Office of the President

Coronavirus Community Updates

A microscopic look at the novel corona virus (COVID-19)

During this unprecedented challenge, we realize the need for timely, up-to-date information as we work to protect the USM community. Huskies are meeting this challenge with a sense of urgency, hard work, and generosity.

As new details arrive, this page archives all community updates in one chronological view.

Please see our Student-Focused COVID-19 Informational Resources page for more detailed information on supports and services. 

If you have questions, we ask that you reach out to Nancy Griffin, USM’s ombudsman on COVID-19.

 

 

Dear USM Students,


Sorry to bother you on Friday evening of a holiday weekend but felt this was important. We know you have lots of questions about the Fall 2020 semester, so I want to share with you:

1) When final decisions on the Fall semester will be made

2) What has already been decided

3) What remains to be decided

4) How we are planning for Fall,

5) Where to ask questions and get more information

When final decisions will be made:

  • July 1st: USM will announce its Fall return plan no later than July 1, including how courses will be delivered and to what extent in-person operations and activities will return.
  • June 15th: Governor Mills is expected to announce K-12 education guidelines on June 15. The Chancellor will announce guidelines for the University of Maine System soon after.
  • June 1st: Guidelines for in-person events, activities and gatherings occuring after July 1 will be made available by June 1, 2020.
  • June 1st: Information on the return of employees will be made available on or shortly after June 1.

What has already been decided:

  • All fall courses will still be offered (in some format)
  • All University of Maine System campuses are closed through June 30, per the Chancellor. The University “will not be conducting in-person events, group gatherings, summer camps, day camps or other such in-person activities on its campuses or under its auspices at non-university locations through June 30, 2020.”
  • All University of Maine System employees have been asked to work remotely through May 31.

What remains to be decided:

  • Which courses or programs will be offered on campus face-to-face.
  • If students will be able to return fully or partially to the residence halls and dining halls.
  • If athletics teams will have fall seasons.
  • How internships, service learning, and clinicals will work.

How we are planning for Fall:

  • USM plans to welcome new and returning students in person this Fall to the fullest extent possible, but we are planning for multiple scenarios so we can be flexible and prepared to respond to the latest science and guidelines.
  • Our priorities are health first, academics second -- all with a focus on what’s best for our students and community.
  • USM is third in a “chain of command” that begins with the Governor, then the University of Maine System (UMS) Chancellor, then USM -- so our plans must follow their directives.
  • System-level planning is led by the Safe Return Planning Committee, with representatives from each of the seven Universities and the Law School. They are also consulted by the Science Advisory Board.
  • USM’s planning is led by the Fall Planning Task Force, a 25-member team of cabinet officials, students, faculty, deans, and staff. The Task Force has two sub-groups focusing on 1) Residential Life & Health Services and 2) Communications.
  • Two groups are addressing USM faculty needs: CTEL is preparing faculty in online learning design and pedagogy; and the CCD’s Planning for Success work group is providing professional development and support.

Where to ask questions and get more information

Please share your questions, concerns, or ideas -- or even just tell us how you’re feeling -- by contacting the Dean of Students Office at: usmdeanofstudents@maine.edu; 207-780-4035; https://usm.maine.edu/deanofstudents

Dean Mondor
University of Southern Maine

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we work through these extraordinary circumstances together, I hope you will join me in recognizing that our capacities for patience, flexibility, and innovation are among our most vital community resources. Whatever is required of us, I’m confident that we will find solutions — and in our solutions, we will be steadfastly student-focused every day.

As posted today in the Public Health Advisory for UMS employees and mentioned in the Chancellor’s message this evening, I wanted to share USM’s next steps for a soft return to work for certain employees in June. This will be a prudent, soft re-entry for a small number of employees based on science and in alignment with state leadership.

Over the next two weeks, more specific information will be provided to you on how to apply to return to work on campus. This will be a multi-step process, which will include the coordination of scheduling with facilities for sanitation and safety protocols. Until then, unless you have been approved to work on campus, please continue to work remotely.

In the meantime, please know the following:

  • For now, our campuses remain closed to students, faculty, staff, and the public. We will make decisions regarding who can return to our campuses to teach, learn, and work in person after June 1. The departmental remote work plans that were established in March will remain in place. After June 1 we will consider gradual modifications to these plans.

  • USM has several COVID-specific committees and task-forces of faculty and staff already in place and working on plans for returning to our campuses as we continue to comply with state directives and guidance from the CDC and University of Maine System. All plans for a return to campus will be vetted thoroughly and implemented carefully; no changes will be made quickly or without ample time for preparation.

  • In unusual or pressing circumstances, particularly where activities are defined as essential by the state and where social distancing is firmly in place, faculty, staff, and students may be allowed to return to campus or on-site work. If you feel you have such a circumstance, please contact Provost Uzzi, copying your supervisor or your Department Chair and Dean.

  • We are assessing opportunities for fall that include flexible learning, residential, social, and dining spaces that comply with what we anticipate will be ongoing requirements for social distancing. As these task forces continue to work and make decisions, we will communicate those decisions with the community, including appropriate action steps and timetables.

I understand that questions far outnumber answers at this point. I also understand that the absence of definitive answers about how we will operate in the coming months is a source of anxiety for many of us. Please understand that for USM, as for our nation and world, expectations, guidance, and data change frequently, and, therefore, we must be expansive in our planning for many possible eventualities.

Thank you for continuing to do your part to help safeguard yourself and others against the spread of COVID-19.


Best,

Glenn Cummings

President

Dear Students,

During the past few days we have learned that some of you may not have had enough time or data to make an informed decision about whether to take the pass/fail option this semester. We understand; this has been an unprecedented time for college and university students, and we hope the following message will help take some of the pressure off.

First, on the Provost’s website you will now find a simple form you can use to request a grade change after your final grades post. This is not a grade appeal but a simple, fillable web form. Faculty will post grades between May 11 and May 18.

Second, if you feel you need a grade of incomplete in a course this semester, please speak directly with your professor about this option. A grade of incomplete requires you to make a plan to complete the course before the end of fall semester 2020. Faculty members have been encouraged to work with students to find positive, creative solutions to this semester’s challenges.

Third, in the interest of holding students harmless in the wake of COVID-19, we will suspend academic actions (probation, suspension, or dismissal) this spring. Students whose records would place them below “good academic standing” will receive a notice of academic concern that will outline the action that would have occurred under ordinary circumstances and information for how to access academic support. (Please note that academic actions are not the same thing as satisfactory academic progress for the purposes of financial aid.)

As always, feel free to contact me with questions or concerns. Remember, too, that the academic deans are your deans! Feel free to contact Dean Tuchinsky (Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences), Williams (Management and Human Service), Qualls (Science, Technology, Health), or Toy (Lewiston-Auburn) with questions about majors, minors, grades, incompletes, or academic actions.

I wish you the best as you wrap up spring 2020 and look to the future.

Please take good care of yourselves and each other,

Jeannine Diddle Uzzi, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dear USM Undergraduate and Graduate Students,

I write with important information about pandemic-related federal funding — direct grants of money — that will soon be available to many University of Southern Maine (USM) students.

USM is slated to receive approximately $4.8 million of the $14 billion that the federal CARES Act makes available for institutions of higher education all across the U.S. As the CARES Act requires that universities and colleges allocate half of their primary CARES Act funds directly to students, USM will disburse approximately $2.3 million in the form of direct aid grants to students. Additionally, $228,000 in secondary CARES funding was awarded to USM late last week — half of this funding will also go to emergency support for students.

Based on a formula announced last week by the University of Maine System, 85 percent of those funds will be awarded starting this week to USM degree-seeking students, who

A) Have already met Title IV federal aid eligibility by having a completed FAFSA on file

or

B) Can self-certify that they meet eligibility requirements by completing a system form that will be posted later this week in MaineStreet Student Center and held open until May 31.

Eligible students will receive approximately $170, $270, or $370, depending on the number of credit hours for which they were enrolled in the 2020 spring semester.

In compliance with federal and university system guidelines, international, DACA, non-degree, early college, and university employee students, as well as students who were enrolled in all-online programs prior to the pandemic, are not eligible for this CARES Act assistance.

We encourage students who are not eligible for CARES Act dollars but still have financial need to apply for assistance through USM’s Student Emergency Fund, which has already provided students nearly $50,000 in emergency financial support, with grants averaging $500 per student.

Per the University System formula, USM will transfer the remaining 15 percent of CARES Act funds (approximately $460,000) to an emergency relief fund for eligible students experiencing significant need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the coming days, you will receive additional information on the application process for emergency funds from the Financial-Aid and Student Accounts Offices. Secure messages to students with further guidance will be posted later this week in the MainStreet Message Center. Students seeking emergency assistance will be asked to complete a short application form describing the basis and amount of need. A panel of staff and faculty will review the first round of applications as early as May 11, and on a recurring weekly basis, until funds are exhausted.

The remaining half of USM’s CARES Act funds — approximately $2.3 million — are provided for institutional aid, including COVID-19-related expenses incurred by the university, and the U.S. Department of Education gives institutions of higher education broad discretion to allocate those funds.

Based on our mission to be Student Focused Every Day, USM already dispersed $1.6 million to reimburse the room and board refunds early this Spring, and the remainder is allocated to classroom technology enhancements and other remote-learning investments for the benefit of delivering enhanced instruction to students on an intermodal basis.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or input regarding the allocation of CARES Act funds. As discussed above, we are deeply committed to disbursing these funds in an equitable and timely manner. It is important to me that we communicate with you as transparently as possible about how we will use and disburse these funds. And, while USM must operate within the parameters of federal law, it is my belief that we can and we will meet the greatest need possible for our community.

I wish you all the best for success in the coming week. Stay safe and healthy, and be well.

Sincerely,
Glenn Cummings
President

Our newest Husky Hero is Erika Lamarre, director of Community Standards and Mediation.

Student Jordyn Waible applauded Lamarre’s optimism and work ethic. 

“Erika never stops short when it comes to protecting students on campus,” Waible said. “Through this whole ordeal, she persevered and still continues to make sure conduct is being followed in classes and on campus, for the students still living there.”

Lamarre is currently working as a USM staff member while learning as a student in the University of Maine School of Law.

“Erika is the epitome of the University of Southern Maine slogan: Student-Focused Every Day,” Waible said.  “She understands both worlds. As a staffer, Erika is always thinking of the student body first and foremost, and she wants everyone to have a safe and reliable school experience. As a student, she also understands some of the struggles that college students face.”

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu.

