COVID-19 Updates

Community Communications

An illustration of Champ, the USM mascot

The health and well-being of students, faculty, and staff, and visitors is of paramount importance. All decisions and actions pertaining to our campus activities are grounded in protecting all members of the University of Southern Maine (USM) community from the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

  • Current students, faculty, & staff: Visit us on MyUSM (Login required) 
    We’ve moved our COVID-19 FAQs and other information for current students, faculty, and staff to MyUSM — streamlining access through our secure, single sign-on portal. Login required.

  • Prospective students, parents, families, & community members: Please see the information below for the latest USM and University of Maine System announcements.

Important Announcements

UMS Colleagues,

The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for just over two years now. From the beginning, we prepared, we monitored, and we developed and adopted science and public health-based protocols for personal and facility-based hygiene, social distancing, testing, isolation and quarantine, and vaccinations. Though we had to be online and apart early in the pandemic, we came back together as soon as we could do so safely, and we've stayed together safely ever since, continuing to adjust our protocols in line with our evolving understanding of the pandemic and how to control COVID and its spread.

I want to be clear about why we've had one of the most successful pandemic experiences in higher education in the country -- because of you. Your discipline to science-based COVID protocols. Your face-covering compliance. Your testing compliance. Your high vaccination and booster rates. Mostly, it's been your discipline and concern for your own health and that of our campus communities. We've stayed safe together through the pandemic because of you.

And there are countless others to thank -- our Science Advisory Board, our Incident Command teams at the System level and each of our universities, our Safe Return teams, our Residential Advisory Board, our asymptomatic testing teams, our care teams for isolation and quarantine, and many others. They all worked together to make it safe for us to be together.

Today we announced that, effective tomorrow, we are relaxing our face covering mandate for non-classroom indoor spaces. This is another important step forward that is possible because our vaccination rates are so high and our testing positivity and case occurrence rates are so low. To be sure, there are important exceptions: face coverings continue to be required in all classrooms, research spaces and instructional areas unless the requirement is waived by a faculty member. UMS also will require face coverings for public events in its facilities that welcome 75 or more persons, unless proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result is required. And all UMS event organizers have the option to require face coverings if circumstances suggest that doing so is prudent.

Our universities will be communicating more campus-based information, and our general pandemic guidance for employees has been updated today here.

Under current US CDC guidance, Maine's declining case rates throughout the state and our own low testing positivity following Spring Break together make it possible for us to take this positive step forward in the pandemic. I believe this is a responsible decision for UMS at present. And perhaps it's a welcome one. But I want to be clear that we will still monitor the pandemic and community transmission, and if case rates and community transmission increase, we may have to re-impose face-covering requirements more broadly again. We will do whatever is necessary to keep our campus communities safe.

We've learned a great deal about how to work flexibly and safely together through these last two years. I hope we'll carry forward the best of what we've learned about remote work and teaching and learning, even as we've revelled in the benefits of returning slowly and more fully to our pre-pandemic experiences. There's more to learn ahead, no doubt, and perhaps more adjustments will be necessary to continue teaching, learning, working, and researching safely together.

We will make them together.

Thanks again for your hard work, and let's stay together safely.

Regards,
Chancellor Malloy signature graphic
Chancellor
University of Maine System

The University of Southern Maine will be holding a COVID Booster Clinic for all UMS members on Tuesday, February 8th on the Gorham campus. The clinic will be held from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm in the Costello Sports Complex Ice Arena - Alumni Room. Pfizer and Moderna boosters will be available.

You will need to register for this Booster Clinic.

REMEMBER - Effective February 1, 2022 all in-person students need to get a booster shot and upload their updated vaccination records in the UMS PointNClick portal OR they will be required to take a campus-based COVID test weekly until they receive a booster shot.

Please visit the US CDC website for more information regarding how to stay-up-to-date with your vaccines.

I hope you will register to attend this Booster Clinic.

Sincerely,
Glenn Cummings

UMS Community:

I’m writing today because the pandemic is still with us, but it’s changing. And we’re going to change too. With our students coming back now to start our Spring 2022 semester, I wanted you to know our plans to work, teach, learn, and research together safely.

Classes Start Jan. 18 with In-Person Learning and Flexibility

The bottom line, as I explain more below, is that we’re going to safely start the semester with in-person learning and work. Our faculty and students want and expect in-person teaching and learning for those classes already planned as such, and our science-based COVID protocols and highly vaccinated communities provide the safest environment possible for our work and learning to take place. At the same time, for at least the first two weeks of the semester, academic and HR leaders will work with faculty, staff, and students at our universities to determine the extent to which remote and hybrid work and learning alternatives may be necessary to respond to temporary local conditions, such as unusually high occurrences of COVID or individual faculty, staff, or students who might be at particular medical risk or are caring for family members, including adult learners home with children whose own schooling has become remote. Your campus leaders will have more information for you. We’re also going to ask our community members to exercise more personal responsibility for individual COVID cases that may occur as we manage the current Omicron case surge.

The Changing Course of COVID-19

It’s worth recounting our pandemic history here, which you know as well as I do, if we’re going to rethink our approach to the pandemic. You deserve to understand why we’re doing this.

In the beginning -- before we understood COVID's nature and how it spreads, before we understood the efficacy of masking, group limitations, and social distancing, before we had the logistical capacity for accurate high-volume, quick response testing, and long before the advent of safe and effective vaccines -- we had no choice but to empty our residence halls and offices and continue nearly all teaching and learning, work, and research remotely. But we also knew that our mostly-empty campuses, with most teaching, learning, work, research, and social interactions occurring only digitally, were not a long-term solution if the pandemic persisted.

