Update on USM COVID Protocols

Our USM universities have done an extraordinary job of responding to the COVID pandemic. Systemwide, vaccination rates among students, faculty, and staff are high, and disease positivity rates are low. However, as we begin the winter months, we anticipate that COVID cases will climb.

Without question, vaccination is our first line of defense against the disease, and so our campuses are well positioned to remain safe and our people healthy. The CDC recently recommended that all individuals 18 years and older receive a vaccine booster. Therefore, we strongly encourage USM students, faculty, and staff to get their booster shots as soon as they’re eligible. This is especially important for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as the efficacy of the one-dose J&J vaccine has trailed that of Moderna and Pfizer.

A new COVID variant, Omicron, is causing concern in the U.S. and abroad. The state is collecting and analyzing data on this variant—including disease transmissibility and severity of infection—and the USM Office will keep university leaders and staff apprised of these data and their implications. However, we do know already that the tests our USM institutions are using to detect COVID will detect this variant as well. Additional testing, done in conjunction with DNA sequencing, will identify the Omicron variant.

As the University System continues to evaluate the spread and severity of COVID, we’ll update USM protocols as appropriate. The following protocols remain in place.
  • Vaccination is required for all USM students, faculty, and staff, except those who have an authorized exemption. This requirement applies, as well, to the upcoming winter and spring terms.
  • All eligible students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to get a booster shot.
  • Masking is required for all indoor spaces.
  • Anyone who is ill or has had close contact with someone who is COVID-positive should get tested and notify campus-identified personnel if the test indicates infection.
  • All individuals must follow campus protocols regarding isolation and quarantine.

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