Kelcey Thornton, right, a senior at the University of Maine, gets help from her friend Georgia Baber, a senior who lives off campus, as she moves her belongings out of Oak Hall on the University of Maine campus on March 12.

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With spring break over, just 291 students across the University of Maine System are still living in university residence halls after the state’s public universities ended on-campus instruction to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

That’s 5 percent of the more than 5,800 students who were living in campus dorms before university officials directed students to leave campus and shifted instruction to online learning for the remainder of the spring semester. The students who are still living on campus are doing so because of “extenuating personal circumstances,” university system spokesperson Dan Demeritt said.

The university system will return 46 percent of the semester’s room and board charges by the end of March to students who had to leave on-campus housing, the university system said. The 46 percent represents the portion of the semester that remained when students were told to leave campus.

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Meanwhile, more than 26,000 students returned to class remotely Wednesday after a spring break that was extended by two days to work out arrangements for online learning. With all instruction taking place remotely and many of the specifics still being worked out, undergraduate students have more time to choose a pass-fail option for their spring classes that would allow them to receive college credit for their classes but keep the grades they get from affecting their grade point averages.

“For many students the learning modalities we’ll use to finish this semester will be different than how we started, and all of us have had to make a fast adjustment to a new but necessary way of life,” University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy said in a statement. “We will need to be patient with each other, learn quickly from our mistakes, and adapt to flexible solutions that always put students first now and when we are eventually able to transition back to in-person instruction.”

[Coronavirus could overwhelm Maine hospitals. Social distancing can save beds and lives.]

The University of Maine System announced the end of in-person classes for the semester on March 11 as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus. Maine has confirmed 142 cases of the new respiratory illness in 10 counties across the state. One person to contract the disease was a part-time University of Southern Maine faculty member.

Most faculty members and staff are working remotely, and public access to university facilities is restricted.

With in-person classes over, the university is planning to continue paying federal work-study student employees through the end of the semester. Students who have non-federal work-study jobs will be paid through April 4.

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