It has persisted, of course, and stubbornly so. 

But by this past fall, the wide availability of safe and effective COVID vaccines offered the promise that we could safely have more traditional in-person teaching and learning, work, research, and social interaction. The hope and desire for responsible normalcy drove our decisions to require COVID vaccines or an approved exemption for our students, and we reached similar agreements for the same for our faculty and staff. Our collective commitment to the health and safety of our university communities resulted in our campuses being one of the most highly vaccinated environments in the state, with far lower case and test positivity rates than the state as a whole.

Changes for the Spring Semester

Even from last fall, though, the pandemic is different now, and so are we. While Omicron case counts fill the news and have us identifying more COVID cases than ever before, the medical and public health understanding of this particular variant suggests we're at a turning point in the pandemic. It has become less practical -- unrealistic even -- to institutionally track, contact trace, isolate, and quarantine every single new or potential case, particularly as more people are testing on their own with home test kits and others battle basic cold symptoms that may well be Omicron. This heightens the importance for each and every one of us to embrace our personal responsibility and communal discipline to every other COVID mitigation protocol we still employ: face coverings (and reducing the amount of time without them), vaccinations and boosters, reduced large gatherings, flexible online and remote learning and work options, and ongoing testing and self-isolation or quarantine to safely begin the coming semester based on the best practices we've learned and put to successful use throughout the pandemic so far.

We are committed to offering high quality, engaged in-person educational and work experiences, even as we are equally committed to the health and safety of our university communities. Balancing those commitments, along with knowing that most students learn best when they can experience the university in person as much as possible, we are carefully moving forward to start the Spring 2022 semester in person as planned.

This means we’ll bring students back to our highly-vaccinated university campuses with all testing, prevention, and mitigation measures in place to limit virus transmission as much as possible. In addition to following our current vaccination, testing, face covering, and other COVID protocols, we’ll also ask everyone to exercise discipline and personal responsibility to manage their own health when we can’t, which means everyone should take it upon themselves to get vaccinated or boosted if they can but aren’t, stay current with all UMS and university guidance (where we will do our best to follow changes to U.S. and Maine CDC public health guidance), and self-isolate or quarantine when they have symptoms or are exposed to others who do outside of our UMS testing protocols. 

Prioritizing Student Support and Success

As for classes, we’ll start the semester with the presumption that in-person learning can be safely offered, and in some cases is necessary given unique program requirements and the importance of an in-person student experience. At the same time, for at least the first two weeks – January 18 through January 31 – our university academic leaders at the college, school, and department levels will work with faculty and students to flexibly use remote and hybrid learning options as local conditions may require to accommodate individual medical risks or unusually high concentrations of cases. Faculty will continue to provide guidance to students through our Brightspace learning platforms on how to access all coursework, whether in person, hybrid, or remote. As always, the campus centers for teaching and learning across our system will be ready to assist.

And as we've always done, we'll let science and the evolving pandemic guide our future operations so that we can stay together safely. We’ll continue to watch Omicron trends in other countries too, which offer the hope that Omicron cases may diminish as quickly as they spiked.

As a closing reflection, I think it’s fair to acknowledge that a complete shut-down is not a long-term strategy. In our universities, we’ve learned that ongoing universal remote-only learning and work is too blunt and overwhelming a response, with too detrimental an impact on effective and engaged learning, work, and faculty-student interactions, to be a long-term and widely-employed strategy. Even still, and understanding that there may be no safer place in the coming month than in our highly vaccinated university communities, we’ll proceed cautiously for the first two weeks, adjusting to local conditions flexibly and prudently. 

Together with our University presidents and Maine Law’s dean, I am grateful for and share your commitment to open our universities safely next week for the life-changing learning, work, and research that occurs across our System each semester. Thank you for doing your part to help make that possible.

Sincerely,

Dannel Malloy

Chancellor

UMS Community,

A very Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you had a healthy and restful holiday break. As a community of learners and knowledge seekers, we're ready to get back for our Spring 2022 semester.

But we’re coming back to once again face the challenge of an ever-changing pandemic. Omicron variant cases are raging explosively all around us, and many of the measures of the pandemic – testing positivity, case counts, and hospitalizations among them – are at or near their highest levels.

As we've done from the beginning of the pandemic, we're going to follow the science and adjust our COVID protocols so that we can be together as safely as possible and not contribute to the spread of the deadly COVID virus in and beyond Maine.

Let me get right to it.

Just as Maine's K-12 schools did yesterday, we're going to start on time, with classes beginning as scheduled two weeks from today on January 18. Face coverings will be required in all indoor spaces, with limited exceptions for eating that we followed last semester.

While all of our vaccination, exemption, and testing protocols continue from last semester too, the pandemic's evolution with the fast-spreading Omicron variant demands that we take greater advantage of the extra protection that booster shots give us. Thus, we'll be following new CDC guidance and, starting February 1, require regular testing for students who are not fully boosted by then. Returning residential students must also test and, unless they've had a booster shot or are very recently vaccinated, will be asked to quarantine to await negative test results for their initial test.

For faculty and staff, we're beginning discussions with our labor partners with the goal of adding booster requirements to our existing vaccination, exemption, and testing protocols.

