AUGUSTA, ME — Starting this fall, the Maine Community College System (MCCS) will require all students attending classes in person to be vaccinated against COVID-19, due to the recent surge in cases attributed to the delta variant.
The MCCS Board of Trustees unanimously approved the updated COVID safety protocol on Thursday.
“The safety of our faculty, staff and students has been our top priority throughout the pandemic. The latest information about the delta variant makes it clear we must require vaccinations to keep our community as safe as possible,” MCCS President David Daigler said.
The new protocol, which will be in effect for the 2021-22 academic year, applies to any student taking classes or training at any MCCS facility, including off-campus learning facilities.
Students must show proof that they have received at least one dose of a vaccine prior to attending the first day of their in-person classes. Students who have only had their first shot when classes begin must provide proof of the second shot no later than 30 days from the date of their first in-person class. The first fall semester classes start on August 30.
System officials are beginning discussions with representatives of employee bargaining units in hopes of adopting a similar vaccination policy for staff and faculty.
Precision Machining Technology Instructor Dean Duplessis said he personally supports a vaccine mandate for students, and for MCCS faculty and staff.
“It’s about workplace safety and the safety of our entire community,” said Duplessis, who teaches at Northern Maine Community College. “My own personal belief is that it works both ways: If students are going to be required to vaccinate in order to attend classes, then we should follow suit and have the same requirements. We should do this together.”
Currently, masks are required indoors at Maine’s community colleges. The mask mandate will remain in place, even for vaccinated students. MCCS officials will continue to assess the situation and review the masking mandate.
Students who are fully remote and will not be entering campus buildings for any purpose will not need proof of vaccination. Approximately 45 percent of courses are being delivered remotely this fall.
MCCS will grant exemptions for individuals who cannot be vaccinated for documented medical reasons.
Previously, vaccinations were only required for MCCS athletes and students living in residence halls.