A sign at the entrance of campus tells University of Maine students and visitors to wear face coverings on campus. Credit: Natalie Williams | BDN

Three University of Maine students have tested positive for COVID-19 as the university prepares for the start of the fall semester later this month. Two students are roommates and live off campus in Orono, and one student lives in a fraternity house.

The students are in isolation and people with whom they came in close contact are self-quarantining, according to a news release from UMaine. A total of eight fraternity members and a few others who came in contact with the roommates who live off campus are quarantining, according to Dean of Students Robert Dana.

The students who tested positive are showing mild symptoms or none at all.

UMaine administrators found out about the roommates testing positive yesterday, after the students reported their results.

One of the students participated in the asymptomatic testing program on campus. A primary care physician tested another student after the student developed symptoms, and the third student went to the testing site at Bass Park in Bangor.

The University of Maine System has conducted 675 COVID-19 tests so far this summer, with no previous positive results, according to the testing summary posted online. The university system is testing all students who are returning from out of state and all students who are living in campus residence halls as part of the testing program.

UMaine conducted expedited testing with the help of Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center for some people who had come in contact with the off-campus students, Dana said.

“We’ve been prepared all along for the reality that people will bring this disease here and then have potential spread,” said UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “It’s disconcerting to have these cases, of course, and we’re very concerned about these people but our systems are working.”

UMaine has planned for additional cases of COVID-19 once the semester starts, by designating spaces for students to quarantine and making remote instruction available to students to ensure they do not miss out on learning while quarantined.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the cases, according to UMaine. The cases do not seem to be related, and did not occur as a result of any student gatherings, Dana said.

The positive results come just days before most students return to Maine’s public universities for the fall semester, which is happening in person even as more universities across the country switch to fully remote instruction for the fall semester as more COVID-19 outbreaks have been linked to college students.