We all know that there is no one single COVID safety protocol that will stop Omicron, Delta, or COVID generally from spreading. We use the combination of vaccines, face coverings, testing, isolation and quarantine, enhanced cleaning and hygiene, group size limitations and social distancing, and other measures together to limit COVID's spread and give us the best chance of staying together safely.

Even though booster shots have not yet been mandated by governmental authorities, the strong consensus of the medical, public health, and scientific communities is that booster shots significantly increase our protection against COVID and its spread. If the CDC adds booster shots to what it means to be fully vaccinated, we expect to do the same, and we could do so sooner if it seems necessary to do so to maintain the health of our university communities. Everyone should get ready for that as soon as possible.

So let me be as clear as I can: Get a booster shot now. Do your part to make our university communities as safe as possible. Do your part to get us back together safely for the coming spring semester. And do your part to keep us together safely.

As all of these details get more complex and continue to change, please remember to refer to the Together for Maine website and your university’s own specific guidance to stay current and to understand our most current public health and safety protocols.

I am so grateful for everything you've done to keep us together safely so far, and know our university communities can count on you to do so again.

Sincerely,

Chancellor

University of Maine System

Dear Colleagues,

With 95% of our University of Maine System community vaccinated, a logical next step in continuing to curb the COVID threat and finishing the final weeks of the semester safely and in person is to support ongoing vaccination of our employees now eligible to receive their booster shots.

On November 17, Governor Janet Mills announced that all Mainers ages 18 and older who have been fully vaccinated for a sufficient period of time are now eligible for the free booster. University of Maine System faculty and staff now qualify for two hours of paid administrative leave time that can be used to receive their COVID-19 booster.

This availability of paid administrative leave is similar to the offer made to faculty and staff in the spring to get their first COVID-19 vaccine shot.

We continue to urge adherence to safety practices with the addition of the booster and flu shots as part of the UMS plan to safely provide in-person learning and activities through the scheduled Dec.17 end of the fall semester.

As you know, the System requires vaccination for all its students. Employees must also be vaccinated or have a qualified exemption as required by university and federal policy by Jan. 4.

The University of Maine System continues to discuss the potential impacts of its employee vaccination mandate with all six bargaining units. In support of ongoing communication with employees, UMS will launch an outreach and support effort after the Thanksgiving holiday to bring all of its faculty and staff into full compliance with federal requirements.

Thank you for your continued efforts to ensure a safe learning and working environment for our UMS community.

Sincerely,

Loretta Shields, SHRM-CP, PHR

Chief Human Resources Officer

University of Maine System

Dear Colleagues,

In his October 28 message, Chancellor Malloy shared information announcing the requirement of all UMS employees to comply with Executive Order 14042: Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. Federal civil authorities have since updated and clarified those requirements, including a revised deadline for compliance. This means that all regular, part-time, temporary, and student employees must have either: 1) received both doses of an approved two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine; or 2) confirmed a medical or religious exemption through the UMS online COVID-19 vaccination portal (UMS COVID-19 Portal) by the January 4, 2022 deadline. The University of Maine System has updated its own employee vaccination requirements to reflect these changes.

If you have not already done so, please take immediate action to ensure compliance with the requirement by January 4, 2022. You may follow this link for vaccination locations in Maine at https://www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites or in Maine and beyond at www.vaccines.gov. Also, watch for your campus specific news regarding on-campus or local vaccination opportunities.

I want to share the following key details with you:

  • Employees who previously submitted an exemption on the basis of working fully online/remote or working fully outside or isolated will need to upload a vaccination record or submit proof of a religious or medical exemption no later than January 4, 2022. Remote and outside work are not valid exemptions under the Executive Order. (They may no longer be requested and those previously granted will no longer be valid as of January 4.)

  • Regular weekly testing will continue to be a requirement for unvaccinated employees working under a religious or medical exemption. Testing appointments can be scheduled within the UMS COVID-19 Portal system.

  • The UMS COVID-19 Portal system is the only acceptable method for registering the vaccination record or exemption. Information and instructions regarding the UMS COVID-19 Portal system can be found at the UMS online COVID-19 vaccine portal. If you are experiencing difficulty accessing UMS COVID-19 Portal or uploading records, please contact your campus Human Resources department or the IT Helpdesk https://www.maine.edu/information-technology/support/

  • Part-time faculty and other seasonal employees who are not actively working will need to be in compliance with these requirements prior to their return to work.

  • All newly hired employees must be in compliance with these requirements upon their start date. Human Resources is working to implement the necessary protocols for new hires

As we must comply with the Executive Order, we will follow federal guidelines by continuing to keep employees informed regarding the vaccines available to them and supporting them in their efforts to comply with the requirements. We are continuing conversations with our labor union partners regarding the implementation of this Executive Order and the implications of individuals failing to comply. As the Chancellor noted in his message, approximately 90% of employees have already achieved compliance with the January 4th requirement. Should the Executive Order face legal challenges that affect its implementation, UMS will continue to follow our current protocols.

Thank you to all for your efforts to ensure that our campus communities may be as safe as possible.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the UMS vaccine protocols, please visit the Together for Maine website (https://www.maine.edu/together/) or contact your campus Human Resources department.

Loretta Shields, SHRM-CP, PHRChief Human Resources OfficerUniversity of Maine System

UMS Community -

I've written directly to you many times during the pandemic. In all of these communications, I've been very clear that the most important principles we'll follow as long as the pandemic is with us are that UMS's COVID response and policies will be based on science and fact, that we will adjust them whenever necessary to keep our university communities safe as the pandemic itself evolves, and that we will follow all applicable mandates issued by public health authorities.

