Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Two things have boosted my spirits this week: the spring-like temperatures and signs that a return to normalcy is coming. (See below for two of those important signs: the Chancellor's message about fall 2021 and news about the Huskies' spring sports competition.)
As the vaccines make their way into people's arms and states begin to update guidelines and restrictions, we must remain vigilant and continue following the best practices outlined in the Healthy Huskies Promise. Participating in weekly testing, wearing approved face coverings, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings, especially indoors, are all vital to slowing the spread of the pandemic while vaccination efforts are underway.
Our hopes that fall 2021 at USM looks more like fall 2019 depend on it.
With best wishes for good health and success,
We're Coming Back This Fall
Chancellor Dannel Malloy shared important information about fall 2021 in his March 10 communication to the University of Maine System community: “We expect to welcome our students, faculty, and staff back to our university campuses this fall to safely resume the most traditional in-person college experiences we all took for granted before the pandemic.” See the Chancellor’s full message for more information. And for more information, please see the Chancellor's press conference, updated domestic travel information, and the System's latest updates on fall 2021, group gathering limits, and spring 2021 operations.
Huskies Athletics Returns to Spring Sports Competition on March 17
Director of Athletics Al Bean announced that USM has given the green light for spring sports to return to competition. USM's baseball, softball, women's lacrosse, men's lacrosse, women's outdoor track & field, men's track & field, women's tennis, men's tennis and golf teams will take to their respective competitive arenas for the first time since March 2020. The first date of allowable competition is March 17, and Little East Conference play begins March 27. Learn more about the guidelines in place for competition and schedules.
What To Do If You Test Positive
Students who test positive as part of the UMS asymptomatic screening may receive notice of their result through an alert from the Safer Community App. If you receive a notice that you have tested positive or you have been informed that your roommate or housemate has tested positive, there are some important do’s and don’ts to keep in mind. And perhaps the most important don’t is don’t panic. Please see these instructions for on-campus students and off-campus students to know what to do, what not to do, and what supports are in place to help you. (Scroll down to the "Students: If you test positive for COVID 19" option on the page at the link above.)
Fall 2021 Housing Update
Housing Selection is coming, and the deadline to apply for the housing self-selection process is Wednesday, March 24. You can find the housing application in the housing portal. Are you are comfortable living with someone who is gender-expansive, non-binary, transgender, or comfortable living with a roommate of any gender? If so, please take a moment to update your application and sign the Gender Inclusive Housing Agreement. To get there, log into the housing portal and click “Update My Application,” and then make sure you both update your details to indicate your preferences on your application and sign the Gender Inclusive Housing Agreement. Please see the Housing website for more information.
Summer Registration Is Now Open
As indicated in emails recently sent to matriculated and non-degree students from the Office of Registration & Scheduling Services, registration for Summer Term classes is now open. Please note that Registration continues up to the start date of a class. Learn more at the Summer Registration site.
"15 to Finish" Keeps You on Track to Graduate in Four Years
As you consider registering for Summer Term courses, remember that taking Summer Term courses is a great way to pick up additional credits you may need to stay on track to complete 30 credits a year — and graduate in four years. Learn more about the advantages of the 15 to Finish approach.
Advising Team Says the Time Is Now
USM's Advising Team recommends that you book your registration appointment with your advisor through their "youcanbook.me" site or by calling the Advising Office front desk: 207-780-4040 (Portland), 207-780-4555 (Gorham), or 207-754-6536 (LAC). Learn more about how to access Advising support via Zoom and the team's Virtual Front Desk.
For Graduate Students: The New Shaw Innovation Fellows Program
The Shaw Innovation Fellows Program at USM, a distinctive initiative launched with a $500,000 gift from USM alum David Evans Shaw ’76G, ’15H and the Shaw family, will provide select USM graduate students with fellowships for innovative and applied research projects. Emphasizing mentoring, collaboration, and engagement — and integrated with USM’s Promise Scholarship Program — the Shaw Innovation Fellows Program will award five one-year fellowships will be to USM graduate students whose projects demonstrate bold and innovative approaches to solving human, environmental, economic, and societal problems of the 21st century and beyond. Learn more about the Shaw Innovation Fellows Program.
From the Asymptomatic Testing Team: New Pro Tips To Make Sure Your Saliva Sample Is Valid
Drink water before you fast. The Asymptomatic Testing team reports that people who come to test before having ANY fluids for the day or who are coming right after vigorous exercise/athletic practice are dehydrated and may struggle to produce a sample that yields a test result. The Asymptomatic Testing team recommends drinking at least 1–2 cups of water or clear fluid before you begin your 60-minute fast — and, generally, 8–10 cups of fluid the day before your test.
Understand the anatomy of producing saliva. Take a moment to note that the soft area underneath your tongue produces saliva from nearby salivary ducts when rubbed. When you arrive for testing and are well hydrated, you can use your tongue to massage that area to produce saliva and then pool it in the pocket under your tongue.
Let gravity do the work. While you are generating saliva by the method described above, tilt your head forward and allow your saliva to naturally come forward. Avoid attempting to pull or draw saliva from the back of your throat or mouth — an area that naturally has a lot of mucus and food particles, which can make the saliva invalid.
- 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.
Video: USM Senior Connor Blake Shows How to Ace the Test
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.
Spring Counseling Groups and Workshops Announced
Coping with Quarantine, Increasing Happiness and Why It's Important, and A New Trail (developing healthy rituals and abstaining from substances) are among the new groups and workshops offered by USM's Counseling Team. See the full schedule of workshops and groups for the spring semester.
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.)
Lower Your Stress with Mindful Mondays
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-based 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.
Will You Be Coming to Campus This Week?
Faculty, staff, and non-residential students, please continue to let us know your anticipated weekly presence on campus by completing the One-Time or Intermittent Visit to USM Form. Your responses help us better understand the population that should participate in weekly asymptomatic screening. If you have questions about the form, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and see the FAQ page on USM’s Asymptomatic COVID Testing site.
Video Tour of the Library
USM’s three libraries are open to USM students, faculty, and staff. Please be advised that USM-approved masks must be worn at all times, social distancing is required, no meals are allowed (small snacks and drinks are fine), and study rooms are closed. To learn more about how to access the libraries’ resources, watch this video. And for times when librarians are available to help and building hours, see the USM Libraries website.
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 Healthy Huskies website.
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.
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.
Find a Zoom Lounge Location
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.
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.)