Messages to the community

Current masking requirement

COA COVID-19 dashboard

Together for Community: The COA Safe Campus Plan General COVID FAQ Staff/faculty COVID FAQ
 
COA current masking requirement

All individuals on campus are required to wear masks while in shared indoor spaces and congested outdoor spaces at this time. As of November 16, the US Centers for Disease Control are recommending that people in every county in Maine wear face coverings in public indoor settings, based on substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission. 


COVID-19 messages to the community

A message from COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge
SUBJECT: COVID-19 vaccine boosters - eligibility update
November 19, 2021

Good afternoon and congratulations on making it through week 10!

A quick note to let you know that Maine Governor Janet Mills announced earlier this week that, effective immediately, all Maine adults age 18 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot, regardless of underlying medical condition.

Maine Center for Disease Control director Dr. Nirav D. Shah said, “Anyone who is over 18 who received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna at least 6 months ago, or their J&J vaccine at least 2 months ago, can and should get a booster.” As noted before, you may receive a booster of a different brand than your original vaccine. At this time, COA is not requiring proof of COVID-19 boosters. The Maine C.D.C. said their supply of booster shots is more than adequate, but urged patience as providers deal with a high volume of appointment requests.

Going into the holiday break, it is also good to know that our testing from yesterday returned no positive results.

Have a safe and wonderful winter break,

COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 Response Team.

A message from COA Dean of Student Life Sarah Luke
SUBJECT: Important COVID-19 update

Hi all,

I’m writing to let you know that today we identified a positive case of COVID-19 in a COA community member. Our COVID-19 health team and members of the student life team immediately initiated our response, which includes communication with the individual and contact tracing within the COA community. We have notified the members of one affected in-person class and any identified close contacts, who have been asked to quarantine until they can be tested.

The person with the positive test result self-isolated at the onset of symptoms late last week and followed the appropriate health and behavioral protocols. Their current living situation and the timing and nature of their last on-campus interactions mean the risk of transmission is limited.

The positive individual will remain in isolation, consistent with CDC guidelines. Those students, faculty, and staff that may have been exposed have been asked to quarantine until after we can conduct incident-based testing within the CDC-recommended window for fully vaccinated adults. Please remember that secondary or tertiary contacts do not need to quarantine, unless experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

I want to thank everyone for following all of our protocols, including isolation and testing if and when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. We believe that the protocols we have in place— 98.5% vaccinated community, masking, and weekly surveillance testing—continue to serve us well. Please continue to embrace these best practices.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this information, please reach out.

Thanks,

SLuke, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 health and response teams


A message from COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge
SUBJECT: COVID-19 winter break travel information

Good morning,

With just a couple of weeks until winter break, I’m sure many of you are looking forward to visits with friends and family, whether here or away. I thought it might be helpful to put together the following FAQ about upcoming travel and opportunities for testing. Please have a look, and let me know if you have any questions.

1. I need a negative test to travel for winter break, can I get a test on campus?

Yes. PCR testing through The Broad Institute is being planned for Thursday, November 18 (week 10), on campus, for anyone who needs to show proof of a negative test for traveling. If you would like to be included in this testing, please fill out this form.

If testing on that date doesn’t work for you, Bangor International Airport has a COVID-19 PCR testing site through Curative that is free, doesn’t require an appointment, can be used for travel, and returns results in 1-2 days (this article has more information and testing times). Another potential option is an FDA-approved direct-to-consumer, self-administered PCR test through Amazon.com that ships to you, you self-administer the test and ship it back, then they send you results (link here).

2. I plan to travel or spend time with family/friends over Thanksgiving break? Should I get tested or quarantine before returning to campus?

We are following US and Maine Centers for Disease Control guidelines for domestic and international travel (see below for recent changes to international travel from the White House for “noncitizens who are nonimmigrants”*). There is currently no quarantine or testing requirement for domestic travel for fully vaccinated individuals, unless you are experiencing symptoms (if you are having symptoms, isolate and get tested). Fully vaccinated international travelers are recommended to test within 3-5 days of return, but not required to quarantine unless experiencing symptoms.

