Guidance for health and safety

What’s the latest information about phase three testing at UMaine and other University of Maine System campuses? 🆕

The University of Maine System provided further guidance Sept. 10 on phase three COVID-19 surveillance and monitoring, which includes rounds of random and directed sampling. A related news release also is online.

What do I need to know about phase three surveillance testing on campus, Sept. 14 through late November? 

In the interest of community safety and well-being, University of Maine COVID-19 phase three surveillance testing is mid-September through late November. Members of the UMaine community selected to participate through random sampling every 10 days receive an email from um.covidtesting@maine.edu. 

The PCR diagnostic test, the same used for students in phases one and two, will be administered at Alfond Arena under the UMS ConvenientMD/Jackson Laboratory partnership and is at no cost to employees and students.

All members of the UMaine community who are being tested must bring a Maine Card. Please follow the signs to the northwest entrance of Alfond Arena, closest to College Avenue.

The test entails an anterior nasal 1 cm to 1.5 cm inside the nostril or oral pharyngeal swab to the back of the mouth. No post-test quarantine is required.

Test results will be available through the same ConvenientMD Patient Results Portal used in UMaine testing phases one and two: patientresults.convenientmd.com/UMS. (Username is your @maine.edu email address; use Reset Password to create a password.)

Map to the phase three testing site entrance at Alfond Arena.

Required form 1: ConvenientMD HIPPA form authorization to disclose health information (PDF)

Required form 2: UMS authorization to disclose health information (Word)

For questions about appointments, write um.covidtesting@maine.edu.

What is UMaine’s plan to provide on-campus COVID-19 testing throughout the semester? 

The University of Maine System announced Aug. 24 that testing will be ongoing until Thanksgiving. A news release on the announcement is online.

How should employees make a decision about self-isolating and quarantining during the pandemic? 

The University of Maine System has provided a situation matrix to help employees iin 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. Rather, you will be treated as a positive case and asked to follow quarantine and isolation protocols. The fact sheet is online.

I heard that there will be additional COVID-19 testing on campus beyond move-in weekend. What are the details?

A University of Maine System news release is online about extended 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.

Why aren’t you requiring COVID-19 testing for all Maine students and employees?

The University of Maine is following science and medical recommendations in requiring testing three cohorts of students — all residential students (in state and out of state, regardless of their state of origin), off-campus out-of-state students, and those in specialty clinical classes and involved in athletics. Students from Maine who have not traveled outside the state in recent weeks are not being tested. As of Aug. 12, the state of Maine has the lowest positivity rate (0.5%) in New England, along with a low infection rate below 1.0 of (.81) COVID-19 statewide. Maine remains one of five states with the lowest number of coronavirus cases, according to the CDC.

Students from Maine and employees are following Maine CDC guidance, including mandates they need to follow regarding travel. University employees are being tested based on Maine CDC guidance and Maine state travel guidance. In addition, asymptomatic testing includes employees who are living and working in university campus housing or engaged in instruction in close active environments, gyms and athletic complexes.

Asymptomatic testing is being monitored and controlled by each state’s CDC department as well as federal DHHS. The state of Maine is in the initial stage of bringing access to asymptomatic testing to non-health care workers statewide. With limited testing supply to maintain a robust symptomatic testing capacity nationwide, Maine and the other 49 states are being prudent in allocating asymptomatic testing supplies.

Our testing strategy addresses the highest risk new members of the community, based on current science and medical guidance. This strategy will continue through the fall semester to mitigate the risk of viral spread into the community. We will be testing our cohorts of students in August and a second time 10 days into September. The second testing round is intended to address the known incubation period of the virus to quickly identify positive cases developing in the time since the first baseline testing.

What is the University of Maine System’s latest guidance on face coverings?

The University of Maine System issued additional guidance on face coverings on Aug. 10. That information is online.

What is the latest University of Maine System guidance regarding limits on the sizes of groups and in-person classes?

The University of Maine System’s latest guidance was posted Aug. 10.

What is the latest information about public access and general operations on University of Maine System campuses?

Information on public access and general operations on UMS campuses statewide is online.

