Maine Maritime Academy students walk by the ABS Center for Engineering, Science, and Research in this undated photo. State health officials are investigating three cases of COVID-19 at Maine Maritime Academy as the fall semester gets underway at the Castine campus. Credit: Courtesy of Maine Maritime Academy

State health officials are investigating three cases of COVID-19 at Maine Maritime Academy as the fall semester gets underway at the Castine campus.

Three people have tested positive for the disease, which is the minimum number of cases needed to meet the state’s definition of an outbreak and prompt a state investigation, Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, MMA’s website said it has received three positive test results as it tests people returning to campus for the school year, and that it has two active cases of the disease.

A day earlier, Academy President William Brennan announced that two students had tested positive when they returned to campus. He said that they were not showing symptoms of the disease, had very limited contact with others and that nine other students who may have been exposed to them are being quarantined for two weeks.

“This is the plan and process that was developed to support our return to classes,” Brennan said. “Our screening testing worked as we had hoped. By catching these asymptomatic cases early, we limit the spread of the virus. We will continue this process throughout the term with our surveillance testing program and we will keep you updated as things progress.”

At the University of New England, two students tested positive after coming into contact with a third student who attended an off-campus party and later also tested positive, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Seventeen students are part of the disease investigation into the off-campus party, Jen DeBurro, dean of students and assistant provost for student affairs, told the Portland newspaper.

Maine Maritime Academy is testing all students returning to campus. UNE is requiring that students provide proof that they’ve tested negative within 72 hours of returning to campus, then testing students again once they arrive on campus.