FARMINGTON — In-person classes will begin at the University of Maine at Farmington on Aug. 31 and shift to remote learning in late November for the rest of the semester, according to the return-to-campus plan released by the school Wednesday.

In addition to classrooms, residence halls and dining services will open at UMF for the fall semester, with students, faculty and staff expected to wear appropriate face coverings and practice safe social distancing at all times.

Students, faculty and staff coming from out of state will be required to arrive on campus with a negative COVID-19 test result. The University of Maine System announced Tuesday it has signed a contract with Jackson Laboratories and ConvenientMD to assist in campus COVID-19 testing and is still developing the details on testing.

In athletics, UMF  plans to have NCAA fall seasons that are compliant with national guidelines, although season schedules are likely to be shorter with games against more localized competition. The school is still working on guidelines for each sport.

“Farmington is dedicated to creating a safe and supportive campus environment for our students, faculty and staff, and is ready to welcome our community back to their campus home,” UMF President Edward Serna said in a news release. “Some temporary changes on campus may reflect what is happening in communities across Maine. But Farmington’s purposeful and collective efforts will guide our success in protecting our community while meeting our students’ educational goals.”

School officials said that starting Aug. 31, the university will offer “an array of in-person, blended and online modalities. Beginning on Nov. 25, all course work will shift to remote learning for the remainder of the fall semester.”

Details on which courses will be offered in which modalities should be announced in early August, according to the university.

UMF is adding new policies and safeguards, including limiting the size of gatherings, to limit the spread of COVID-19. Campus modifications include classroom layouts allowing for a minimum of 6 feet of physical distance between individuals, and the installation of stations equipped with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in all classrooms and all over the campus.

Upon their arrival to campus, students will receive a safety kit, including two face coverings, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

UMF will holding two virtual town halls via Zoom on Thursday to answer questions on its reopening plans. First-year and transfer students will meet over Zoom at 6 p.m., followed by returning students at 7:30 p.m. Students are asked to register and submit any questions here. 

Faculty and staff virtual town hall meetings are being scheduled for July 13.

The school said all students, faculty and staff will be required to wear face coverings at all times, except within the confines of their residence dorm rooms or suites.

The university has already taken other steps to modify the campus to limit group sizes and ensure physical distancing. Classroom modifications will allow for 6 feet of social distancing and maximum occupancy of the largest lecture halls will be limited to 30 people. Plexiglass hygiene barriers have been installed in high-risk and high-contact areas around campus, as have floor decals spaced 6 feet apart in hallways and single-direction signage on staircases and enter/exit doors.

In order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus last March, the University of Maine System asked students not to return to campus after spring break and switched to distance learning for the final eight weeks of the spring semester.

Serna stressed the school’s plan for this fall is still being worked on and subject to change.

“We still have details to work out and we are ready to adapt as circumstances change,” he said. “The most important thing to remember is that each of us plays a vital role in our ability to minimize risk as we return to campus.”


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