Where do I find the latest information about University of Maine System travel guidance for members of the UMaine community?

That information was posted Aug. 10.

Does the university have a COVID-19 Response Team? 

For several months’ members of the University of Maine Community have been working to effectively reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission and plan for containment should an outbreak occur.

Reduction strategies range from issuing hand sanitizer to developing high-level safety zones and operating protocols for our research facilities. These collaborative efforts are being guided by subject matter experts from various advisory groups, including the UMS Scientific Advisory Board, the Emergency Operations Center, the Research Continuity Task Force and many others. Each of these entities are screening practices developed throughout the COVID-19 response space and applying the lesson learned to best fit the University of Maine.

The same methodology has been extended to the next phase of managing the university’s response to the COVID crisis. A COVID Response Team has been established with the Emergency Operations structure to manage a COVID-19- related event. If a person within our community has been identified as being COVID-19 compromised, the team will focus the needed resources to protect that person and those they may have been in contact with.

Services for students may include transportation to a predesignated isolation/quarantine area on campus. Full support while they are isolated or quarantined would include housing, food, daily medical checks, help with classes and reintroduction back into the community. The university will work collaboratively with the Maine Center for Disease Control to identify those people who have had close contact with the compromised person, and they will have the same services.

In addition, potentially compromised locations will be isolated and cleaned by trained personnel. HIPAA and FERPA restrict the dissemination of certain records, including medical information. Information related to a specific person will be vetted and only disseminated to those authorized to have the information and have a demonstrated need to know. Nonspecific information such as general testing data and notification that a room may be compromised will be released. The safety of our community with given legal restrictions will be the guide.

Multiple data sources will be monitored on a University of Maine System and campus level to maintain an awareness regarding the COVID-19 threat. That awareness will be communicated to the President’s Office. Any campuswide response will be made at the executive level and will be measured in accordance with the level of threat. For example, face-to-face classes could be cancelled for a short period of time; if campus depopulation of the residence halls is necessary, research facilities may stay open.

What does that mean when UMaine students have to quarantine and isolate, and what will students be able to do during that time?

We have an information sheet with all the details — and a number to call if you need more information. This is the isolation and quarantine planning guide for students, as well as a fact sheet on room supplies.

What are UMaine’s plans for providing COVID-19 testing for students in fall 2020? 

UMaine has a COVID-19 testing guide for students.

Are COVID-19 testing services available on campus?

The University of Maine System has entered into partnerships with the nonprofit biomedical research institution The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) and ConvenientMD (CMD) to provide comprehensive COVID-19 testing services. Under the agreements, CMD will provide “wrap around” services, establishing sites at each UMS university to gather samples and administer and report results. The samples will be tested by JAX for the presence of the virus. The partnership will focus on RT-PCR testing, which is considered one of the most reliable COVID-19 tests, with high accuracy and low false positives. A news release is online.

Are face coverings required at UMaine and UMM?

Yes. More information is online under the heading: Should I wear a face covering while working? University of Maine System Safety Management also has a video about protocols for voluntary use of filtering facepieces and cloth face coverings. Signage at street entrances confirms that face coverings are required by everyone while on campus.

In addition to two university-issued face coverings, will employees receive any other health-related items?

In addition to two university-issued face coverings, every employee returning to work will receive a back-to-campus kit containing a personal-size bottle of hand sanitizer, cardholder for mobile phone and touchless door opener. The kits and face coverings are available by navigating to the Emergency Operation Center webpage and complete the COVID-19 Central Supply Request Form.

In addition to face coverings, what other PPE is there on campus for community members?

Other protective measures include the installation of hand sanitizer stations and hygiene barriers in high services areas. Signage will be strategically placed as a reminder to maintain social distancing, the need for frequent handwashing and what to do when you feel ill. A video provides information about the multiple PPE resources available. In addition, UMS Safety Management offers guidance through the portal to University of Maine System employees. Its website includes factsheets on office safety guidance, the physical demands of returning to the workplace, and a workspace checklist.

What special cleaning is being done on campus in response to COVID-19?