Today this last principle is at issue, and let me get right to it: Based on our legal review, all full-time and part-time UMS employees, including student employees and employees who work remotely, must comply with the President's Executive Order 14042: Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. In sum, that Executive Order requires that employees of a federal contractor must be either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or seek a legally recognized exemption from vaccination for medical reasons or a sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance. UMS (including all of our universities and Maine Law) is a federal contractor, and the deadline for full compliance is December 8, 2021.

Fortunately, most UMS employees already comply with the requirements of the Executive Order. If you've already registered proof of your COVID-19 vaccine or confirmed a medical or religious exemption through the UMS online COVID-19 vaccine portal, you're already in compliance with the Executive Order's vaccine or exemption requirements.

Even if you have not yet registered your vaccine card or exemption request with the UMS portal, it's easy to do so. And there's still time. You can learn more and submit your vaccine card or an exemption request online here. If you're not yet vaccinated, please make plans to do so as soon as possible. It’s easy to get a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. Check here for vaccination locations in Maine or in Maine and beyond at www.vaccines.gov, and watch for more information from your university about vaccination opportunities on campus and locally. To allow time for your full compliance, I urge those employees who opt for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be vaccinated by November 24. For those who opt for the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, I urge you to receive your first dose by November 3. The first dose of the Moderna vaccine must have been received by October 27.

I think it’s important to make clear the consequences of not complying with this federal mandate – we would put at risk the federal grants and contracts that support mission-critical university education, research and public service and related employment in our university communities.

We've done remarkably well managing COVID in our university communities this fall -- so well that our success has drawn national attention. We can and should take pride in this, but we also can't let our guard down. There's no doubt our success in limiting the spread of COVID-19 is due in large part to the facts that we keep our faces covered, 85 percent of our employees and 95 percent of our Fall 2021 students are fully vaccinated, and we're regularly testing everyone who isn't vaccinated.

More than 88 percent of our employees, including both full- and part-time, already meet the federal requirements to prove either vaccination or a medical or religious exemption. We will work through Human Resources and our labor partners to support every employee’s work to come into full compliance over the next month. It's now a federal legal mandate that we do so, and we will meet this responsibility together to keep our university communities as safe as possible.

Regards,

Dannel P. Malloy

Chancellor

Hey, Hey Huskies! Happy Monday! We hope that you are having a lovely semester thus far and are enjoying the courses you are taking for your educational pathway. We are so delighted that so many of you have chosen to come back to campus, which is why the following information is especially important.

On Friday, October 15th, if you have not uploaded a vaccine card to the University of Maine Systems’ coronavirus vaccine portal, PointNClick, you will not have the ability to participate in any on-campus activities. On-campus activities pertain to classes, sporting events, club events, guest lectures, and any general event held on campus. There is an exemption process for those with sincerely held religious beliefs or documented medical conditions. The exemption forms are easily accessible from the PointNClick website. The University of Maine system is doing this with no malicious intent, we simply would like to keep all of our campuses as safe as possible. The mission of having the entire System vaccinated is to keep you and your loved ones safe while attending university.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw all of us into a mixed bag of different situations. For some, it was a way to spend time with family while still attending school, whereas for others, it could have been a dark time living in uncomfortable situations. We are hoping to grow and learn from the coronavirus pandemic, so that we can be a model for other institutions to encourage the importance of health safety and protect others by getting vaccinated. The University of Southern Maine is unique as we are, “the university of everyone,” thus being a group of students that come from different backgrounds, environments, and situations. Statewide, Maine has hundreds of locations where you can receive the coronavirus vaccine. Do your part by getting your shot today; be a part of our #USMVaxPack.

Thank you all for reading and your cooperation in keeping our campus safe. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out by email to hussein.maow@maine.edu, brianna.demaso@maine.edu or usm.studentsenate@maine.edu ! (-:

Sincerely on behalf of the Student Government Association,

Hussein Maow, USM Student Body President

Brianna L. Demaso, USM Student Body Vice President

Dear Colleagues,

We’d like to provide an important update in regard to employee vaccination, exemption, and testing compliance on our University of Maine System campuses.

Nearly eighty percent of our on-campus employees have uploaded their vaccination or exemption status into the UMS COVID-19 Portal. We appreciate this effort to meet the requirements as set down in the Chancellor’s message of September 10 and are grateful for this dedication and commitment to our community health and safety.

We continue to encourage those who have not yet reported their status to do so no later than September 30. This is the deadline agreed upon in the memoranda of understanding reached with each of our collective bargaining units during the week of September 13th and applies to non-represented employees as well.

If you’re not certain of your current vaccination or exemption status within the UMS COVID-19 Portal or unsure of exactly where and how to upload your information, please visit:

https://www.maine.edu/information-technology/support/it-resources-and-tools/vaccination-verification-guide/

An important note to keep in mind is that the memoranda of understanding with each of the units provide for employees to continue to request exemptions on medical or religious grounds or in connection with working remotely or in an outdoor setting. Those exemption request forms are currently available on the UMS COVID-19 Portal and must be completed and submitted no later than September 30. Even if you have previously confirmed your remote work status with your campus officials, you must submit a remote work exemption request.

In addition, those employees and spouses/domestic partners covered under UMS medical insurance are eligible for Level 2 credit with self-reporting of vaccination through the myCigna.com website.

Important: Entering information for satisfying Level 2 incentive does NOT meet the requirement to enter vaccination information into the UMS COVID-19 Portal.

