Healthy Huskies

Healthy Huskies Update (Oct. 29, 2020)

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

As COVID-19 cases dramatically increase in many areas of the country, thankfully our counts within the USM community continue to remain relatively low. This is the direct result of your commitment to keeping yourselves, your loved ones, and everyone in the pack safe. Thank you for all that you have done to preserve our ability to continue learning, teaching, and working together.

Our vigilance over the next four weeks — until Thanksgiving and we shift to fully remote learning for the rest of the fall semester — is critical. As the weather cools and we find ourselves spending more time inside, I hope you will double down on the behaviors that have kept us together and largely COVID-free so far: masking up, keeping your distance from others, washing or sanitizing your hands frequently, avoiding crowds, and participating in our asymptomatic testing program.

I know all of this has been challenging and that our patience and stamina are wearing thin. But you have my respect and gratitude for the sacrifices you have made and the disruptions you have accommodated to make this work. I hope you will take pride in knowing that your commitment to follow the Healthy Husky Pledge not only keeps us together, it saves lives.

Please note that in this week’s Healthy Huskies Update, you’ll find important information about

  • The Nov. 25 closure of residence halls
  • Several sessions and workshops to help us cope with stress and practice self-care
  • The CDC’s new close-contact definition
  • Travel and gatherings

and much more that can help you navigate these challenging times.

Thank you. Stay strong and be safe,
Glenn Cummings

Residence Halls to Close Nov. 25 at Noon

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.

Options for Processing the Upcoming Election

Counseling Services and ISE (Intercultural Student Engagement) are offering several 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 780-4050.

  • On Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 2 p.m., Counseling Services will also hold a single-session Post-Election Support Group for students to process their feelings, discuss their own self-care, and support one another through the post-election period. To sign up, please email or for the Zoom link.

  • ISE will host We Connect Wednesday: The Day After (a virtual space for all students to process and discuss the election) at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4. Students can join via Zoom.

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.

Staying Resilient During the Pandemic

Professor of History Libby Bischof and Dean of Students Rodney Mondor invite students to join them at 3 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30, for Resilience During COVID-19: The Student Experience, a panel discussion with six USM students who will share how they manage their responsibilities, stay motivated, and overcome obstacles while going to college during a global pandemic. Please preregister for the Zoom-based webinar which is an approved USM Passport event.

New CDC Close Contact Definition Counts Shorter Encounters, Total Time

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.

With Halloween, A Lot To Do in the Gorham Area This Weekend

With Halloween around the corner, there's no shortage of on-campus activities to choose from, including a drive-in movie double feature, game night at the ROCC, Halloween-themed karaoke, and a pumpkin patch-pick ’n’ paint. Check out this list of campus and Gorham-area events and activities compiled by Christina Lowery, Director of Housing and Residential Life. 

A Note About Indoor Gatherings and Travel

With holidays on the horizon, invitations to join indoor gatherings are likely to be on the rise. 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 holiday gatherings and travel.

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.

Seeking the High-Dose Flu Vaccine?

The flu shot USM offers to anyone within the USM community, regardless of age, is the standard quadrivalent vaccine. Those seeking the high-dose flu vaccine are encouraged to consult with their primary care provider.

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 Where We Now Stand

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.)