Cooper Bennett, a senior at the University of Maine, raises his hand to ask a question during an on-campus hybrid class on Nov. 20. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Nearly as many students at Maine’s public universities stuck with their courses throughout the semester this past fall compared with a year ago, even as the COVID-19 pandemic shook up life and learning on campus.

Across the University of Maine System, 94.6 percent of undergraduate, graduate and law school students finished their courses this fall, according to recently released data from the university system. That’s slightly below the 95.7 percent who remained in their courses in the fall of 2019, the last semester before the pandemic struck.

The university system saw a similar phenomenon during the spring 2020 semester, which students began in person, then completed remotely due to the pandemic. Some 98.5 percent of students who enrolled in courses in the spring finished their classes, about the same percentage as in the spring of 2019.

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The fall semester marked the first return to in-person learning during the pandemic. But students encountered a fundamentally altered campus life. There were no big sporting events and no socializing in dorm rooms. Many classes still took place entirely or largely online. Students completed the semester remotely after Thanksgiving.

UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy said students could withdraw later in the semester this fall depending on what their grade was looking like. Students also had more time to decide whether to take classes pass-fail.

First-year students who failed a class this semester can take a free class next semester as part of an initiative the university system launched last year to keep students on track to graduate even after they fail a class.

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