COA will provide post-Thanksgiving break testing on campus for anyone interested. If you would like to be included in this testing, please fill out this form so we know how many to plan for.

3. What is the plan for returning from winter break?

We will be coordinating comprehensive baseline testing of the entire community at the start of the term. We know that community members will be traveling right up until the start of term on January 3, and we also anticipate that there may be some who are arriving late. Given the various risk factors involved, as of right now we are planning for the first week of the term to happen virtually (meaning not in-person) to ensure adequate baseline testing can be completed with minimal long-term interruption to classes.

It is possible that we may not need to be virtual for the entirety of the first week. However, we would prefer to plan in advance for a full week with the option of updating the plan depending on the situation.

In addition to this guidance, we ask you to continue to act responsibly over break. Please avoid crowds in areas of high transmission. Please continue to wear a mask in public indoor spaces as is reasonable. Please continue to isolate and get tested if you are feeling ill. We all want to start the next term with as little disruption as possible.

Thank you for doing your part to help our community. I wish you all a healthy and wonderful upcoming holiday break.

COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 Response Team.

* White House Update on International Travel

On October 25, the White House issued A Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-⁠19 Pandemic.

Effective November 8, the current geographic travel ban restrictions will be lifted and replaced with a global requirement that “noncitizens who are nonimmigrants” traveling to the US by air be fully vaccinated, with some limited exceptions. The required negative COVID-19 test result, taken within the three days preceding departure, will remain (in addition to the new vaccine requirement).

NAFSA’s COVID-19 Restrictions on U.S. Visas and Entry and their COVID Vaccine and Test Requirements for U.S. Entry pages are very helpful. The latter breaks down the elements of the proclamation (including exemptions/exceptions) in a digestible way.


A message from COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge
COVID-19 boosters and mental health resources
October 27, 2021

Good afternoon,

I hope you are doing well on this rainy Week seven Wednesday. I’ve got a couple updates I wanted to share today that I thought you might find helpful.

COVID-19 vaccine boosters—you may be eligible now

COA students, staff, and faculty are all eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster vaccine. As an educational institution, COA is designated by the US Centers for Disease Control as a high-risk educational setting, qualifying all students and employees for a booster. If your initial COVID-19 vaccine was Pfizer or Moderna and it has been at least six months since your second shot, or your shot of J&J/Janssen was more than two months ago, you are eligible to get a booster now.

Once you are within the eligibility time frame, you may choose which booster you would like, and it doesn’t have to be the same one you initially got. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix-and-match dosing for booster shots. Click here to find a vaccination site or call the CDC’s Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111.

There are many local vaccination sites, including Cooper Gilmore Health Center and Walgreens in Bar Harbor, the Community Health Center in Southwest Harbor, and the Trenton Health Center. MDI Hospital is also doing a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Clinic at the Bar Harbor Regencycheck their appointment website for available dates/times (currently looks like times are available on November 20).

Please read this informative press release from the Maine CDC, published on Friday, Oct 22, if you plan to get a booster shot.

Mental health resources—reach out, you are not alone

Without a doubt, COVID-19 has changed the way we move through our daily lives. We are collectively living through the hardest time many of us have ever experienced, and we are all experiencing it in unique ways. I want to emphasize the point that you are not alone if you are having a hard time—many of us are. Please reach out for help. Here are some resources:

  1. StrengthenME is a free, pandemic-related mental health resource in Maine which offers stress management tools, emotional support resources, and program and community connections that promote wellness, resilience, empowerment and recovery. Call 207-221-8198 or 866-367-4588. StrengthenME is confidential, anonymous, and available to anyone in Maine.
  2. The Thorndike Library has happy lights available to borrow. Happy lights, also known as light therapy tools, can ease symptoms of mild depression or seasonal affective disorder, increase your energy levels, and help you feel better about yourself and life. There are some health conditions that are contraindications, so please check with your doctor if you aren’t sure if you should use one. If interested, they can be borrowed at the library circulation desk. Suggested use is 20 minutes per day.
  3. COA has counseling services available for students. The counseling program at COA strives to meet the emotional and mental health needs of all students, by offering confidential individual counseling to those who are experiencing difficulties that impact their personal and/or academic lives. Visit the website to make an appointment. If you can not find an appointment time, please email Barbara Conry who can help you find an appointment. She can also provide information about other options, including a support group for students struggling with anxiety and COA’s resilience program.
  4. Employees also have access to mental health resources and one-on-one counseling through the EAP EmployeeConnect program through COA’s long term disability insurance, and many additional mental health resources are available to those on COA’s Aetna health plan. I will send a separate email to staff and faculty more information on those resources.

