Health, Safety, and Resources

Colby’s number one priority is the health and safety of the community. Robust testing and extensive safety measures have been implemented with consultation from leading health experts from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Massachusetts General Hospital, MaineGeneral Health, and the Broad Institute. While there is no way to ensure zero risk, our approach to ensuring the health and safety of our community involves a multiple and integrated approach. Active health management strategies, support systems, prevention, and mitigation tools will provide integrated layers of protection for community members.


Working in close partnership with the Broad Institute as our testing partner, Colby has one of the most proactive and robust testing programs at any college or university in the country. Everyone was tested prior to their arrival on campus, and everyone is being tested twice per week during the academic year. Participation in the program is required for all students, faculty, and staff.

Participants are strongly encouraged to get tested prior to noon, if their schedule permits. The College has two couriers to the Broad Institute each day (noon and 4 p.m.). We have found that samples included in the noontime courier are generally processed much more quickly than the second courier due to higher evening delivery volumes at the lab. With an earlier test, results are communicated to participants more quickly, and the faster turnaround time allows the College to expedite isolating infected individuals and quarantining close contacts.

The program includes a lower-nasal self-swab, provided by the College, that is collected at a central campus location, with results expected back from the Broad Institute within 24 hours or less. If a positive test is received, it is critically important participants respond promptly when contacted by Colby’s Covid-19 team.

Any student with a positive test will be immediately isolated in a dedicated facility and will receive ongoing medical, emotional, dining, academic, and residential life team support. Staff and faculty with a positive test will be required to self-isolate at home and will not be permitted to come to campus until healthy. Additionally, the Maine CDC may provide additional direction and instructions to test-positive members of the Colby community. See the Broad Institute’s description of its Covid-19 diagnostic testing for further information.

Throughout the year, the College may employ other testing techniques as the accuracy and reliability of various techniques evolve.

Daily Symptom Tracker

All members of the community are asked to complete a confidential health-related screening questionnaire on a daily basis using the CoVerified smartphone app (or online version). The information is used by Health Services and Occupational Health and Safety to monitor campus health conditions and, where appropriate, recommend follow-up actions (e.g., closer symptom monitoring, additional Covid-19 test, or medical visit) for students and employees.

Covid-19 Variants

There is limited information available regarding the multiple Covid-19 variants. Currently, there is no evidence that these variants pose an increased risk, but new information continues to emerge. The most effective means to protect yourself and the community is to fully participate in the testing program, complete the CoVerified symptom tracker on a daily basis, wear a face covering, and practice physical distancing as well as good personal hygiene.  

Cleaning Protocols and Signage

Cleaning protocols reflect best practices developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that reduce potential exposure to Covid-19. These best practices include routine disinfection of high-touch surfaces, such as door handles and handrails, communal-use areas, restrooms, and many other locations. Members of the Facilities Services team continue to use hospital-grade cleaners. Hand sanitizing stations are available, and physical interventions such as partitions and plexiglass barriers have been installed where appropriate. Wayfinding and health signage aid the community with protocols from both the College and the Maine CDC. Efforts also include additional cleaning in the Health Center itself as a precaution.

Face Coverings

All available evidence suggests that wearing a face covering, or a surgical or industrial mask that covers your nose and mouth, significantly reduces the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19. All members of the Colby community must carry a cloth face covering or any other appropriate face covering while on campus. This recommendation is consistent with Maine’s orders on cloth face coverings and also applies to approved visitors. 

Face coverings are required in buildings, including in common areas, hallways, stairwells, and elevators, with the exception of in one’s private office. They are also required outdoors when physical distancing is not possible or is likely to be difficult.

All members of the community received two washable face coverings before the beginning of classes. Students, faculty, and staff can also bring their own face coverings to campus.

Students for whom wearing a mask or facial covering is detrimental to their health due to a personal medical issue should contact Health Services to discuss accommodations. Faculty and staff should contact Human Resources.

