University of Maine: Prove COVID-19 Vaccination or Take Test
As the University of Maine announced testing and mask-wearing policies for unvaccinated students and staff, UNH officials say they will likely not be joining them thanks to a bill that would prohibit public agencies from requiring the shot.
The UMaine System will require all students and staff who do not provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination by August 20 to the school's portal to take a test upon arrival on all its campuses and quarantine until the results are known.
Only unvaccinated students will be required to wear a mask inside university buildings and test regularly for the virus.
The university system said that over 5,000 students and staff have registered their vaccination status. Classes start on August 30 at all UMS schools.
"The Delta variant is a real threat, hospitalizing many young, unvaccinated individuals with severe COVID-19 symptoms," Chancellor Dannel Malloy said in a message. "We have no more urgent task in our return to normalcy than to get our vaccination rates as high as possible while also maintaining safety protocols for those who have not or cannot get vaccinated."
Malloy said that once the FDA fully approves the COVID-19 vaccine it will be required of everyone participating in classes and activities on campus.
As an incentive to report their status, a $1,000 scholarship will be awarded weekly from all who have registered. Staff will be able to win prizes.
The University of New Hampshire is not requiring vaccination and likely will not.
House Bill 220 would prohibit public agencies, including all schools, from requiring a COVID-19 vaccination to receive services. The bill was passed on July 12 and was sent to Gov. Chris Sununu for his consideration.
"No person may be compelled to receive an immunization for COVID-19 in order to secure, receive, or access any public facility, any public benefit, or any public service from the state of New Hampshire, or any political subdivision thereof, including but not limited to counties, cities, towns, precincts, water districts, school districts, school administrative units, or quasi-public entities," reads the bill.
The governor's office on Monday morning did not respond to Seacoast Current's question about what action he will take on the bill.
"Our presidents and leaders within the University System of NH are strongly encouraging students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated," UNH spokeswoman Lisa Thorne told Seacoast Current.
Colby Sawyer, Dartmouth College and Franklin Pierce University are among New Hampshire private colleges requiring students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the start of the fall semester.
Most of the major universities in the northeast are requiring proof of vaccination in order to be on campus. Northeastern University in Boston is requiring all students to take a weekly COVID-19 test regardless of vaccination status.