This August 2020 file photo shows sign in front of an entrance to the University of Maine campus that tells visitors they are required to wear masks while on campus. Credit: Nina Mahaleris / The Penobscot Times

Face coverings will be temporarily required indoors at all seven of the University of Maine System campuses regardless of vaccination status.

The mandate will apply to everyone who plans to be inside university buildings, including students, staff, faculty and visitors, according to UMS spokesperson Dan Demeritt.

It will remain in place until Sept. 30. At the end of September, university officials will review public health and safety data to determine whether it would be safe to lift the mask mandate.

The university system announced on Aug. 4 that all students would be required to provide proof of vaccination to attend classes in the fall. Students are required to show that they have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Aug. 20.

As of Wednesday, approximately half of the students attending one of Maine’s public universities had verified their vaccination status.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that masks be worn in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates, regardless of vaccination status. Currently, masks are recommended in all but two of Maine’s counties.

The CDC strongly suggests continuing to wear a mask outdoors when in large group settings.

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.