Health Self-Screening

All members of the community are asked to complete a confidential health-related screening questionnaire on a daily basis.

If you have answered “yes” to having any of these symptoms, you should continue to monitor your symptoms closely, including taking your temperature twice daily and recording these readings. We recommend you continue to follow guidelines to wear a face covering, wash your hands frequently, and remain physically distanced from others. If your symptoms increase in severity or persist beyond 48 hours, students, please stay in your room and contact Colby Health Services  at 207-859-4460 for guidance. Faculty and staff, please contact your primary care physician before coming to campus. 

We will be providing information about a self-assessment mobile application that will need to be completed daily before entering campus, attending classes, or engaging in activities.

Contact Tracing

The effectiveness of our approach depends on our ability to identify and quarantine (or isolate) individuals who may have come in contact with a confirmed Covid-19 positive patient. A process of contact list generation through class registrations, housing assignments, teaching and staffing schedules and assignments, and possible athletics or other group participation has been developed and provided to the Maine CDC to facilitate their contact tracing efforts upon request. The College will also conduct its own contact tracing work using trained contact tracing staff to assist with notification of those who may have come in close contact with a test-positive individual. Individual privacy will be maintained in accordance with state regulations. 

Isolation and Quarantine Housing

The College has designated off-campus isolation rooms and quarantine housing for students who test positive for Covid-19. Students who have been notified by the contact tracing team that they have been exposed to a person who tests positive for Covid-19 will need to quarantine for seven days (based on current CDC guidelines). Students in isolation and quarantine will be provided meals and will be monitored by medical staff using telehealth until they are medically cleared to return to campus.

Overview of Student Isolation

If students have tested positive for Covid-19 or if they are highly suspected of having Covid-19, individuals will be moved into off-campus isolation housing. Following ten days of isolation and 24 hours without symptoms, students may be cleared to return to campus. Each room has a private bathroom, refrigerator, microwave, bedding and pillows, a smart television, high-speed internet, snacks, and beverages. While in isolation, students must remain in their private rooms at all times. Meals will be delivered three times a day, and all academic instruction will be conducted virtually. Students should plan to pack their necessities: clothing, medication for seven days, personal hygiene items, comfort items, face coverings, thermometer, and all items needed to continue with classes. While in isolation, students will continue to be tested.

Overview of Student Quarantine

Students with known exposure to someone with Covid-19 or identified through contact tracing will be moved into quarantine housing. Students living in single occupancy residence halls rooms will quarantine in place. Students living with direct roommates will be moved to a variety of quarantine locations on and off campus. A student quarantining on campus will be allowed to leave their quarantine room wearing a face covering to pick up grab-and-go meals from the Spa and to use the bathroom. Otherwise, a student in quarantine will not be permitted to leave their room. All academic instruction will be continued virtually. Students should plan to pack their necessities: clothing, medication for seven days, personal hygiene items, comfort items, face coverings, thermometer, and all items needed to continue with a student’s classes. During quarantine, students will be provided with seven tests and instructions addressing the frequency and process to undertake such tests. At present, the typical quarantine period is seven days.

Types of “close contact” that lead to quarantining include:

  • Being within six feet of someone who has Covid-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more within the last 48 hours

  • Providing care at home to someone who is sick with Covid-19

  • Having direct physical contact with the infected person (hugged or kissed them)

  • Sharing eating or drinking utensils with the infected person

  • Being touched by respiratory droplets from a sneeze, cough, or other transmission by the infected person

Student Support During Isolation and Quarantine

A student support coordinator has been hired to fully support the needs of students during their time in isolation or quarantine. All students will receive a telehealth medical check-in with a member of the Health Center staff daily. Additionally, mental health and counseling support will be available to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Prior to students’ arrival, all of Colby’s ventilation systems have been inspected, cleaned, and enhanced. Our systems follow the national industry standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), which specifies air supply rates are based on space type/application, occupancy level, and floor area, making the required ventilation rate space-specific rather than building-specific. Overriding energy-saving settings, Colby’s ventilation systems have been adjusted to ensure the flow of outside air to meet or exceed ASHRAE’s Covid-19 guidelines. 

