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.


A flu vaccination will be administered to all students, faculty, and staff who are able to receive the vaccine. 

Colby will not require a Covid-19 vaccine for students and employees for Jan Plan or the spring semester.

The College’s health team, working with external consultants, will independently review information about Covid-19 vaccines as they are approved for use by the FDA and will closely monitor experience with vaccines post rollout. The U.S. CDC has developed priority recommendations for vaccine distribution, and Maine CDC is responsible for developing its own plan for our state. It appears that Covid-19 vaccines will generally be prioritized for front-line health care and other essential workers, as well as people living in congregate-care facilities and those in higher-risk groups.


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 Jan Plan and 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.


Because we are able to detect the virus through our testing program within one week of infection, the College requires a one-week quarantine, with two negative test results, for faculty and staff returning from travel to states that aren’t part of Maine’s exemption (New Hampshire and Vermont). Faculty and staff may continue to travel to the exempted states (and any others that may be added by Governor Mills in the future) without the need to quarantine. If personal travel outside of the approved states is required, please notify Director of Safety Wade Behnke (, 207-859-5504).

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.

If you are working remotely as of Nov. 25, please continue your symptom reporting through CoVerified through Nov. 30. If you are working on campus, please continue to complete CoVerified daily.

We ask that any member of the faculty or staff who receives a positive test result between Nov. 25 and Jan. 4 (through a test not administered at Colby) to notify the College of those results. Please contact


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.

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