WATERVILLE  — Students, faculty and staff entering Thomas College this fall will not be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, but those who are unvaccinated must wear masks and follow safety protocols.

Thomas College, located on West River Road, said in a news release Thursday that it “continues to strongly encourage every member of the Thomas community to get the vaccine without delay in order to enjoy campus life as fully as possible.”

As part of Thomas’ safety and mitigation measures, those who are not vaccinated will be required to follow additional safety protocols, including Maine Centers for Disease Control & Prevention guidelines requiring them to wear masks indoors, the release says.

“Thomas College will also require unvaccinated community members to participate in a campus COVID-19 testing program,” the college said. “Vaccinated community members will not be required to test or to wear a mask indoors. Classrooms and offices will return to normal capacities, dining will remain de-densified, and campus guests are required to wear masks if they are not vaccinated.”

Thomas’s announcement comes following recent news from Colby College in Waterville that all of its students and staff should be fully vaccinated unless they’ve been approved for an exemption for medical or religious reasons.

“Students are asked to be fully vaccinated before arriving on campus in August,” the Colby announcement states. “Likewise, members of the faculty and staff working on campus must be fully vaccinated by Aug. 13, 2021.”

Maine’s Bowdoin College in the spring was among the first institutions in the state to announce it would require vaccinations, but colleges in Maine and across the country are taking different approaches.

Thomas College President Laurie G. Lachance said the health and safety of the entire Thomas College community guided the decision-making process throughout the long pandemic.

“Mitigation measures like masking and testing kept our community safe and in-person during the worst of the pandemic last winter,” Lachance says in the release. “I will forever feel pride that we showed everyone what was possible when a community unites behind a cause larger than any one member.”

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