All campus spaces and building systems are set to work in concert with the testing protocols, face coverings, physical distancing, and other measures to limit the spread of Covid-19. While our HVAC systems (for moving and conditioning air) vary in age and technology, airflows and exchange rates, along with other safety measures and protocols, can be adjusted with changing alert levels. Air handling unit filters, which have already been replaced, are inspected at twice the specified frequency to minimize risk. Ventilation systems are currently set for indoor occupancy expected during colder weather.


At this moment in time, the Colby campus will remain closed to all visitors, regardless of documented Covid-19 vaccination, for the spring semester.

Visitors are not permitted on campus, including student guests from other institutions, family members, community members, and outside speakers. Any exceptions require advance approval by the appropriate vice president, and visitors may need to supply information or a recent Covid-19 test before coming to campus, consistent with State of Maine requirements. Individuals seeking approval to visit campus must complete this form at least 48 hours before their requested visit date.

This includes vendors, suppliers, and any others scheduled to provide professional services to Colby.

Employee Travel

Employees may travel outside of Maine pursuant to the State of Maine’s travel guidelines. Effective May 1, Maine will no longer require quarantine or testing for visitors to the state; however, the state reserves the right to require quarantine or testing for visitors from certain states based on virus conditions. For more information, click here. 
Employees are expected to maintain their regular testing schedule and to test on their first day returning to campus. 

Student Travel

Due to the fact that students are in congregate living, travel outside the State of Maine is prohibited. Colby’s policy provided below will not be changing.  
If students are able to be vaccinated in their home state, they are allowed to travel to that state for the vaccination. If the student receives the vaccination and is able to return immediately to campus without an overnight stay away from campus, there is no quarantine requirement. If a student leaves Maine for vaccination and stays overnight away from campus, the quarantine policy outlined below applies.
Because the virus doesn’t always immediately show up in a person’s system (and therefore may not be reflected in a test if it has just been contracted), students who need to leave Maine for medical appointments, family emergencies, and the like will need to quarantine for one week (seven days) following their return and receive two consecutive negative test results through our testing regimen (spaced three days apart). Students must submit this form in advance if they need to travel out of state.

This is subject to change if infection rates increase in these states or additional states are exempted by executive order.

Accommodations and Special Requirements

Based on individual circumstances, Colby will work to provide reasonable accommodations and appropriate adjustments for students, faculty, and staff who face serious challenges and risks due to Covid-19.

Faculty/Staff Protocols

If a member of your household is instructed to quarantine due to possible exposure to a test-positive individual, you will need to either work remotely, if your circumstances allow, or take leave for up to seven days. Per its Covid-19 leave policy, the College will make appropriate accommodations to ensure no loss in wages during that time. Please work with Director of Safety Wade Behnke (wade.behnke@colby.edu207-859-5504) should this situation apply to you.


The health information the College receives from students, faculty, and staff is confidential and will only be used, shared with those who need to know, and retained in accordance with federal and state laws. If a member of the College community contracts the Covid-19 virus, the College will take significant measures to protect that information.

Covid-19 Vaccination FAQ

Why is it important for me to get vaccinated? 
Vaccination is a key step to help bring the Covid-19 pandemic to an end. The vaccination not only helps to keep you safe from getting Covid-19, but it also protects others around you, especially those at higher risk for severe illness from Covid-19. Read information from the federal CDC about the benefits of getting a Covid-19 vaccine

When can I get vaccinated?  

The State of Maine is using an age-based approach for vaccination eligibility for its residents. 

Starting April 7, 2021, all Maine residents over the age of 16 will become eligible. Information about eligibility can be found on this website

As a Colby student whose home is out of state, am I eligible to get vaccinated in Maine? 
The College’s current understanding is that out-of-state students, including international students, who are living in Maine temporarily in order to attend college will be eligible to be vaccinated in Maine starting April 7, 2021. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses spaced three or four weeks apart; Johnson & Johnson is a single-dose vaccine. Students may want to consider their travel plans and consult with their local provider and/or family physician regarding obtaining a second dose. 