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less ~ Marie Curie.

All the best,

COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 Response Team.

P.S. There will be a future email with more detail, but for your travel planning purposes, COVID-19 testing is being planned for Thursday, November 18 at the end of the term so travelers can have proof of recent testing.


A message from COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge
October 8, 2021

Hi all,

I’m writing to let you know that today we identified a positive case of COVID-19 in a COA community member. Our COVID-19 health team and members of the student life team immediately initiated our response, which includes communication with the individual and contact tracing within the COA community. Due to this person self-isolating as soon as the onset of symptoms, their living situation, and the timing of their last on-campus interaction, there is no need for further action by any other community members.

I want to thank everyone for following all of our protocols, including isolation and testing if and when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. We believe that the protocols we have in place— 98.5% vaccinated community, masking, and weekly surveillance testing—continue to serve us well. Please continue to embrace these best practices.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this information, please reach out.

Thanks,
COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 health and response teams


A message from COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge
October 6, 2021

Good morning all,

A few important updates share with you this week:

  1. We are no longer using CoVerified; you are welcome to delete the app.
  • If you are selected for testing, you’ll receive a link to a Doodle poll where you will sign up for a testing time. If you make a free account with Doodle, they will send you a confirmation email with your testing time. You don’t need a Doodle account to sign up for a time, but you won’t get the email without one.
  • When results are in, everyone who tests negative will receive an email from The Broad Institute’s CareEvolve system telling them their results are ready. You’ll be asked to register to view your results. Those who test positive or inconclusive will be contacted directly by myself or COA Dean of Student Life Sarah Luke so we can provide you with further instructions.
  1. Indoor, masked gatherings on campus are permitted for members of the COA community and invited guests who have provided a vaccination card. This weekend there will be a number of events happening for Alumnx and Family Weekend and our Fall Open House—most are outside, but there are a couple events in Gates. With multiple layers of campus protocols in place, including a 98.5% vaccinated community, indoor mask wearing, weekly surveillance testing, and good ventilation and air handling in large gathering spaces, we feel that risks are being appropriately mitigated.
  2. In addition to the information given last week about Pfizer booster shot eligibility and appointment sites, Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth has opened up appointments for Pfizer booster shots.
  3. Our weekly testing program turned up zero positive results out of 124 tests conducted on Monday. Thanks to all who participated and to our mindful community for following COVID-19 safety protocols.

Wishing you a great rest of your week four!

All the best,

COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 Response Team.


A message from COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge
September 29, 2021
Hello all,

Yesterday, I received confirmation from the Maine Centers for Disease Control that faculty, staff, and residential students of college campuses who are ages 18-64 are considered eligible for receiving a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, with these two caveats:your original vaccine was Pfizer and it has been six months since your last dose. This eligibility criteria was recently added to other age- and health-related recommendations for booster shots.

Here are the sites we know of which are offering appointments for booster shots for people based on the above eligibility. As far as I know there are no on-island options yet, so you may have to travel a bit or wait for an opening at a location in Ellsworth:

If you need help scheduling a vaccine booster shot, please call the Maine CDC Community Vaccination Line: 1-888-445-4111. We are not able to facilitate this process for you. There is also a phone number on the Maine CDC vaccination page to call to see if you might be eligible for a ride to get the vaccine if you don’t have transportation. If you are questioned about your eligibility, the Maine CDC advised me that you should reference the guidance on this CDC webpage which states that eligibility is based on an increased risk of exposure or transmission where you work or reside, including “schools,” which the Maine CDC representative confirmed to me includes colleges.

