Friday Futurecast — August 21

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.

COVID-19 Community Update from President Joan Ferrini-Mundy:

I wrote this afternoon to inform the University of Maine community that two UMaine students living off campus in Orono and one student living in a fraternity house have tested positive for COVID-19. Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention protocols are in place.

The students are in isolation and their close contacts are in self-quarantine.

One of the students participated in the asymptomatic testing program on campus; the others were tested at alternative sites.

Following public health protocols, the Maine CDC is managing the cases.

The University of Maine’s phase one testing program is working as intended. We have identified our first case of asymptomatic infection through that program. We will be following our comprehensive, science-based plans to maintain vigilance and support all known affected individuals, and to trace and isolate to minimize the spread of the virus and keep our community safe.

The University of Maine System dashboard provides updates and transparency on asymptomatic on-campus tests we will be conducting here at UMaine and across UMS to keep our students and communities safe. Per reporting protocols, only individuals testing positive through the university’s testing program are noted on the dashboard and updates are made the day following reports.

We will continue to provide updates as appropriate in Friday Futurecasts. Information about CDC-led university protocols regarding outbreaks is online.

It is critically important that if you are sick, stay home. Please review the CDC guidance on coronavirus symptoms. For questions related to the UMaine community, call the COVID information line, 207.581.2681.

Partnering to address health 

  • A fact sheet for students about acceptable cloth face coverings is now online.

  • The University of Maine System has provided a situation matrix to help employees in their decision-making about self-isolation and quarantine. The decision to start/stop quarantine or home isolation should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider and in line with state or local health departments. If you are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, you should not be at work. The fact sheet is online.

  • The University of Maine System posted new student guidance today making it clear that attending or hosting a party or function that exceeds Maine’s group-size limitations may be deemed a violation of the UMS Student Conduct Code for endangering public health and safety. Students who host or promote prohibited events at any venue, including private residences, may face suspension or dismissal.

Transparent and continuing communication 

  • Reminder: Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing is being done in three phases. UMaine residential students and out-of-state students living off campus will be tested when they arrive on campus unless they bring evidence of a negative diagnostic PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test dated from within the 72 hours prior to arrival. A second round of testing will occur seven to 10 days later, followed by ongoing surveillance screening through individual and wastewater testing. Results will be on the UMS dashboard.

  • Chancellor Malloy, President Ferrini-Mundy and Vice President and Dean of Students Dana sent a message to students on Wednesday emphasizing that new and returning undergraduates and graduate students can take the lead on our safe return to campus by: staying home and safe now, wearing a face covering, bringing a negative COVID-19 test to campus if possible and staying safe on campus. 

  • The UMS Learning and Organizational Development Team has designed training to assist in approaching situations that have the potential to escalate and become uncomfortable. De-escalation Training materials focus on the causes of escalation and ways to prevent it, and how to have conversations in de-escalation situations.

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

  • Academic Affairs and the colleges will share information with students next week about classrooms across campus that will be available to them as study spaces, class-taking spaces (for remote/online courses) and related purposes. 

  • At UMM, the Office of Student Life is planning a robust schedule of outdoor and socially distanced programming throughout the semester. That schedule will kick off with an outdoor movie screening at 8 p.m. Aug. 29. At the screening on the campus mall, students can pick up a complimentary UMM camp chair to keep and use for outdoor activities.

  • UMaine Student Life Welcome Week events are online.

Flexibility, responsiveness, empathy, and science

  • At UMaine, on-campus PCR diagnostic testing has been ongoing in July and August for cohorts of students involved in special group activities, including athletes, students in nursing involved in clinicals, and fraternity members. That testing also is available to students in internships. Contact um.covidtesting@maine.edu for a testing appointment. We expect to test upward of 6,000 UMaine out-of-state and residential students, including marching band members, during move-in week starting Aug. 24. All residential students and out-of-state students enrolled in one or more face-to-face classes are urged to check their email for their test dates and times.

  • A small cohort of residential students was welcomed back to the Machias campus last week, with the majority of residential students slated to move in on Aug. 25–26. Residential students, as well as commuter students from out of state, should check their email to confirm their testing dates. Contact Marnie Kaler (marnie.kaler@maine.edu; 207.255.1320) with any questions.

High-quality learning in the pandemic context

  • Winter Session will be a three-week term, Jan. 4-22, 2021. More information is available by contacting the Division of Lifelong Learning.

  • The updated academic year calendar is on the Office of Student Records website.