Friday Futurecast — August 14

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

  • To promote transparency, the University of Maine System has launched a testing summary dashboard on its Together for Maine website to provide the public with access to an aggregate summary of COVID-19 asymptomatic testing activity and results. The dashboard will be updated daily and will not reflect testing that occurs outside the testing agreements established in support of the System’s screening strategies.

  • The spring 2021 semester begins Jan. 25 and eliminates the traditional weeklong spring break to discourage travel away from and back to Maine. There will be a one-day break on March 24 and the semester ends as previously scheduled. The updated academic year calendar is on the UMS website and will be posted on the Office of Student Records website early next week. UMS announced yesterday that room and board rates will be reduced by 20% for the fall semester to account for the planned transition to distance instruction at the Thanksgiving Break.

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

  • Additional guidance on the use of face coverings by students and employees is on the UMS website. Face coverings are required at all times on University of Maine System campuses, property and facilities, both indoors and outside and if traveling on university business in a vehicle with others or engaged in official university business or activities away from campus.

  • In keeping with a commitment to offering expanded intramural opportunities in the upcoming academic year, UMM Student Life will hold the first disc golf competition of the season on Aug. 30. The naturally socially distanced sport is one of a variety of outdoor activities planned for students this fall, in addition to game nights, trivia and virtual programming.

  • Maine Hello Week is still seeking volunteers to help greet at buildings and parking lots. Social distancing and face covering practices will be in place. Sign up by emailing: maine.hello@maine.edu.

Flexibility, responsiveness, empathy, and science

  • As noted by Interim Provost Gilbert this week, UMS has issued guidance for limiting in-person classroom experiences, where possible, to no more than 30 people at a time. We are re-checking ventilation, size of classes and other factors and working with chairs, directors, coordinators and deans to enhance the use of hybrid and flexed instruction, where possible to meet that guidance. We are also working together to consider situations that meet requirements for 49 students to meet at one time. Each situation  will be reviewed with final decisions expected by Aug. 21.

High-quality learning in the pandemic context

  • UMaine faculty are encouraged to include the following statement on their fall syllabi: COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The virus is transmitted person-to-person through respiratory droplets that are expelled when breathing, talking, eating, coughing or sneezing. Additionally, the virus is stable on surfaces and can be transmitted when someone touches a contaminated surface and transfers the virus to their nose or mouth. When someone becomes infected with COVID-19 they may either have no symptoms or symptoms that range from mild to severe and can even be fatal. During this global pandemic, it is imperative that all students, faculty, and staff abide by the safety protocols and guidelines set forth by the university to ensure the safety of our campus. All students are encouraged to make the Black Bears Care Pact to protect the health of themselves, the health of others, and the college of our hearts always. More information is on the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning website.

  • UMaine and UMM Early College fall orientation packets are being sent to students. Students will have access to the Online Orientation in Brightspace and will be able to participate in information sessions with the Early College team during the first week of classes.

Continuing our missions for Maine

  • This week the University of Maine System posted its latest guidance regarding domestic and international travel, and quarantine and isolation. UMS requires all travelers arriving in or returning to Maine from all locations, unless returning from a state exempted from the 14-day quarantine per Maine civil authorities, to self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of return or until obtaining a negative COVID-19 diagnostic (PCR) test for COVID-19. All residential students returning in the fall will be required to quarantine while awaiting test results, as part of the university’s safe return to campus plans.

  • Our campuses are open to those who have business they need to conduct with UMaine and UMM. As noted by UMS guidance, members of the public who have specific business with the university are asked to limit their time on campus and call ahead to verify hours of operation. Members of the public who are not students or employees who can defer their business or who have no bona fide need to be on campus are asked to avoid visiting at this time.

  • Fogler Library’s building will reopen on Aug.17. At this time, access to the building will be limited to faculty, staff and students of the University of Maine System; staff from the University of Maine Foundation and the University of Maine Alumni Association; and UMaine retirees with a Gold Card. Patrons will need to use the entrance closest to the Memorial Union. A valid card will be required for entry. More information about library safety policies and procedures is available at library.umaine.edu/return.

  • Student Life’s UMaine UVote in collaboration with the Political Science Department and professor Rob Glover have been awarded a $19,146 grant from Ask Every Student, a project of the National Resource Consortium on Full Student Voter Participation. The grant will directly impact our voter education efforts this fall.

Partnering to address health

  • The University of Maine System is extending planned asymptomatic COVID-19 testing to include a second round of screening for all students or staff arriving from out-of-state, residence hall students, and special populations. The phase two follow-up screening will occur seven to 10 days after arrival testing and is part of a three-phase surveillance strategy to lower the risk of disease transmission on campus from asymptomatic carriers. A UMS news release is online.

  • A virtual meeting for community leaders will take place on Aug. 18. UMaine is partnering with Orono, Old Town, Veazie and Penobscot Nation officials to share resources, communicate procedures and collaborate to ensure safe return for both campus and the community.