Friday Futurecast — July 31

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

  • UMaine had five live faculty information sessions this week, starting with a session led by President Ferrini-Mundy and Chancellor Malloy. Recordings are online. A virtual information session for University of Maine at Machias faculty and staff is scheduled for Aug. 4. A virtual town hall for UMaine staff will be scheduled next week.

  • A new anonymous online survey of UMaine and UMM staff members will compile information about their work experiences since March, and will help determine the best way to support fall operations, including safe return to campus if feasible.

  • New Faculty Orientation will welcome both full-time and part-time new hires to UMaine. This year the kickoff event will be a selection of synchronous Zoom meetings designed to help build community and get new faculty equipped to start the fall semester. This experience will be complemented with an asynchronous course through Brightspace about UMaine. A New Faculty Community of Practice will extend networking and learning opportunities into the fall.

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

  • Faculty and staff have been working to refine the schedule for fall to allow for safe setup in classrooms, to accommodate students who may need to elect from different modalities of instruction, and to continue to meet students where they are. The majority of modality changes and classroom reassignments for the fall schedule have been made and are now reflected in MaineStreet. The course modalities include:

    • Online: typically asynchronous, using pre-recorded segments, well-designed assignments, chat rooms to engage students in discussions.

    • Face-to-face/hybrid/hyflex: in-person instruction in a classroom; where student attendance may need to be staggered to maintain social distancing guidelines; thus, courses may need to be livestreamed, recorded, or keynotes provided to students who are in quarantine, not feeling well, awaiting test results, or otherwise unable to attend.

    • Remote/enriched: typically synchronous learning experiences, online or through Zoom or another meeting platform, where students access class at the same schedule as a traditional course experience, and meet with others and the instructor face-to-face, virtually.

    • Individualized, field experiences, theses, dissertations: individual or very small group work for one to eight students, in person.

  • Students, please check your course schedules after Aug. 1 and contact your college if you have questions or would like to make changes. You should expect to receive a message from your college about the fall schedule by today, July 31. Undergraduates also can call Enrollment Management, 207.581.1561, to be directed to the appropriate college resources. Those resources include the following:

  • At UMM, modality changes and classroom reassignments for the fall schedule are being updated. Students are encouraged to monitor their course schedules on MaineStreet and should expect to see a completed schedule after Aug. 4. Students who would like to request a change, or are concerned about their ability to participate in classes, should first contact the course instructor to request alternate arrangements. If further assistance is needed, students should contact their division chair, faculty advisor, or the registrar’s office:

  • In her July 30 letter to faculty, Interim Provost Gilbert provided guidance on fall 2020 course modality delivery. And as she noted: “We have been working all summer, together, to discuss plans for safety and student learning. We have 3,222 course sections at UMaine this fall. Each course will have distinctive aspects to it such that we must rely on the ingenuity of our faculty to plot the course for reaching our students. Working together, I believe we will find creative paths that assist our students in learning material this fall as we help each other discover best practices.”

Flexibility, responsiveness, empathy, and science

  • The Office of International Programs is planning a mostly virtual New International Student Orientation Aug. 25–28. New and returning students should check their email for updates.

  • In addition, OIP staff are working diligently to develop innovative ways to support our new and continuing international students, and to provide campuswide international programming during the fall 2020 semester. Members of the UMaine/UMM community can contact OIP at

High-quality learning in the pandemic context

  • President Ferrini-Mundy gave a presentation, “Transforming Teaching While Focusing on Learning,” at the July 20 meeting of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees. Among the examples of learner-focused instruction: the precalculus course led by Tim Boester; phage genomics led by Melissa Maginnis, Sally Molloy and Melody Neely; and biology led by Julia McGuire.

Continuing our missions for Maine

  • As of Aug. 1, the campus and our facilities statewide will be opening up; the list of facilities and programs that have resumed on-site staffing and operations is online.

  • As of Aug. 1, we are moving into Phase 3 of the university’s Plan for Phased Continuity of the Research Enterprise. Phase 3 involves an increase in on-site research and scholarly activity and an expansion of allowable activity. During this phase, we will continue to require submission of not-previously submitted research and scholarly activity for approval using the request form which has been in place since March 24. No previously approved research and scholarly activity needs to be resubmitted. Also, facilities and labs with approved reopening plans do not need to submit projects for approval, but must track and maintain records of their research activity internally, as described in the Plan. This continuing approval process is necessary to monitor activity and to allow for planning in case circumstances change.

  • Fogler Library is tentatively planning to reopen in mid- to late August once protective equipment, policies and procedures are fully in place. Information will be posted on the library’s website as it becomes finalized. The library’s newest upcoming event, co-hosted by the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, is the Racial Justice Challenge, Aug. 3–7. Register online.

  • The Graduate School is among the programs with phased on-site reopening in August. Stodder Hall will be open for Graduate School office visits beginning Aug. 17 with some staff members in the office beginning Aug. 3.

  • Enrollment of new incoming students remains solid with more than 2,300 traditional first-year students and more than 500 transfer students submitting enrollment deposits to UMaine. Enrollment Management is working collaboratively across the entire campus to ensure our incoming students and their families are supported, advised and confident in knowing that they have options on how they will pursue their education amid the global health pandemic.

Partnering to address health

  • Reminder: UMaine has an isolation and quarantine planning guide and an information sheet on COVID-19 testing for students. Beginning Aug. 24, students living on campus will be tested from 8 a.m.–noon based on their move-in assignments; off-campus students will be scheduled for testing from 1–4:30 p.m. There will be a six-bay testing tent set up next to Emera Astronomy Center on Rangeley Road to process students for testing.

  • Move-in and testing information for UMM students is now online.

  • The Division of Student Life has created a video about UMaine’s public health plan, Black Bears Care, for faculty, staff and students. It is offered in UMS Academy.

  • A detailed survey of classrooms conducted this summer included determinations of maximum occupancies based on federal and state health and safety guidelines. Signage about social distancing requirements and classroom seating should not be removed or altered.