Students started returning to the University of Maine’s six campuses this autumn, expecting a more typical academic experience that did not include shutdowns or Zoom courses, as they had done before.
As those several of thousands of kids returned to halls of residence and packed classrooms, university officials hoped that the precautions they had put in place would maintain Covid-19 cases to a minimum and prevent the widespread outbreaks that forced many campuses across the country to close last spring.
Here’s How A College System Managed To Keep Covid-19 Cases Down
President Joan Ferrini-Mundy of the University of Maine, who also serves as chair of the system’s Science Advisory Committee, told that they prepared a scientific, multi-faceted approach with the assistance of a team that included an expert in the field, a statistician, microbiologists, and virus researchers. Officials at the institution were about to find out whether or not it would function when the semester started at the end of August.
Cases started to increase in September in the highly vaccinated state of California. As per the state’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospitals have begun to fill to capacity in a way that has not been seen since a spike in January. According to state health statistics, the number of individuals requiring ventilators hit all-time highs, while the number of people admitted to critical care units reached record levels. All counties started to be categorized as having a high level for transmission when the classification system was implemented. Despite this, cases at the University of Maine stayed at an exceptionally low level, apparently avoiding the influx of cases that have been plaguing the rest of the state. A 1.5 percent positivity rate was recorded at the beginning of October for the campus system, which includes more than 30,000 staff and students. This was in contrast to the state’s increasing 4.5 percent positivity rating.
As of Wednesday, the university system has been informed of 52 confirmed Covid-19 instances among students or staff, according to CNN. Of them, 45 were located on the university’s main campus in Orono. At the University of Maine at Augusta, the University of Maine Farmington, and the University of Maine at Presque Isle campuses, there were no reported instances of the virus.
So, how did they manage to pull it off?
In particular, Ferrini-Mundy points to the multifront system called the “Swiss cheese” concept as a critical component of Protecting Against Covid-19. Despite the fact that each preventive measure, or layer of cheese, has holes in it, they provide a strong defense when they are piled together. Ferrini-Mundy understands that a large part of it is the safeguards the university has implemented and the desire to adhere to a scenario that is not always present in other settings. According to Ferrini-Mundy, “we’ve been capable of managing this because of the great conduct and cooperation shown by our kids.”
Lucia Mullen, a senior analyst at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Health Security, believes the university’s success may be attributed to two factors. First and foremost, this “Swiss cheese” approach is the most effective strategy for increasing activities and social contacts while simultaneously ensuring that transmission is kept to a minimum.
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