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Classes resume at University of Maine and Husson University

Students stepping back in classrooms for first time since pandemic shut campuses down in March
(Source: NerdWallet)
Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 2:43 PM EDT
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BANGOR/ORONO, Maine (WABI) - College students heading back to school today at Husson University in Bangor as well as all seven University of Maine campuses.

For most, it’s the first time they’ve stepped inside a classroom since March.

UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy says, “I am confident that our planning has been thorough, that we are as ready as we can be and I’m just delighted that our students are back.”

Masked students filled the seven campuses of the University of Maine for the start of classes Monday.

“I am actually very happy to be here, says one student. “It’s a new experience and I’m really enjoying it so far.”

The University of Maine is using a three-phase testing system.

“Phase 1 went very, very well,” says Ferrini-Mundy. “We tested several thousand students here on the UMaine campus.”

The school is now in Phase Two, with students being retested. The school’s wastewater system will also undergo testing during this phase. Phase three involves a sampling of approximately 2,000 students and staff at least every 10 days.

70% of students at the University of Maine are taking face-to-face courses or a mix of the two. At Husson University in Bangor, 26% of their student population is exclusively enrolled online.

“We can’t eliminate the risk 100% but anything that we can all do, working together, to minimize the risk and help protect the health of our students, our community and the greater Bangor community, is something we think would help to make for a successful semester,” says Eric Gordon, Director of Communications for Husson University.

All Husson students taking in-person courses are required to undergo surveillance testing. The students swab themselves with trained personnel watching. Social distancing protocols mean noticeable changes on campus, especially common areas.

“That protects not only our campus community but the greater Bangor community, who we care about as well,” says Gordon.

“It’s nice to come back and see all my friends,” says Morgon Roy, a sophomore at Husson. “It’s just a little different with all the masks.”

Both schools will move to an all-remote format after Thanksgiving break.

Husson and the University of Maine postponing fall sports.

The schools are working to ensure that students are socially engaged despite the pandemic.

“Husson has been working with the Bangor drive-in, in order to provide students with the opportunity to go see films,” says Gordon.

“Our great Student Life Team has put together lots of ways that students can connect with each other safely,” says Ferrini-Mundy. A virtual online activities fair is scheduled soon.

At of Monday, August 31st the University of Maine is reporting 12 cases. including 8 at UMaine. 4 of the UMaine students are isolating on-campus, the other 4 students are isolating off-campus; 1 UMF: an adjunct faculty member isolating in the Farmington area; 2 USM: 1 on-campus and 1 off-campus student; 1 Maine Law: student isolating off-campus.

Colby College in Waterville started classes a week ago Monday. They’re reporting 8 coronavirus cases to date.

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