BAR HARBOR, Maine — Another Maine college will close its dormitories and move all instruction online for the spring semester in response to the spread of COVID-19, a coronavirus that has sickened and killed thousands across the globe.
Except for people helping its students move off-campus, the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor has closed its campus to visitors effective immediately and is giving its on-campus students until Wednesday, March 18, to vacate their rooms as it starts to move all classes to online formats for the spring trimester, which starts March 30. In-person campus services will cease until further notice, according to college President Darron Collins.
A 350-student school in Bar Harbor that specializes in the study of human ecology — an exploration of the relationships between humans and their natural, cultural and built environments — College of the Atlantic joins the public university system and several other private Maine colleges in curtailing activities in response to the pandemic. The state’s public university system announced on Tuesday an upcoming transition to remote instruction and asked students to leave campus in 10 days. In addition to the University of Maine System’s seven universities, Colby and Bowdoin colleges have said they intend to move classes to remote instruction after spring break next week and have asked students to move off campus.
Collins, who met the school’s emergency response teams for most of Thursday, said he felt duty-bound to take precautions against the spread of the virus.
“As much as we would have liked to avoid moving away from in-person instruction and residential campus life, circumstances regarding the COVID-19 pandemic have caused us to take this extraordinary step,” Collins said in his statement. “Our responsibility at COA is first and foremost to do everything we can to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and faculty, and we must work to contribute to wider public health measures to help protect our community here on Mount Desert Island.”
The school’s director of communications, Rob Levin, said the school is still working to determine living arrangements for the school’s campus-bound international students. International students make up about 30 percent of the school’s 350-member enrollment, he said.
COA winter term ends Friday, March 13. Students who live on campus are being given several days into spring break to arrange travel plans. Those with extenuating circumstances who need to stay on campus will receive housing this spring. Students who live off campus are encouraged to return home, Collins said.
College officials are providing boxes and other moving supplies to students, as well as storage space for the spring trimester. They have also extended some food service through March 18 to help students as they prepare to leave campus.
All nonessential, College of the Atlantic-affiliated travel has been suspended. Staff, faculty and any students who remain on campus who travel outside of the state or suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19 are required to stay off campus for 14 days until the incubation period has passed.
Watch: Symptoms of the coronavirus disease