Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
We have about two-and-a-half weeks to go until students leave residence halls and we shift to fully remote learning. As we close in on our fall semester goal of making it to Thanksgiving break, we are seeing dramatic increases in positive cases and hospitalizations in many areas of the state.
Now is the time for vigilance. We know that masking up is critical to slowing the spread of the virus. Everywhere I turn on our campuses, I see people wearing face coverings. It’s wonderful to see everyone thinking of the health and well-being of others by wearing a mask.
Just as we have made mask-wearing a habit, I encourage you to bring the same discipline to staying socially distanced and avoiding crowds. These two actions are just as important to keeping yourselves and your loved ones healthy and safe. So, whether you’re on or off campus, please watch your six.
Thank you. Stay strong and be safe,
Per Executive Order, Masks Now Required in Public
Gov. Mills issued an executive order today requiring the wearing of face coverings in public, regardless of physical distance from others. “Face coverings in Maine are now required in all public places — pretty much anywhere people might interact with other people,” reports the Portland Press Herald. See the executive order.
How to Avoid Being in Isolation This Thanksgiving
This close to Thanksgiving break, there’s an especially important reason to minimize your risk of exposure and infection: Any exposure could disrupt your plans to return home for Thanksgiving. If you become infected or are exposed to a person who is confirmed to be infected, you will need to isolate or quarantine before traveling. For students, this could mean quarantining or isolating on campus during Thanksgiving break. Travelers who are ill, are infected, or have recently been exposed to the virus are not allowed to board planes and trains. Please take your safety, and the safety of your community, both on campus and at home, with the utmost caution and care.
A Big Week of Testing Ahead
Next week, USM will conduct asymptomatic testing for all residential students and student-athletes, as well as randomly selected commuter students, faculty, and staff.
All residential students and student-athletes will test:
- Monday, Nov. 9, 8 to 11:45 a.m. & 12:30 to 3 p.m., in Costello Field House, Gorham Campus.
Randomly selected commuter students, faculty, and staff will test:
- Monday, Nov. 9, 8 to 11:45 a.m. & 12:30 to 3 p.m., Costello Field House, Gorham Campus
- Tuesday. Nov. 10, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Abromson Center, Portland Campus
- Thursday. Nov. 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Rm. 108/109, Lewiston Auburn Campus
To find out if you have been randomly selected for testing, check your email to see if you received a message from email@example.com with all the details. For more information on next week’s testing dates, times, and locations, see the Asymptomatic Testing FAQ page. Participants who have tested at any point before with USM are expected to participate again as this is a new round of testing.
Please note: No pop-up flu clinics will be held this week or next. Students, faculty, and staff are welcome to schedule a time for a flu shot at 156 Upton on the Gorham Campus by calling 207-780-5411.
Visitors to Maine From Conn., N.J., and N.Y. Must Now Test or Quarantine
With the upcoming holidays, please keep State of Maine travel policies in mind. Currently, residents of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont are exempt from the testing or quarantine requirement, but the exemption for visitors from Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York ended yesterday (Nov. 4, 2020). Learn more about testing and quarantine requirements for travelers on the Keep Maine Healthy FAQ page and testing and quarantine information on the Maine CDC website.
You May Leave Early
Residential students must leave residence halls by noon, Wednesday, Nov. 25, but can leave as early as they like to accommodate their travel and holiday plans. Please inform your RA if you plan to leave the residence hall early for Thanksgiving break and the transition to fully remote learning. If you would like to stay in the residence halls beyond November 25, please log in to the MyUSM portal and complete the request form before Monday, Nov. 16.
Please note that checkout from residence halls is 24 hours after your last in-person class or by noon, Wednesday, Nov. 25, whichever is earlier. Card access to residence halls will be closed on Nov. 25 at noon. RDs will be sending building-specific closing details to residential students. Residence halls will reopen for the spring semester in mid-January. Specific dates for reopening will be announced via email, so keep an eye out for details.