I’m here to answer any questions you have to the best of my knowledge, but this email pretty much captures what I know. If you have specific questions about the booster or making an appointment, it would be best to contact either the Maine CDC Community Vaccination Line or your primary care doctor.

Thank you for your continued adherence to our protocols and surveillance testing regimen. We had no positive tests to report this week. As always, you can find all of the latest information and updates on coa.edu/covid19.

All the best,
COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 Response Team.


A message from COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge
September 22, 2021

Good morning all,

Over 60 members of our community went into quarantine last week for three and a half days as a result of a potential COVID-19 exposure during week one*. Despite this stressful time, friends helped friends, RA’s helped housemates, and the academic community supported one another to keep our campus extra safe and outbreak free, as these protocols are meant to do. It was not an easy week, but the feedback we’ve received is overwhelmingly that of appreciation and gratitude for these extra steps.

On Monday, Sept. 20, as an added measure, we retested the potential close contacts along with the community members who were selected as part of our weekly surveillance testing program. We conducted 87 tests with no positive results. We are so grateful to everyone who followed guidance, helped friends, and made adjustments. Thank you. Hopefully we won’t need to initiate this protocol again, but if we do, we are all the more ready having learned through this experience.

As we enter the middle of week two, we are happy to announce that TAB reopens indoor dining with breakfast tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 23. Seating will be limited to start as we continue to monitor the regional COVID-19 situation, especially as, by nature, TAB is an indoor space where folks will need to remove masks to eat**. Only 4 people will be permitted at any table and only 2 people in a booth. Only the booths closest to the double doors under the archway will be available. Please wear your mask unless you are actively eating, and when done eating please head out to make room for someone else who may be waiting to eat in TAB. We still encourage people to eat outside on the red bricks, as well as under the tent in the Beatrix Farrand Garden behind TAB.

What to do if you feel ill. If you have any of the COVID-19 symptoms, first isolate immediately. Second, seek a test. Local testing sites are Northern Light in Ellsworth, Convenient MD in Ellsworth, Walgreens in Ellsworth, and Cooper Gilmore Clinic in Bar Harbor—other testing sites in Hancock County can be found here. I have been told that symptomatic or close contact testing is covered by insurance (but best to ask the site about your individual insurance), and if you are uninsured, the State of Maine will cover your test. Students may also consult with Barbara Logue, our campus family nurse practitioner, or Barbara Conry, our director of student support and wellness, if you are feeling sick.

Moving forward, I will not be sending weekly emails if our surveillance testing continues to show no positive results. You won’t hear from me unless there is something to report or some information we would like you to have. Feel free to check our COVID-19 response page anytime, and otherwise assume no news from me is good news.

Thank you again for taking care of yourselves and your fellow community members.

Best and be well,

COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 Response Team.

*COA has chosen a conservative definition of “exposure/close contact,” one where masked and vaccinated individuals who have been in the same classroom with a person who tests positive for COVID-19 are asked to quarantine until tested in the recommended 3-5 day window. This is more conservative than the US CDC and Maine CDC, who state that vaccinated close contacts do not need to quarantine while waiting for a test during the 3-5 day window. Important to note: there is no recommendation or need for quarantine or testing for secondary contacts (contact with someone who has had contact with a suspected or confirmed case) according to the CDC and COA protocols.

A note about masks: this CDC website discusses which masks are best for reducing ventilated particles. Well fitting masks remain a highly effective way to lower the risk of transmission.

**Unvaccinated community members with masks may go through the line in TAB, but due to their high risk are not permitted to eat inside TAB. Outdoor options are of course available, as well as other indoor spaces designated as low risk. If you are unvaccinated and would like a designated indoor space to eat, please contact Sarah Luke, sluke@coa.edu. Folks on campus who are unvaccinated have approved exemptions.


A message from COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge
September 17, 2021

Hi all,

The results of our additional Thursday, September 16 round of COVID-19 testing are in, and I am happy to report that there are no positive results.

