The University of Maine system will transition all classroom-based instruction to online instruction effective March 23 amid concerns over the potential spread of the conronavirus.

The universities also will be notifying on-campus residential students to make plans to leave campus by Sunday, March 22, with personal and educational belongings necessary to complete their semester requirements remotely.

In a Wednesday news release, university officials said the prospect of students traveling domestically and internationally over spring break in the face of the World Health Organization’s pandemic declaration for COVID-19 prompted Chancellor Dannel Malloy to direct the transition to remote instruction and take steps to "significantly limit" occupancy in the university’s residence halls.

The academic and operational changes are being made to limit exposure to the coronavirus and limit travel back to Maine following spring break.

"The University of Maine System, with many of its 23,000 students expected to travel over spring break and 5,800 students living in close proximity in resident halls, is a unique Maine institution," Malloy said. "We are fortunate that there are still no coronavirus cases in Maine and we must take all appropriate steps to limit exposure to the virus in the interest of preserving public health."

There are no cases of COVID-19 in Maine, but Malloy said "that will undoubtedly change in the near future."

The university campuses will remain open, and employees will report to work "unless instructed otherwise or work-from-home accommodations are developed
on a case-by-case basis."

Other colleges, including Bowdoin College, have announced similar plans to move to remote classes.

For more information on COVID-19, visit the CDC website.

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