The University of New England announced plans Monday to welcome students back to its two Maine campuses in the fall along with steps to mitigate health risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

“Although there continues to be much that we do not know about the novel coronavirus, we are learning more every day and we have now reached a point at which I feel confident in our ability to resume on-campus operations by the fall semester,” President James Herbert said in a news release.

Students at the university’s Biddeford and Portland campuses will be able to return in the fall under the plans announced Monday. The university also operates a campus in Tangier, Morocco, and no decision has been made yet about whether students there will be able to return in-person.

The University of Maine System, with about 30,000 students enrolled across seven campuses, is also making plans to bring students and faculty back to campus for in-person instruction in the fall.

In April the University of New England announced a Committee on Contingency Planning for Academic Year 2021, which is exploring the role social distancing may play in both academic and social life on campus and the need for enhanced cleaning and sanitation when students return.

The university is also making preparations for responding if a student should test positive for the virus, including how to provide health care, conduct contact tracing and designate separate residential space should any student need to isolate.


If any student is unable to return to campus in the fall due to underlying health conditions, the university is also offering a parallel online track so that coursework can be completed remotely until a return to campus is safe.

Because some of the university’s health profession programs start over the summer, a process is also being developed to bring students back to campus prior to the fall so they can receive the necessary hands-on training needed to proceed with their programs.

The University of New England enrolls about 7,000 students including undergraduates, graduate and doctoral students. There are typically between 40 and 60 students per semester on the Morocco campus and 59 are currently signed up for the fall.

Sarah Delage, director of public relations for the university, said in an email Monday there has been regular communication with those students as the university works to determine whether they will be able to travel abroad next semester as planned.

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