Friday Futurecast — September 25

Health and safety update for university community members

Welcome to this week’s Friday Futurecast.

These updates are archived on the UMaine Fall 2020 website. The University of Maine at Machias also has a Fall 2020 website.

Message from President Joan Ferrini-Mundy: 

Dear members of the UMaine and UMM communities,

Next Tuesday through Thursday, we start the second round of phase three random sampling COVID-19 testing on campus. If you are one of the students or faculty or staff members chosen at random for screening, your participation is essential and required.

On Wednesday, the Division of Student Life sent a letter to students regarding the importance of participating. It’s a message that I want to emphasize and amplify: “It is very, very important that you get tested as scheduled. This testing protocol is a large part of the university’s overall health and safety plan to keep us physically on campus and in person. Testing, combined with mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing, and letting someone know when you are sick, are key components to preventing COVID infections.”

I also want to share with you an email we received from a UMaine employee who participated in the first round of phase three testing and reflected on her personal experience: “I was selected at random to be tested and I have to say I was downright scared! I was not excited to be going up on campus. Long story short, I am negative. (But) what I really wanted to share is that the experience was a very good one. They had reserved parking for people coming in for the test, lots of folks directing you where to go and the whole process was super quick. The test itself was much better than expected as it was a quick swab in both nostrils. I hope if anyone else is selected this might help.”

In addition, COVID-19 saliva tests are being administered on campus, and at UMM and UMaine’s facilities statewide.

We are on the eve of a flu season that is occurring during a pandemic, so all of our health and safety practices are critical there, as well.

Our university communities have done an amazing job staying together and safe this semester. Everyone has an important role and I thank you all for your continued commitment to community well-being.

Sincerely,

Joan Ferrini-Mundy

Partnering to address health 

  • Emails with appointment dates and times for round two of phase three COVID-19 random sample testing have been sent to employees and students, and we hope everyone will adhere to the schedule. If extenuating circumstances prevent anyone from participating on assigned dates and times, please email um.covidtesting@maine.edu. Exemptions to testing include individuals who have not or will not be on campus; can produce a bona fide negative COVID-19 PCR test completed within 72 hours prior to their planned university test; or have a verified medical exemption.

  • UMM students are encouraged to attend a free flu shot clinic at the Lee Pellon Center, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. on Sept. 29. Students in need of transportation to the clinic, located at 90 Main St., Machias, will have shuttle service from campus. For more information, contact Marnie Kaler, 207.255.1320; marnie.kaler@maine.edu. Information about UMaine’s student flu clinic is forthcoming. 

Transparent and continuing communication 

  • Reminder: All members of the UMaine community, on campus or learning and working remotely, have multiple ways to reach out for information and assistance. They include the umaine.alerts@maine.edu email and the COVID-19 information line, 207.581.2681. This is a community focused on student support and advocacy. Reach out for the resources needed to help ensure your success.

  • Academic Affairs and the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment have teamed up to develop short (two-minute) “Flash Surveys” to gauge UMaine undergraduate students’ experiences, and to develop actions and future survey questions in response to what we learn. In week one, the topic was communication and information. While respondents noted many areas of effective communication, some gaps were identified. As a result, additional communications were sent to students about library services and space available on campus. The focus in week two was course satisfaction and participation. There were two key takeaways. Undergraduate respondents indicated a higher level of satisfaction with their in-person courses than their remote/online courses. The week four Flash Survey will further examine the reasons for this disparity to help inform future action. Additionally, many respondents reported not being able to fully participate in their courses during the first week due to technological and/or Wi-Fi issues. Actions taken include the purchase of microphones and amplifiers for classroom use, and exploration of locations statewide where students can access free Wi-Fi. We also will explore this issue further in a future Flash Survey.

  • Enrollment Management is engaging next year’s incoming class. On-campus tours were reinstated this week following health and safety guidance. Next week, two virtual admissions and two online financial aid presentations will be offered prior to the launch of the virtual open house series, which will run through December. More information is online

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

  • Student Life’s Center for Student Involvement has an online list of upcoming activities. They include a Paint Party at 9 tonight and a showing of the movie about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “On the Basis of Sex,” on the Mall at 9 p.m. tomorrow. UMaine’s virtual Family and Friends Weekend starts today. Information about UMM activities is on the student engagement website.

  • University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H is offering virtual science cafés for teens in grades 7–12 every Thursday, 3:30–4:15 p.m., beginning Oct. 1. Online sessions will include UMaine scientists discussing their research, how they became involved in their work and what brought them to Maine. Participants will learn about science in action in an informal discussion format. The series begins with Sonia Naderi, UMaine electrical engineering Ph.D. candidate, whose research focuses on utilizing artificial intelligence in wireless networks to enable widespread environmental monitoring. Registration is required and available on the event webpage. More information on additional education resources is on UMaine Extension 4-H Learn at Home.

Flexibility, responsiveness, empathy, and science

  • Maine residents are invited to participate in a new project at UMaine that is using the arts to tell the story of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jack Pine Project, a collaboration of the Maine Folklife Center, Maine Studies Program and the Hutchinson Center, connects professional artists, including UMaine faculty, with residents statewide. The free workshops are underway; registration is online

Continuing our missions for Maine

  • Maine Impact Week 2020 begins Monday with a variety of virtual programming. The celebration of UMaine’s impact on our community and beyond wraps up on Oct. 2 with the UMaine Student Symposium. This year, the symposium offers online programming and a live broadcast of the featured speaker, retired United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills.

  • The Office of Enrollment Management is helping UMaine and UMM students engage with their high school alma maters and hometowns, or prior colleges and universities. Those interested in sharing their UMaine and UMM student experience stories are encouraged to contact Kylen Donovan, kylen.donovan@maine.edu.

  • Since 1998, the Hudson Museum has participated in the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s Common Ground Fair, an event which draws over 60,000 visitors annually. This year, the fair that starts today is virtual and media from the Hudson Museum’s YouTube channel is showcased.