Health Code and Testing Data

Colby College is committed to transparent communication regarding our Covid-19 testing efforts and their effect on campus health and safety. This webpage is updated daily and provides an overview of these efforts, including the number of tests administered as well as confirmed positive and negative cases, broken out by student, faculty, and staff. In accordance with guidance from the Maine CDC, Colby has developed a robust contact tracing program, and any individuals known to be in contact with a Colby community member who tests positive for Covid-19 will be notified alongside recommendations to prevent further infection and spread.

Colby has established a four-tiered, color-coded system that helps inform campus decision-making and operations this fall. The College implemented the full health code at the start of the academic year; as students arrived, Colby had reasonable restrictions and safety measures in place.
The color system is determined by several factors, including  the number of new weekly cases of Covid-19 on campus, seasonal illness symptoms among the campus population, and compliance with mitigation strategies, along with close monitoring of local, regional, and national Covid-19 trends. The code level is based on a holistic review of these factors and not one individual factor. The Health Code designation will fluctuate over the course of the semester as circumstances warrant it. Each color designation will inform a range of guidelines that will direct campus operations (including academics, housing, and dining). Students, faculty, and staff should become familiar with the color-coded system and will need to adjust to a changing campus environment as required by the guidelines. Flexibility and adaptation will be key as we navigate the new challenges presented by Covid-19 during the fall semester.

Health Code Level:


Alert Level
Confirmed New Weekly Positive Cases
Symptom Surveillance
Compliance with Mitigation Efforts
Few identified or contained cases
Seasonal Norm
Very High
Limited number of cases
10% above seasonal norm
Modest outbreak
20% above, stable
Significant outbreak
30% above, daily increases

Alert levels may be applied to residence halls or other identified cohorts.

Fall Semester Summary

This past fall semester, Colby’s Covid-19 testing protocol resulted in more than 90,000 negative tests for its community of approximately 3,000 students, faculty, and staff. Thirty-four positive cases were identified during this period, which included 15 students and 19 faculty/staff. Out of these tests, 1.3 percent of the tests were inconclusive, and all positive cases have recovered.
The following dashboard has been reset on January 2 to track Covid-19 cases and daily testing on the Colby College campus for the 2021 Jan Plan and spring terms. The majority of students, faculty, and staff members are tested 2-3 times a week through the College’s robust program, with results received from the Broad Institute within 24 hours.

Spring Semester Summary and Daily Report

This past spring semester, Colby’s Covid-19 testing protocol resulted in more than 161,998 negative tests for its community of approximately 3,000 students, faculty, and staff. Out of the 129 positive cases identified during this period, 1.3 percent of them were inconclusive, and all positive cases have recovered.
The following dashboard was reset May 24, 2021, to track Covid-19 cases and daily testing on the Colby College campus for the summer.

*The map of active cases by county was removed from the dashboard on April 7, 2021. As of March 31, 2021, Maine CDC no longer provides recovery figures as part of its daily public data. As we relied on this number to calculate active cases in each county, we are no longer able to update the map.

This dashboard is updated at 4 p.m. ET once per day based on the data received by the Broad Institute at that time. In some cases, previous day’s data will be updated based on when data from the Broad are received. The dashboard data reflect the Broad Institute’s updated detection protocol. 

Colby’s testing data reflects two key aspects of our robust testing program: the number of tests the College conducts and the frequency of those tests. Since Colby tests the entire community of approximately 3,000 faculty, staff, and students two times a week, it is expected that there will be more positive test results than there would be if the College’s testing program were less intensive.

The number of positive and negative cases may not add to the total case number due to inconclusive test results or positive cases being tested multiple times. 

An inconclusive test result indicates the test sample was not able to be properly performed. An inconclusive test result does not indicate a test is presumptive positive, positive, or negative. Individuals who receive an inconclusive test result are retested within 24 hours of receiving the result. The inconclusive result was produced for one or many of the reasons below.

  • The specimen failed to produce a valid result as no nucleic acids (viral or human) were detected by qRT-PCR.
  • The test could not be performed due to laboratory error.
  • The sample was unsuitable for automated processing. The first step in processing is to add media to the swab. After adding media, some samples are too viscous to process. This most often happens when the patient does not blow their nose before collecting the sample, resulting in excessive mucus.
  • The swab collection was not to submission standards. This may have occurred because the swab was upside down in the tube, there were multiple swabs in the tube, or there was no swab in the tube.

To protect the privacy of members of our community and comply with health privacy laws, no additional information will be provided about individuals’ identities.

Green is the regular operating level. Colby’s programs and activities will be open, with modifications such as fewer seats in dining halls, classrooms, and other spaces; limits on group size; buildings requiring ColbyCard access, and use of directional signage in buildings. Everyone will be asked to practice distancing, wear face coverings, and follow guidance for proper hygiene.

Operating at the yellow level will lead to several changes. Classes of 50 or more students will move to remote instruction. There will be lower seating capacities in the dining halls. Face coverings will be required in residence hall corridors and bathrooms. Increased cleaning measures will go into effect with multiple disinfectant treatments seven days a week in residence halls, common areas, laundry facilities, and bathrooms. High-touch areas in dining halls will also be cleaned more frequently. Small group (50 people or fewer) religious services may be held indoors with attendees following physical distancing practices. Religious services of 50 or more people will be held outdoors or in larger venues with attendees following physical distancing practices. Additionally, the Colby College Museum of Art will be open to Colby students, faculty, and staff with limited capacity and timed entry.

Operating at the orange level will lead to scheduled grab-and-go dining rather than seated dining in dining halls, pick-up and drop-off only in the library, more limited access to academic and other campus buildings, closure of common areas in residence halls, classes of 25 or more moving to remote instruction, as well as other changes.

Operating at the red level will lead to the closure of dining halls with food being delivered to students in residence, the closure of campus buildings, the cancellation of all events and gatherings, classes moving to remote instruction, as well as other changes.