The University of Maine System on Wednesday released its framework for a return to campus in the fall.

The framework, titled "Together for Maine: Principles for a Safe Return," includes campus-specific plans to bring students, faculty, and staff back to campus for face-to-face instruction starting on Aug. 31, the beginning of the fall 2020 semester.

"Our world needs higher education now more than ever," said UM System Chancellor Dannel Malloy said in a statement. “Because our state leaders and public health authorities have kept the coronavirus from spreading unchecked, we have an opportunity to come together for Maine and our students this fall with science-informed plans to protect student health and limit the spread of infection on campus and in our communities."

The plan includes screening to identify and isolate infection at the start of the semester. It also includes measures to improve physical distancing in campus facilities, residence halls, and classrooms.  Physical barriers will be installed in key areas of human interaction, under the plan.

The universities also plan to end in-person instruction and ask students to leave residence halls before the start of the Thanksgiving holiday, with plans to complete the final two weeks of instruction and exams remotely to help limit travel-related spread of infection.

System officials say they will continue to monitor the public health situation, follow civil guidance and adjust plans if necessary to protect student and community health.

In March, the system transitioned to online instruction to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The University of Maine system comprises six universities: The University of Maine, including its regional campus the University of Maine at Machias; the University of Maine at Augusta; the University of Maine at Farmington; the University of Maine at Fort Kent, the University of Maine at Presque Isle; and the University of Southern Maine. The system also includes the University of Maine School of Law and the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center.

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