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Bowdoin College announces remote start to spring semester

Virus Outbreak Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
The Bowdoin College campus is nearly empty during spring break, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Brunswick, Maine.

Bowdoin College in Brunswick is moving classes online for the first week of the spring semester in response to the Omicron variant.

In a letter to students and families on Monday, the school announced that the semester will begin as normal on Jan. 24, but classes will initially be held remotely to give all students an "equitable start," including those who have to stay at home because of a positive test.

Students will be tested several times — at home before arriving and then multiple times after returning to campus.

The college is also barring the use of cloth masks and will only allow surgical masks or KN95s or their equivalent. The University of New England took a similar step last week when it announced that students must wear an N95-equivalent mask indoors or double mask for the first week after returning.

Some schools have already started their spring semesters. College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor reported six positive cases after students arrived back on campus last week. And Waterville's Colby College is currently reporting 110 positive cases in isolation.