We conducted a total of 85 tests on Thursday, the majority of which had been in class or other close contact with our positive case earlier in the week. This group has been in quarantine for several days, and I am sure they are very excited to get back to taking part in campus life.

I want to thank everyone so much for dealing with these interruptive protocols during this time of high regional transmission. It’s reassuring to know that we are doing everything we can to keep each other safe.

A few important notes:

If you are asked to come in for a COVID-19 test, it is extremely important that you do so. Our current testing protocol includes weekly surveillance testing, whereby we’ll be testing selected community members from different areas and households each week, as we did last year. This is our regular Monday testing, when we will test approximately 100 people. If invited to come for testing, please make an appointment to do so on CoVerified as soon as possible.

Isolation v. quarantine, and sorry for the confusion! I must apologize, we haven’t been using these terms correctly every time. According to the CDC, “quarantine” keeps someone who was in close contact with a person with COVID-19 away from others, while “isolation” keeps someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19 away from others. I’ve been using isolation when I should have said quarantine, and we’ve also realized that we have it both ways in our Safe Campus Plan. The colloquial use of these terms and the CDC definitions of these terms has been a bit confusing, but we will use the CDC definitions going forward, and will update the plan to reflect as much.

You might notice that our general campus protocols actually go a step further than what the CDC recommends. In doing so, we can be sure that we are going extra lengths to help mitigate risk. The CDC’s latest set of recommendations for fully vaccinated people, updated September 16, do not call for isolation or quarantine for close exposures. According to the CDC, if you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, and you should wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days. However, out of an abundance of caution, our COVID-19 team has chosen to take the extra step of asking all close exposures to a positive case to stay away from others as much as possible while they are waiting the 3-5 days to get tested. We believe, and our regional medical partners at Mount Desert Island Hospital agree, that this extra level of precaution should help prevent any larger outbreaks on campus.

Dealing with all of this can be hard, and sometimes awkward, and might feel scary at times too. That is all to be expected as we move through this strange time together. The facts still remain that our multiple layers of protection—a 97% vaccinated community, masking in public indoor spaces and in congested areas, meeting outdoors when possible, being in spaces with ventilation and air handling, using hand hygiene, monitoring for symptoms, our start-of-term baseline testing, and our weekly surveillance testing—are all of the best practices we have in our toolkit to continue being an on-campus community and to keep ourselves and each other as safe as reasonably possible.

Be well and be kind,

COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 health and response teams


A message from COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge
September 14, 2021

Hi all,

I’m writing to let you know that we’ve completed our baseline testing, and out of 471 tests since September 5, we are reporting one positive result. Thank you all so much for taking part in the testing and for following our COVID-19 protocols.

The positive case was discovered this afternoon as part of yesterday’s round of testing. Our COVID-19 health team and members of the student life team immediately initiated our response, which includes communication with the individual and anyone within our community with whom they have had contact.

The individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 will remain in isolation, consistent with CDC guidelines. We have initiated several methods of ongoing support. This individual lives off campus and their housemates have also been notified. As it is the beginning of the term they have had very limited interaction with the in-person community in the past few days.

We have notified the members of all affected in-person classes and any contacts identified by this person who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Consistent with CDC guidelines and our protocols, those students and faculty have been asked to self-isolate until after we can conduct incident-based testing within the 3-5 day window after exposure recommended by the CDC for fully vaccinated adults.. We will be testing possible contacts on Thursday and will test all known contacts again on Monday of next week.

The COA community has done a wonderful job responding appropriately to take necessary precautions and to act to limit possible transmission. We believe that the protocols we have in place served us well and will continue to do so given the high rate of vaccination in our community. By responsibly following the protocols, we should be able to prevent this positive case from becoming an outbreak, so please continue to embrace these best practices.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this information, please reach out.

Thanks,

COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 health and response teams


A message from COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge
September 9, 2021

Hello community, a few updates on testing, vaccinations, and future communications:

Recent testing results
Since the start of fall term activities, we have completed 407 COVID-19 tests for groups of OOPS trips and RAs, international students, new incoming students, and faculty/staff. Of these tests, we have had ZERO resulting cases.

