Bowdoin College has a new twist on the fall semester.
The Maine institution said it will, for the most part, allow only freshman and transfer students on campus in the fall in an effort to reduce the density of people and to keep students, faculty and staff safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why only freshmen and transfer students? Because the first semester “is a critical time” for first-year students to become familiar with institutional culture, says the school.
Those with difficult home situations, a small number of senior honors students and student residential life staff will also be allowed on campus. And nearly all classes, including those on campus, will be taught online, except for many first-year writing seminars.
Meanwhile, in the spring, the script will be flipped. If the fall semester goes safely, Bowdoin sees seniors, juniors and sophomores returning to campus in the spring, with priority given to seniors. First-year and transfer students would then transition to studying remotely.
“The first semester at Bowdoin is a critical time, and having our first-year students and transfer students on campus allows our newest students to come to know one another, to develop communities, to acclimate to work at Bowdoin, to understand our culture, and to become familiar with our campus,” said Bowdoin president Clayton Rose. “I am excited about the opportunities it offers our first-year students to begin their time at Bowdoin on campus, to build community together in this extraordinary time, and to transition into college work and life with their peers, upperclass students, faculty, and staff. “
Bowdoin said this staggered plan will also help test the efficacy of its safety protocols, compliance with these protocols, new housing and dining arrangements, and other factors that will determine how the spring semester turns out.
The fall semester at Bowdoin is scheduled to begin Sep. 2, and exams will end on Dec. 21. All students will leave campus ahead of Thanksgiving and finish the term online. The university will not be participating in fall and winter varsity sports during the fall semester.