Stephanie Day, a COVID-19 clerical assistant at Thomas College, gives Daniel Guarino of Wakefield, Mass., a wrist band after he took a COVID-19 test upon his arrival Sept. 5 at the Waterville college. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

As rigorous coronavirus-testing programs continue at colleges across the state, one school in Waterville has reported its first positive case to date.


Thomas College of Waterville announced last week that it has detected its first case of COVID-19 since bringing students and staff back to campus in August.

The person tested positive through a college administered COVID-19 test and is in isolation off campus. The Maine Center for Disease Control has determined that there was no close contact on campus between the person and others, according to Lisa Desautels-Poliquin, Thomas’s vice president for student affairs.

After moving to remote instruction in March, Thomas College, located at 180 West River Road, welcomed students and faculty back to campus in August under a strict health and safety plan.

This plan initially included testing its faculty, students and staff members on a biweekly basis, and its more “hands-on” staff members, including food service workers and full-time security guards, every week.

But since Maine has seen a steady increase of COVID-19 cases over the last month, Desautels-Poliquin said the college will now test its community weekly.

“The interesting thing is starting this week we had made the decision to move our community to weekly testing,” Desautels-Poliquin said during a phone interview Monday. “When Maine started to have a little bit of an uptick in cases we had been testing our community on a biweekly basis, … (but) we had made the decision starting the week of Nov. 9, that we would test everyone weekly. This helps raise our testing program to a higher level in making sure that if there are cases, we’re able to capture them even sooner.”

Since Aug. 19, the college has administered more than 6,000 COVID-19 tests.

Despite the positive case, Desautels-Poliquin said the college has been doing a great job at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

“We’re so pleased at the way that our campus has been responding, the cooperation that they’ve had and the diligence,” Desautels-Poliquin said. “While there could be a lot of COVID fatigue right now and people pushing back, it seems like with the governor’s new mandates … our campus has been really responsive to that. A huge piece of that is our students wanting to be together and being willing to do those extra sacrifices and do those things that don’t seem as comfortable …”


Colby College, of Waterville, has administered more than 73,000 tests since August, with 15 positive cases.

Among those positive cases, 10 have been students and five have been faculty members. All who tested positive have recovered.

The college, which enrolls about 2,000 students, created a $10 million health plan to bring students back to campus for in-person instruction.

Colby tested all students, faculty and staff three times a week during the first two weeks of the semester and has continued testing all twice a week.

As of Monday morning, the college’s webpage that tracks the testing data reports that there are no positive cases currently in isolation and no students in quarantine.


In Farmington, a student who lives on campus has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We have received notification of a UMF community member testing positive for COVID-19 after participating in the Phase III Round VI asymptomatic random sampling testing process,” college President Edward Serna said in a prepared statement Sunday. “The individual is currently in isolation and their roommate has been moved into quarantine. Both students are receiving appropriate support at this time.”

Serna said that the CDC is now conducting contact tracing and notifying people who may have come into contact with the person who tested positive.

This is the fourth case of COVID-19 UMF has detected in students living on campus since beginning its testing program.

There has also been one case reported from a remote-learner student and one case from an adjunct faculty member.

UMF will conduct its final phase of random sample testing from Nov. 11 to Nov. 17 before the college moves to remote learning for the remainder of the fall semester.

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