In this April 8, 2020, file photo, a jogger runs past barricades blocking an entrance to College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

Bar Harbor’s College of the Atlantic has become the latest Maine school to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students, staff and faculty before fall classes begin.

That marks a reversal from the college’s previous position that it would wait until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made its authorization for COVID-19 vaccines permanent before going ahead with mandating their use on campus. It also comes amid a surge in infections primarily attributed to the rapid spread of the delta variant among the large unvaccinated population in Maine and nationally.

Darron Collins, the college’s president, said Thursday the move was “essential” for the school to provide an “optimal learning and living environment.”

“With changing assumptions around COVID-19 because of the Delta variant, our evolving legal understanding, and the need for clarity in planning, this is a decision that we can no longer wait on,” Collins said.

The college, where fall classes start Sept. 10, will allow for medical and nonmedical exemptions from the mandate on a limited basis. Students must submit proof of vaccination by Aug. 13.

International students who have limited access to COVID-19 vaccines will be allowed to start their vaccine regimen once they have arrived for classes and access courses remotely until fully vaccinated.

Additionally, the College of the Atlantic is requiring masks to be worn indoors, except for private offices and residences, while baseline testing is conducted throughout the campus community.

This follows Wednesday’s announcement that the University of Maine System will mandate COVID-19 vaccines at its seven universities this fall. Most higher education institutions in Maine have mandated vaccines for the fall, including Bates College in Lewiston, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Colby College in Waterville, Husson University in Bangor, St. Joseph’s College in Standish and the University of New England in Biddeford.