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UMaine System Announces Plans To Return To Campus For Spring

Students in the University of Maine System will be returning to campus for the coming spring semester despite increasing COVID-19 case numbers around the country.

System officials announced on Tuesday that a mix of in-person, hybrid and online classes will begin Jan. 25, after a week of screening arriving students.

Chancellor Dannel Malloy says the system plans to follow protocols similar to those used in the fall semester but with some changes.

“The primary difference will be a substantially greater amount of testing given the increasing rate of infection in Maine and in the nation,” he says.

Malloy cautions people shouldn’t rely on expectations that the vaccine arrive soon.

“I certainly would not predict that any vaccines begin widely available for us for distribution to students any time before March, but hope springs eternal,” he says.

Yet he says the University system will play a significant roll in ensuring students have access to the vaccine when it becomes available. He says the school may consider requiring vaccinations among students and staff when the vaccine moves beyond emergency status to full approval.

The school says it will also improve on screening and tracing strategies. Out-of-state students will be expected to provide a negative test not more than 5 days old, and will be tested again when they arrive on campus and soon again thereafter.

These improvements will be provided in part by approximately $8 million in CARES Act funding distributed through the Mills administration.