Our newest Husky Heroes are students Kahla Jusell, of Cape Cod, Mass., and Summer Becker of Topsham, Maine. Both are seniors who are working in the Portland campus’ Sullivan Gymnasium, where Preble Street is hosting a wellness shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

“Seeing the expressions on people’s faces coming into this huge, roomy shelter with a cot that’s raised off the floor … they’re so grateful. It really brought me to tears,” Jusell said. “I’m really proud to be a USM student right now. I’m proud that USM is being part of the solution.”

The temporary shelter in Sullivan currently serves about 50 people, spread out across the gym at CDC-recommended distance of no less than six feet. Jusell and Becker were profiled in a story on the USM website. Both are scheduled to earn bachelor’s degrees in Social Work in May.

“I’m proud to see USM students on the front lines of helping some of our region’s most vulnerable people during this public health crisis,” said USM President Glenn Cummings. “Kahla and Summer admirably represent the values and the best practices of USM’s School of Social Work as they make a difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness. They have our deepest thanks.”

“I feel the need to do this work because if I don’t, there might not be somebody else who will,” Becker said. “Some of the clients I’m working with now I’ve been helping since I first met them last August. I would feel terribly guilty about leaving them when they need help the most.”

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu.

Our newest Husky Hero is Tadd Stone, Sodexo Area General Manager for the University of Maine System.

Nancy Griffin, USM’s chief operating officer, applauded Stone for his work ethic and his support of students and community members.

“Tadd and his staff have been coming to campus and cooking meals for the students living on campus, for our critical staff who are needed on campus daily and for the individuals with homelessness residing in the Sullivan Gym Shelter,” said Nancy Griffin, USM’s chief operating officer. “They are providing three meals a day for the residents of the shelter and the staff at the shelter have mentioned how good the food has been and how much everyone is enjoying the meals. 

“Tadd is a strong, quiet and collaborative leader,” Griffin said. “He always gives 150%. He is supporting our students, staff and community guests daily during this pandemic.  We owe Tadd and Sodexo a great deal of gratitude.”

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu.

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Our newest honoree is Karin Pires, our registrar and director of Registration & Scheduling Services.

Pires has been “unwavering” in her dedication to the student-focused everyday mission of USM, said Jamie Austin, the assistant director of Registration & Scheduling Services.

“In addition to proactively planning for reduced staffing in our office and helping us all manage the transition to working remotely, Karin has always had the best of intentions in this process,” Austin said. “Every morning our team checks in for about an hour to discuss updates and our daily projects, and Karin is always on top of updating us on the constant changes we are facing. She has been so involved in making sure students are receiving the best and most accurate communications and always has our community in mind.

“In addition to making sure the USM community is operating to the best of our ability, she is helping her three kids adjust to remote learning,” Austin said. “We are all facing challenges and adjustments, but Karin is really helping our community stay on track as much as possible.”

And she did it all while finishing her requirements at USM to earn her doctorate in Public Policy with a Concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy. 

Well done!

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu.

For many people, the isolation that is being mandated in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 creates a different unsafe environment. Abusers may use concerns about the virus as a way to further isolate or intimidate their victims. No matter where you are staying or who is staying with you, you deserve to feel safe, emotionally and physically.

 

If someone uses threats of COVID-19 to make you anxious or make you afraid to leave or return to your home, remember:

You deserve security.

 

If someone uses their words to hurt you, remember:

You deserve respect.

 

If someone hurts your body or intimidates you, remember:

You deserve safety.

 

If someone coerces, intimidates, or manipulates you in order to have sexual contact, remember:

You deserve consensual contact.

 

If someone is tracking you, watching you, or repeatedly contacting you in ways that make you scared for yourself or others, remember:

You deserve privacy.

 

USM students, staff, and faculty should know about the following resources, as they can be useful in their own lives, or to support others. No matter where you are and no matter when something may have happened, there is someone on the other end of the line to help.

 

Maine Resources:

 

The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence:

24 Hour Hotline 1-866-834-HELP

Confidential Resource*

Call to talk, create a safety plan, get information on other resources, like how to file for a Protection From Abuse (PFA) or Protection from Harassment (PFH) order, or get connected with legal services

At this time, in-person services are not possible, but phone-support is always available.

They are available to discuss concerns about stalking, as well.

https://www.mcedv.org/ 

 

The Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault:

24 Hour Hotline: 1-800-871-7741

Confidential Resource*

Between the hours of 8am-11pm Monday-Friday, you can also text the hotline number OR chat at  https://www.mecasa.org/online-help.html  

Call to talk, create a safety plan, get information on other resources, or get connected with legal services 

Advocates are available by phone to accompany anyone wishing to get a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (sometimes called a Rape Kit). They can talk someone through the process and any questions or decisions that someone may have.

https://www.mecasa.org/ 

 

Campus Resources:

 

USM Resources

 

Need to talk?

Reach out to Sarah Holmes, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator. She is a private resource* and can support anyone who may have questions or concerns about anything that has happened in the past or is currently happening: sarah.e.holmes1@maine.edu

Reach out to Health and Counseling Services as a confidential resource* on campus who can provide support for past or current concerns. Email them at usmhealthcounseling@maine.edu or check out their website for a list of phone numbers:  https://usm.maine.edu/uhcs/counseling-services  

Need more info?

Please complete the Not Anymore Training on your MyUSM Portal in order to learn more about the signs of abuse and/or violence, as well as ways to keep others safe. Under UMS Student Announcements, look for "Sexual Assault Prevention Training." 

Want to Keep in Touch?

Follow Campus Safety Project on Instagram @campussafetyproject4usm or on Facebook to keep the conversation going!

 

National Resources

 

Domestic Violence and Stalking

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

OR text LOVEIS to 22522

OR chat at thehotline.org

Need a Safety Plan?

Learn more about how you can safety plan if you are concerned about your own well-being: https://www.loveisrespect.org/for-yourself/safety-planning/

 

Sexual Assault

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN): 1-800-656-4673

OR chat at https://hotline.rainn.org/online

 

*All USM employees (excluding licensed, clinical staff in University Health and Counseling, ordained Chaplains participating in the Religious and Spiritual Life Council, and medical professionals working in that capacity at the time of disclosure) are mandated reporters.  

 

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Today’s Husky Heroes are the members of the Computing Services Department.

They have been going above and beyond to aid students, faculty and staff. Susie Bock, Coordinator of Special Collections in the USM Libraries, said was rescued by the staff as she worked from home.

“Malware made my personal computer unusable,” said Bock, who eventually managed to fix her computer and set up another with help from Computer Services staff. When they were done with complicated fixes, they followed up and found a long term fix.

“I lost a minimal amount of work time only because they was there when I needed help,” she said. “That is admirable. On top of that, every Computer Services staff member was knowledgeable, polite, friendly, and calm. The computer is our only work avenue, and losing it caused frustration and stress. The staff was reassuring, and got me past those horrible feelings. The University is fortunate to have such wonderful computer staff, particularly now.”

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu.

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Today’s Husky Hero is David Lewis, the coordinator of Student Activities on the Gorham campus.

“David has been working hard to keep student groups connected, provide online activities for students and has been the USM point person for the American Red Cross blood drives in Costello on the Gorham campus,” said Nancy Griffin, USM’s chief operating officer. “The blood drives take place every Tuesday and they have seen record numbers of donations in Gorham. There is a real need for blood in Maine. It is because of David's efforts that USM is able to assist with this need. David has been coming to campus to make sure the Red Cross officials have what they need for the blood drives. He is also busy outreaching to students to make sure they are connected to USM.

“He is amazing, we are fortunate to have him on the USM Student Affairs team!” Griffin said.

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu.


USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Our newest Husky Heroes are the members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

As a USM department, OLLI has stepped forward with a $20,000 donation to the Student Emergency Fund, helping our students through these extraordinary times.

The donation comes in addition to $20,000 of support for five USM student internships to support OLLI's summer programming and a $20,000 allocation toward partnerships with North Atlantic Institute research or planning projects.

The work has earned the thanks of many, including USM President Glenn Cummings.

“I thank OLLI for the generous contribution and the work to help our students in these trying times,” Cummings said. “The Student Emergency Fund was established to help our most vulnerable students and during this pandemic the fund has served over 50 students with new applications coming in every day.”

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu.

Dear USM Community,

The most joyous day on the USM calendar is Commencement Day. It’s a time for us to celebrate the extraordinary intellectual growth and determination that are at the heart of our university. It is a chance for new graduates to honor the sacrifice of family and loved ones, to acknowledge their own achievement and to reflect on their journey from the perspective of this milestone. This Commencement Day will be like no other.

As you know, all University of Maine System schools have cancelled their in-person commencement ceremonies for May 9. The decision was among the many difficult reckonings demanded by COVID-19.

However, USM will celebrate!

Planning is underway for a virtual commencement ceremony to take place on May 9. Our Commencement Committee, led by Dean of Students Rodney Mondor, is working on a program that will include recognition for each and every graduate. The Commencement Committee is moving forward with plans for an in-person ceremony that is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 3, during our Homecoming Weekend. I look forward to sharing more details about our commencement activities as plans coalesce. 

We are committed to celebrating our students who will graduate this year. You are truly Husky Strong.
--

Dr. Glenn Cummings 
President

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Our newest Husky Hero is Facilities Maintenance Worker Samantha Post.

At this time when cleanliness is so important, Post was nominated by members of the ESOL Department and the Office of International Studies, whose offices she cleans.

“Samantha diligently sanitized and cleaned Payson Smith, including our office, as the pandemic emerged,” said the offices in a joint statement.  “She even informed us about the cleaning products she was using. We are so grateful that she kept us all safe and healthy. We miss her cheerful demeanor  and our daily chats now that we are working from home!”

Her work and her demeanor are both valued, said Kristen Case, the assistant director of Custodial Services in Facilities Management.

“Samantha is a dedicated team player who has shown true USM pride consistently providing invaluable service to students, faculty and staff,” Case said. “Primarily based in the Glickman Library,  Sam greets each guest with a smile. We are so happy she chose to join the USM Facilities team!”

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Today’s Husky Heroes are the Admissions Ambassadors.

As COVID-19 forced the university to transition online, so did our student ambassadors, who are working with prospective students and their families in an online capacity.  They are answering questions, working in social media, setting up Zoom calls with prospective students and touring campus with them via our Virtual Tour platform.

"Ambassadors serve a vital role in the Office of Admissions, assisting students and their families and providing essential information regarding the student experience,” said Julia Gurney, associate director of Visits & Events. “As active students navigating social distancing in the USM community and the massive shift to remote learning, they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to foster and encourage the incoming class of Huskies. They have been nothing short of flexible, adaptable, responsive, and have embodied every sense of the word, ‘leader.’ I can't thank them enough for all that they are doing to make prospective students feel at home at USM."

