COA opens winter term with baseline testing

BAR HARBOR — The College of the Atlantic winter trimester opened earlier this month with baseline testing of the in-person learning community and a planned quarantine that kept all classes online during the first week of the term. 

A total of 637 self-swab nasal PCR tests were conducted among 400-plus COA staff, students and faculty members between Dec. 29 and Jan. 11, with two positive cases reported. 

Both individuals who tested positive followed all CDC guidelines for quarantine and prevention of transmission. This included working with the COA COVID-19 health team and local medical partners. Anyone in the COA community with close or extended contact with the individuals who had tested positive were informed of their potential exposure and took the prescribed steps to limit possible transmission. 

Community members who had traveled over winter break were required to test twice; those who had remained in the area received one test. 

“We have a tremendously dedicated community here in Bar Harbor and a student body that is ferociously dedicated to public health and care for others,” said COA President Darron Collins. “I’m grateful for the efforts of so many that have allowed us success so far this winter.” 

A total of 350 students are enrolled at COA this term, which began on Jan. 4, which is the school’s enrollment cap, spokesperson Rob Levin said. Of those, approximately 290 are studying in-person, while the rest, including a number of international students, are attending remotely. 

COA faculty and students were given the flexibility to study and teach in the way that best suited their needs during these trying times, Levin said. Over 50 percent of classes are being taught entirely online, with another third taught with both online and in-person components. Approximately 15 percent of classes this winter term are being taught completely in person. 

In-person gatherings on campus, including classes, are governed by protocols for masking, 6-foot physical distancing, hand hygiene and equipment sanitation. These protocols are the same as were implemented on campus during the fall term. The school reported zero active COVID-19 cases in the fall, with one positive test at the beginning of the term that was a result of a known previous infection. 

COA continues to partner with The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for its COVID-19 testing. Results are taken by private courier to The Broad labs in Cambridge, Mass., directly after collection, with results available within 24 hours of arrival.    

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