Employees are required to appear for COVID-19 testing at least weekly if they work in-person on campus at any time and (1) have not submitted proof of COVID vaccination information, (2) have an approved medical, religious, or outdoor/isolated area work exemption to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, or (3) have not registered any status or exemption request with the UMS COVID-19 Portal before the deadline. Any non-compliance with COVID public health protocols can lead to the initiation of progressive discipline.

Please watch for additional updates as we approach the September 30 deadline and working together, we can ensure a safe and healthy completion of the semester and successful academic year.

Thank you,

Your HR Team

Dear Colleagues,

We’d like to provide an important update in regard to employee vaccination, exemption, and testing compliance on our University of Maine System campuses.

Nearly eighty percent of our on-campus employees have uploaded their vaccination or exemption status into the UMS COVID-19 Portal. We appreciate this effort to meet the requirements as set down in the Chancellor’s message of September 10 and are grateful for this dedication and commitment to our community health and safety.

We continue to encourage those who have not yet reported their status to do so no later than September 30. This is the deadline agreed upon in the memoranda of understanding reached with each of our collective bargaining units during the week of September 13th and applies to non-represented employees as well.

If you’re not certain of your current vaccination or exemption status within the UMS COVID-19 Portal or unsure of exactly where and how to upload your information, please visit:

https://www.maine.edu/information-technology/support/it-resources-and-tools/vaccination-verification-guide/

An important note to keep in mind is that the memoranda of understanding with each of the units provide for employees to continue to request exemptions on medical or religious grounds or in connection with working remotely or in an outdoor setting. Those exemption request forms are currently available on the UMS COVID-19 Portal and must be completed and submitted no later than September 30. Even if you have previously confirmed your remote work status with your campus officials, you must submit a remote work exemption request. 

In addition, those employees and spouses/domestic partners covered under UMS medical insurance are eligible for Level 2 credit with self-reporting of vaccination through the myCigna.com website.

Important: Entering information for satisfying Level 2 incentive does NOT meet the requirement to enter vaccination information into the UMS COVID-19 Portal.

Employees are required to appear for COVID-19 testing at least weekly if they work in-person on campus at any time and (1) have not submitted proof of COVID vaccination information, (2) have an approved medical, religious, or outdoor/isolated area work exemption to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, or (3) have not registered any status or exemption request with the UMS COVID-19 Portal before the deadline. Any non-compliance with COVID public health protocols can lead to the initiation of progressive discipline. 

Please watch for additional updates as we approach the September 30 deadline and working together, we can ensure a safe and healthy completion of the semester and successful academic year.

Thank you,

Your HR Team

UMS Community Members:  

We returned to our campuses around Maine this fall because we wanted the most normal college experience possible. And yet, COVID’s Delta variant has the pandemic surging around us again. We responded as we always have -- we adjusted to the realities of the pandemic and responsibly adopted science-based public health safety measures that allow us to stay together safely to teach and learn, research and work, and yes, socialize, gather on the university mall, attend football games and other sporting events, and so many other things that make the college experience together special.

To do these things safely requires that we take advantage of every public health tool we have. We reinstituted indoor masking requirements. We moved up our plans to require safe and effective COVID vaccinations -- including the now fully-FDA approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine -- for UMS community members coming to campus except for medically necessary or legally required exceptions. We’re testing, isolating, and quarantining as necessary. 

More than 21,000 UMSers have verified their vaccination status with our PointNClick portal so far, including nearly 95 percent of our residence hall students and 82 percent of our full-time employees. Those who have sought an exemption or not established their vaccination status will have regular COVID tests, currently weekly, so we can identify and isolate cases of infection within our community. And we'll be reviewing the executive orders President Biden announced yesterday to be sure that UMS fully complies with both the spirit and letter of all new regulatory requirements necessary to end the pandemic.

Doing all of these things together is what gives us the best chance of staying together safely this fall.

Everyone has a Responsibility to Protect Public Health

Despite our outstanding progress, there is still work to do. Nothing less than full participation with our vaccination and testing requirements will allow us to stay together safely on our campuses. Starting this week, our universities began stepping up compliance communication and outreach to ensure that every student learning or living on campus verifies vaccination status or, if exempted, participates in their testing appointments. We continue our discussions with our faculty and staff to do the same and are grateful to those labor leaders who've already signified their support for these critical requirements.

The consequences of not complying with the COVID requirements in place thus far are clear.

Student Consequences for Failing to Register Vaccination or an Exemption

Students who choose to not become fully vaccinated by October 15 or seek an exemption by that date will no longer be eligible to live or learn in person on our campuses. By their choice, these learners must be prepared for their education and housing to be disrupted this semester. 

The University of Maine System cannot guarantee that a change in instructional delivery will be an option for those who willingly give up their privilege of living and learning in person on campus. And there will be no special refund policies for tuition, room, board or other fees for those few among our in-person population learners who choose not to comply. 

The guidance we have posted for students also clearly states that withdrawal from courses could hamper an individual’s ability to complete their degree and federal financial aid eligibility. We want every student to stay with us and to succeed, but I cannot be more clear that choosing not to get vaccinated when you can do so puts both academic progress and our communities’ health and safety at risk. 

