University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy has announced that universities will return to in-person classes for the spring semester beginning Jan. 25.

“What we’re going to do in the semester starting in January is largely built on the successful practices that we engaged in during the first semester,” Malloy said during a Zoom news conference Dec. 22.

UMaine campuses will continue to offer a fully-remote coursework option to students and professors, maintain social distancing protocols and a mask-at-all-times policy.

The major difference spring semester will pose is an increase in COVID-19 testing to once a week, although Malloy said the UMaine System is still working on this detail. Funding and test availability will impact UMaine’s weekly coronavirus screening goal which is based on current and projected increase trends in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“Let me say first and foremost, we are extremely grateful to the governor for reimbursing us of much of the cost associated with testing and some other costs, $8.1 million having been received,” Malloy said. “Unfortunately, our total cost of lost revenue, lost opportunity is probably much closer to $80 million, but we are going to plow those dollars and other dollars back into a greater testing platform than we existed on in the last semester.”

Fall semester’s testing consisted of a random sample of 1,500 students, faculty and staff who were tested over the course of 14 days. Resident students who tested positive were placed in isolation and those considered close contacts were placed in quarantine to prevent further spread.


Malloy said the spring semester will include Maine’s Center for Disease Control’s updated quarantine requirement of 10 days as opposed to 14 days.

As students return to campus for in-person classes, they will also be required to present a COVID-19 test.

“We will be asking our students coming from out of state or coming to our campus to live to present themselves with a test that’s not older than five days from the location they’re traveling from,” Malloy said. “Then, to be tested on arrival and shortly thereafter so we know exactly where we’re beginning the semester.” 

Campus-specific return plans are still under development by individual university presidents.

As of Dec. 22, there are 20,125 students enrolled for the spring semester across UMaine’s seven campuses.

“That is 1.9% off pace from last year at this time in the cycle, so we are within two percentage points of the enrollment pace in terms of student head count that we had last year at this time,” Executive Director of Public Relations Dan Demeritt said.

In regards to the coronavirus vaccination, Malloy said the UMaine System could not require students, faculty and staff to receive the vaccination at this time.

“We would consider requiring vaccinations when they are fully approved … they’re approved for emergency use at this time and under those circumstances we probably would not be requiring a vaccination,” he said.

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