You may leave your belongings in your room for the time away. However, you will not have the ability to come and go to retrieve forgotten items. Please plan to take all valuables, medications, passports, etc., that you need with you for the two-month period. Students will need to be enrolled in 12 or more credits for spring semester by Thursday, December 10, to retain their spring housing. See more information about semester break and spring housing.
Know Before You Go and Gather
As holidays loom, invitations to travel and join indoor gatherings are likely to increase. To keep yourself and your loved ones healthy, please be aware of current Maine guidelines regarding the size of gatherings and travel. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control also provides guidance on how to minimize the risk of transmission with gatherings and travel.
New CDC Close Contact Definition Counts Shorter Encounters
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has redefined what counts as close contact with a COVID-19-positive person to include shorter but repeated encounters. Previously, the CDC’s close contact definition meant spending a continuous 15 minutes within 6 feet of someone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The CDC has changed that to a total of 15 minutes or more, meaning shorter but repeated contacts that add up to 15 minutes over a 24-hour period now count.
A Timely Reminder on How COVID-19 Spreads
Masking up, handwashing, keeping your distance, and avoiding crowds, especially indoors. These simple steps go a long way toward keeping you and your loved ones safe. If you need a refresher on how the novel coronavirus spreads and the actions that make a difference, please see the U.S. CDC website.
Deadline Extended: Dropping a Course for a W
In deference to the pandemic, the last day to drop a full semester course for a grade of W (for Withdrawal) has been extended to Friday, Dec. 11. Please see this email from the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services for information about how to drop a full semester course for a W. Since there may be implications regarding your financial aid eligibility, please consult with your financial aid counselor when considering dropping a course for a W.
Managing Post-Election Stress
Counseling Services and the ROCC (Recovery Oriented Campus Center) are offering the following opportunities for students to process their thoughts, manage their stress, and practice self-care after the election.
- Counseling Services will offer single-session, one-on-one consultations after the election to help students identify ways to regulate emotions, manage anxiety, and practice self-care. To schedule a Post-Election De-Stress Session with a counselor, please call 207-780-4050.
- Tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 6) from noon to 1 p.m., the ROCC will host a safe space for students in recovery to discuss their feelings and emotions around the election and its possible impact on self. This Zoom group will not be recorded. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Join by Zoom or by phone (+1 646 876 9923).
Counseling Team Offers New Support Groups, Workshops
USM’s Counseling Team offers students groups and workshops to address love in the time of COVID, stress, grief, anxiety, mindfulness, and BIPOC support for men, among other issues. Some groups are open to faculty and staff. Learn more about support groups and workshops on the Health Services & Counseling FAQ page.
Mindful Mondays for Students, Faculty, and Staff
Students, faculty, and staff are invited to learn and practice evidence-based breathing and meditation techniques that lower stress levels/stress hormones and increase well-being. Mindful Mondays are held via Zoom from 4:30 to 5/5:15 p.m., except for university holidays that fall on a Monday. Faculty and staff can receive Level 2 incentive credit for attending one session and completing the required documents. For more information on Mindful Mondays, please contact Academic Advisor Katie Tomer.
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.
For Employees: How, When to Communicate About COVID-19
As the number of positive cases is on the rise, now is a good time to review USM’s COVID-19 Communications Protocol so employees know what to do and who to contact if you test positive, have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, and other scenarios. Follow the flowchart to understand how to navigate various scenarios. If you have questions, please contact your HR Partner.
For Employees: A Four-Week Stress Reduction Strategies Support Group
Dr. Adele Baruch and Dr. Donna Wampole will facilitate a four-week group for faculty and staff to support each other with stress-reduction strategies, starting Thursday, Nov. 5. Learn more. Registration is required. To register, contact the group facilitators: Dr. Adele Baruch or Dr. Donna Wampole.
Keep Yourself in the Clear
More than two hundred USM 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 Case Counts at All UMS Campuses
There are two ways to see the latest positive-case counts at USM and each System campus: The University of Maine System is now providing 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.)