BRUNSWICK — Just days before students return home for Thanksgiving break — and the rest of the semester — Bowdoin College officials are reporting three active cases of coronavirus. 

Two cases, reported Saturday, were identified as a first-year student and a dining services employee. Neither is symptomatic and both are quarantining, according to Mike Ranen, the school’s COVID-19 coordinator. Three other dining service employees and six students are isolating because they were in close contact with the infected individuals. 

The situation is a “vivid reminder that the virus can potentially spread exponentially well before anyone exposed is symptomatic,” Ranen said in a letter to the campus community. 

The third case, another employee, tested positive Nov. 4 after developing cold-like symptoms. The employee’s last test at Bowdoin on Oct. 28 was negative, but just four days later, an independent test came back positive. The employee has not been on campus since Oct. 28, and since symptoms did not begin until more than 72 hours later, the college determined there were no close contacts in the Bowdoin community, Ranen said. 

In addition, a Bowdoin upperclassman living in York County was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week and is isolating in their home state. 

The student visited Whittier Field Nov. 4 and was in contact with a number of other off-campus students at a gathering in Portland Nov.  7. Many of those students visited Whittier Field Nov. 10, Ranen said, “and may have come into contact therewith the first-year student whose test result came back positive (Saturday).” 


So far, the college has reported eight positive COVID-19 cases this semester — four students and four employees. More than 30,000 tests have been administered through the school’s partnership with The Broad Institute, but after a handful of cases within the first few weeks, the school appeared to be coronavirus-free. 

“As we approach the end of the on-campus portion of the semester next week, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to observe all of the health and safety protocols in place at the College, including the use of face coverings, physical distancing, and proper hygiene,” Ranen said. Students are not permitted to leave campus for any reason, “including to conduct personal or essential business,” after a new school mandate Nov. 7

Students who are sick or quarantining will not be allowed to leave campus until the mandatory 14-day period is over. The on-campus portion of the semester concludes Friday. Students will then leave for the Thanksgiving holiday and finish the semester remotely. 

Bowdoin officials announced Monday that every student will receive KN95 mask to ensure safe travel home.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors are expected to return Feb. 8 for the spring semester. 

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