Faculty and Staff Vaccine and Testing Requirements

I have been saying that I want our faculty and staff to meet the same expectations we have for our students. I want every faculty and staff member who can be vaccinated to do so, and I’ve invited our labor leaders to join me in encouraging full vaccination for everyone who can. I recognize that some employees are unable to be vaccinated, and those who can’t will have to be tested regularly to continue work on campus. In our current public health environment in our university living and learning environments, refusing to be either vaccinated or tested regularly is simply not acceptable. Earlier this week, I discussed these expectations with the leaders of our bargaining units, and I hope to finalize our faculty and staff protocols as soon as possible.

If you work on any of our campuses but haven’t yet been vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible if you can. Please be a part of making our university community the state’s most vaccinated and safest workforce. 

It has been remarkable to experience the energy on our university campuses and the enthusiasm for being together as a community so far this fall. We can get through the Delta variant surge, but only if we act responsibly together to protect the public health of our entire university communities.

We've nearly finished two weeks of the semester now. Let's commit to staying safe together.

Regards,

Dannel P. Malloy

Chancellor

Required:

  • Face coverings are required indoors for all persons – students, staff, faculty and visitors – regardless of vaccination status when indoors at a University facility.  This has been extended to be effective through October 31, 2021. This requirement may be ended or further extended depending on civil guidance, the trajectory of the pandemic and public health considerations. The University of Maine System carefully monitors public health guidance and data, and will update its requirements, including this face covering requirement, as warranted. This face covering requirement specifically will be reviewed by October 31, 2021.  Continuation or easing of this protocol are both possible depending on circumstances. Further information is below.

Further information:

  • The University of Maine System at this time also strongly recommends face coverings outdoors for all students, staff, faculty and visitors when the event or activity involves larger gatherings or crowded circumstances. This is a recommendation, not a requirement, at this time.
  • Face coverings also continue to be welcomed in other circumstances when individuals choose to wear them as a matter of personal preference. There may be certain exceptions related to security-sensitive circumstances or other matters when face coverings must be removed.
  • Exceptions to the indoor requirement:
    • When a person is alone in an office or other room with a closed door;
    • When eating or drinking in a space where eating or drinking is permitted;
    • When a medical accommodation has been granted by appropriate University of Maine System officials;
    • In other special circumstances as may be determined by campus leadership.
  • Engagement is ongoing with faculty and staff to discuss face coverings for faculty and others in teaching and other particular roles with the goal of optimizing a safe and effective educational and campus experience.  At this time, the only exceptions to the requirement are those above.
  • University of Maine System students and employees should also refer to the related guidance in the “For Students” or “For Employees” sections of this Together for Maine web site.

When face coverings are required to be worn, they are to be the type commonly recommended by public health officials. These are generally made of multiple layers of cloth, which cover the nose, mouth and chin and are secured either with ear loops or with ties behind the head.

The University asks everyone to aim for not mere technical compliance with the face covering requirement but rather to meet the spirit and intention of the face covering requirement when wearing your own face covering.

Note that this and all University guidance on COVID-19 is subject to change in accordance with the evolving circumstances of COVID-19.

Short term - Parking 

For parking, most notably, the former Bedford Street surface parking lot has been transitioned to the staging area for the campus development project. Even though this area will be fenced off, the driveway in front of Masterton will remain open, allowing vehicles access to the Luther Bonney-Masterton Lot. We just ask that pedestrians please remain on the sidewalk for safety. Additionally, as a result of the City of Portland's roundabout project at the northwest corner of campus (intersection of Falmouth Street, Deering Avenue and Brighton Avenue) the Brighton Avenue extension that ran diagonally through that part of campus to Bedford Street has been removed and the small parking lot there (adjacent to the Deering Farmhouse) has been removed, as well. Due to that construction project, please allow yourself extra time the first week of school for traveling to and from the Portland campus and extra time for your bus trip.  To alleviate these parking lot closures, the University has opened parking on the green in the Wishcamper lot. Also, we are implementing a temporary "any-pass / any-lot" policy, allowing anyone with a current, valid USM hang-tag to park in any lot on the Portland campus regardless of the pass / lot color designation, to help maximize use of open spaces. This policy does not apply to the Gorham campus. For the first two weeks of school, there is a grace period on needing to have your hang-tag since hang-tags are still being distributed. For questions about parking, please visit: the Parking site. On net, there will be a small reduction in campus parking spaces this semester. Combined, however, with the various impacts of Covid-19 to campus life (more online courses, more remote work, etc), parking options should remain sufficient for the Fall. That said, the University will continue to monitor parking options in Portland and make further adjustments as necessary. Lastly, using alternative modes of transportation to-and-from campus helps USM reach its carbon neutrality goals, so please consider bikingtaking the "METRO" Bus, taking the train or carpooling. Every trip, even if only once per week, helps. 

Long term - Parking Garage

To accommodate additional parking needs that will accompany the project, USM is currently engaged in the City of Portland's permitting process to build a new parking garage on the site of the Wishcamper Parking Lot (adjacent to the existing parking garage). Due to the shorter construction timeline for the garage, the University plans to complete the project in tandem with the campus development project. As we move closer to construction of the garage, more updates will follow. As construction will require elimination of the Wishcamper Parking Lot, future updates on the new parking garage will address any additional necessary changes to Portland campus parking.  

