Friday Futurecast — July 24

Health and safety update for university community members

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 UMaine Return to Campus website. The University of Maine at Machias also has a Return to Campus website.

Transparent and continuing communication

  • A virtual town hall for faculty, led by President Ferrini-Mundy and Chancellor Dan Malloy, co-hosted by the Office of the Provost, Faculty Senate and AFUM, is scheduled for 4 p.m., July 27. The virtual information session for students on July 21 had more than 400 viewers.

  • UMaine has an isolation and quarantine planning guide and an information sheet on COVID-19 testing for students.

  • Move-in will be staged over seven days instead of the traditional weekend. Specific move-in dates are on the Residence Life website: umaine.edu/reslife. All move-in slots will be between 8 a.m.–noon; a letter next week will confirm the specific times. Students will receive wellness kits on arrival to campus as part of the Black Bears Care initiative.

  • At UMM, staged move-in dates are being finalized. Students should look for communications about those dates, which also will be posted online, early next week.

  • UMaine has produced a second fall 2020 health and safety video, this one for students. The new video is online. The first health and safety video for employees and a video focused on UMaine Dining are on the UMaine return to campus website.

  • Oct. 12 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. UMaine will honor that day and all that it represents, and no classes will be held. The official 2020–21 academic calendar on the Student Records website has been updated accordingly. Classes will meet on Tuesday, Oct.13.

  • The EOC will accept Return to Work applications through July 31, 2020. Buildings on campus will be open as normal on Aug. 1, 2020, therefore general requests to return to work are no longer needed. The EOC will continue to review and process requests that fall into the following categories through Aug.14, 2020: events and venues that will be open to the public; off-campus sites for which buildings will not open on Aug. 1, 2020; and offices or venues that require special arrangements or accommodations for opening. If you are unsure if your request is exempt from review after July 31, please contact the EOC at um.eoc@maine.edu.

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

  • Maine Bound Adventure Center equipment rental operation opens on July 28. The climbing gym will finalize reopening plans for approval in the next two weeks. Limited/reduced outdoor trip offerings are planned.

  • The Division of Student Life is partnering with student organizations to work out details of how they can be active and safe while engaging in the things they love to do. Sport clubs and intramural sports will be offered but modified. Club leaders and others will be contacted to plan the details.

Flexibility, responsiveness, empathy, and science

  • Dining at UMaine with be to-go style exclusively, with a wide range of meal and snack options. Prepackaged food will be available to everyone with a meal plan. Meals will be packaged in sustainable/reusable containers that can be returned to dining facilities or residence halls (They will be collected from these locations, students will pick up new ones when they get their next meal or snack).

  • Dining halls will offer limited seating (25% of normal capacity) to follow appropriate social distancing guidelines. Students will be encouraged to eat in spaces outside the dining commons (e.g., outdoor picnic tables while weather is good, common buildings like the Memorial Union, and their residence hall).

  • UMM’s Kilburn Commons dining hall also will offer grab-and-go meals and snacks for students.

High-quality learning in the pandemic context

  • UMS IT has recognized the potential need for maintaining some form of access to Blackboard course content for resolving incomplete grades issued during the summer terms or to help complete course migration efforts. An agreement has been negotiated with Blackboard to maintain the UMS Learn LMS environment to support content access and retrieval of historical content through Oct. 25, 2020. This will ensure faculty and students will retain access to their previous courses in Blackboard through this date. After summer 2020, no new courses or instruction will be supported in the Blackboard environment.

  • The IT team has been working to complete the full archive of Blackboard course content by the end of the summer. The expanded content availability period will enable faculty to download their own course archives from Blackboard if desired through October. More information on the Brightspace LMS or support services is available from the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

Continuing our missions for Maine

  • Detection and analysis of airborne coronavirus droplets using a bioengineered membrane is the focus of exploratory research at UMaine and University of Massachusetts Amherst, funded by the National Science Foundation. The project, led by UMaine biomedical engineer Caitlin Howell and UMass Amherst chemical engineer Jessica Schiffman, received a more than $225,000 NSF EAGER award — early-concept grants for exploratory research. UMaine virologist Melissa Maginnis is collaborating on the project. A news release is online.

  • Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Maine MEP), in partnership with the Manufacturers Association of Maine and the UMaine Advanced Manufacturing Center, is developing business recovery plans for manufacturers in the state impacted by the pandemic. Maine MEP, an economic development organization for Maine manufacturers, received $286,000 in COVID-19 grant funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology as part of the CARES Act. In addition, the partnership received $100,000 from the Maine Technology Institute for the project.

  • After consulting with the America East conference and the Colonial Athletic Association, the University of Maine, along with conference officials, made the difficult decision to postpone varsity sports competition for the 2020 fall season. However, we are excited to welcome these student-athletes back to UMaine to continue, complete, or start, their academic careers. No UMaine student-athlete will lose a scholarship over this postponement. Athletics fully anticipates being able to conduct practices and training with the mandated social distancing procedures and safety measures in place.

  • Additional UMaine and UMM facilities and programs that have received approval to resume on-site staffing and operation this month include the Durst Child Development Learning Center and Merrill Library. The list is online.

Partnering to address health

  • New Balance Student Recreation Center will open by Aug. 1. Masks will be required except when exercising. Machine and weight cleaning will be increased, and users will be advised to clean before and after use as well. Machines have been spaced according to health and safety distancing recommendations. Pool, sauna, racquetball/squash courts, and locker rooms will not be available at this time.

  • Masks will be required in residence halls except when students are in their own rooms. Initially this semester, guests will not be permitted in residence halls. Student organizations with chapter rooms in residence halls will be removing what they need for the fall before the residents move in.

  • Quarantine and isolation plans for students have been finalized. Students on and off campus in quarantine and/or isolation will be supported by Student Life and medical staff. Additionally, arrangements made for on-campus food delivery to quarantine and/or isolation rooms. Academic support is available for all students.