The Maine Community College System does not plan to require its students to be vaccinated in the fall, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the vaccine for general use, spokesperson Noel Gallagher said Friday.
The policy contrasts with that of Maine’s other college system, the University of Maine system. UMaine’s seven universities will begin requiring students and staff to be vaccinated if the FDA grants blanket use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccination, the system said on Friday.
Students and unvaccinated employees will continue to wear masks inside buildings in the community college system. Employees who are fully vaccinated are exempt from the mask requirement, as are students if the individual community college permit this.
The only group that needs to be vaccinated are students living in dormitories. About 950 are expected to be living on campus in the fall, or about six percent of total students. The vast majority of community college students commute from their homes.
Although officials at community colleges in Maine are aware of the new UMaine system policy, they had no intention of doing the same, system spokesman Noel Gallagher said. She noted that the COVID-19 situation was fluid and “we can’t say what the future holds.”
Students and employees traveling to campus will also be required to take a daily health exam that will ask them about symptoms of COVID-19.
The community college system includes seven colleges across Maine, including Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor and colleges in Auburn, Calais, Fairfield, Presque Isle, South Portland, and Wells. Almost 16,000 students were registered last fall.