Long term - Portland Campus Development Project

The University and its partners broke ground on the Portland Campus Development Project in March, and it is scheduled for completion in June 2023. The $99.3 million project consists of a new 580-bed residence hall, a three-story, 42,000 square foot Career & Student Success Center and a one-acre green quad that will replace the former Bedford Street surface parking lot. The project will provide a natural, welcoming campus entry point, residential housing on the Portland campus for the first time in USM's history, and significantly upgraded career advisory space as well as dining and student center experiences. For more information, please see the project website here.  Thank you for your consideration. This is an exciting time to be part of the USM community, and we look forward to welcoming you back to campus. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me directly with any questions or for any additional background information. Sincerely,Alec PorteousChief Operating Officer & Chief Business Officer

USM Dining Services is excited to welcome students back to campus for the 2021 – 2022 Academic Year.  We have missed seeing everyone’s smiling faces during the Pandemic and it will be nice to have some semblance of normalcy as we open back up this week.  While you have been away, or if you are just joining us (welcome to a great community), we have been busy creating destinations to enhance your everyday dining experiences.  Our team is excited to welcome you back into our operations and continue our reputation for great customer service.  Things may look a little different than in the past, but we are fully embracing the new way of interacting with our guests. 

We continue to live our commitments to purchasing local foods wherever possible, though the current markets are making it challenging to get all of the products that we hope to have available to you.  That being said, we are constantly looking for additional local partners to help meet the needs of our business as some of our other partners struggle on a national level with labor, distribution, and product shortages.  We are excited that, despite all of the challenges in the world last year, we were able to beat our goal of hitting 25% local products.  This year we will continue to advance that goal by moving our target to 26.5% of all of our purchases coming from within 150 miles of the schools in the University of Maine System.  Make sure you stop in and support your local community!

Your campus dining plan is the most versatile and convenient way to dine on campus.  It can be used at all of our retail and residential locations.  For your convenience, we have created an encompassing list of all locations below so that you can plan your dining experience.  Find out more about dining plans, hours of operations, catering, events, and more on our website:  https://usm.sodexomyway.com.  All dining venues open up on Monday, August 30th for normal hours.  Prior to that time, Brooks Dining Hall and Husky Hideaway will be operating at reduced hours.  Stop by the units themselves or reach out with questions about these hours.

Gorham Campus

Brooks Dining Hall (Monday – Friday 7:00am – 7:30pm; Saturday – Sunday 8:30am – 6:30pm) [Accepts: Meals, Meal Plan Dollars, Husky Bucks, Cash and Credit Cards]

Your main dining hall on campus that serves all you care to eat local dining options including a grill, hearth stone pizza oven, full salad bar and deli, vegan station, Mongolian grill, dessert, Simple Servings Allergen Free home cooking and so much more!

Husky Hideaway Snack Bar and Spirit Store (Monday – Thursday 8:00am – Midnight; Friday 8:00am – 11:00pm; Saturday – Sunday 1:00pm – 11:00pm)  [Accepts: Meal Exchange (after Brooks closes for those who missed dinner), Meal Plan Dollars, Husky Bucks, Cash and Credit Cards]

A student favorite!  This location features Portland Pie, Grilled Favorites, Simply to Go Snacks, Prepackaged Groceries, Clothing and Spirit Store items and more!  New this year, we have added an espresso machine to make handcrafted beverages and a smoothie station that runs all day long for folks looking for a delicious beverage on the go.

Bailey Café (Monday – Thursday 7:30am – 4:00pm; Friday 7:30am – 1:00pm)   [Accepts: Meal Plan Dollars, Husky Bucks, Cash and Credit Cards]

Stop by and grab a morning pastry, breakfast sandwich, coffee or prepackaged item on the go from this location. 

Portland Campus

(Meal Exchanges are like meals but are a defined package that includes an Entrée, Side and Beverage)

Luther Bonney Café (Monday – Thursday 7:30am – 7:00pm; Friday 7:30am – 4:00pm)  [Accepts: Meal Exchange, Meal Plan Dollars, Husky Bucks, Cash and Credit Cards]

While you are in Luther Bonney Hall, stop by and grab a prepackaged snack, salad, sandwich, hot or cold beverage, and many hot prepackaged entrée options for those on the go. 

Glickman Starbucks (Monday – Thursday 7:30am – 3:30pm; Friday 7:30am – 1:30pm)  [Accepts: Meal Exchange, Meal Plan Dollars, Husky Bucks, Cash and Credit Cards]

Need a pick me up?  We have handcrafted We Proudly Brew Starbucks beverages, pastries, salads, sandwiches, and hot prepackaged entrée options for those on the go.  Trying to avoid lines?  Check us out!

Payson Smith Bento Sushi (Monday – Thursday 11:00am – 7:00pm; Friday 11:00am – 2:00pm)  [Accepts: Meal Plan Dollars, Husky Bucks, Cash and Credit Cards]

We are very excited to be introducing this new partnership with Bento Sushi!  Bento Sushi is a well-respected partner in the sushi field and will offer a sushi bar, ramen bowls, and a noodle bar.  Stop in and try this delicious offering!

Abromson Ghost Kitchen (Monday – Friday 11:00am – 2:00pm)  [Accepts: Meal Exchange, Meal Plan Dollars, Husky Bucks and Bite Pay Credit Card]

We are jumping into the Ghost Kitchen arena!  Place your order and pay using the Bite App and then pick up your meal on the second floor of Abromson.  Available during lunch daily.  Menu items will change frequently, so check this out!

Law Café (Monday – Friday 7:30am – 2:00pm)  [Accepts: Meal Exchange, Meal Plan Dollars, Husky Bucks, Cash and Credit Cards]

A campus favorite.  Swing over and grab a cup of coffee, hot soup, breakfast sandwich, salad, prepackaged snack, and more. 