The ambassadors are: Emily Colby (Health Science - OT Track), Maddie Stevens (Marketing and Tourism and Hospitality), Alexa Henriksen (Nursing), Ashlyn Tomer (Business general management/marketing), Emily York (Health Science, OT), Brandon Hallee (Leadership and Organizational Studies), Ellen Kester (Nursing), Johnny Kyte (Tourism and Hospitality), Emma Walsh (Communication and Media Studies), Connor Blake (Media Studies), Melissa Pluas (Tourism and Hospitality) and Osarumwense (Sheddy) Agbonsalo (masters in Leadership).

“Our ambassadors have issued further testament to the adaptable, future forward skill sets that are realized as result of their passion for USM, can-do character, and real-world ingenuity,” said Jared Cash, USM’s vice president for Enrollment Management & Marketing. “Thousands of admitted students are looking to these ambassadors for engagement and insights related to one of the most significant decisions in their lives — and our ambassadors are stepping up and delivering!”

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu.

Hello USM Community!

We hope you are staying safe and finding creative ways to manage this time of social distancing. This is an incredibly difficult time and we want to continue to support you in whatever way we can. For those who are not yet aware we now offer Telemental Health Individual Counseling through HIPAA secured Zoom to our students. In addition we are offering some Workshops and Groups through Zoom as well.

Improving Emotional Well Being with Humor: Why it Works and How to use It! Sam & Vicki

This is a one time workshop where different forms of humor will be provided to help people access what’s particularly funny for them. We will discuss creative ways to use humor to connect and cope during this time. Wednesday April 15th at 7:30 p.m. e-mail Samantha Seebode samantha.seebode@maine.edu for invite

Diversity Center Noon-time Virtual Drop-In Chats for Intercultural Students, Keith  

These open chat sessions are a good opportunity to connect with each other in a supportive way. Take a mental break and schedule your lunch to come join us for a social hour. Chats will range from open discussion/check-ins to fun activities to general topics. Chat ideas are also welcomed and encouraged.  Chats are offered weekly on Mondays and Wednesdays at noon-time. Please email Keith Danner at keith.danner@maine.edu to get the Zoom Link!

 

Grad Student Support Group, Sam & Liza

Looking for a place to connect with other graduate students during this time? This group aims to offer creative & practical peer support to help you succeed on your journey through graduate school; we’ll talk about money, school, relationships, self-care, + everything in between! 12:30 pm and 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays Contact Samantha Seebode Samantha.seebode@maine.edu for an invite.

 

Counseling Services Grief and Loss Support Group in the Time of COVID, Liza

 join us for support, inspiration and lots more. Meets by zoom Wednesdays at 4pm. Contact Liza Little at Liza.little@maine.edu for an invite. 

 

Stay tuned for:

Anxiety Management and Wellness for Students Living On Campus, Danielle, Lynn, Rebecca & Sarah

For students still living on campus right now a specific group has been created for you. More information will be provided by residential life staff shortly 

 

Nursing Students Support Group. This will begin in the next few weeks. For more information please contact Jullian Littlefield at jillian.littlefield@maine.edu

 

 

If you are interested in telemental health individual counseling services through our counseling center sign into your medicat account to read and sign the consent form. Then give our front desk staff a call to set up your first appointment (207) 780-4050.

Even with telemental health being available now it is crucial that you still call Crisis Services if you are worried for your own safety or someone elses.

              State line: 1-888-568-1112

              Cumberland County: 774-(HELP) 4357

 

Resources for Improving your Mental Health Right Now:

Counseling Services Health and Wellness page: https://cms.usm.maine.edu/uhcs/prevention-wellness-and-well-being-0

Deep Breathing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFcQpNr_KA4

Meditation: https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app

 

7 minute workout: https://7minuteworkout.jnj.com/

Gratitude practice: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/tips_for_keeping_a_gratitude_journal

Beginners Yoga: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7AYKMP6rOE

 

Other Resources if you are Struggling or just need Additional Support:

Contact the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (800) 985- 5990 that provides 24/7, 365-day-a- year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

This is a list of emotional support hotlines By State: https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/BlogImageArchive/2020/NAMI-National-HelpLine-WarmLine-Directory-3-11-20.pdf

Call the NAMI HelpLine at 800-950-NAMI (6264) to leave a message or write them and e-mail if you are having difficulty finding resources in your area

National Suicide Prevention hot line: 1800 273 8255

Trever Project LGBTQ crisis line: 1866 488 7386

Text word Nami to 741 741 if you want to get support through text messaging                                                       

Call your primary care doctor and ask for a referral to a mental health clinician in your area

              

You’ll be hearing from us again soon! Till then warm wishes! Stay connected!

Sincerely,

Victoria Libby Psy.D. for Counseling Services

 

 

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Our newest heroes are engineering students Berkeley Elias of Portland and Daniel Madison St Peter of Windham and their professor, Asheesh Lanba. 

Together, they prototyped 28 face shields using 3D printers in the university’s Maker Innovation STudio (MIST) on the Portland campus and at the John Mitchell Center (JMC) in Gorham. And those prototypes — produced in less than 36 hours — have been sent to out-of-state healthcare professionals at the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 crisis, where the need is greatest.

The urgency of the need motivated them to work past midnight and before dawn over the past three days, said Lanba, an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering. Elias and St Peter managed to keep up with their class assignments and even complete take-home exams while building the prototypes.

Their work was recently profiled on News Center Maine.

Dr. Jeremy Qualls, professor of physics and dean of USM’s College of Science, Technology, and Health, said the partnership is a demonstration of the prototyping capability of the new MIST lab, directed by Dr. So Young Han in the University’s Michael E. Dubyak Center for Digital Science and Innovation.

USM is also working with a number of other community partners on developing PPE to aid hospitals during the nationwide shortage, said Qualls. Dr. Jim Masi, adjunct professor of engineering at USM, Han and Lanba are collaborating with Arcadia Designworks of Portland on a next-generation design of masks. And Han is coordinating the efforts of USM faculty, the Perloff Foundation, Portland Rotary Club, local community colleges, and local makers to explore emerging prototypes and vet existing models available in the maker community.

“USM faculty and students are actively looking to help the community and offer innovative solutions to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic that’s impacting us in many unexpected ways. Dr. Lanba’s work demonstrates exactly that.” said Qualls. “He and others are exploring PPE designs and utilizing the capabilities of USM’s Maker Innovation STudio (MIST) to develop new prototypes. I’m so pleased that this work that could ultimately save lives around the world has its origins in Maine and at USM.”

"It makes me proud to see Dr. Lanba, Daniel, and Berkeley capitalizing on USM's MIST facilities to put ideas into action” Qualls said. “USM is growing and looking for pioneers like them to solve critical problems and create innovations for tomorrow."

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Our newest Husky Heroes is David Roussel, USM’s assistant vice president for Student Affairs.

Dominic Barraclough, vice provost for Mission and Accreditation, praised Rossel’s work ethic and leadership as USM reacted to COVID-19.

"David has been working overtime, looking after everyone on his team and keeping the student voice front-and-center with leadership as decisions are being made, Barraclough said.  “He has led the transition of the residence halls, health and counseling services, and many on-campus operations. He is also continuing to lead the design and development stage for the new Student Center and Residence Hall."

President Glenn Cummings also applauded Roussel’s work.

"Our USM community has consistently witnessed David's incredible leadership,” Cummings said. “He is a champion of being student-focused everyday.  He has helped me and our colleagues put student needs at the center of our decisions and actions."  

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu.

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Our newest Husky Heroes are the members of our faculty.

With little time for planning, they have managed to make the transition from classroom teaching to online instruction with exceptional skill, said Joanne Williams, dean of the College of Management and Human Service.

“Our faculty have responded in an amazing way to all the changes in our world,” Williams said. “I have seen incredible dedication and commitment to making sure our classes continue and our students are supported in their academic success.”

Adam Tuchinsky, the dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, also applauded the work of professors.

“In a time of crisis, what we most appreciate is how our faculty teach from a place of love and compassion, and model for students what it means to be resilient and empathetic,” Tuchinsky said.

Jeannine Uzzi, USM’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said she was grateful that so many faculty members have moved quickly to improve their online skills.

"USM's full and part time faculty have said a big YES to helping students finish this semester remotely,” she said.  “Two hundred USM faculty have taken additional training in online and distance learning since we ended face-to-face instruction, and they are doing their best every day to address the myriad challenges students are facing.  I could not possibly put into words the gratitude I feel right now for USM's faculty."

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu



USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Today’s Husky Heroes are members of the Athletics team. All of them — BL Elfring, Bonny Brown Denico, Christina Cracolici, Mike Keller, Kim Turner — have worked extraordinarily will in the wake of COVID-19, Athletics Director Al Bean said.

“BL has continued his amazing work on the compliance side as the issues of Covid-19 have unfolded,” Bean said. “With the NCAA canceling winter championships and spring seasons all together, there has been a flood of guidance and information coming from the NCAA and the conference office. There are many issues and complexities to unravel related to continuing eligibility, granting of an additional semester for some and nuances around graduation and reduced load participation. Couple that with the impact of recent institutional decisions around probation vs good standing and the impact on eligibility caused by USM’s MBA program becoming a UMaine degree and you gain a greater appreciation for this man’s knowledge and expertise in the delicate but critical world of compliance.

“Bonny Brown Denico has been a rock and has worked directly with all of our outside groups that have been scheduled on our fields and in the field house and in Hill Gym,” Bean said. “She has also worked through our game and contest schedules with our coaches, including her own in field hockey program, and has assisted to move us forward for next year. She's incredibly committed and has done so many things to help that are not part of her work. You can always count on Bonny.

“Christina Cracolici has helped in developing our messaging that is going out on our website and through social media platforms,” Bean said. “In addition, she has built a new template to help celebrate prospective student-athletes that have committed to attend USM. Her work in this area has been exceptional.

“Mike Keller has stepped up to help many on staff with requirements for on-line teaching and working with advanced technology and zoom conferences. Mike is very adept at teaching on-line, understands the world of technology and has been instrumental in working with staff to get them up to speed to be effective with students. We will meet as a staff weekly via zoom and Mike provided a tutorial for those not familiar.

“Kim Turner is just Kim Turner, tremendous every day,” Bean said. “She's always there to help students and staff alike and has helped with consistent outreach to students to make sure they are aware of how they can navigate this very challenging situation. Kim works tirelessly, and she has everyone' confidence and trust, and that's so important at a chaotic time like this. As someone once told me, there's certain people you want in your foxhole during a real crisis. Without question, I'm glad Kim is in ours.”

