COVID-19 messages to the community

SUBJECT: COA mask order is lifted; County is back to medium
October 21, 2022

Hi all,
In their weekly adjustment of COVID-19 community levels, the US Centers for Disease Control has changed their designation for our location of Hancock County, ME back to medium. We also continue to experience moderate, manageable levels of reported COVID-19 infection within the COA community this week. Following the protocols outlined in our campus status levels chart, these two factors combined now place us back in Yellow status. As such, masks are no longer required in shared indoor spaces on campus. Of course, optional masking is always welcome, and we remain a mask-friendly environment. Requiring masks in the classroom is still an option, as per instructor.

According to the CDC, a medium community level designation means:

  • If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions
  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines
  • Get tested if you have symptoms

Thank you all so much for your flexibility in following our COVID protocols and for your support of each other as we continue to navigate these pandemic times together.

Thanks,
Rob Levin for the COVID-19 response team


SUBJECT: Important COVID campus updates — please read
October 14, 2022

Good afternoon,

I’m writing to let you know that the US Centers for Disease Control have shifted the COVID-19 community level for Hancock County, ME (where we are located) to a designation of High. According to our campus protocols, if the CDC goes to a High designation for the county, we have agreed to shift our campus status to Red. Under Red status, N95, KN95, or equivalent masks are required in shared, non-residential indoor spaces on COA campus. The indoor masking protocol will go into effect on Monday, Oct. 17 and continue at least through next week.

Here on campus, we have not seen any major changes in COVID-19 status. The virus is still present, and we continue to see a relatively small number of new active cases each week. The community level is determined by county level data on hospitalizations and cases. Public health measures during high community level are designed to help protect and include those who are most vulnerable, and help keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed.

When community levels are high, the CDC recommends the following:

Here on campus, as of Monday, masks will be required in classrooms and during indoor events until further notice. In TAB and Sea Urchin, masks will be required when moving through the line and whenever you are not eating.

You can find medical-grade masks in the mailboxes around campus. To request N95 and KN95 masks, please fill out this form.

According to COA’s campus status levels chart, Red status also indicates a couple changes for residential life. Under Red status, non-COA visitors are not allowed in campus residences (this excludes the current Fall Fly In). Further, visitors from within the COA community are allowed to visit inside residences but must be masked in common spaces. These protocols will also go into effect as of Monday, Oct. 17.

COA will remain in Red status at least through Friday, October 21. The CDC updates the county levels every Thursday night, and we will be watching out for that.

For those of you who are eligible for but have not yet received the latest COVID vaccine booster, MDI Hospital will be offering a COVID-19 vaccination booster clinic on Tuesday, October 25 from 9 am-12 pm at the MDI YMCA. There are just 90 spots available, so please reserve one as soon as you can.

Please be sure to re-familiarize yourself with all of COA’s COVID protocols for fall term, which follow below.

  • If you develop COVID symptoms or test positive, please use this form to report. When we hear from you we’ll follow-up with protocols, which include five days of isolation (typically in your residence), an additional five days of masking in public, and notification of your close contacts. You can also reach out to covid19coordinator@coa.edu, but the form is preferred. As with other viruses, it is your responsibility to notify your close contacts and make arrangements with your professors and/or supervisor.
  • Close contacts are required to mask for 10 days when around others. Close contacts should wait until six days after exposure to take a rapid test.
  • When you are required to wear a mask, remember that COA’s protocols call for N95/KN95 masks or equivalent, or a well-fitting medical-grade mask. These masks are protective of both the wearer and those around them. Cloth masks alone are not considered adequate protection. Medical-grade masks are available in the mailboxes around campus. To request N95 and KN95 masks, please fill out this form. We are again low on KN95 masks but have more on order.
  • Rapid tests are available for close contacts and those with symptoms. You can pick one up from the COA nurse, Barbara Logue, during her office hours in Deering, or from the hall table on the second floor of Turrets. If you are symptomatic but test negative, you can test again every 24 or 48 hours. If you are feeling sick, even if it is not COVID, it’s still a good idea to stay home and not infect others, and to wear a mask if you do go out. If you were exposed to COVID-19 and do not have symptoms, wait 5 full days after your exposure before testing.
  • Healthcare providers can give medical guidance for managing symptoms and for antiviral treatments such as Paxlovid (for COVID) and Tamiflu (for influenza).
  • The campus status level (color code green, yellow, or red) is posted at coa.edu/covid19. The campus status levels exist to help us all make the best decisions around COVID, and are based on both the Hancock County COVID status and the number of active cases on campus.
  • Remember, COVID-19 is not the only virus out there! Influenza and common cold viruses are also circulating. Hand washing and mask wearing are great ways to prevent the spread of viruses.

