People who have not received all the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine listed for emergency use by WHO may be offered a complete, FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series.
        • People who have received all or some of the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that is neither authorized by FDA nor listed for emergency use by WHO may be offered a complete, FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series.
        • The minimum interval between the last dose of a non-FDA authorized vaccine or a WHO-listed vaccine and an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine is 28 days. Only people who have received all recommended doses of an FDA-authorized or WHO-listed COVID-19 vaccine are considered fully vaccinated for the purpose of public health guidance.
    • Individuals who have had COVID-19
      • These individuals still need to be vaccinated. The immune response after having the disease isn’t as strong as the defensive response that occurs after vaccination.
      • If an individual arrives on campus within 90 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis (documented), they are exempt from the vaccine requirement until the 90-day period has expired; at that point they will be required to be vaccinated.
    • Vaccine requirement
      • As of July 1, all three vaccines approved by the FDA are regulated under emergency use authorization, a mechanism to facilitate the availability and use of medical countermeasures, including vaccines, during public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
      • Until the vaccines receive full approval, the college will not require vaccination
      • Both Moderna and Pfizer have filed for full approval with the FDA, and it is expected that they will announce the designation this summer.

Governor Mills Announces State of Civil Emergency To End June 30 [Maine.gov]

Updated June 30, 2021

“Today, we take another important step forward in our return to normal,” said Governor Janet Mills. “After fifteen long, difficult months, ending the State of Civil Emergency is a welcome milestone that reflects the progress Maine has made in getting people vaccinated, reducing the spread of the virus, and getting back to normal. Maine people have persevered, and, although challenges remain, we will get through them together just as we did this past year. I congratulate and thank Maine people for all they have done to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their fellow citizens.”

The Governor temporarily extended the current State of Civil Emergency, which was set to expire on Sunday, June 13, through June 30, 2021, to ensure an orderly transition out of the emergency, allowing State government departments to continue necessary pandemic-related services. During this time, departments will identify any policies that may need temporary extensions past June 30, 2021, such as flexibilities for child care providers and home-and community-based services given ongoing pandemic-related challenges.

The State’s last remaining face covering requirement, which only applies to indoor preK-12 schools and child care settings, will also end on June 30, 2021. However, Maine CDC will continue to recommend, though not require, that unvaccinated people – including those under 12 who are not yet eligible for a COVID vaccine – wear face coverings indoors. School Administrative Units and child care settings may require face coverings, as some businesses have done. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services continues to encourage schools to participate in its free pooled testing program, which reduces the spread of the virus in schools and eliminates the need for quarantining for participating students and staff who are asymptomatic.

“The guidance for schools, including recommended face coverings indoors for unvaccinated people, will help protect the health and safety of students and staff as COVID-19 continues to impact our communities,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Pender Makin, Commissioner of the Department of Education. “We celebrate our state’s success in navigating the pandemic, but recommend schools maintain protocols and participate in the pooled testing program, recognizing that many children are not yet eligible for vaccination.”

The State of Civil Emergency allowed the Governor to implement public health measures and deploy all available governmental tools to respond to and contain COVID-19. As of June 11, most states in the nation still have active emergency declarations, according to the National Governors Association.

Maine continues to demonstrate nation-leading progress in administering vaccinations and containing the spread of COVID-19. More than 73 percent of Maine people age 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 64.9 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. CDC vaccination tracker. Maine, adjusted for population, also ranks 4th lowest in total number of cases and 4th lowest in number of deaths from COVID-19, according to the U.S. CDC.