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August 5, 2021

UMaine System, College of the Atlantic, other schools mandate COVID-19 vaccination

Courtesy / University of Maine System The University of Maine System, including its Orono flagship campus, shown here, will require students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to classrooms this fall.

The seven universities of the University of Maine System are the latest schools to require COVID-19 vaccination for students before they return to campuses this fall. And UMS is considering a similar policy for its personnel.

The public university system said the new requirement, announced Wednesday, comes in response to growing concerns about the delta variant of the disease.

Students who verify their status or receive an initial inoculation against COVID-19 by Aug. 20 will be eligible to participate in on-campus activities during the fall semester, according to a news release. Students may be exempted for legitimate medical or religious reasons, but will be required to undergo screening, wear face coverings and follow other safety practices.

Classes begin Aug. 30 and each UMS university will be hosting vaccination clinics on campus or working to connect students, faculty and staff with community-based vaccination resources.  

More than 10,300 university community members have already voluntarily verified their vaccination status as part of an ongoing UMS campaign, the news release said.

Chancellor Dannel Malloy added, “Science has been our guide throughout the pandemic and suggests that almost everyone is safer through vaccination. The data around the delta variant is sobering and we are expediting our plans to require vaccination for our in-person population as part of our multifaceted approach to student safety and public health this fall.”  

Nationally, over 640 institutions of higher education and many employers are now requiring vaccination.

In Maine, other schools adopting mandates include Bowdoin College, Colby College, Husson University and College of the Atlantic.

At COA, in Bar Harbor, students, staff and faculty must be vaccinated before on-campus classes begin Sept. 10.

“Having a fully vaccinated population on campus, with the rare medical or religious exemption, is essential to ensuring an optimal learning and living environment during these times,” said COA President Darron Collins in a news release Thursday. “With changing assumptions around COVID-19 because of the Delta variant, our evolving legal understanding and the need for clarity in planning, this is a decision that we can no longer wait on.”

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