Maine Memo — Learning to be together

Dear University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias communities,

Welcome to spring semester 2022!

Tuesday marks the beginning of our fifth semester as a university functioning in a pandemic. In one way or another, all of us are changed and transformed, but one thing remains the same: UMaine and UMaine Machias are committed to the continuity of learning, and all that goes with it. We can pivot, shift, adjust, and adapt as this virus takes us where it chooses. And with COVID-19 vaccines, boosters, and testing available, wastewater surveillance, and ever-evolving clarity about what face coverings work best, we are persevering to preserve that continuity this semester.

Here are a few updates as of this writing Monday morning: We had an issue with ice and flooding in the Memorial Union yesterday, and some minor flooding in Dorward Hall in Machias; cleanup is underway on both campuses, and some UMaine offices and spaces will be off-line for a few days. About 70% of our residential students have arrived at UMaine. Hundreds of students have returned with negative at-home or PCR tests. We have asked those who tested positive before traveling to Orono or Machias to remain at home if at all possible until their five-day isolation periods end, when we look forward to having them back. The same five-day isolation requirement exists for those who have tested positive on arrival, including those who have to protect in place, as safely as possible, with the support of the university because of travel distance or inclement weather conditions.

We have been busy during winter break. Faculty have been planning and preparing, and are ready to be here, teaching in person, with flexibility, compassion, and accommodation. They understand that students who have tested positive will miss a few classes, and they will help those students keep up or catch up in individual ways. Our thanks to them for all that they do.

Staff have outdone themselves for all of us, by preparing ramped-up asymptomatic and symptomatic testing, booster clinics at UMaine, and the documentation process for residential students moving into our residence halls. Thanks to all who continue to work so hard to keep everyone as safe as possible — from residence life teams; facilities and public safety personnel; the UMS Science Advisory Board to the T3 and wastewater testing teams; our COVID Operations Group; the UMS Safe Return Planning Team; UMaine School of Nursing students and faculty; our community partners at Northern Light Health and Penobscot Community Health Care; and more.

And students, please be understanding and patient with faculty and staff who also may contract COVID, or need to care for family members. They are doing their best to keep your learning going.

We need to use all of the tools we have, along with new treatments that are emerging and the science that helps us monitor everything, coupled with our individual and community vigilance to maintain well-being. I will update you every Tuesday with my observations, and the latest information and resources.

As we enter the third year of this pandemic, we will be doing so together, as a community, with the success of our students our highest priority.

Have a great semester!


Joan Ferrini-Mundy