These results are now on the dashboard of our COVID-19 response webpage. The dashboard will be updated each time testing results are in to keep the community informed. The dashboard is on the right side if you are on a desktop—if you are on mobile, you’ll find it by scrolling down.

As we hear of outbreaks at other college campuses (including ones with vaccinated campuses), we are so thankful for our mindful COA community. Thank you for following our Safe Campus Plan protocols and for understanding that we aren’t out of the woods yet.

Important: returning students and others who haven’t yet been tested, please make an appointment on CoVerified for this coming Monday, 9/13 between 10:30am and 1pm. Testing will be held at Deering Common. Appointments minimize crowds and delays.

Vaccinations
I am happy to report that our campus community is 97% vaccinated! Thank you to everyone for communicating with us and for providing documentation of your COVID-19 vaccinations. MDI Hospital recently reported that our region is 90-95% vaccinated, which is also good news. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can still contract and transmit the virus, but transmission rates between vaccinated individuals are lower and symptoms in healthy vaccinated people are typically very mild. There is no perfect solution, but this is a strong layer of protection for our community.

“How small are the chances of the average vaccinated American contracting Covid? Probably about one in 5,000 per day, and even lower for people who take precautions or live in a highly vaccinated community,” the NY Times reported on 9/7/2021. Great to hear!

Please continue to follow our Safe Campus Plan protocols on page 3 if you are not feeling well, and refer to page 8 for information on dining services and gatherings.

Future information sharing
The COVID-19 Response Team is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation both within our campus community and in our community/region at large. We’ll be sending email updates to students, staff, and faculty with testing results and other relevant campus information. We’ll also keep parents/guardians in the loop. Please be sure emails from covid19coordinator@coa.edu go to your main inbox. You can also check our COVID-19 dashboard for up-to-date info anytime.

Please continue masking in public indoor and congested outdoor spaces. Thank you for all you are doing to keep our community healthy and safe. We know it is a monumental effort. It is so great to have our community back on campus again!

Thanks,

COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 Response Team.


A message from COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge
September 2, 2021

It’s hard to believe, but we are just days away from the beginning of the academic year! I hope you are enjoying the last weeks of summer and that your journey back to campus goes well.

I have a couple of important updates that I want to share with you today. First, testing slots are now open and ready for registration on CoVerified. Testing is required for those planning to be on campus at all this fall, regardless of your vaccination status. As you will recall, we are using the CoVerified app and web platform to do all test scheduling. Please download the app (if you haven’t already), check out my instructional video for using CoVerified, and schedule yourself a time for a test according to the following schedule:

  • All new students: Sunday, Sept. 5, 9:30-11 a.m., Gates Community Center
  • All faculty and staff: Tuesday, Sept. 7, 8-10 a.m., Gates Community Center
  • All returning students: Monday, Sept. 13, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Deering Common

If you have not already, please submit your proof of vaccination or your vaccination exemption request via the student portal as soon as possible, or contact the Registrar’s Office. We need to have either documentation on file for you if you are going to be on campus.

Also, if you are a student living off-campus in the Bar Harbor area, please look for an email with a link to the form to register your housing group for fall term. We will be using this information to support our surveillance testing starting in week two.

The second update is that Together for Community: The College of the Atlantic Safe Campus Plan has been updated with detailed information for the 2021-2022 academic year. This document lays out our scientific approach to COVID-19, our commitment to a dynamic campus environment, and various protocols for interacting safely at home and on campus. Please complete the Together for Community Agreement and upload your signed form to this link at your earliest convenience.

Please remember to refer to our COVID-19 page for the latest updates and to find information, protocols, and a helpful FAQ.

Be kind to one another and I look forward to seeing you around!

COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 Response Team


A message from COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge
August 26, 2021

I know I speak for everyone here when I say that we are really excited to kick off the term and have the community back on campus. We’ve missed you!

We realize that this is a time of growing uncertainty for many regarding COVID-19. The reports and statistics over the past few weeks have led many to feel fearful and unsure—and that’s a totally understandable response. It can also feel frustrating to have been through so many months of this pandemic and realize that it will be with us for a while longer.

