Students started returning to the University of Maine’s six campuses this autumn, expecting a more typical academic experience, one that did not include shutdowns or Zoom courses, as they had done before.
After returning to residence halls and packed classrooms, university officials believed that the precautions they had put in place would reduce Covid-19 cases to a minimum and prevent major outbreaks like those that forced several campuses throughout the country to close last spring.
Here’s How A College System Managed To Keep Covid Cases Down
The University of Maine is located in Portland, Maine. Joan Ferrini-Mundy, President, who also serves as head of the system’s Science Advisory Committee, said that the system’s Science Advisory Board worked with a team comprising epidemiology, microbiologists, statisticians, and doctors virologists to develop a science-based, comprehensive approach.
Officials at the institution were about to find out whether or not it would function when the semester started at the end of August. Cases began to increase in September in the highly vaccinated state of California. As per the state’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospitals have started to fill to capacity in a way that has not been seen since a spike in January. According to state health statistics, the number of individuals requiring ventilators hit all-time highs, while the number of people admitted to critical care units surpassed record levels. All counties started to be categorized as having a high transmission level when the classification system was implemented.
Despite this, instances at the University of Maine stayed at an exceptionally low level, preventing the state from experiencing the epidemic that has gripped the state. A 1.5 percent positivity rate was recorded at the start of October for the campus system, including more than 30,000 staff and students. This was in contrast to the state’s increasing 4.5 percent positivity rating.
As of Wednesday, the university system has been informed of 52 confirmed Covid-19 instances among students or staff, according to the media. Of them, 45 were located on the university’s main campus in Orono. At the University of Maine at Augusta, the University of Maine Farmington, and the University of Maine at Presque Isle campuses, there were no reported instances of the virus.
So, how did they manage to pull it off?
Ferrini-Mundy understands that a large part of it is the safeguards the university has put in place and the desire to adhere to a scenario that is not always present in other settings. Lucia Mullen, a senior analyst at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, believes the university’s success may be attributed to two factors. First and foremost, this “Swiss cheese” approach is the most effective strategy for increasing activities and social contacts while simultaneously ensuring that transmission is kept to a minimum. Mullen believes that, although there will always be exceptions and situations in which the university model will not work, it is a solid example of success at a time when the Covid-19 model is becoming outdated.
Vaccination campaigns are underway.
One of the most important factors contributing to the success of the university system is the high incidence of immunization on campus as compared to the rest of the state. Maine has a high full dose vaccination coverage of 74.4 percent, which is higher than the university’s overall system-wide immunization rate of 88.3 percent.