Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
With week two of saliva-based testing nearly done, I want to thank everyone who has an on-campus presence this semester for their participation and patience as we continue to work through a few hitches in the early going.
Given the newness and the increased scale of the testing, we continue to apply lessons learned and improve the process. USM Testing Lead Anna Schwartz tells me the week-one issue with bar codes has been resolved, which is welcome news. Here’s some of what we have experienced in week two and the adjustments we are making:
- Saliva samples must be clear. That means fasting for 60 minutes prior to the test is essential. And, as Anna’s Phase 6 Pro Tips below indicate, we strongly recommend that you stay away from coffee, milky, or heavily dyed beverages more than an hour before your test. Postponing that cup of joe, smoothie, or soda until after the test is the right decision.
- Saliva samples must be precisely within 1 to 1.5 milliliters. That means no under or overfilling the collection tubes. We’re working on more clearly marking the tubes to help you hit the mark.
- To help ensure that saliva samples are valid, you can expect testing-center proctors to inspect collection tubes to make sure that the contents are clear, the right amount, and secured by a properly sealed cap. This approach will help ensure that the sample you provide is optimal for processing at the lab. Be advised that do-overs may be required if your sample doesn’t pass the visual inspection.
And for anyone who is encountering difficulties with scheduling via the Safer Community App, please know that screening is available on a walk-in basis at any of our testing locations.
In closing, I want to thank the A-team of faculty and staff who are working as proctors at our three testing locations. Their front-line service is essential to keeping us healthy and COVID-free. I also want to give special thanks to USM senior Connor Blake for taking the time to develop a clear and helpful video (please see below) that explains how to ace your test.
With best wishes for good health and success,
President, The University of Southern Maine
Video: USM Senior Connor Blake Shows How to Ace the Test
Anna's Phase 6 Pro Tips To Make Sure Your Sample Is Valid
- Steer clear of coffee, milky, or heavily dyed beverages before your test. We’re finding 60 minutes may not be enough time to clear the substances produced by these beverages before they come to test. We encourage you to play it safe and wait until after you test to consume those beverages!
- Rinse your mouth right before the start of your 60-minute fast. Vigorously swish clean water around your mouth right before you start your fast. This will help to clear out any particles that may be lingering in your mouth. Participles or discoloration from food, beverages, gum, tobacco, or other substances that appear in your saliva will result in the rejection of your test sample.
- Fill your tube with between 1 and 1.5ml of saliva. No more, no less. Check the side of the tube for measurement marks. Too little or too much can cause your test to be rejected.
- Refrain from chatting or keeping your mouth open while you're in line waiting to test. Opening your mouth too much can cause it to dry out, making it difficult to produce enough saliva.
- Please stay away if you're sick. If you are feeling any new or unexplained COVID symptoms on the day of your test, we want you to stay away from our asymptomatic testing sites. Symptoms mean you are no longer considered “asymptomatic” and it is more appropriate for you to consult with your Primary Care Physician or, if you are a student and do not have one, USM's Health & Counseling Services team to help direct you to any necessary testing.
Infographic: How to Ace Your Test
Follow these five simple steps at your testing appointment to make sure your saliva sample is valid and you're on your way as quickly as possible.
Before you participate in your first saliva-based screening, you will need to download and set up the Safer Community App by Rokmetro, which is now available through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
The Safer Community App is the most convenient, most secure, and most direct tool for managing your COVID-19 testing. It’s the tool for
- Scheduling your testing
- Seeing available testing locations
- Checking in at your testing location
- Receiving your test results
For testing to go smoothly, everyone selected for participation needs to download and use it.
The Safer Community App supports Single-Sign-On, meaning you should be able to log in with your @maine.edu email address and password.
- If you need assistance with installing and setting up the Safer Community App, please see the UMaine System’s Step-by-Step User’s Guide.
Athletics Hosts First Contests of the Winter Season This Weekend
USM Athletics' first intercollegiate competitions of the 2020-21 academic year are scheduled to begin this weekend with Wrestling, Men's and Women's Indoor Track & Field, and Men's Ice Hockey hosting home contests on Saturday, and Women's Ice Hockey playing at home on Sunday. USM Athletics contests remain closed to fans, but will be broadcast via the internet. Find more about game/meet times, the competition, and links for internet broadcasts at southernmainehuskies.com. Winter competition at USM will involve several health precautions, such as requiring coaches and student-athletes to wear face-coverings during practices and while on the sidelines during competition. Referees and officials will be required to participate in on-site testing prior to home and away competition. USM's Athletics competitions also follow CDC, UMaine System, and USM guidelines as well as NCAA recommendations. Learn more about USM's 2021 Winter Athletics plans.
Deadline to Withdraw from a Course for a W Extended
Students now have until Friday, April 9, to withdraw from a course for a grade of W. After grades are posted, students will have until May 28 to elect the Pass/Fail grade option in their courses. Stay tuned for details on how to exercise these options.
