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March 11, 2021

UMaine System plans a return to campuses this fall

UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy and a nursing student Courtesy / UMaine System UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy, who chairs the University of Maine System Vaccination Planning and Partnership task force, recently received her first dose of the vaccine from UMaine senior and nursing student Stephanie Nichols.

As COVID-19 vaccinations proceed statewide and across the nation, the University of Maine System on Wednesday said it is preparing to welcome students back to its seven campuses this fall.

New guidance alerts faculty and staff to plan for classroom instruction, residence hall occupancy and campus-based activities that resemble pre-pandemic operations.

“Maine is moving forward responsibly,” said UMaine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy in a news release. “We are going to start planning now so we can provide our students and community members with a traditional, on-campus college experience and as much normalcy as possible.”  

The plan comes almost exactly one year after the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a global pandemic, prompting UMaine System officials to cancel on-campus instruction after spring break.

The universities safely evacuated and sent home about 7,000 residential students who would otherwise have been living on campus and thousands more who rent and share space, Malloy told Mainebiz in an "On the Record" interview published last June.

There are a total of about 30,000 University of Maine System students and employees, according to a UMaine System spokespeson.

On Thursday, Malloy is scheduled to launch a tour of all UMS universities with a visit to the University of Maine at Augusta.

The tour will focus on opportunities for faculty collaboration within the Unified Accreditation framework and an initiative to implement a $240 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation.

Malloy will also meet with students and encourage participation in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign as a key step in the return to normalcy.


The System has made voluntary employee participation in the vaccination effort a top priority, and is providing education and accommodations, including paid administrative leave for employees getting their first vaccination during work hours.

Those who have been vaccinated include UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy, who chairs the UMaine System Vaccination Planning and Partnership task force and recently received her first dose from UMaine senior and nursing student Stephanie Nichols.

“COVID-19 vaccinations are important for our overall health and community well-being,” Ferrini-Mundy said in Wednesday's release. “Knowing that all of our adult-aged students, faculty and staff will be eligible for a vaccine by July has us planning confidently for a rich, active and in-person campus experience this fall.” 

UMS said plans and preparations for the fall will align with guidance from the UMS Science Advisory Board and civil authorities. Plans for the fall may include monitoring for infection and other common-sense steps to promote public health.

That includes updated guidance for 6-foot physical distancing to remain in place through the rest of the spring semester and commencement. 

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