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Health

UMaine System students have until the end of the day to verify they've been vaccinated. Nearly 400 haven't yet

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umaine.edu

University of Maine System students have until the end of day on Friday to verify they've been vaccinated, or they'll be withdrawn from classes without a refund.

Students must show they've received at least one shot — or request a medical, religious or remote learning exemption — if they want continue their classes this fall.

As of Friday afternoon, Chancellor Dannel Malloy says about 380 students have yet to verify their status. However, he says that the vast majority of those students aren't responding to messages and have likely already left school, which is relatively common each semester.

"We can't account for what their status is, because they're not communicating with us," Malloy said. "But the actual number of people that are still communicating with us is substantially smaller than that."

In recent weeks, the system says it's launched several outreach efforts, including texts, calls and online alerts, in order to encourage vaccinations and remind students to verify their status online.

Malloy says the system plans to continue reaching out to students over the next few days to ensure that they know the consequences of not being in compliance.

"Right now we're in the process of just trying to make sure, on a one-on-one contact basis, to the extent that's possible, that students are aware that they're putting their education in danger," Malloy said. "We'll take a few more days to get that done, because I think we owe it to them to at least attempt a one-on-one conversation."

Officials say that USM and the University of Maine at Presque Isle have had 100% of residence hall students show proof of vaccination.

In a message to students earlier this week, Malloy warned that withdrawing from classes could threaten students' financial situations, and potentially hamper their ability to "complete their college education and qualify for financial aid in the future."

About 650 students have requested religious exemptions from the mandate, and about 60 have requested a medical exemption. Those students will still be required to regularly be tested if they want to stay on campus.

About 350 have requested an exemption to move to full remote learning.

The system says that even after today's deadline, it plans to double the amount of testing on its campuses to further limit the spread of COVID-19. As of Thursday, there were 39 active cases of the virus among students and staff.