Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
With a vaccine making its way into arms nationwide, a new testing partnership that will provide us with faster results, and weekly testing of on-campus populations starting February 1, I am feeling hopeful and optimistic about the start of the spring semester this coming Monday.
While the System-led commitment of significant new resources will increase our ability to identify and curb the spread of COVID-19, I encourage everyone to continue doing the things that are proven to work: masking up, keeping your distance, avoiding large indoor gatherings, and frequent hand washing. At this point, we know what we need to do to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy. Let's keep it up this coming semester.
I look forward to seeing you — online or in person — and wish you all the best for success.
President, The University of Southern Maine
New Dining Services Hours Announced
See Sodexo’s new spring semester hours of operation for the Quarantine Express Lines, Brooks Dining Hall, Husky Hideaway, Luther Bonney Café, and On the Spot Vending in Abromson on the Healthy Huskies website.
USM Advising Offers Virtual Drop-In Appointments through Jan. 29
If you need last-minute assistance with your spring schedule, USM's Advising Team is offering all-day virtual "drop-in" appointments through Jan. 29. To connect with a professional advisor, visit the Advising Team website and look for the blue and orange boxes to either request a meeting with an advisor or more immediately connect with an advisor through the virtual front desk from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Deadline to Switch a Fall Semester Grade to P/F is Next Thursday
If you’re interested in switching a fall semester grade from a letter grade to pass–fail, the deadline for requesting the change is Thursday, Jan. 28. Learn more about the simple, three-step process for requesting a change to pass–fail grading.
SEAL Offers Quarantine Student Activities
SEAL (Student Engagement And Leadership) has a full slate of activities lined up for residential students who are quarantining after their asymptomatic test on move-in day. Some activities involve the use of downloaded apps (like Netflixparty.com, Disney Plus, or Kahoot), some require a gaming console (like Playstation, XBOX, or Nintendo Switch), and some involve the grab-and-go pick up of supplies and materials from Lower Brooks. See each day's activities on the SEAL 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.)
Learn What They Do and How They Got to Do It
Whether you're in quarantine or at home this week, check out the new Hired Huskies Podcast, courtesy of USM's Career Hub. Offering glimpses into the work lives of USM alumni and insider tips for reaching your own career goals, the Hired Huskies Podcast is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and WMPG.org/90.9 FM.
Weekly Testing of On-Campus Students, Faculty, and Staff Begins Feb. 1
As the System announced on Jan. 15, the new partnership with ShieldT3 will result in a higher volume of asymptomatic test analysis and shorter wait times for results. This new partnership also coincides with the shift to non-invasive, saliva-in-tube testing (no more nose swabbing). It also aligns with the February 1 shift to weekly testing of all residential students as well as students, faculty, and staff who are present on campus, even periodically, for their classes, teaching, research, and work. For the latest updates, FAQs, and testing-related contact information, please see the Asymptomatic Testing website.
For Faculty and Staff: Please Tell Us Where You Are Working
In order to support the Public Health Testing Ambassador Team with the implementation of weekly asymptomatic screening that begins February 1, we are asking all employees to fill out the Work Location Submission Form. We need to understand if you are already working on campus, when you will return to campus, or if you are not planning on returning to campus at all this semester. We also need to know which location would be most convenient for you to be scheduled for testing. If you have questions about the surveying of employee work plans through the Work Location Submission Form, please contact email@example.com.
For Faculty and Staff: Updated Workflow Support Chart Provides Guidance
For the latest guidance on the process of accessing appropriate leave options, documenting Pandemic Leave requests, and the potential to use remaining Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) balances, please consult the updated Employee Workflow Support Chart featuring easy-to-follow pathways to meeting challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are ill with COVID-19, medically at-risk, caring for an immediate family member who is ill or medically at-risk, or caring for a child because daycare or school is closed, please see the COVID-19 Employee Support flowchart.
Help Wanted: Public Health Testing Ambassadors
Phase 6 of the Asymptomatic Testing regime, in which every member of our on-campus communities will be tested weekly, will require significant staffing. As noted in a recent email from VP of Human Resources Natalie Jones, the search is on for current USM employees, students and community members to serve as Public Health Testing Ambassadors on the Portland and Gorham campuses from February 1 through May 7. For information about the scope of the work, job requirements, work environment, and compensation, please see the recent email.
New Campus Locations for Key Student Services
With the closure of the Woodbury Campus Center at the end of the fall semester, several important student service offices have been relocated for the start of the spring semester. The following services have been relocated to the Second Floor of the Abromson Center: Student Diversity Center, Prayer and Meditation Room, Student Government Association Office, Campus Safety Project, and the Student Affairs Office. These spaces are located behind the University Store. The second floor also features a Zoom Lounge and tables and chairs on the mezzanine overlooking the first floor.
Also, the Campus Food Pantry has relocated to 102 Bedford Street (on the basement level) of the white house occupied by TRiO Services, Promise Scholars, and Veteran’s Upward Bound. For hours and more information, please visit the website or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the Portland Campus, Dining Services will be open for business starting on the first day of classes in the lobby of Luther Bonney Hall, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sodexo will provide new hot meal options, a variety of Simply to Go offerings (salads, sandwiches, cups), freshly brewed coffee, and a variety of snacks and beverages. Sodexo also will feature LTOs (limited time offers) that will change every two weeks. To expedite food pick up, make sure to download and use the Bite App to order your meals ahead of time. Just go to the App Store for iOS or the Google Play Store for Android and type “Bite by Sodexo – Universities” to download the USM Dining Mobile Ordering App. Meals will be provided to residential students on the Gorham Campus beginning on move-in day, and in Brooks Dining Hall and the Husky Hideaway when classes resume.
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.
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.
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.
Course Modalities Explained
With spring semester courses starting on Monday, Jan. 25, now is a good time to refamiliarize yourself with descriptions of the various course modalities so you will know how your courses will be conducted and what’s expected of you.
Updated Costello Sports Complex Hours Announced
USM’s Costello Sports Complex on the Gorham Campus will be closed January 18–24. Beginning Monday, January 25, Costello will be open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon, and closed on Sundays.
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.)