Thomas College will not require students, staff or faculty to get vaccinated prior to the fall semester, contrary to several other Maine colleges and universities.
That leaves the Waterville college standing out among Maine higher education institutions, many of which are mandating COVID-19 vaccines for this fall.
Still, the college strongly encourages all members of the school community to get vaccinated “without delay in order to enjoy campus life as fully as possible,” President Laurie G. Lachance said Thursday.
“The health and safety of the entire Thomas College community has guided our decision-making process throughout the many long months of this pandemic,” Lachance said.
Unvaccinated people will be required to take additional safety protocols on campus, such as wearing a mask indoors and participating in a COVID-19 testing program. Vaccinated people will not be required to do either.
The move is in line with the Maine Community College System, which announced last week that it won’t require its students to be vaccinated in the fall. The University of Maine System’s seven campuses will require students and staff to be vaccinated if the FDA grants a general use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Several other private colleges and universities in the state are already requiring COVID-19 vaccines before the start of the fall semester, including at Bates College in Lewiston, the University of New England in Biddeford, the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor and Bowdoin College in Brunswick.
Thomas College’s classrooms and offices are expected to return to normal capacity, while dining facilities will continue to have safety measures in place. Guests on campus who are not vaccinated will also be required to wear masks.