"In the wake of the disappointing reality that our scholar-athletes were dealt by losing their Spring season, it was inspiring to witness these steadfast leaders rise to this occasion and to support our teams and greater community,” said Jared Cash, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing. “True character is clearly revealed in times of adversity, and I have been inspired by the leadership of this division."

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at USM.President@Maine.edu.

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Today’s Husky Heroes are the members of the Residence Life team.

When leadership made the decision was made to send most residential students home, the Residential Life team — Director Christina Lowery, Assistant Director Erica Leighton, RDs Kelley Brague, Roland Brassard, Chris Broere, Orlando Hernandez, Katie Yeaton-Hromoda and office staff Shannon Rooney and Shelby Martin — were at the forefront of communication, logistics, and student care.

“They answered questions, consoled students who were leaving behind their friends and communities, problem solved with residents who needed to remain on campus for a variety of reasons and they did so with compassion and the good humor they could muster in the face of long hours and a stressful situation,” said Sarah Holmes, the assistant dean of students and deputy Title IX coordinator.

David E. Roussel, the interim vice president for Student Affairs, also applauded the work of the team.

"The entire Residential Life team worked together to make sure that every residential student had a plan and a safe place to live for the next few months,” Roussel said. “I'm very proud of the team for their great work and most importantly for the care and concern they had for every student during this difficult time."

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at USM.President@Maine.edu. Also, on Mondays we will aim to highlight the exceptional members of our community who are working to serve USM in this challenging time.

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Today’s Husky Hero is Suheir Alaskari, a student employment specialist in the Career & Employment Hub.

Suheir has been communicating with hundreds of student employees and supervisors about their Corona-19-related concerns and challenges, said Alex Carrier Hitchcox, the Hub’s employer relationship manager.

“Many students depend on their federal work-study jobs in order to remain enrolled in classes,” Hitchcox said. “As soon as the residence halls closed, and every day since, Suheir has been nothing short of student-focused by prioritizing communication and coordination among partners within Human Resources and Student Financial Services to make sure students can get the answers they need. Suheir truly cares about being responsive and equitable in her work while honoring the integrity of each student with respect and care.”

Jeanne Paquette, vice president, Corporate and Workforce Engagement, praised the work of Suheir and everyone at the Hub.

“Suheir has been tirelessly working very hard to support our student workers, Paquette said.  “In addition, she has created systems, and processes that help supervisors that oversee our students.  She helps connect students with our great team at the Career and Employment Hub which drives home the fact that student employment is critical for ongoing career preparation.”

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu.

As you may know, in order to take a class pass/fail, students ordinarily must elect this option before the drop/add period ends.  The decision to extend pass/fail came from the University of Maine System, but the implementation of the extension belongs to each university.  I am glad to report that all departments now have plans in place for addressing an extended pass/fail option.  In addition, all university barriers to pass/fail have been removed, and the appropriate bodies have voted such that all Core courses and Honors courses may be taken pass/fail this spring.  

 

Students can elect to take any course pass/fail, but some departments have limits on what courses can be taken pass/fail and still count for the major or minor.  I have recommended to students that they consult with a faculty member in their major or with an academic advisor before making the decision to change a course to pass/fail.   

 

Only the Office of Registration Services (Registrar) can change the grading option to pass/fail, and all changes must be made manually at this time.  Once a student has decided to elect pass/fail, they (or you) can email Karin Pires (karin.pires@maine.edu) with the student’s name, ID number, and the courses that will change to pass/fail.  Registration Services is quickly creating a form to streamline this process, and I will let you know when that is available for use. 

 

I strongly encourage academic departments that have not already done so to take a generous approach to the pass/fail option this spring.  All department policies will be posted on the form for students’ information, and as a result students will be able to compare experiences.  The extension of pass/fail is intended to help students finish a difficult semester successfully and with less anxiety.  The pass/fail option may take some of the academic pressure off students when pressure is increasing elsewhere in their lives.  We hope that having a generous pass/fail option will help as many students as possible complete their coursework in spite of the unexpected challenges they are undoubtedly facing. 

 

The University of Maine System is far from alone in extending the pass/fail option.  Many other institutions are also doing so this spring. You can explore approaches in this and other articles: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/03/19/colleges-go-passfail-address-coronavirus


NB:  Please do not create additional requirements or prerequisites around various levels of “pass.”  We do not have the capacity to enforce such requirements, so for the purposes of this spring, even though students may earn a High Pass or a Low Pass, where the major and minor are concerned, a pass is a pass is a pass:  a pass of any kind either counts for your major and minor, or it does not. 

 

Thank you for all you are doing to support our students during this difficult time.  I hope you are also remembering to take care of yourselves.  Speaking from the experience of just one week on zoom, I know that taking a break for oneself is more important than ever. 

 

FYI, the following technical information was shared with students: 

 

Extended Deadlines

Because of your questions and concerns, we have extended the deadlines for choosing a Pass/Fail option or withdrawing (W) from a class to April 20, 2020.  

 

What IS a Pass/Fail Grade?  

Most important, students who elect the Pass/Fail option are still required to complete the course this semester.  At the end of the course, the instructor will assign:

 

  • Grades of H (High Performance) or P (Pass) when a letter grade of C- or better            (B- or better for graduate students) would have been assigned, both of which          count for credit; 

 

  • A grade of LP (Low Pass) when the letter grade would have been D+, D, or D-,           (C+, C, or C- for graduate students), which also counts for credit;

 

  • Grades of F or L, which do not count for credit.  

 

Please take note:  If you elect a Pass/Fail option, grades of H, P, and LP are not calculated into your GPA, but F and L grades do calculate into your GPA. 

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Today’s Husky Heroes are Rucha Modak, Damien Michaud and Michael Matis, learning designers from the Center for Technology Enhanced Learning.

This team has been part of USM’s efforts to transition instruction from the classroom to online as a result of COVID-19.

“This is the single team upon whom I and the university relied most to make a quick transition to fully online classes possible," Provost Jeannine Uzzi said. "They have all worked tirelessly for the past two weeks to get us to this day, and they remain poised to troubleshoot over the next few weeks. I’m not sure what we would have done (or would do) without them!”

Each has worked nights and weekends to ensure that courses are accessible online and faculty are trained, to the best of their ability, to provide remote instruction to all of our students via zoom and various other modalities, said Justin Marston, USM’s coordinator of Accelerated Online Programs.

“I am astounded, as I sit back and listen to the discussion, at the ability of the three learning designers to quickly and effectively, research, develop and implement new processes to better the university community in such a short amount of time,” Marston said.

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at usm.president@maine.edu. Also, on Mondays we will aim to highlight the exceptional members of our community who are working to serve USM in this challenging time.

Dear Campus Community, In accordance with today’s statewide directive from Governor Mills and Portland Mayor Snyder’s emergency stay at home order, USM will close public access to all University facilities effective at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, March 25.
 The following buildings will be open to USM students for essential educational use:

  • Luther Bonney Hall, Portland- Computer Lab and Help Desk
  • John Mitchell Center, Gorham - Computer Lab 

 Students may not be on campus for lab or studio work or for work study or other student employment. Students still living in Gorham will have access to Philippi Hall and Brooks Dining Hall.   The following critical areas will remain staffed to ensure essential student and physical plant services:

  • USM Campus Police/Public Safety 
  • Facilities Management (limited staff to maintain life safety functions in open buildings, etc.)
  • Residential Life 
  • Dining Services (Sodexo)

 All student services, including health and counseling services, tutoring, library support, academic advising, disability services, etc. will be available to students remotely. All LAC facilities will be closed. 
 No vendors or contractors will be allowed on campus at this time except to perform life safety or emergency repairs.  Information regarding USM Mail Services will be sent via email tomorrow (March 25th).

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Today’s Husky Hero is Facilities Manager Brett Hallett.

“Brett is a dedicated member of the Facilities Management team,” said Nancy Griffin, USM’s Chief Operations Officer. “Since we have been dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, he has been coming to work in the very early hours of the morning to clean our facilities — especially the Sullivan Gym and the Glickman Library. Brett asks the custodians whom he supervises to clean each building “as if 50 people with the coronavirus have just walked through the building.”

“Brett has gone above and beyond to make sure our buildings are clean and we are safe,” Griffin said. “We owe him, and all members of the FM staff, a great debt of gratitude for the extra time and focus they are putting in their jobs.”

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at USM.President@Maine.ed. Also, on Mondays we will aim to highlight the exceptional members of our community who are working to serve USM in this challenging time.

USM is meeting today’s unprecedented challenge with inspiring levels of hard work, courage and compassion. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we will highlight our Husky Heroes and their exceptional work and service to our USM Community.

Our first Husky Hero is Lisa Belanger, USM’s director of Health Service.

“Lisa has been extraordinary,” said Glenn Cummings, USM’s President. “She has managed to inform and educate leadership and our emergency response team, even as her office prepared for its own response to the pandemic.”

Dean of Student Rodney Mondor also praised Belanger.

“Lisa is one of the most compassionate people out there,” Mondor said.  “She has run point for any and all medical related to COVID-19 since it began.  When we had our first potential case and a student needed to be isolated until test results returned, Lisa led the team to support the student until a space was available in the President's House.  She provided guidance on how to set up the space and worked with all the departments to get it done. She stayed calm and professional with the student and family members throughout the process. She even went back in to clear and wash all the linens, so the space would be ready if it were needed again.”

Please join us in thanking Lisa Belanger for her tireless work.

If you would like to nominate a Husky Hero, please email me at USM.President@Maine.edu. Also, on Mondays we will aim to highlight the exceptional members of our community who are working to serve USM in this challenging time.

Effective March 23, 2020, UMS universities will transition all in-class academic instruction to online or other pedagogically appropriate distance modalities that do not require in-class presence for the remainder of the Spring semester. This new page is developed by USM’s Center for Technology Enhanced Learning and provides ideas and resources to help prepare.

Click on Stay the Course! CTEL Resources for Faculty 

 

Instructor FAQ  

Q: Is the Disability Services Center (DSC) open?   

Yes, the DSC is still open Monday – Friday, 8:00AM - 4:30PM. Given our staffing schedule this week, we will conduct appointments via Zoom or phone and we are available on email. We will update this meeting format as more information is available.   

Q: How should I contact the DSC?

Testing questions: dsctests-usm@maine.edu

General questions: dsc-usm@maine.edu or call 207-780-4706

Or contact us directly:

Joanne Benica, joanne.benica@maine.edu

William Ferriera, william.ferriera@maine.edu

Adrea Jaehnig, adrea.jaehnig@maine.edu

Jessica Labbe, jessica.labbe1@maine.edu

Q: How will exam accommodations work? 