Campus Food Pantry Offers Pre-Order and Pickup
With this Google form, you can now pre-order a weekly bag of groceries for pickup from the Campus Food Pantries in Portland (102 Bedford Street) and Gorham (in the UCU Den of Brooks Student Center). Pickup times for the Portland and Gorham CFP are listed on the Google Form. LAC students can find food security support in the LAC Library or by emailing CFP staff. Please see the CFP website for hours of operation in Portland, Gorham, and LAC.
Sometimes Required, Sometimes Recommended: When to Use the COVID-19 Reporting Form
Employee and student use of the COVID-19 Reporting Form is sometimes required and sometimes recommended, but not required. Learn more about when the COVID-19 Reporting Form must be used and when it can be used at your discretion at the Health Huskies website.
New 'SilverCloud' Online Mental Health Tool Available for Students
In addition to Zoom workshops, support groups, and individual counseling appointments, USM's Counseling Team is now offering SilverCloud, a free, online mental health tool for USM students. SilverCloud provides self-guided programs to help students cope with anxiety, depression, stress, sleep issues, and resilience. Based on cognitive behavioral therapy principles, the self-guided modules are available anytime, on any device. The SilverCloud website provides an overview of options and a brief quiz to help you find the right program and get started. (Log in with your USM email and password.)
Virtual Career Week Begins March 1
Hosted by the Career & Employment Hub, Virtual Career Week offers students and alumni the opportunity for one-on-one meetings with employers to explore careers and job openings, learn more about companies and organizations, network, and even interview for open positions. Career Week is open to ALL students and alumni and sign-up is easy. In addition, students can see job opennings posted on the USM Job & Internship Board.
Need a Study Buddy? Use Navigate USM.
With the free Navigate USM app, you can easily find a study buddy for a class, see campus events, build to-do lists, manage your class schedule, explore careers related to majors and interests, find out if you have holds on your accounts, and check out campus resources — all in one place. Learn how to find and download the app.
Black History Month Activities, Courtesy of ISE and SEAL
The Office of Intercultural Student Engagement (ISE) in collaboration with the Office of Student Engagement & Leadership (SEAL) have developed a great deal of impactful educational and social programming for this year’s Black History Month celebration, much of it in a virtual format. ISE and SEAL have helpfully curated a BHM '21 Programming Calendar to provide us access to all of the Zoom and event links. Please contact the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement if you have any questions about the series of events.
Your Passport to Fun Activities
USM’s Passport Initiative is your ticket to access campus programs, events, and the USM community. With uniquely numbered and assigned passports, undergraduate students can earn multiple chances to win valuable prizes — all for nothing more than having fun. The more passport-approved events you attend, the more times your name gets added to end-of-semester raffles for a PlayStation 5, an Xbox Series X, an iPad Air, Apple Watch, a book stipend, and Husky Bucks among other prizes. Check the Passport Initiative website for information about upcoming events.
New Zoom Lounge Locations
USM has designated several spaces on all three campuses for socially distanced group study, individual quiet study, and Zoom/online course participation. Please see this updated list of Zoom lounges and study spaces for the spring semester — and don’t forget to stay socially distanced and bring headphones for use in these spaces.
Spring Semester Counseling Workshops and Groups Announced
USM’s Counseling Team has developed a preliminary — and growing — schedule of workshops and groups for the spring semester. The Counseling Team will email students, faculty, and staff during the first week of classes with an updated list of workshops and groups that includes new additions. Remember: workshops are FREE to all enrolled students.
Mindful Mondays Continue for Spring Semester
Academic Advisor and Nationally Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) Katie Tomer will continue to offer Mindful Mondays from 4:45 to 5:15 p.m. every Monday, excluding university holidays. This ongoing Zoom-baed program is open to all students, faculty, and staff. Participants are invited to learn and practice evidence-based breathing and meditation techniques that have been shown to lower stress levels and increase well-being. Join Mindful Mondays through this Zoom link.
How to Be More Successful on Brightspace, Zoom
With spring semester courses starting on Monday, Jan. 25, now is a good time to revisit resources on how to be a more successful learner on Brightspace and Zoom. Find out how to submit an assignment, engage in a discussion and take quizzes on Brightspace in the Student’s Guide to Brightspace video series. And the Learning with Zoom video series is just as full of pro tips. These academic resources and many others are brought to you by USM’s Academic Gains Through Improved Learning Effectiveness (AGILE) program.
Which Face Coverings Are OK
By now, you know face coverings are required on campus. If you need a refresher on which face coverings are acceptable for use on campus, please see the System's Face Covering Guidelines.
Monitor Your Symptoms with #CampusClear
System-wide, hundreds of students, faculty, and staff have downloaded and signed up to use #CampusClear, the free app that provides a daily prompt to indicate any symptoms you may be experiencing. Self-screening is easy and takes only a few seconds. Learn how to download and use #CampusClear for iOS and Android.
See System-wide Campus COVID Counts
There are two ways to see the latest positive-case counts at USM and each System campus: The University of Maine System provides daily announcements of positive counts at each campus and other testing-related updates on the Together for Maine website. You can also find aggregated test result data on the System’s COVID-19 Testing Summary dashboard. (Scroll down a bit at the link to see the dashboard.)