Friday Futurecast — June 19

Health and safety update for university community members

Today is Juneteenth, the day we celebrate the end of slavery in the United States and commit ourselves to undertaking transformative steps to ensure action regarding diversity, equality and inclusion in our university communities, and to eliminate structural racism. As noted yesterday in our community message, action to bring about meaningful change, including dismantling systemic oppression, cultural bias and anti-black racism, is needed and we will redouble our efforts to this work. UMaine and UMM will be safe, caring and compassionate communities for all, and Juneteenth is a perfect opportunity for all of us to reflect on needed changes and commit to personal as well as institutional responsibility in the battle for justice.

Welcome to this week’s Friday Futurecast, providing the latest updates on our plans for fall, how we are preparing, and what to expect.

These updates are archived on the Return to Campus website, with specific information currently provided in categories.

Transparent and continuing communication

The University of Maine System will begin July 1 allowing additional activities previously curtailed by the pandemic, including:

  • Limited group gatherings up to 10 people. Such gatherings must be consistent with the guidance of civil authorities requiring social distancing and face coverings. This topic will be closely monitored in anticipation of implementing further increases in allowable university group size limits in the month of July.

  • Community spaces and facilities such as libraries, museums, gyms, computer labs and study hall spaces may begin opening July 1 consistent with the group gathering guidance above, upon approval by campus leadership and the campus emergency operations team, and in compliance with any other requirements that may be in place by civil authorities in Maine, in particular the Department of Economic and Community Development.

  • Retail stores may begin operating July 1 upon approval by campus leadership and the campus emergency operations team, and with any other requirements that may be in place by civil authorities in Maine, in particular the Department of Economic and Community Development. Note: Retail stores at this time do not include university food service operations apart from those essential dining operations that have continued at reduced operations and that may need to do so.

  • Childcare centers: Any childcare facilities operated by the university, under its auspices or in university facilities and not currently operating may begin opening July 1 upon approval by campus leadership and the campus emergency operations team, and in compliance with any other requirements that may be in place by civil authorities in Maine, in particular the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Limited group gatherings up to 50 people beginning July 15. Such gatherings must be consistent with the guidance of civil authorities requiring social distancing and face coverings.

  • Also beginning July 15, community spaces and facilities such as libraries, museums, gyms, computer labs, and study hall spaces may continue operating consistent with the group gathering guidance above, upon approval by campus leadership and the campus emergency operations team, and in compliance with any other applicable requirements which may be in place by civil authorities in Maine, in particular the Department of Economic and Community Development.

In-person, on-campus experiences and other learning modes

  • We will have a staged return to work on campus and in our offices statewide, and we will provide more guidance when it becomes available. Know that on July 1, we will not all be working on campus.

  • Student Life offices are among those on campus that have begun to restructure work spaces, including PPE placement, to meet health and safety protocols.

  • An online COVID-19 Essential Supplies Request Form is available for offices of deans and departments to order as-needed supplies for faculty and staff use, such as hand sanitizer, face coverings, disposable face coverings, clear hygiene barriers and social distancing floor signs. These are available at no charge.

Flexibility, responsiveness, empathy and science

  • Fraternity and Sorority Life is working with the National Panhellenic Council for safe membership recruitment plan for fall.

  • First-Year and Transfer Center is working with Student Life staff to schedule virtual town halls for incoming students and parents for July and August.

  • The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has launched a new website, bringing all three centers — Rainbow Resource Center, Multicultural Student Center and Intersectional Feminist Resource Center — under one virtual umbrella.

High-quality learning in the pandemic context

  • UMaine’s 109 Office of Student Records-scheduled and 209 departmental classrooms campuswide, along with active learning classrooms, computer classrooms, the Collins Center for the Arts, and Hauck Auditorium, will reopen with layout changes, signage, social distancing requirements and other protocols in accordance with health and safety guidance.

  • Following health and safety guidelines, and the NCAA’s authorized two-week Resocialization Phase, Athletics started a voluntary workout program June 18. It is only available to student-athletes who have been residing in 30 miles of Orono for the past 14 days. The workouts led by essential staff are by appointment only and held outdoors. All Athletics facilities remain closed at this time. Plans for any restart of intercollegiate athletics competition at UMaine will be announced as soon as possible.

Continuing our missions for Maine

  • New telepsychology services, including one focused on stress responses to COVID-19, are now available through UMaine’s Psychological Services Center. A story about this great work is online. For more information or to become a client, call the center at 207.581.2034.

Partnering to address health

  • Ryan Ward, assistant director of general services in Facilities Management, is leading the efforts to reopen buildings on campus. That includes the posting of entrance and egress doors, and setting floor traffic patterns according to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Building managers and other community members are asked to coordinate the reopening of their facilities by contacting Ryan (roger.ward@maine.edu).

Please remember: As with other respiratory illnesses, there are steps that everyone can take daily to reduce the risk of getting sick or infecting others with circulating viruses. There is currently no vaccine or broadly accepted treatment for COVID-19 that is known to be effective. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Steps individuals can take to keep themselves and others safe include:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wear a cloth face covering.
  • Maintain social distancing as much as possible
  • Practice good hand hygiene using soap and water or hand sanitizer.

Be well. Our return to campus has begun.