By: Haley Hersey, News Editor
The University of Maine System shared via an important message from Chancellor Dannel Malloy on August 4 that requiring vaccination to participate in an on-campus experience in Fall 2021 is now UMS policy. As of August 18, masks are required indoors on UMS campuses again. Students must verify vaccination status, or be in the process of being vaccinated by August 20, or they will not be allowed on campus in the fall.
The message stated, “Students who verify their status or get their first shot toward full vaccination by Friday, August 20, will remain eligible to participate in on-campus activities in the fall semester. Students also have an opportunity to request and receive an exemption to the vaccine requirement for a documented medical contraindication or a sincerely held religious belief. Discussions are underway with bargaining unit partners regarding a similar policy for UMS faculty and staff.”
Chancelor Malloy’s message on August 18, shared with students via email reads, “Effective today through September 30, 2021, face coverings are required indoors at University facilities for all persons — students, staff, faculty and visitors — regardless of vaccination status. Individuals working in an office by themselves with the door closed need not wear a face covering.”
The University of Maine System is utilizing a secure portal for students and staff to upload photographic proof of vaccine cards. To request a medical or strongly held religious belief, which does not allow for a vaccination, follow the instructions on this website.
USM President Glenn Cummings said, “Getting vaccinated not only protects you, it also protects others as well. The State Theater’s marquee reads ‘Vaccines are a gateway drug to concerts,’ I would say vaccines are a gateway to normalcy.”
As for additional support the university will provide to remote students, Cummings said, “USM was fortunate entering the pandemic that we have a well established ability to teach online. And over the past 18 months we’ve been able to provide our faculty with more training, our programs with more resources, and our students with more opportunities. We will continue to remove barriers and provide support where we can.”
Having worked 80-90% of the last year out of his office, Cummings looks forward to being able to connect with students and colleagues again.
“I believe this was the best course of action to keep our university and community safe given the recent rebound and rapid increase in cases,” said Cummings.
“I would tell anyone who is on the fence that getting fully vaccinated is the thing you can do to get back to experiencing normal life. I can’t think of a time when so little has been asked of us for so much good in return,” said Dean of Students, Rodney Mondor.
Someone is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of a vaccine. In the case of Johnson & Johnson’s/Jannsen, the single-dose vaccine, that is two weeks after their shot. Two-dose shots like Pfizer and Moderna require a second dose of the vaccine a month after the initial vaccination. Two weeks after the second dose, the person is considered fully vaccinated.
As of August 19, the entire UMS had administered a total of 177,265 asymptomatic COVID-19 tests. In the last fourteen days, 488 tests had been administered and only two were positive. 618 tests have been positive out of all that were administered.
Third-year business management major, Lexi Cook, said, “I’m excited to get back to in-person classes and to be more interactive with my classmates.”
Ian Dudley, a fifth-year communication major with a concentration in media production, said he thinks it “would be a good indenture for students to get vaccinated, however might be unfair to those who may have reactions or no insurance, unless covered regardless. Honestly, I’m just excited to be back on campus around people just like me looking to find their way.”
“I hope USM is pretty strict with vaccines. They were strict with the removal of students at the peak of pandemic,” continued Dudley. “Politics has no place in university, it should be a safe place for students, not an anxiety roller coaster where we have to worry about who is vaccinated and who isn’t.”