Extended time on exams as an accommodation applies to in-class or online time-limited exams. If you decide to offer alternative means of assessment (e.g. essays, non-timed exams, project work), then a student’s extended time accommodation may no longer be needed. 

While the University’s instruction remains online, the DSC will not be proctoring exams in the DSC office. All exams should be administered online or through other remote assessment methods by faculty.

As questions come in from students, we may reach out to you or we may encourage students to reach out to faculty to discuss their testing needs. The DSC is available to instructors and students to consult about testing needs. Please contact us by calling 780-4706 or at dsctests-usm@maine.edu.    

Q: How do I give students their extended time for online quizzes/exams? 

The DSC has been working with faculty for several years on how to provide extended time for an online exam in Blackboard. The DSC developed this guide with step by step screenshots for how to adjust time in Blackboard:

https://usm.maine.edu/sites/default/files/dsc/Setting%20extended%20time%20in%20Blackboard.pdf

Brightspace is new to the DSC and we are still learning as are the faculty who are piloting this new LMS this semester.  But we found some information with a similar step by step guide for how to adjust time in Brightspace:

https://webaccess.msu.edu/Tutorials/d2l-special-access.html

Q: As I am adapting my course materials for virtual instruction, what should I be considering with regards to disability access? How do I best support my students? 

We acknowledge the significant effort required to quickly adapt your courses to online instruction. We want to collaborate with you to ensure that access for students with disabilities is maintained through this transition. Some students may encounter disability-related barriers with online instruction or assessment.  The staff at the Disability Services Center (DSC) are available for consultation regarding best practices and accessibility. (Phone: 207-780-4706 Email: dsc-usm@maine.edu.  

We are in the process of contacting students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing who may now require captioning of pre-recorded videos or need real time access to synchronous class meetings. We are also proactively working with students who are blind or low vision to discuss accessibility strategies for course lectures, documents, activities, etc.  We will reach out to faculty individually regarding specific student needs and any impact to your course presentations or materials.

Below are some tips to keep in mind as you are creating virtual course content (adapted from DO-IT): 

  • Use clear, consistent layouts and organization schemes for presenting content, and make instructions and expectations clear for activities, projects, and assigned reading.  
  • Offer outlines, scaffolding tools, and adequate opportunities for practice to help students learn. 
  • When selecting new materials, try to find videos that are already captioned, and articles that are available in a text-searchable format (meaning you can highlight and search the text within the document).  
  • Images can be made accessible to blind and low-vision students by providing captions or inserting alt text into the image. Use large, bold fonts on uncluttered pages with plain backgrounds and color combinations that are high contrast.  
  • Provide flexibility and understanding as this experience may cause disruption to the student’s home life and available resources – which may negatively impact a student’s disability symptoms.   

Q: Does moving instruction online affect deadline extension accommodations?  

The DSC is available to instructors and students to consult regarding how this accommodation may need to be modified in the online environment. It’s also possible that students will ask to add this modification as a reasonable accommodation given the change in course format. We will be available to consult and answer any questions.  

Q:  Will I still receive new accommodation letters during this online instruction period?  

As faculty know, accommodation letters can be requested by students throughout a semester.  We anticipate new requests as this new model of instruction replaces current classroom instruction.  We will continue to offer students the opportunity to follow our process for requesting accommodations and the DSC Staff are prepared to determine accommodations remotely. This means you may receive new or updated faculty accommodation letters for a student currently in your course. 

Q:  Is there any guidance on whether I should provide synchronous lectures versus pre-recorded lectures?

We understand the importance and value of both types of lectures. One advantage that pre-recorded lectures provide is an opportunity for students to listen again to a lecture in the online environment. This may be very important to a student who finds the online learning environment difficult. Pre-recorded lectures also allow the DSC to download the video and have the video captioned for a student with hearing loss or a student with a learning disability. 

That said, if you determine that live lectures are the most appropriate, please consider using Zoom with the record feature. This will allow a student to access the materials for a second time AND provide an opportunity to caption the lecture if needed for some students. If you are not familiar with how to use this feature in Zoom, please consider one of the CTEL upcoming small group sessions to learn more about Zoom features.

 Q: What university resources are available to assist students in transitioning to online instruction?

The Learning Commons has pulled together this site called COVID-19 Academic Support Resources.  Please share with students.  

Good morning. I hope you were able to check out the USMDeanofStudents Instagram message about Social Distancing. Just a reminder that Spring Break has been extended by two days.  Classes will resume on Wednesday, March 25th.  Classes are online or some alternate mode for the duration of the semester.  Please connect with your faculty member for more information.

 

Remember that we are all in this together. Don't forget to check the USM Homepage for information and updates around COVID-19 and USM.  Please read about community resources available to you below.  This week in the DoSE:

  1. Free Internet for Students in Need
  2. University Tools for Remote Teaching, Learning and Work
  3. Access to Textbooks
  4. Food Resources in Community
  5. Corona virus Information
  6. Student Leadership Awards Nominations

 

FREE INTERNET FOR STUDENTS IN NEED

Several internet providers are offering free internet access for students who are unable to afford services for online learning. Please check their websites, linked below, for specific information:

Charter Comcast Offer Free Access to Spectrum Broadband and Wi-Fi

Spectrum offers internet access

UNIVERSITY TOOLS FOR REMOTE TEACHING, LEARNING, AND WORK RESOURCE GUIDE

The University of Maine System has put together a list of tools and resources as our community navigates remote learning together. Visit https://www.maine.edu/information-technology/support/tools-resource-guide/ for information about IT Support, internet access, and tutorials for accessing many University resources for your online learning, teaching, and work needs. And much more!

ACCESS TEXTBOOKS

In moving to online learning quite suddenly - we realize that some of you may find yourselves without access to textbooks that you were using at the library or sharing with a classmate.

We’ve partnered with our eCampus Online Bookstore’s digital course materials platform, VitalSource, and several leading publishers to launch VitalSource Helps, a program offering free access to ebooks for students who may have lost access to course materials with the rapid move to distance learning.

If you previously accessed textbooks via the library, shared a book with a classmate, or left your books on campus, visit bookshelf.vitalsource.com to access free ebooks the end of the Spring semester.  VitalSource Helps provides access to tens of thousands of ebooks, but some content may not be available.

To access free materials, you must use your @maine.edu email address to log in or create an account. Before you get started, we encourage you to review this student FAQ.

FOOD RESOURCES

Campus Food Pantry: Beginning 3/19/20 - 4/6/20 access to the Campus Food Pantry will be by appointment only. To request access email Madeleine.Lutts@maine.edu 24 hours prior to needing access. Appointments will be available between 9am - 3pm, Mon - Fri. This information is subject to change, so please check the Campus Food Pantry website regularly.

 

SNAP: Many students struggling with food insecurity may be entitled to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefits. Please visit their website to learn about eligibility and to apply. For confidential assistance with completing the application, contact USMFoodBenefits@maine.edu. A staff member can walk you through the process and help you determine your eligibility for SNAP benefits.

Other Food resources in Maine:

Community meals in Greater Portland

Cumberland County food pantries

Good Shepard Food Bank

 

CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION

If you experience symptoms of COVID-19, the first thing you should do is call your primary care provider. They can offer you advice for next steps and screening to see if you should be tested for the virus. Other important precautions include staying home and limiting your contact with others.

STUDENT LEADERSHIP AWARD NOMINATIONS

Nominations close on March 26th for the 2020 Student Leadership Awards! Please take a moment to review the list of the 14+ awards and commit to nominating at least one exemplary student for their contributions to USM. Any USM student, faculty, or staff member can complete an unlimited number of nominations, so don't stop at one if you have multiple students in mind! Fill out a nomination form (or several) by the March 26th deadline. A selection committee of students, faculty, and staff will review all award nominations. The committee will be selected by March 20th. If you would like to serve on the selection committee, please email David Lewis at david.lewis@maine.edu.

Dean Mondor

To: All USM Students

From: David E. Roussel, Interim VP for Student Affairs

Today the Chancellor shared important updates from the University of Maine System that I want to share with you: 

We will extend Spring Break by two days for all students, making the first class day Wednesday, March 25.  This will give students and faculty going online for the first time additional time to prepare for the transition to online learning.  At present, we are not making any other adjustments to the semester calendar. As we informed you yesterday, we expect to make decisions by April 15 on how to celebrate our students who will complete their degree requirements this spring. 

If you are interested in taking advantage of the retroactive pass/fail option, please consult with your academic advisor. The deadline for choosing the pass/fail option instead of traditional grading is April 8.   

The Chancellor’s Office also offered a plan for enacting prorated financial adjustment for students who paid room and board this term. These prorated assessments will be applied to current student account balances by March 31. After credits are issued to the student accounts, if there is a surplus balance, we will issue a refund.  To ensure timely transactions, we encourage you to update your student account information to allow for electronic deposit from USM to your desired account. These four steps walk you through how to arrange that in your student portal.  

Finally, because our campus is quickly moving to a remote working environment, if you work on campus as an undergraduate student, we ask that you connect with your supervisor to discuss how to conclude your work by March 21.  For those of you granted federal work study funds, additional information will be sent to your email tomorrow (3/18). Decisions that take opportunities away from students are never easy, but the health and safety of our community is our top priority. 

Please know that your work and contributions are extremely valuable to our institution and our community.  We are Husky strong together, and we will get through this challenging time. USM faculty and staff are focused on supporting students and remain available to assist and guide you as we all move forward with the spring 2020 semester. 

Dear USM Staff and Faculty,

As a follow-up to the recent message of Chancellor Malloy, allow me to provide USM-specific information on maximizing remote workplaces for as many employees as possible and, more generally, other COVID-19 related items. Our conversations over the last two days with the University Council resulted in a strong common decision to move employees to remote work wherever possible. The following aligns well with the Chancellor’s recent message, which underscores the need for all UMS universities to move in this direction.

Remote Work for USM Employees:

Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18, USM will take the following measures to increase the safety of its students and employees and reduce the potential of its activity to contribute to the spread of the novel coronavirus:

1. We will optimize telecommuting for all USM employees in order to reduce the risk of viral transmission in common workspaces. The university will serve the needs of students, staff, and faculty remotely wherever possible and under the direction of their supervisor.

2. Even for employees who remain on campus to support the core educational mission or community safety, we will practice social distancing. To the extent possible, we ask employees to collaborate through technology and communication tools that minimize the need for face-to-face meetings.

