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Unvaccinated UMaine Students Will Need To Wear Masks, Get Tested For COVID-19 This Fall

Virus Outbreak College Vaccines
Phil Long
FILE - In this April 8, 2021, file photo, students exit the KSU Ice Arena after getting their Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

Unvaccinated students and staff at the University of Maine System will be required to quarantine, wear masks indoors, and undergo regular COVID-19 testing this fall.

The system announced on Friday that if in-person students and employees don't provide verification of their vaccination status, they must be tested and quarantine upon arrival to campus. They're also required to wear masks in university buildings during the semester.

University of Maine School of Law Dean Leigh Saufley says the policy is intended to keep students safe and allow for in-person classes, even as case counts have begun to rise as the delta variant takes hold across the country.

"Getting vaccinated, and uploading that information, will let us do that," Saufley says. "We look forward to making sure everybody is safe this fall.

The system also anticipates mandating vaccines for all staff and students if COVID-19 vaccines are granted full federal approval.

Chancellor Dannel Malloy says the university decided to make the announcement on Friday as the delta variant continues to spread in the United States -- and as recent studies suggest that nearly all deaths from COVID-19 in the United States are amongst unvaccinated people.

"That's the reality," Malloy says. "And we don't want to be part of spreading the disease. And we want to go to great lengths to protect our folks, faculty, staff and students."

Full FDA approval of the vaccines isn't expected for months. Students who've verified their vaccination status online will also be eligible to be selected for a weekly $1,000 dollar scholarship offered by the system.