I want to assure you that the COA COVID-19 Response Team has been closely following the evolving situation with the virus, consulting with our medical and scientific advisors, and planning for contingencies this fall. We’ve shared some of those details earlier this summer, and today I will add to those, along with sharing our COVID-19 testing schedule and start-of-term protocols.

We are putting the final touches on our COA Safe Campus Plan 2021-22, and will be sharing that in the coming days. Today I’ve linked the COA Fall ’21 Classroom Protocols, which detail various classroom scenarios and our efforts to provide for a productive and successful learning environment this term.

Testing
We will be conducting baseline PCR COVID-19 testing of the entire COA community at the beginning of the term. We will continue to use The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for our testing. The schedule is as follows:

  • All new students: Sunday, Sept. 5, 9:30-11 a.m., Gates Community Center
  • All faculty and staff: Tuesday, Sept. 7, 8-10 a.m., Gates Community Center
  • All returning students: Monday, Sept. 13, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Location TBD

We are using the CoVerified app and web platform, developed by The Broad, to do all test scheduling. Each testing day is segmented into time slots, and we will be asking everyone to schedule a time, in order to prevent big crowds at the testing site. The app is also where you’ll get your test results. It is available for download now. We will announce next week when sign up opens for the testing dates. We will also be conducting weekly surveillance testing throughout the fall term.

Start-of-term protocols
Out of an abundance of caution, we are asking all members of the COA community to wear masks in congested areas and public indoor spaces at least until our baseline testing results are back. Many Maine schools have masking requirements on the books at least through the end of September, and we may follow suit. As of now, the US Centers for Disease Control and the State of Maine are recommending that in any county with high or significant transmission of COVID-19, any individual, vaccinated or not, wear a mask while in shared spaces indoors. We are following this recommendation and will continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC, so everyone should expect to mask up for a while in COA buildings and vehicles. Of course, one needs to remove their mask to eat, but we ask that you do so as minimally as possible in public spaces.

Vaccine card upload

If you’ve somehow missed the deadline to upload your vaccine cards, please use these links:

General COVID-19 and vaccine information

COA begins this academic year with a vaccinated community—and that’s a really good thing. As a vaccinated population, our chances of catching and spreading COVID-19 have been significantly lowered. Further, as vaccinated individuals, our chances of serious illness from catching COVID-19 are significantly reduced.

According to published studies, all three vaccines used in the US—Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—are very effective in preventing death and major hospitalization from COVID-19, even the Delta variant. During the current Delta surge in the US and in the experience of countries with adequate vaccination, more than 99% of the deaths are in unvaccinated individuals. The vaccines are also effective at preventing hospitalization, but slightly less so, with the calculated protection against Delta variant COVID-associated hospitalization in the range of 92-95%, according to our scientific partners at The Jackson Laboratory. This means that relative to unvaccinated individuals, a vaccinated person is 10-20 times less likely to be hospitalized for a serious infection. The vaccines are effective for what they were structured to do: to prevent death and serious illness.

It is true that the vaccines are less protective against any infection by the Delta variant. For instance, vaccine effectiveness against infection by the Delta variant measured in New York declined from 89% earlier this year to 72% during the recent upsurge. But although there may be concern that even vaccinated people can get infected with the Delta variant, it must be emphasized that vaccination reduces the risk of infection significantly (between 65-88% reduction) and protects against death in almost absolute terms. As the science and wisdom on booster shots grow, we will be following that information and will communicate about it accordingly.

I share all of this to remind everyone that even in these uncertain times, we have made progress, and we’ll continue to do so. Together we have strength as a community and we will get through this. Be kind to one another.

Thanks,

COA COVID-19 Coordinator Amanda Mogridge, on behalf of the COA COVID-19 Response Team.


Fall term updates

August 4, 2021

College of the Atlantic students, staff, and faculty are all required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to be on campus for the 2021-22 academic program. This is an essential precaution for ensuring an optimal learning and living environment during these pandemic times. Although we previously indicated that we would wait until the US Food and Drug Administration made their use authorizations permanent for the vaccines, as opposed to the emergency use authorizations currently allotted, changing assumptions around the COVID-19 Delta variant, evolving legal understanding, and the need for clarity in planning have led us to make this decision now.

