The University of Maine System will require COVID-19 vaccinations for staff and students when the federal government gives final approval to the vaccines and they are no longer in emergency use authorization.

The system has said for months it would consider a vaccine requirement pending final approval and made the announcement Friday as it also unveiled other COVID-19 protocols for the fall semester, which starts Aug. 30.

“We want to make it clear as we prepare to start the academic year that in fact when a vaccine has regular approval we will in fact be requiring it,” Chancellor Dannel Malloy said. “It also ties to the fact students will be showing up relatively soon. The bulk of them will be with us in late August and we want to be very clear. If regular approval is granted at some point, then vaccination will be required. Don’t wait and have to scramble.”

The UMaine System already has announced plans for a more traditional fall semester with the bulk of classes and activities being held in person, as they were before the pandemic. But Friday’s announcement outlined that some coronavirus safety protocols and rules will remain in place for unvaccinated staff and students.

Unvaccinated staff and students who plan to attend classes and work in-person will be required to participate in COVID-19 testing upon arriving on campuses and will have to quarantine while they await test results.

The university system is following state guidance and will drop masking requirements for vaccinated people indoors on July 26, though unvaccinated people still will be asked to wear face coverings in university buildings going forward.

Students and staff are being asked to verify their vaccination status through an online portal. So far over, 5,000 of the system’s 35,000 staff and students have verified they are vaccinated, the system said Friday. Those who register as vaccinated before Aug. 20 will be exempt from the testing and quarantine arrival protocols.

During the semester, unvaccinated staff and students who are in-person can expect to participate in asymptomatic COVID-19 testing as often as once per week. “It will in all likelihood be once or twice per week, depending on the circumstances and what happens with the delta variant,” Malloy said. “CDC may very well recommend more frequent testing as that variant becomes more common in Maine and elsewhere.”

The system is already conducting weekly asymptomatic testing of in-person students and staff who are unvaccinated during the summer in a carry-over from the testing regime last spring. In the last 14 days there have been 476 tests conducted and no positive results.

Hundreds of colleges and universities around the country, including several in Maine, have announced plans to require students, staff or both to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the fall. On Friday the University of Vermont was among the latest schools to announce a vaccine requirement for students.

Students at the University of Connecticut and in the University of Massachusetts System also will be required to get vaccinated. Rhode Island, in a rare step this week, announced that state will be the first in the nation where all institutions of higher learning both public and private will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students this fall.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in New Hampshire have passed a bill that would prohibit public colleges and universities from mandating vaccines and sent the bill to the governor for his signature last week. The University System of New Hampshire is still strongly encouraging students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated, Lisa Thorne, the system’s director of communications, said in an email Friday.

In Maine, Malloy said the system envisions requiring the vaccine for both students and staff when full approval is granted from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, though the system has noted that whatever policy is approved will “recognize and respect” that some individuals are not able to be vaccinated.

All three vaccines available in the United States are currently in emergency use authorization. The FDA has granted priority review to Pfizer-BioNTech’s application for a full license for its vaccine, an FDA spokeswoman said Friday. An FDA official told CNN a decision on full approval could come within two months.

In the meantime, the University of Maine System is continuing to encourage all students and employees who are able to get vaccinated. On-campus vaccination clinics are being planned for the start of the fall semester, including a weekly series of clinics at the University of Maine during August and September.

The system also is launching a $1,000 Shot Clock Scholarship and will be awarding $1,000 scholarships on a weekly basis between now and Aug. 20 to students who verify their status as fully vaccinated online.

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