In this Dec. 28, 2021, file photo, a discarded mask soaks up water on a Portland sidewalk. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Maine’s community college system has dropped its systemwide mask mandate.

That move comes amid a national and statewide shift to optional masking as the country marks nearly two years of life under the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the Maine Community College System will leave decisions over mask policies to the presidents of its seven colleges based on local virus transmission rates, the system announced Wednesday.

“It may be that one college does not require masks while another continues to require them,” the system’s president, David Daigler, said. “Each president needs to decide the appropriate masking protocol for their community.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last Thursday that healthy Mainers in all 16 counties can forgo masking because of falling rates of virus transmission.

The Maine Legislature voted last week to lift its masking requirement effective Monday, and the Mills administration will no longer require masks in the state’s day cares and schools, leaving the decision to individuals, city or town councils, and school boards.

In response, many school districts — including Lewiston, Orono and Old Town — moved to mask-optional policies. The Maine Catholic Diocese said Friday it will no longer require masks for Masses as well as within its Catholic schools. Meanwhile mandates remain in effect in other communities, such as Portland, amid concern about locally high rates of virus transmission.

The University of Maine System plans to keep its mandatory masking policy in place until at least March 14.