3. We will consolidate our in-person workforce, temporarily closing certain buildings or portions of buildings. More details regarding building-by-building closures will be forthcoming. Once remote work plans have been received, in concert with Facilities Management, the President’s Cabinet will determine which buildings can be closed.

These principles will govern our work until Monday, April 6, with next steps determined in keeping with CDC guidelines and the UMS.

You are already doing an amazing job in creatively planning for remote work in the days and weeks ahead. Under the direction of leadership within your unit, please work in concert with the remote work plans they are preparing and rolling out. In special circumstances, and as a last resort, supervisors can request to USM IT that desktop equipment be moved to a remote location. For liability reasons, such moves would need to be tracked. USM IT is attempting to procure additional laptops for remote work; cell phones for remote use can also be purchased at fairly low cost. For departments seeking cellphone solutions as part of their planning, supervisors with budget authority may fill out this form and scan to cellular.services@maine.edu. Since this is a special circumstance, there is no need to fill out the Service Provider & Plan section. Please indicate whether or not it is a flip phone or smartphone that is needed.

University Leadership Council is committing to meet daily and will continue to work through these logistics. Again, I’m deeply impressed with the commitment and character of the USM community under these trying circumstances. My gratitude goes out to all of you.


--
Dr. Glenn Cummings
President

Dear UMS Community,

We are working in unprecedented times. Never in the history of our System have we seen a challenge such as that before us now. I'm immensely proud of how we're rising to meet it together, more so because I see evidence every day of how focused faculty and staff are on balancing the need to continue serving our students with the need to protect the health of our university communities.
I'm writing to announce important decisions on both.

First, though, I have important community information to share. We've all been following news of COVID-19 cases in Maine, aware that eventually someone in our community could be affected. A part-time USM faculty member alerted us this afternoon that they tested positive for COVID-19. We've confirmed that this particular faculty member does not maintain a presence on campus at USM, but they did interact with nine graduate students working in a local school district. We're in touch with the CDC, the nine graduate students, and the local school district, and the faculty member is in isolation, hopefully to recover. Under current CDC protocols and guidance, the evidence we have does not suggest that closing any USM facilities is necessary at this time, although my office and USM leadership will monitor the situation closely so as to not risk public health.


But I do believe a positive test in our broader UMS community requires us to take more aggressive steps.
First, even before learning of the USM community member's positive test, I asked our university Presidents to finalize plans by close of business tomorrow, March 18, to transition our university and System work to remote or telecommuting arrangements to the maximum extent possible beginning Thursday morning, March 19. Considering the growing need throughout our society to limit all non-essential public social interaction to slow the community spread of COVID-19, as well as to better support parents with childcare needs from extended K-12 school closures, it is now time to take this significant step. We will continue our operations in that fashion through at least Monday, April 6, subject to regular review and further decisions as the public health situation requires.

Let me be very clear: The University of Maine System is not stopping operations. We will meet our teaching, research, and public service missions to the State of Maine - which now includes coordination with the Maine CDC and our healthcare systems to protect public health. Our universities will continue to house and feed those who remain in our residence halls. We will maintain our infrastructure and protect the integrity of our research and other critical operations. Much of this work will require that some of us continue reporting to our offices and campuses, and our Presidents will determine which critical roles cannot be performed remotely. In all situations where it remains necessary for anyone to report to campus for work, we will strictly enforce CDC social distancing, personal hygiene, and enhanced sanitizing protocols. Our universities will decide locally which of their facilities can remain open to their campus communities on an appropriately limited basis, balancing, as I am, the need to serve our students while protecting public health.

Our System HR and Labor Relations teams will be working with our universities and labor union partners to support our faculty, staff, and students through these disruptions. In addition to all those who can reasonably perform their work remotely, faculty or staff who are feeling sick in any way should stay home and take advantage of sick and other forms of leave until they are symptom-free. We owe it to each other and our collective community health to abide by this guidance strictly and honestly.
Second, we will delay the resumption of classes after Spring Break by two days, so that the first day for classes will be Wednesday, March 25. This will give our world-class faculty and staff additional time to prepare for the transition to online and other distance modalities. It will also better support all faculty, staff, and students who are adjusting to disruption in their personal lives. At present, we are not making any other adjustments to the semester calendar. And as I informed you yesterday, we expect to make decisions by April 15 on how to celebrate our students who will complete their degree requirements this spring.

The Presidents and I feel a tremendous responsibility to keep you informed as we work together through this public health crisis. We'll be further limiting travel and our event restrictions to match current CDC guidance. I will be talking with the Presidents every day, as long as necessary, and making whatever further decisions are required to protect our students, faculty, and staff, all the while writing to you as often as necessary to keep you informed about how we continue to protect our communities and adapt to the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus and COVID-19.
To that end, I'll be using our Presidential Tour Facebook and YouTube event this evening, along with UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy and UMaine students, faculty, and campus experts, to have a student-focused discussion on our university response to COVID-19 and the resources we're making available to our students to support their transition to distance instruction.

Our live discussion will start at 6:30 PM tonight and will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube. I invite you to watch and participate in this interactive conversation about the student-centered steps we are taking.

Our most important responsibility today is to protect our health and the health of those around us. Everything we do now should serve that purpose. From the earliest days of monitoring the Coronavirus back in late January, we've been planning and preparing to take responsible actions to protect the health of our university communities while we support our students' academic progress. With your help, and the actions explained here, we can continue that work together.

Sincerely,
Dannel P. Malloy
Chancellor

Health & Counseling Services FAQ

Q – Now that my classes are all on-line, will I still be able to come in for a health or counseling appointment?

A – Yes, USM Health & Counseling Services remains open for business. If you want to continue health and/or counseling services but live in another state, give us a call if you need help finding services in your town/state. If you live in Maine you may be eligible for telehealth and tele-counseling services through USM, if you have a computer with a camera and internet. We are in the process of setting up teleconferencing services for students living in Maine. Contact us at 207-780-4050 or 780-5411 for further information.

 

Q – If I am sick with symptoms that include fever, cough and shortness of breath, can I be seen at Health Services?

A – Yes, but we would ask that you call us first at 780-5411 so that we can conduct some phone triage with you over the phone.  If you come in for an appointment, we will ask you to put on a mask to help us protect others.

 

Q – What if I am seen at Health Services or by my primary care provider (PCP) and am suspected of having a Covid-19 infection?

A – If your history, symptoms and physical exam gives your provider a reason to suspect that you might have a Covid–19 infection, a test will be performed that involves taking a swab from your nose and/or throat.  That test will be sent to a lab for processing where it may take anywhere from 1-3 days to get the results.  During that time, you will be asked to follow some strict rules to isolate yourself from others.  You may or may not be given prescription medications as part of your treatment depending on your presentation.  If the test comes back negative, you will no longer need to isolate yourself.

 

Q – What happens if I test positive for Covid-19? 

A –  Some of that depends on how sick you are.  Most people who become infected with this virus do not exhibit severe symptoms. Your provider will determine if you are sick enough to be hospitalized.  Otherwise, you will be treated as appropriate and asked to remain in isolation at home for 14 days.  Two additional tests, 24 hours apart will be performed near the end of that time period to determine when it is safe for you to leave isolation.  You will also likely be contacted by a representative from the Maine CDC who will work with you to identify those individuals that may have been exposed to you while you were infectious so that they can be tested

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Student Health Insurance Plan

Q - Will students currently insured by the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) underwritten by Anthem, remain insured once they return home and are no longer living on campus?

A - The answer is yes.  At this point in the policy year, students currently enrolled in the SHIP have satisfied the eligibility requirements of the insurance policy and their coverage will continue until the expiration date which is 7/31/2020.  To take advantage of the maximum benefits available of the insurance plan, you should use in-network providers.  To find out if your provider is in-network go to: https://www.anthem.com/find-doctor/ . Depending on where you live, the number of in-network providers will vary.  If you already have or choose an out-of-network provider, your level of coverage will be less than if you have an in-network provider.  

There is an additional option for Telehealth.  Go to https://livehealthonline.com/ or download the free LiveHealth Online app to sign up on your smartphone or tablet. 

Access the 24/7 NurseLine for phone assistance related to medical questions at 844-545-1429. 

To learn more about your SHIP benefits, please visit the web page designated to your student health insurance plan at: https://usm.myahpcare.com/ .  For coverage or claims questions call Anthem customer service at 1-844-412-0890.

 

Per email from Natalie Jones, vice president, Human Relations:

With the closure of some of our K-12 schools, preschools and daycares, we understand that some of our employees will need to stay at home to care for their dependents. We ask that you work with your supervisor to determine if you can conduct your work at home, adjust your work schedule or take vacation time - or a combination of those options. Your campus human resources partners are available to assist you in this process. If you are an employee with no vacation time, please contact your campus Human Resources office.

If you or your dependent(s) become sick during this time, and you are a benefits eligible employee please inform your supervisor and access your paid sick time. Visit the University of Maine System Labor Relations web page and your specific union contract for additional details. Non-Represented employees should visit their employee handbook for additional details. If you are an employee with no sick time, please contact your campus Human Resources office.

And remember all leave time should be entered into MaineStreet promptly, or you should follow established guidelines within your department for it to be entered on your behalf.

For those of us remaining on campus, I want to recognize this may create additional complexity in meeting the in person coverage on campus. Please reach out to your supervisor and/or human resources to work through solutions and strategies. Our community is amazing. Continue to reach out to one another, check in on one another and take good care of yourselves.

With Respect & Care
Natalie

Easy reference to your campus HR Partner team to help you navigate your specific needs/questions. Our main number is 780-5792.

Natalie Jones - natalie.jones@maine.edu

M.A. Watson - maryann.watson@maine.edu

Meghan Schratz - meghan.schratz@maine.edu

Chris Williams - christopher.w.williams@maine.edu

Per President Cummings' email update, we understand that some K-12 schools across the state are closing.  We know this will provide a stress for many of you who are parents.  Please know that our HR team is working with others in the University of Maine System on how to provide guidance and support to employees during this time.  More information will be forthcoming.

 

Per President Cummings' email update on Covid-19 on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, USM Libraries (Glickman, Gorham, and LAC) will be closed to the public beginning tomorrow, Saturday, March 14th.

Since that email, there has been an update that access to our Libraries will also include all UMS students, faculty, and staff.

Please bring your USM Card with you when visiting USM Libraries.

To access the Glickman Library, USM/UMS individuals must scan their USM Card at the 1st floor service desk when entering the Glickman Library. Gorham and LAC Libraries will be checking ID at the door or just upon entering.

Events that involve Non-USM/Non-UMS groups (Dept of Conferences) are being moved to other locations or cancelled through the semester.

