All in-person students will be required to participate in routine COVID-19 testing starting Feb.1 unless they received a vaccine booster. The System also updated its quarantine, isolation and travel guidance.
Orono, Maine — University of Maine System (UMS) universities plan to maintain in-person learning in the spring semester beginning Jan. 18 with additional guidance to help improve safety during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and limit the spread of the delta and omicron variants.
Starting Feb. 1, UMS will require all in-person students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine booster to participate in weekly testing for the disease. The updated health and safety guidance expands the current testing protocol, which only requires testing for in-person students who are not considered fully vaccinated as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Chancellor Dannel Malloy shared in a message to the University community today that the System expects to follow CDC guidance if the agency adds the booster shot to what it means to be fully vaccinated and could act sooner.
Instituting the new testing and booster guidance for faculty and staff will be subject to discussions with their respective bargaining units. Shield T3 Health, which provides saliva-based PCR tests used by UMS, recently confirmed that its tests can detect all known variants of COVID-19.
The System also updated its quarantine and isolation requirements. When the semester begins Jan. 18, in-person students who are tested for COVID-19 will be expected to limit their activities until they receive a negative result from their initial test, unless they have received a booster. In response to new recommendations from the CDC, individuals from the UMS community who are considered close contacts to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 and have not obtained a booster will be required to quarantine for five days, with certain exceptions. Anyone infected with COVID-19 must be isolated for five days.
Effective Feb. 1, members of the System community who plan to travel outside of Maine for university-related business or activities must receive the booster.
“While all of our vaccination, exemption and testing protocols continue from last semester, the pandemic’s evolution with the fast-spreading omicron variant demands that we take greater advantage of the extra protection that booster shots give us,” says Chancellor Dannel Malloy. “Even though booster shots have not yet been mandated by governmental authorities, the strong consensus of the medical, public health and scientific communities is that booster shots significantly increase our protection against COVID-19 and its spread.”
The System continues to monitor all pandemic data and public health guidance. Further changes to System guidance and practices will be posted as needed at the together.maine.edu website.
The System encourages everyone to receive a booster and update their vaccination status on the PointNClick COVID-19 vaccination verification portal. Faculty and staff are eligible for two hours of paid administrative leave time to obtain their booster and the universities have already and are making plans to host or partner with area booster clinics to otherwise facilitate access to boosters.
About the University of Maine System
Established in 1968, the University of Maine System (UMS) unites seven Maine’s distinctive public universities, comprising 10 campuses and numerous centers, in the common purpose of providing quality higher education while delivering on its traditional tripartite mission of teaching, research, and public service.
In 2020 UMS became the first and only statewide enterprise of public higher education in the country to transition to a unified accreditation for the system. Much different than a merger or consolidation, unified accreditation is a new operating model for the University of Maine System that removes the primary barrier to inter-institutional collaboration.
A comprehensive public institution of higher education, UMS serves more than 30,000 students annually and is supported by the efforts of more than 2,000 full-time and part-time faculty, more than 3,000 regular full-time and part-time staff, and a complement of part-time temporary (adjunct) faculty.
Reaching more than 500,000 people annually through educational and cultural offerings, the University of Maine System also benefits from more than two-thirds of its alumni population residing within the state; more than 123,000 individuals.
The System consists of seven main campuses: The University of Maine (UMaine), including its regional campus the University of Maine at Machias (UMM); the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA); the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF); the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK), the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI); and the University of Southern Maine (USM). The System also includes a UMA campus in Bangor, USM campuses in Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn, the University of Maine School of Law, and the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center.