USM Food Concessions (Monday – Friday 11:00am – 2:00pm; Monday – Thursday 4:00pm – 7:00pm) [Accepts: Meal Exchange, Meal Plan Dollars, Husky Bucks, Cash and Credit Cards]

Looking for a burger, grilled chicken, or hot item off the grill?  This is the location to check out.  It will be located behind Luther Bonney and will serve as the temporary service until the USM Food Truck arrives in early October!  At that point, the USM Food Truck will be available all day in the same location.  We can’t wait for this newest addition to campus!

Lewiston Campus

LAC Café (Monday – Friday 8:30am – 1:00pm)  [Accepts: Meal Exchange, Meal Plan Dollars, Husky Bucks, Cash and Credit Cards]

Stop by the café to get made-to-order favorites!  Looking for an omelet?  Hungry for grilled cheese?  You can get it all while visiting our LAC Café right in the center of the LAC Campus Building.

Online

USM Dining rolled out the Bite App over the last year and it has quickly become a campus favorite.  Peruse the menu, place your order ahead of time and pay so that your food is available for pickup on your timeline.  All of the locations above are available for orders through the Bite App.  Available in both the IOS and Android App Stores.

We look forward to seeing you in our operations this year and can’t wait for you to try out the new options available.  We are constantly looking for ways to connect with our guests and will be offering new innovative solutions as we move through the semester!  From all of us at USM Dining Services, have a great year!

See President Cummings' message on the System's update face covering policy that was sent to USM students, faculty, and staff on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

  • Face coverings are required for all persons – students, staff, faculty and visitors – regardless of vaccination status when indoors at a University facility. This is effective August 18, 2021 through September 30, 2021.

    This requirement may be ended or extended depending on civil guidance, the trajectory of the pandemic and public health considerations. The University of Maine System carefully monitors public health guidance and data, and will update its requirements, including this face covering requirement, as warranted. This face covering requirement specifically will be reviewed by September 30, 2021. Continuation or easing of this protocol are both possible depending on circumstances. 

    Individuals working in an office by themselves with the door closed need not wear any face covering.

    For more information, please see the System's Together for Maine website.

On August 4, 2021, Chancellor Malloy announced that University of Maine System students engaged in an on-campus experience this fall are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • Students participating in an on-campus experience this fall must begin the process of becoming fully vaccinated by Friday, August 20.

  • Students who verify their status or get their first shot toward full vaccination by Friday, August 20, will remain eligible to participate in on-campus activities in the fall semester. Students also have an opportunity to request and receive an exemption to the vaccine requirement for a documented medical contraindication or a sincerely held religious belief.

  • Discussions are underway with bargaining unit partners regarding a similar policy for UMS faculty and staff.

  • For full details, please review the information provided in the Chancellor's message at the link above. 
  • If you haven’t yet been immunized, please see this list of clinics where you can get vaccinated. You can also text your ZIP code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find vaccine locations near you anywhere in the U.S.

  • Among your vaccine clinic options are three that may be very close to home and work. USM will be offering three upcoming walk-in vaccination clinics in mid-August and early September:

    • 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 12, Sebago Brewing Co., 616 Main St., Gorham (in partnership with Northern Light Health)

    • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 19, 156 Upton Hall on USM’s Gorham Campus (in partnership with Sacopee Valley Health Center)

    • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 2, 156 Upton Hall on USM’s Gorham Campus (in partnership with Sacopee Valley Health Center)


    Brought to you by the VAX PACK, a committee of USM students, faculty, and staff focused on promoting COVID-19 immunization, these clinics will be open to all USM students and employees. Community members are welcome to get vaccinated at these clinics as well. The vaccines offered are free. And if you need another incentive to protect yourself and your loved ones against the virus, Sebago Brewing Co. will offer a free beverage of choice with vaccination at the 4 to 7 p.m. clinic on Thursday, Aug. 12. For more information please contact usmcovidinfo@maine.edu.

Thank you to the thousands of Huskies who reported for testing when requested during the 2020–2021 academic year. Your participation helped with our efforts to curb the spread of the virus and keep the pack safe. 

Course Modalities Explained*

  • Asynchronous Online (Dates and times on MaineStreet will be listed at “TBA.”)
    With Asynchronous Online classes, 100 percent of course instruction is online (Brightspace), with no specific meeting times required and no expectation that enrolled students will come to campus. Asynchronous is not self-paced; students will be responsible for meeting assignment deadlines as determined by the course instructor.
  • Synchronous “Online Live”
    If a course is listed on MaineStreet as “online live,” it will be taught online via Zoom at specific times during the week. Students will be required to be present on Zoom at the specified times. The days and times the course meets each week will be listed on MaineStreet.
  • Blended
    Blended courses can be listed as any combination of asynchronous online, synchronous “online live,” and/or face-to-face in-person instruction. The number of required in-person or online-live sections may differ for each blended course. Specific dates for these meetings should be listed on MaineStreet within the course notes and/or in the syllabus provided by the course instructor.
  • Face-to-Face
    Face-to-Face courses consist of required in-person instruction on campus at specific days and times that are listed on MaineStreet. Courses that are fully face-to-face or blended with an in-person component will have COVID-19 safety protocols in place that include physical distancing, sanitation measures, and required face-coverings for all students, faculty, and staff.

*USM's Advising Team generously provided these course modality descriptions.


Questions?

For additional information, please contact USM's COVID-19 Ombudsperson, COO & CFO Alexander Porteous

University of Maine System and Archived Communications