The welcome sign to Eastern Maine Community College. Credit: Caitlin Rogers / BDN

The Maine Community College System does not plan to require its students to be vaccinated in the fall even if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the vaccine for general use, spokesperson Noel Gallagher said Friday.

The policy contrasts with that of Maine’s other college system, The University of Maine System. The seven UMaine universities will begin requiring students and staff to be vaccinated if the FDA grants a general use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccination, the system announced Friday.

Unvaccinated students and employees will need to continue to wear masks inside community college system buildings. Employees who are fully vaccinated are exempt from the mask requirement, as are students if the individual community college permits it.

The only group that needs to be vaccinated are students living in dorms. There are about 950 anticipated to live on campus in the fall — totaling about six percent of total students. The vast majority of the community colleges’ students commute from home.

While Maine community college officials are aware of the UMaine system’s new policy, they had no plans to follow suit, system spokesperson Noel Gallagher said. She noted that the COVID-19 situation was fluid and “we can’t say what the future holds.”

Students and employees going on campus will also be required to pass a daily health screening that will ask them about COVID-19 symptoms

The Community College system contains seven colleges across Maine, including Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor and colleges in Auburn, Calais, Fairfield, Presque Isle, South Portland and Wells. Nearly 16,000 students were enrolled last fall.