All through the pandemic, COA has sought to be a good neighbor and to do what we can to protect each other, ourselves, and our community. To this end, we have committed to following the science and advice of our regional medical and scientific partners, and taking the recommendations of the CDC. Our goal is to foster an optimal, inclusive, safe learning environment to all extent possible. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thanks,
Rob Levin, on behalf of the COVID-19 response team


SUBJECT: COVID updates and reminders
September 29, 2022

Greetings,

With fall term now well underway, our COVID team wanted to take this opportunity to reach out with updates and reminders about this year’s COVID-19 protocols.

First, an update: You may have heard that new COVID-19 boosters are available and recommended for all adults. Our medical advisors from MDI Hospital are urging everyone to get a booster as soon as you can. These boosters are safe and effective, and our medical advisors tell us they are the best way to keep yourself and your community protected from COVID-19. COA is strongly recommending the updated booster at this time. You can schedule a booster appointment at Walgreens in Bar Harbor—make sure you enter our zipcode, 04609, and have your vax card ready when scheduling.

Please be sure to familiarize yourself with COA’s COVID protocols for fall term, the first and most important being:

  • If you develop COVID symptoms or test positive, please use this form to report. When we hear from you we’ll follow-up with protocols, which include five days of isolation (typically in your residence), an additional five days of masking in public, and notification of your close contacts. You can also reach out to covid19coordinator@coa.edu, but the form is preferred. As with other viruses, it is your responsibility to notify your close contacts and make arrangements with your professors and/or supervisor.
  • Close contacts are required to mask for 10 days when around others. Close contacts should wait until six days after exposure to take a rapid test.
  • When you are required to wear a mask, remember that COA’s protocols call for N95/KN95 masks or equivalent, or a well-fitting medical-grade mask. These masks are protective of both the wearer and those around them. Cloth masks alone are not considered adequate protection. Medical-grade masks are available in the mailboxes around campus. For N95 masks, please fill out this form. We are in the process of getting a new shipment of KN95 masks.
  • Rapid tests are available for close contacts and those with symptoms. You can pick one up from the COA nurse, Barbara Logue, during her office hours in Deering, or from the hall table on the second floor of Turrets. If you are symptomatic but test negative, you can test again every 24 or 48 hours. If you are feeling sick, even if it is not COVID, it’s still a good idea to stay home and not infect others, and to wear a mask if you do go out. If you were exposed to COVID-19 and do not have symptoms, wait 5 full days after your exposure before testing.
  • Healthcare providers can give medical guidance for managing symptoms and for antiviral treatments such as Paxlovid (for COVID) and Tamiflu (for influenza).
  • The campus status level (color code green, yellow, or red) is posted at coa.edu/covid19. If campus moves to red status, we will also send a notification by email. The campus status levels exist to help us all make the best decisions around COVID, and are based on both the Hancock County COVID status and the number of active cases on campus.
  • Remember, COVID-19 is not the only virus out there! Influenza and common cold viruses are also circulating. Hand washing and mask wearing are great ways to prevent the spread of viruses.

Throughout this pandemic, the COA community has done a great job of following campus protocols and best practices to keep us healthy and well. Thank you! The COVID team continues to formulate our practices based on guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and our local medical advisors. We are so very grateful for your ongoing collaboration and support.

Thanks,
Rob Levin, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 Response Team