According to federal health and safety guidance, no special personal protective equipment (PPE) or cleaning processes are needed for cleaning above and beyond normal practices. UMS Safety Management has instituted protocols for use of disinfectants rated to work on coronavirus. Restrooms campuswide are cleaned and disinfected daily. Hand sanitation stations are being added campuswide. The UMS Scientific Advisory Board has a fact sheet on disinfection and cleaning during the pandemic.

Is there a public health campaign raising awareness of health and safety protocols on campus?

Yes. All members of our community will receive wellness kits containing face coverings, hand sanitizer, an information card and more as part of our Black Bears Care public health campaign. We also have a Black Bear Pact for our community members focused on protecting each other and emphasizing our collective responsibility for health and well-being — protect yourself, protect others and protect the College of Our Hearts Always.

Do members of the UMaine and UMM communities who have been out of state have to quarantine?

Currently, the state requires anyone traveling to Maine to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or to obtain through a health care provider a PCR Test for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to arrival. If the test is negative, travelers to the state can complete the Maine certificate of compliance to waive the 14-day quarantine period. Members of the UMaine and UMM communities should arrive on campus within 72 hours of the test with a state of Maine certificate of compliance to present to the designated university official. (States exempt from this civil guidance are New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.)

How will the UMaine and UMM communities be notified if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 on the campuses?

Anyone who has been asked to self-isolate or quarantine by a medical provider in relation to coronavirus or is awaiting test results for COVID-19 is asked to voluntarily contact the UMaine and UMM Community Information line at  207.581.2681 for off-campus and on-campus students, staff, and faculty to self-report COVID related concerns; for those who have been asked to self isolate by the health care provider; for those asked to not attend class by their health care provider; for those who had a positive COVID test from a healthcare provider; or those who may have had a potential exposure. Your call will be routed to the appropriate resource.

In the event of an illness outbreak, UMaine will issue community health advisories, including prevention information and efforts, and relevant fact sheets, and will identify a UMaine contact person for more information.

Currently, an individual who is being tested for COVID-19 waits up to 48 hours for results. The university, under CDC guidance, will ask the individual to stay out of the workplace, classroom and lab, and self-quarantine until test results are available. Students living on campus will be directed to one of the designated rooms set aside for this purpose.

If the results are positive for COVID 19, your medical provider or UMaine and UMM will notify the Maine Center for Disease Control if a positive case has been identified on their respected campus.

In addition the Maine CDC will initiate an interview of the positive individual for a list of close contacts and activities over the past 48 hours to be able to reach out to any individuals who may have been within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more. The ME CDC then will contact each of the individual’s identified close contacts.

The positive individual will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Students living on campus will be asked to self-isolate at one of the oncampus rooms designated for this purpose. The individual be allowed to return to work, resident hall room, or classes after two negative COVID-19 lab tests.

Thank you for your understanding of the extraordinary circumstances this situation presents for all of us. Refer to the University of Maine System guidelines for university travel for business and personal travel for guidance.

Guidance for community members returning to UMaine and UMM campuses is online.

The Campus Communicable Disease Surveillance Policy also is online.

Can I use a face shield in place of a face covering?

The face shield alone is not a substitute for a face covering. Face shields can substantially reduce the short-term exposure of healthcare workers to large infectious aerosol particles, but smaller particles can remain airborne longer and flow around the face shield more easily to be inhaled. Thus, face shields provide a useful adjunct to respiratory protection for workers caring for patients with respiratory infections. However, they cannot be used as a substitute for respiratory protection when it is needed. A review for accommodations may be requested through your supervisor. Federal CDC guidance is online.

If a residential student who tests positive, what will the steps be for isolating? 

UMaine has identified isolation rooms on campus separate from our residential living spaces. The health care provider who ordered the test will be notified by the Maine CDC of the positive test results, then the health care provider will notify the student of the positive result. The university will be notified by the Maine CDC. The Maine CDC will then contact the student to review health symptoms, daily health check-in calls and begin contact tracing to identify individuals who have been in close contact with the positive testing students, within 6 feet or less for 30 minutes over the past 48 hours.

