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Letter to the Editor by UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy

Throughout the pandemic, the University of Maine has put the interests of students and their families first. While our current focus is staying together safely through the fall semester, our students can expect the University of Maine System and our university to prioritize room and board adjustments if developments with COVID-19 force a change in our current plan. Those are to continue in-person instruction and residence hall occupancy until the Thanksgiving break. 

I appreciate Owen Baertlein’s Sept. 14 op-ed highlighting the University of Maine’s response during the pandemic to the needs of students and other members of the UMaine community. That response, as he pointed out, includes extensive health and safety measures campuswide, and in UMaine facilities and offices statewide.

Owen also asked the question: What happens if we’re suddenly forced back online due to a new outbreak? We can answer that question best by looking at the precedent we have set in both the spring and the fall semester. 

The University of Maine System announced room and board adjustments effective March 13 and was one of the first higher education institutions in the country to get the 46% credit adjustments back into the hands of its students. The System also made wage commitments to student workers counting on their on-campus employment in the spring to finance the cost of their education.

For this fall, the University of Maine System approved a 20% Room and Board Rate Reduction for the semester to account for the planned transition to distance instruction at the Thanksgiving Break. That Aug. 13 announcement also is online.

Owen is correct in noting that there is plenty to be thankful for at UMaine this semester. 

I am grateful and proud of the participation and leadership we have seen from UMaine students in our public health campaign. Face coverings, physical distancing, participation in COVID-19 testing and group-size limits are not what anyone would want, but it is what we must do to stay safe and together. 

 Joan Ferrini-Mundy

President of the University of Maine

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