Is there a charge for the Covid-19 vaccine? 
No, it’s free of charge to everyone living in the U.S., regardless of immigration or health insurance status.

Can I pre-register to be vaccinated? 
Yes, if you are eligible or awaiting eligibility for vaccination in Maine, you can pre-register at and you will be notified when appointments become available. Vaccination appointments can also be made through the following sites (note this is not a comprehensive list): 

Northern Light Health

If I can be vaccinated in my home state, should I go there?
In general, the CDC recommends that you get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible; If your home state allows you to get vaccinated now, you should consider taking advantage of that opportunity. The College’s Health, Safety, and Resources website has student vaccine travel guidelines. 

Will Colby become a vaccination site? 
Colby has applied to host clinics to vaccinate our students, faculty, and staff. Unfortunately, Maine CDC has informed us that it is unlikely to supply vaccines to the College this semester. We remain ready to offer vaccination clinics if circumstances change. In the meantime, students, faculty, and staff should schedule appointments at existing vaccination sites.

What if I can’t get my second dose at the same place that I received my first? 
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses spaced three or four weeks apart; Johnson & Johnson is a single-dose vaccine. Per the Maine CDC website, ideally if you have received your first dose (Pfizer or Moderna) at a facility in Maine, you should be getting your second dose at the same facility, since the second dose will have already been allocated there. However, if you’re unable to, then you would need to reach out to the closest healthcare system.

Can I get vaccinated through the vaccine waste-prevention programs that exist at pharmacies and other distribution centers across the state? 
Yes, these are programs designed to ensure that no vaccine is wasted when individuals cancel appointments at the last minute. Many of the distribution centers make these “extra” doses publicly available, or with some limited restrictions. If interested in these programs, please contact local distribution centers or pharmacies directly for their protocols and distribution guidelines.

If I already had Covid-19 and recovered, do I still need to be vaccinated? 
Yes, according to the CDC, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had Covid-19.

If you were treated for Covid-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a Covid-19 vaccine. For more information, please visit the CDC’s Covid-19 page or talk to your medical provider. 

How do I submit documentation to the College that I received the vaccine?  
Employees: Instructions on how to submit vaccination information and documentation can be found here

Students: Below please find instructions on how to upload vaccination information and documentation into the Student Health Portal – 

  • Log in to the online Student Health Portal using your Colby username and password. 
  • Click the Upload tab and follow the instructions provided to complete the submission process. 
  • From the “Choose document you are uploading” dropdown, select COVID VACCINE DOCUMENTATION.

Will Colby require its students and employees to have Covid-19 vaccination for the spring semester or next academic year? 

Vaccines are not required for this current semester. Students may be required to be vaccinated for the 2021-22 academic year, subject to limited exceptions (e.g., medical, religious).  At this time, faculty and staff are strongly urged to receive the vaccine. But for now, it is not required of faculty and staff.   

After I get vaccinated, will I need to continue to participate in the College’s Covid-19 testing program?  

Yes, at this time members of the Colby community who receive a Covid-19 vaccination must remain in the testing program. The College will continue to monitor the public health environment and will evaluate the testing requirement. 

Do I need to wear a face covering and avoid close contact if I’m fully vaccinated? 
Yes, you should continue to wear your face covering, stay six feet apart from others, and avoid large gatherings. The federal CDC has released the following recommendations for fully vaccinated people. 

Do fully vaccinated people need to quarantine or be tested following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed Covid-19?
No, because the risk of infection for fully vaccinated people is low.

Other questions? 
Feel free to call Health Services during routine business hours (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday noon-5 p.m.) at 207-859-4460 with questions or concerns relating to Covid-19 and your health in general. 

Policies, guidelines, and procedures are subject to change based on the latest health information, government guidelines, and best practices.