USM-sponsored meetings/events where the public had been invited into our Libraries need to be updated. Please change your event to USM/UMS individuals only, move your meeting or event from the Libraries, or cancel it completely. You can reach Diane Berry at 780-5616 or Conferences at 780-5960.

We will also be reaching out to individuals regarding their events over the next days.

Thank you,

Michelle Dustin
Library Administration

Good Evening, Colleagues.

I write at the end of this long week with two really important updates.

First, as of this afternoon, I can report there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on any of our USM campuses.

And second, after a full review of our most current briefings and with support from my Cabinet, the following policy will be effective, Monday, March 16th until otherwise notified.

The University of Southern Maine remains open and essential services continue to be provided. USM is committed to assisting our students with the completion of their coursework for the spring semester. For the time being USM campuses, buildings, and services will only be open to University of Maine System employees, students, vendors, and those who have official UMS business on our campuses.

Thank you for your understanding, patience, and dedication to serving our students during this unprecedented situation. I hope this weekend brings some much deserved rest.

--
Dr. Glenn Cummings
President

Dear Colleagues -

We are writing with an important update about campus visits hosted by the University of Southern Maine (USM) Admissions.

In light of evolving information about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and out of an abundance of caution, the University of Southern Maine (USM) Admissions will be canceling our Admitted Student Day event and providing virtual options for campus tours and visits. Effective this afternoon (3/13), we are not offering campus tours, group visitation days, and information sessions on our campuses through the end of March. We will re-evaluate this decision prior to April 1, and share an update.

Our staff is especially disappointed that we cannot greet the admitted Class of 2024 during our Admitted Student Day programming. We have spent the last several months reading and discussing applications, and one of the great joys of our jobs is meeting these students in person.

We understand this is a critical time for students, whether they are seniors choosing in which college to enroll or juniors just starting their college search. We look forward to our Admissions colleagues to guide students to the many other opportunities we offer to learn about our great university beyond a campus visit. Students can connect with us through other online methods such as exploring our website, watching our videos on YouTube, following us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, and viewing our virtual tour.

My colleagues and I are here and our offices will remain open. We look forward to our continued work together this Spring. Thank you for all you do to support students in their college search.

Please direct any questions to Jared Cash, VP of Enrollment Management and Marketing.

Dear Teaching Faculty and Staff,

Most important, please keep up the good work and take care of yourselves. Many of you have already made excellent plans for how to keep students moving ahead in coursework via distance. Let your Deans be your guide: I am in close conversation with them.

Dr. Michele Kashub, our CCD Director, sent me another article about going online quickly with a title you'll enjoy. It's a little comic relief in this trying time, and you may find it helpful to boot. (See below).

Now I will answer some frequently asked questions and try to clarify a few things:

  1. Very few students will be allowed to remain in the residence halls; exceptions are being made only for extreme situations like student homelessness or international students not being able to get flights home. Students may not stay in the residence halls because they want to stay in their work study jobs or because they need to complete a lab or studio class. Please do not contact residence life to ask whether your students can stay in the residence halls.

  2. The most common question among faculty and students seems to be how labs and studios will be conducted. At this point, we are working on plans lab by lab, studio by studio, and often student by student. We are exploring options like Labster as well.

    If you teach a lab or studio course, please work with your Dean and be as creative as you can to allow as many students as possible to complete the learning outcomes of your lab or studio this semester. Let your students know you are working on a plan. Consider 1:1 low tech solutions like portable lab kits and working with students by phone. Also, please read #3 carefully.

  3. The university is not closed. Faculty and staff are working. The library is open; labs, studios, and practice rooms remain open. This means that students who are within driving distance can come to campus individually to do work, use computers, study, and, by arrangement, even complete labs, studios, or lessons in person with you.

    Faculty can move among our seven universities; however, we cannot require students who have to move back to Connecticut or northern Maine to drive back to Portland, Gorham, or Lewiston. Students who move beyond driving distance are those who will need our most creative thinking.

    Collaborative arrangements with other System faculty may be in order if face-to-face work is an absolute must. All UMS campuses are open; consider whether you have colleagues around the state who could open their labs to a student or two of ours who need to complete work from their homes near those campuses. We could make the same offer in return.

  4. There are more than 50 UMS sites with free internet access, some with computer labs where our students can work and access a variety of software packages. Students can also go to the community colleges, to free libraries, and to career centers to access computer workstations and wireless.

    The System office is compiling a list of such places that it will share with us and with our students as soon as it is complete. At the same time, we must be prepared for the fact that many of our students will be trying to finish their coursework on their smartphones.

  5. Blanket incompletes are not a solution, but students are welcome to choose to a retroactive pass/fail option now if their faculty approve.

  6. Students within driving distance who wish to do so can keep working in their campus jobs as long as USM is open. We are working with the federal government to determine what to do about federal work study students who must leave campus: this is a nationwide issue, and there will be a nationwide solution.

  7. State and local offices and our K-12 schools are open; for most people on campus and in the state, it is business as usual, with added CDC precautions like common sense social distancing, handwashing, and other good health practices like getting good sleep, nutrition, and exercise. CDC, System, and state guidance are subject to change at any moment.

As promised, here is an article with an unfortunate but perhaps frank and salient title.

Thank you for all your efforts, and keep those questions coming!

JDU

Dear USM Community,

As part of our ongoing communication and updates, we are sharing frequently asked questions, all of which have been answered directly. We thank Nancy Griffin, USM’s ombudsman for COVID-19, for fielding these questions and working closely with our leadership team to provide the best answers we can during this unprecedented challenge.

The following is the first of an ongoing series of FAQs which will be posted. Please continue to channel your questions to Nancy Griffin.

--
Dr. Glenn Cummings
President


ADMITTED STUDENTS OPEN HOUSE – APRIL 3RD

  • Q. Is USM still having the Admitted Students Open House on April 3rd?
  • A. No, that event has been canceled. The Admissions team is reaching out to all admitted students and will be conducting a variety of online events for prospective students.

 

STAFF APPRECIATION DAY – APRIL 10th

  • Q. Is USM still having the Staff Appreciation Day on April 10th?
  • A. No, this event would exceed the 250 limit. The planning committee will work together to find a way to celebrate and honor our employees in another format.

 

ATHLETIC SPRING SEASON

  • Q. Will students still participate in athletic events?
  • A. No. The spring season for all USM sports teams has been canceled along with several other Division I, II and III programs and leagues across the country.

 

CLEANING

  • Q. How is USM cleaning buildings?
  • A. Our facilities management staff are following CDC cleaning guidelines for cleaning all USM buildings

 

COMMENCEMENT

  • Q. What is the status of Commencement (May 9th)?
  • A. No decision has been made regarding Commencement at this time.

 

DINING DOLLARS

  • Q. If a commuter student purchased dining dollars, what happens to those dollars if they leave campus?
  • A. As far as any meal plan dollars that were purchased voluntarily, those will continue to be able to be used indefinitely, anywhere we are open.

 

EVENTS

  • Q. What is happening with events, conferences, athletic events and outside groups coming to campus at USM?
  • A. Effective yesterday (3/12) at 5:00 pm and through April 12, 2020, UMS will follow Governor Mill’s recommendation to postpone all gatherings expected to or actually involving 250 attendees or more. This restriction includes any events on University property, events being hosted by the University in a non-University location, and official participation by university students, staff and faculty in such events regardless of location.

 

TOURS

  • Q. Will there be tours offered to prospective students, high schools, and visiting families?
  • A. Effective today, the Admissions department at USM along with peer departments across the University of Maine System are pausing tours until April 1, at which point a reassessment will be made. Staff will be working to expand and implement virtual tours, video chats and other online ways for accepted students to connect with our campus.

 

RESIDENCE HALL STUDENTS

  • Q. Do students have to leave the residence halls and what happens for students who can’t return home?
  • A. In an effort to ensure the safety and well-being of all residential students we are asking all students to move out of the halls and return home on or before March 22, 2020.

For residents with extenuating personal circumstances, there will be options to remain on campus. Evaluation and review to stay on campus will be determined by a professional staff member.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact your Resident Director:

 

ROOM & BOARD REFUND

  • Q: Will residential students be reimbursed for room and board for the remainder of the semester?
  • A: University of Maine System students and their families will not be financially disadvantaged by the University's move to online classes and residence hall restrictions in response to the Coronavirus public health crisis. Students will be able to complete the course of study they have paid for this semester. The University of Maine System will post guidance on requesting room and board refunds on our public health advisory website by noon on Wednesday, March 18th.

The University is working quickly and responsively to address individual student and family concerns as we take unprecedented steps as a public institution to protect student health and help limit the spread of the Coronavirus in Maine.

 

STUDENT HEALTH PLAN COVERAGE

  • Q. Will students who signed up and paid for the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) still have coverage if they return home?
  • A. Yes. Current SHIP coverage doesn’t expire until 7/31/2020.

 

STUDENTS ON CAMPUS/RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS

  • Q. On March 23rd all UMS campuses will move all courses online. Can students come to campus to access computers, services and resources?
  • A. Yes. All UMS campuses are open and students can come to campus to use computers, services, and library resources, etc.

 

CANCELED UNIVERSITY TRAVEL

  • Q. How do I cancel or deal with my university related travel?
  • A. If you have questions about your travel reservations, cancellations, etc., visit our Travel Advisories page.

If you booked through the University’s preferred travel agency Short's Travel or on the Concur booking tool

If you booked directly with your airline or through a non-university travel company (e.g. Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, another travel agency, etc.)

Strategic Procurement: call (207) 581-9101 or send an email

 

VETERAN BENEFITS

  • Q. How will the online directive influence the benefits for students who are veterans?
  • A. The VA is very supportive of the emergency, and our Director of Veteran Services has provided outreach to every Veteran who receives GI benefits to provide guidance.

 

WORK - EMPLOYEES

  • Q. What are my options as an employee at USM (staff and faculty)? Can I work from home, etc.?
  • A. As outlined in yesterday’s update from our VPHR (3/12/2020 @ 9:55am), employees should provide inquiries directly to their supervisor and human resource partner.

 

STUDENT WORKERS

  • Q. Can students work on campus (payroll or federal work study students)?
  • A. Yes, our student employees are permitted to continue their work study jobs if able to perform their duties given their proximity to campus or modality. If a federal work study student employee has extenuating circumstances, they can contact their financial-aid counselor for assistance.

 

ZOOM

  • Q. How many people can Zoom support and how many concurrent meetings can take place at one time?
  • A. ZOOM can support 300 participants and UMS does have a large meeting license that supports up to 500 (users need to be added individually in order to use this feature). There is no limit to the number of concurrent meetings.

