Friday Futurecast — January 22

Health and safety update for university community members

Welcome to this week’s Friday Futurecast

These updates are archived on the UMaine Spring ’21 website. The University of Maine at Machias also has a Spring ’21 website.

Message from President Joan Ferrini-Mundy:

Dear members of the UMaine and UMM communities,

What an exciting and historic week for our country as we celebrate the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and Vice President Kamala Harris. 

As we begin another semester, I look forward to seeing more faculty, staff and students on our campuses, and I am continually amazed at the way in which we have been able to demonstrate our commitment to keeping each other healthy and safe. Last Saturday, I was excited and encouraged to see the Shield T3 mobile processing unit arrive on campus as we prepare to increase the frequency of testing in our continuous efforts to design and implement collective strategies to keep our communities safe in the midst of this global pandemic.  

Wishing everyone the best for a productive and successful term. 


Joan Ferrini-Mundy


Partnering to address health 

  • COVID-19 phase six weekly asymptomatic testing for all members of the UMaine community who are on campus in the spring semester begins Feb. 1 and continues throughout the semester. The latest information about the noninvasive, saliva-based Shield T3 PCR diagnostic testing is online. Also available: information on preparing for and taking the T3 test.

  • Phase six weekly asymptomatic testing information for UMM students and employees also is online.

Transparent and continuing communication 

  • As noted in a Jan. 15 update from the UMS Office of Human Resources: Through March 31, 2021 or until new legislation is enacted, whichever is sooner, employees can continue to access unused Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) sick leave/family care balances up to the limit of 80 hours, and FFCRA Childcare Family Medical Leave of 10 weeks to address appropriate circumstances, such as child or home care coverage as a result of COVID-19. For questions, email or call HR,; 207.973.3373.

  • The latest UMS guidance for faculty and staff includes the Employee Workflow Support Chart to help meet the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, an updated COVID-19 situation matrix is available to maintain a safe working and learning environment. 

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

  • The 2021 Emerging Leaders Program is accepting student applications. The cohort-based series is designed to develop a sense of community and collaboration among new and emerging student leaders. In eight virtual meetings this spring, students will be introduced to faculty/staff leaders and, through interactive workshops, provide peer mentoring and leadership coaching. Workshop topics include identifying your leadership skills, leadership through adversity, conflict management and becoming an engaged citizen. The application is online; deadline for applications is noon, Feb. 12.

  • As part of the Board of Trustees-approved $2.56 million investment in classroom technology, 12 learning spaces in Orono, one at the Hutchinson Center and three in Machias received web conferencing upgrades during winter break. The upgrades, which are in addition to those started last summer, provide faculty and students with scheduling and location flexibility, either in person or online. UMaine’s most recent updates: Aubert 316; Barrows 119, 123, 125, 131; Boardman 210; Bennett 201; Little 202, 220; Lord 200; Hitchner 157; Merrill 228a; Hutchinson Center 129. UMM updates: Torrey 228, 234; Science 13. 

  • A UMS IT website provides remote teaching and learning resources. 

  • The Center for Student Involvement website includes a calendar of campus activities, both virtual and in person. Check out activities happening daily during the first week of classes.

Flexibility, responsiveness, empathy, and science

  • We continue to explore and monitor how to further meet our community’s psychological, academic and social needs in the spring 2021 semester. A guiding principle is ensuring enough time for decompression, rest and recentering, while also avoiding extended breaks that would encourage leaving campus. To assist in meeting this goal, we will be implementing two Reading Days for the spring semester. The current schedule has three days off: Feb. 15, March 24 and April 28. The two additional Reading Days will be March 23 and April 15. These days are meant to remain free of new assignments to provide time for students to pursue academic work that is most appropriate for them or to take the time off if that is what they need most.

Continuing our missions for Maine

  • Summer University 2021 is May 10–Aug. 20, with three- and six-week sessions featuring nearly 900 courses offered online and on campus. Registration begins Feb. 1. More information is online.

  • Reminder: UMaine deferred students can take advantage of Black Bear Paws, a program featuring online course options, statewide hands-on internship and 4-H STEM Ambassador opportunities, and adventure-based Maine Bound programming. More information is online.

  • The UMS On Track for College website is now live.