All students are required to submit proof of vaccination or apply for a medical or religious exemption by August 13, if you have not already done so. You may access the necessary documents on the student portal at coa.edu/estudent and upload all information there. Staff and faculty exemption forms can be found at coa.edu/faculty-staff.

If the vaccine is available in your area, it is our full expectation that you will arrive on campus fully vaccinated, unless you have an approved exemption for medical or religious reasons. If this requirement presents an issue to you, you are required to contact the COA COVID-19 coordinator immediately to discuss your situation.

Because of geography and other issues, some students may arrive on campus without being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. For these reasons, and for concerns about travel in general, we will be conducting baseline COVID-19 testing during the early weeks of the academic year. All members of the COA community are required to wear masks indoors from the time they arrive on campus until baseline testing is completed.

Anyone on campus during the 2021-22 academic year who is not vaccinated will be required to wear a mask at all times when indoors in shared air spaces, except when in their personal residence or private office. This means that those in this category will be able to get food in Take-a-Break, but will not be able to eat in this shared space. We are designating nearby spaces that can be used for this purpose. Unvaccinated students, faculty, or staff will be tested weekly for COVID-19.

COA will monitor and follow the recommendations of the US and Maine Centers for Disease Control with regard to our ongoing pandemic response, masking, testing, and so forth. The CDC’s recommendations are based on science, which entails an evolving understanding of COVID-19 and thus these recommendations also evolve and change over time, and at varying paces. Please remember to check our COVID-19 page for important updates to campus protocols.

Currently, the Maine CDC is making daily, county-by-county recommendations on indoor masking based on which counties they judge to have substantial or high transmission. COA will follow these recommendations. The CDC information, and our mask protocol, will be updated regularly on coa.edu/covid19. We are also working on a system to keep buildings posted appropriately.


COA COVID-19 FAQ
  • What will campus life look like for students with a vaccine exemption?
    • Unvaccinated students: Must arrive with a test from within the past 72 hours before arrival.
    • Are required to wear a mask at all times when in shared, indoor, “public” spaces on campus.
    • May socialize in the dining hall before or after meals, but may not eat in that space, as that would involve unmasking. Alternative eating spaces will be provided.
    • May take part in campus activities.
    • Do not need to wear a mask in their residence, and can still have a roommate.
  • What if I am partially vaccinated when I get to campus?
    • Partially vaccinated students are considered unvaccinated until fully vaccinated, and so must follow all protocols as such.
    • Must arrive with a test from within the past 72 hours before arrival
  • Am I still required to get a vaccination if I already had COVID?
    • Yes
  • Can a student who is not vaccinated still attend classes?
    • Only if they have a medical or religious exemption. They will need to follow campus mask protocols.
  • Can I have a friend from outside the COA community visit?
    • You may have a friend visit with you outdoors on campus.
    • Residence halls are closed to visitors from outside the COA community, other than move-in day (when masks are required for everyone).
  • What if I plan to return to campus, but am unable to access the vaccine before I do so?
    • We will facilitate access to the vaccine for you after your arrival.
    • We will work with you and your faculty to ensure that your education is optimal to the greatest extent possible, while asking you to remain outside of the classroom until fully vaccinated
  • What if I plan not to return to campus because I am immunocompromised?
    • We will treat this like any other accommodation request, and will work with you and your faculty to ensure that your education is optimal to the greatest extent possible.
    • Our partner schools in the Ecoleague are offering a number of online classes which you may want to explore.
  • What if I choose to remain unvaccinated and not return to campus?
    • There will be a very limited selection of online courses or courses with an online component you may choose to take part in.
    • Independent studies, internships, residencies are available as in any other year.
    • Our partner schools in the Ecoleague are offering a number of online classes which you may want to explore.
    • We will offer to grant you a leave of absence with no penalty, no loss of expeditionary funds, and no interruption of financial aid approval

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.