University of Maine officials outlined a comprehensive testing and coronavirus prevention plan on Sunday as they prepared to welcome thousands of students back to the Orono campus this week.

No new infections have been uncovered in connection with three UMaine students who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, the officials said in a virtual news conference.

Seventeen people who may have come into contact with the students are now being tested and isolated, an increase of two contacts since Saturday. Some of those contacts were UMaine students, but others were not, including two who live in the same apartment as two of the infected students. The third student to test positive for COVID-19 was living in a fraternity house, officials said.

Eight of those contacts are considered “close” contacts, meaning they came within 6 feet of the infected people for a significant period of time.

The three students are experiencing mild symptoms or none at all, officials said this weekend.

Meanwhile, the University of Maine plans to welcome back 2,982 students to its residence halls this week, down from its fall average of 3,480.

“Students seem ready for this,” Robert Dana, vice president for student life and dean of students at UMaine, said at Sunday’s news conference. “They are encouraging in their responses and we expect the process to be smooth.”

On arrival in Orono, they’ll be ushered to a six-bay tent that serves as a drive-thru testing facility, and will receive color-coded wristbands letting residence hall staff know that they’ve received COVID-19 tests. Until the results arrive, they’ll isolate themselves in their rooms, where staff will deliver their meals.

UMaine plans to test roughly 1,000 students a day, starting Monday, Dana said. Out of 1,366 tests conducted by the University of Maine System so far, the student living in the fraternity house was the only one to test positive. The other two students who tested positive received their tests from an outside source.

Campus life will resume with new precautions and expectations for students, including a mandate to keep physical distance and wear face masks on campus. Many on-campus activities will see changes because of the need to contain the virus.

Joan Ferrini-Mundy, president of the University of Maine, said on Sunday that safety measures would affect “every kind of instructional situation that involves close contact,” including choirs, bands, some parts of the campus orchestra, clinical instruction, lab classes and some lecture classes that are too large to meet state guidelines on public gatherings.

The University of Maine System also announced last week that it would be cracking down on student parties that exceed state limitations on public gatherings or violate other public health guidelines. School officials in Orono already have held seven students responsible for holding prohibited gatherings, Dana said, adding that “we expect their behavior has changed.”

More than 4,000 students at the University of Maine have signed a “Black Bear Pact” in which they pledge to follow public health guidelines, which now are also enshrined in the school’s code of conduct. Officials have made clear to students that these rules also apply off-campus, Dana said.

Enforcement efforts will focus on changing students’ behavior when they’re found in violation, but if that doesn’t work, Dana said, “some students may end up not being students at the University at Maine.”


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