Chancellor Dannel Malloy, Maine’s public university presidents, and the dean of Maine Law have adopted a set of unifying safe return and learning principles that will be used in campus-specific plans to bring students, faculty, and staff back to campus for face-to-face instruction starting on Aug. 31, the beginning of the fall 2020 semester.

The release of Together for Maine: Principles for a Safe Return kicks off a cascade of student and community messaging at the universities to keep stakeholders informed of campus-specific plans and updates over the summer.

The key elements of the principles include screening strategies to identify and isolate infection at the start of the semester, and a commitment to stay safe and together during the semester with science-based practices aligned with guidance from public health authorities and the UMS Scientific Advisory Board, chaired by University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. The universities will end in-person instruction and ask students to depart residence halls before the start of the Thanksgiving holiday, with plans to complete the final two weeks of instruction and exams remotely to help limit travel-related spread of infection.

The University of Maine System will continue to monitor the public health situation, following civil guidance and adjusting plans if necessary to protect student and community health. The System launched to provide links to campus-specific return plans, and to archive and issue new guidance related to the UMS response to COVID-19.

“Our world needs higher education now more than ever,” said Chancellor Malloy. “Because our state leaders and public health authorities have kept the coronavirus from spreading unchecked, we have an opportunity to come together for Maine and our students this fall with science-informed plans to protect student health and limit the spread of infection on campus and in our communities.

“Staying together and staying safe means we all have to do our part. Until there is a medical breakthrough ending the pandemic, we will all have to prioritize personal health and public safety.”

“What we have done and learned in our response to the pandemic is helping us plan for the fall with a focus on student safety and success,” said President Ferrini-Mundy. “Faculty at all of our campuses are working to develop the flexible, innovative instruction students will need to be successful.

“University researchers and resources will also continue to be focused on advancing public health and helping lead the state’s economic recovery from COVID-19.”

For more information on the University of Maine System’s leadership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic visit this infographic and read President Ferrini-Mundy’s recent column on 100 days of pandemic response.

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