In this Aug. 24, 2020, file photo, Jacqueline Mault and her father Greg Mault (left) move her items into Hart Hall during her assigned time. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

With the start of the fall semester approaching, about half of the staff and students at Maine’s public universities have verified that they’ve been vaccinated.

Chancellor Dannel Malloy said he’s largely satisfied with that number and expects it to keep rising in the coming days.

“We’re very satisfied with the progress we’re making,” Malloy said. “Each one of our universities is communicating with students in different ways,”

Malloy said percentages are a bit lower for first-time students, so officials are reaching out to that population.

Like most colleges in the state, the University of Maine System is requiring that all in-person students and staff be vaccinated this fall.

As part of its efforts, the system has been offering scholarships to vaccinated students. It will also be hosting clinics on all seven of the state’s public university campuses. Malloy said the emergence of the delta variant has added a new sense of urgency.

“But with this more dangerous — at least, more spreadable — variant, we’ve stepped up our efforts to a greater extent,” Malloy said.

Students who haven’t submitted their vaccination status by this Friday will have to be tested and quarantine when they arrive on campus.

The system said more than 200 students and staff have applied for medical or religious exemptions from the vaccine requirement — but they will still be required to follow safety protocols including masking and regular testing on campus. Officials said that if a student isn’t vaccinated and doesn’t have an exemption by Oct. 15, they’ll be asked to take classes remotely.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.