Residence Life will be contacted to locate the student to an on-campus isolation room for 14 days. For off-campus commuter students who test positive for COVID-19, their health care provider who ordered the test will be notified by the Maine CDC of the positive test results, and that health care provider will notify the student of the positive result. The student will be requested to voluntarily contact the UMaine and UMM Community Information line at 207.581.2681. The student will be requested to self-isolate at their off-campus home for 14 days. Maine CDC will then contact the student to review health symptoms, do daily health check-in calls and begin contact tracing to identify individuals who have been in close contact with the positive testing students, within 6 feet or less for 30 minutes over the past 48 hours.

In both cases, Maine CDC will be contacted to confirm the positive COVID test result. Ongoing daily communication will be initiated between Maine CDC to the isolated student to monitor the health condition of the student while in isolation. The campus isolation rooms are equipped with a thermometer, hand sanitizer, shower kit, tissues, and phone charging cord, and are connected with the UMaine Dining meal delivery process. The rooms are set up with laundry service, bed sheets, pillows, blankets, and bath towels set.

Will hygiene barriers be installed on campus?

Hundreds of hygiene barriers are being installed in areas where services are provided and social distancing is not possible, including checkout stations and customer service counters.

How will UMaine and UMM help maintain social distancing protocols?

Campuswide, there will be hygiene barriers, floor stickers in numerous areas and signage, and common space occupancy capacity guidelines. Due to the nature of campuses and the importance of face coverings in keeping individuals and the community safe, face coverings are required at all times on University of Maine System campuses, property and facilities, both indoors and outside with exceptions. (https://www.maine.edu/health-advisory/community-guidance/everyone/), or OSHA approved face mask in specific  job roles and tasks.

Does the Psychological Services Center offer any counseling?

New telepsychology services, including one focused on stress responses to COVID-19, are now available through UMaine’s Psychological Services Center. A story about this work is online. For more information or to become a client, call the center at 207.581.2034.

What protocols should be followed by employees returning from out of state travel to UMaine and UMM campuses, and UMaine facilities and offices statewide? (Currently not including the states of Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Hampshire)

Those asymptomatic faculty and staff who have recently traveled outside of Maine and are returning to campus are subject to Maine CDC-recommended measures based on their prior travel (CDC travel advisories) and out-of-state home locations (regions/states with sustained community transmission). There is sustained transmission of COVID-19 in the U.S. UMaine or UMM community members returning from out-of-state travel who are not exhibiting flu or COVID-19 symptoms are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days prior to returning to their workplace. During self-quarantine, monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and take a daily temperature. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, call your health care provider and follow the recommendations. Follow the voluntary UMaine/UMM self-reporting guidance below to assist in planning and guiding your return to work plan. Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease. This entails avoiding crowded places and nonessential travel.

Employees under the guidance of a health care provider

If under any directives from their health care providers or if self-isolation is recommended awaiting COVID-19 laboratory test results, remain at your current home and self-isolate for the recommended CDC time period. Refer to the University of Maine System workplace policies and guidance on any alternate work-related option available to the faculty or staff. Follow the voluntary UMaine/UMM self-reporting guidance below to assist in planning and guiding your return to work plan.

Employees returning or displaying symptoms after travel abroad

Should you display COVID-19 symptoms after out-of-country travel, call your health care provider and follow the recommended self-quarantine period of 14 days while awaiting confirmation of the cause of your symptoms. Follow the voluntary UMaine/UMM self-reporting guidance below to assist in planning and guiding your return to work plan. Consult with your supervisor upon return about avoiding presence at work and possible work-from-home options. (University of Maine System workplace policies and guidance)

Employees awaiting COVID-19 test (laboratory) results

If you have been asked to self-quarantine by a medical provider in relation to coronavirus and/or are awaiting COVID-19 test results, please voluntarily contact the UMaine and UMM Community Information line at 207.581.2681 and follow your medical provider’s recommendations. Thank you for your understanding of the extraordinary circumstances this situation presents for all of us. Refer to the University of Maine System guidelines for university travel for business and personal travel for guidance.