Per President Cummings' email update, the upcoming Employee Recognition Day event and celebration scheduled for Friday, April 10th (2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.) has been cancelled.

In line with the recent directives from our Chancellor, Governor and disease control experts, we have made this decision to ensure safety of our USM community and follow current social distancing recommendations.

Please note that in light of this announcement, we will be working to determine how best to move forward to honor the longevity award winners and the nominations for Presidential Awards.

Keeping You Informed About Our Coronavirus Response

UMS Community –

I am committed to reaching out to you as often as necessary in these challenging times to keep you informed of what we are doing to protect the public health of our universities and Maine communities in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic. Since we first began closely monitoring the coronavirus situation in late January, our plan has been to prepare responsibly and prudently, but without over-reacting. Our two goals have been to protect both public health and our students' ability to continue their academic progress. Our prudent actions so far balance and advance both.

Yesterday we announced unprecedented plans to transition academic instruction to online and other distance modalities and significantly reduce residence hall occupancy starting March 23 -- all in order to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread in Maine following Spring Break. And in just the last 24 hours, new developments require more responsible and proactive steps from UMS, and I want you to know about them immediately.

Last night, the President of the United States announced sweeping travel restrictions to attempt to reduce the spread of the virus in our country. Earlier today, Maine Governor Janet Mills announced Maine's first presumptive case of COVID-19 in Androscoggin County. And as USM's student newspaper has reported, a student on the Gorham campus presented herself to university officials with symptoms that led health professionals to conduct a test for the coronavirus. I'm grateful for the student's responsible action and the university's quick response to her health concerns with appropriate measures given the heightened concerns around COVID-19. We expect the results of the test tomorrow, but I am sharing this news now because you deserve to be fully informed. If the student's test is positive, the Maine CDC will immediately begin work to reach out to anyone known to have been in contact with the student with the full support of the University of Maine System and the University of Southern Maine.

Pass/Fail Option for Students: We are very conscious of supporting our students through the academic transition coming up. To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 disruptions through the transition, a pass/fail option is being considered for students enrolled in spring classes. Our universities will provide more information for students when these options are finalized.

Event Restrictions: In addition to our previous public health directives, effective tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. and through Sunday, April 12, UMS will follow Governor Mills's recommendation to postpone all gatherings expected to or actually involving 250 attendees or more. This restriction includes any events on University property, events being hosted by the University in a non-University location, and official participation by university students, staff and faculty in such events regardless of location.

Practice Social Distancing: UMS strongly encourages all members of its community to learn about and practice social distancing, such as avoiding large crowds, staying home if you are sick, and avoiding close contact (nearer than 6 feet) to other people. Please review the CDC's guidance regarding keeping yourself safe.

Understand Risk Factors: According to the CDC, older Americans and individuals with certain pre-existing health conditions are at higher risk for Covid-19. Please take time to review information about those risk factors and actions which individuals at higher risk can take is available here.

These are unprecedented times, and we will manage best by honestly confronting these public health challenges together. Thank you for the work you are doing every day to help our students and each other carry on our important mission in Maine.

Sincerely,

Dannel P. Malloy
Chancellor

Good Day USM Colleagues,

Thank you all for your patience and understanding waiting to hear from me (HR) on how to navigate your work and the workplace during this time. Please find below a preview of what will be posted on the System live website (access through your portal on the UMS Public Health Advisory Banner). I could not be more grateful to be working with all of you in this community. So many of the emails and outreach I have received asking how to care and support one another during this time demonstrates our USM Values so completely. Thank you.

Several sections of this communication refers you back to your campus HR Partner team to help you navigate your specific needs/questions. Our main number is 780-5792.

With Respect & Care

Natalie


As the University of Maine System continues to monitor the local, national, and worldwide incidence of the coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19, faculty and staff members are asked to review the following workplace policies and guidance which reflect established UMS approaches to a variety of workplace circumstances and challenges.

Please be advised that certain aspects of this information could change as the situation evolves and more information becomes available.

Questions may be directed to your Employee Benefits Center at 207-973-3373 and/or your campus Human Resources Office.

The University of Maine System’s priorities in maintaining workplace policies in the context of the current public health situation are to:

  • Encourage fairness, open communication, and concern for the wellbeing of our faculty, staff, and students.
  • Maintain a safe and healthy workplace, including minimizing the transmission of contagious disease such as the COVID-19;
  • Sustain the University of Maine System academic mission and operational integrity

 

Important Actions to Take To Be Safe and Prepared

  • All faculty and staff are urged to take basic preventive measures to avoid exposure to or infection from the virus causing COVID-19.
  • Updating your emergency contact information
  • Take the steps necessary to setup direct deposit for paycheck processing if you have not already done so. Please visit MyUSM to access MaineStreet Employee Self-Service.
  • Should you need assistance with feelings of stress or anxiety or with resources for child care, pet care, etc., you or your family are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Program available through Cigna at mycigna.com or 1-800-274-7603.

 

Workplace Policies

Well Employees: Faculty and staff who are well are expected at work as usual unless they have been:

  • Caring for someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, in which case they are required to self-isolate;
  • In a CDC Level 3 area of concern; Please see UMS Guidance for International Travelers.
  • Instructed to refrain from attending work by their campus health services or public health officials.

Sick Employees: Faculty and staff who have symptoms of respiratory illness must stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g., cough suppressants). A fever is defined as a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius taken by an oral thermometer. Those with concerns or questions about their illness or seeking advice about whether to come to work are urged to contact their healthcare provider or utilize the TeleHealth services available through Cigna. Employees may always ask questions of their supervisor or contact their campus Human Resources office.

The University of Maine System remains committed to protecting personal health information. UMS is equally committed to protecting the safety and well-being of our campus communities at large. As we address the challenges presented by COVID-19, UMS encourages open and frequent communications among employees and their supervisors. It is in our collective best interests.

Paid Sick Time: The University of Maine System provides paid sick time, which may also be used for family and dependent care, for all benefits-eligible faculty and staff. Visit the University of Maine System Labor Relations web page and your specific union contract for additional details. Non-Represented employees should visit their employee handbook for additional details. If you are an employee with no sick time, please contact your campus Human Resources office. And remember all sick time should be entered into MaineStreet promptly, or you should follow established guidelines within your department for it to be entered on your behalf.

Important Links:

Returning from University of Maine System or Campus Travel to Affected Areas: Please refer to the University of Maine System guidelines for University travel for business and personal travel for guidance and up-to-date recommendations about return from travel to affected areas and other topics. There you will find information on how to self-report and any self-isolation that may be required. Should you be returning from a CDC Level 3 area or be displaying symptoms after travel, the University may require that you not report to work and strongly encourage you to adhere to a quarantine period of up to fourteen days per CDC guidelines. Please consult with your supervisor immediately upon return about avoiding presence at work and possible work-from-home options.

Workers at Higher Risk: Employees who are at increased risk for complications from COVID-19 are urged to consult their healthcare provider about steps they can take to protect their health. These may include requesting a temporary change in job location, hours, assignment or duties, or implementation of additional protective measures to reduce exposure to others or chances of becoming infected. Please consult your supervisor to explore your work-from-home options. Supervisors are encouraged to work with their Human Resources Partners for guidance.

Preparing for Increased Telecommuting/Remote Work: Employees who can work effectively from home by telecommuting should make sure now that they are prepared for that possibility. Any plans for remote work should be reviewed with your supervisor.

Critical Operations: As a 24/7 university system, UMS rarely closes. Many employees must work on campus to provide services that are essential to residential life, campus health and safety, critical research, the protection of physical and intellectual assets, or the continuity or resumption of academic programs and operations. Additional measures and policies to support these employees are being considered.

If public health conditions worsen, and/or the University of Maine System or any of its campuses are required to institute stronger social distancing measures, for example, by reducing the number of faculty and staff in a work space, some employees may be asked, given the option, or required to telecommute or to continue to work from campus.

 

Additional Workplace Guidance for Managers

Given the University of Maine System’s interest in maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for all, managers and supervisors (with the support and involvement of local HR Partners as needed), should request employees who are exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness to go home and stay home until 24 hours after they are free of symptoms. In these instances, paid sick time is available as usual. Please cooperate with managers who are taking on this sometimes uncomfortable responsibility for the wellbeing of all.

In order to not unduly burden the medical system, we will minimize the request for medical documentation for absences from work or return to work except as provided for in your employees’ collective bargaining agreement or as necessary for extended leaves of absence.

 

Potential Additional Policy Changes

If public health conditions worsen, the University of Maine System’s policies may be further adjusted. This would be done to address the effects of more widespread illness or absences, more frequent needs for self-isolation or quarantine, disruption of care arrangements or UMS priorities for pay continuity. Faculty and staff will be notified as necessary of such changes and should also check the Health Advisory page for the University of Maine System for updates.

 

Update your Contacts

One of the most important steps for students and university employees is update their contact information in MaineStreet as well as to review and update current Emergency Alert Notification preferences and subscriptions. This effort will help ensure that each campus is able to communicate directly with their communities through email and/or text messaging. To support this effort, the US:IT team has produced a series of visual guides to help you update your current contact information in these key systems. We encourage you to follow these guides to review and/or update your information.

These guides can be found online.

We truly appreciate your assistance as we continue to prepare to ensure continuity of service and instruction for the entire University community.

Should you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact help@maine.edu or visit the UMS IT Support site.

Dear Teaching Faculty and Staff Members,

I know you are receiving almost daily messages from me; please read everything I send carefully and in its entirety. Things change hour by hour in Maine, and it is my job to keep you informed. I want to start by thanking those of you who have been emailing me with all the excellent questions, resources, and suggestions related to COVID-19 and online teaching. The good will you are demonstrating in the face of so much uncertainty is admirable, and I could not be more proud of who we are at this moment.

This is a trying time both for our students and for those of us working to salvage the semester while also attending to the health and safety of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. The decision to close the residence halls and to move in-class instruction online or to distance modalities was grounded in the principle of social distancing, which will help slow—and hopefully minimize—the spread of the virus, “flatten the curve,” if you have been listening to our public health professionals. This is our ultimate goal.

 

FACT RECAP

  1. The university remains open, and faculty and staff will work as per usual, barring concerns about age or immunity per CDC guidelines. This means that committees and governance bodies will meet, personnel actions and curriculum work will proceed, and searches can move forward (by Zoom in most cases).
  2. Most university-funded travel is suspended until further notice, and all such international travel is prohibited.
  3. With a few important exceptions (made on a case-by-case basis), USM residence halls will be closed to students, who will be asked to return to their homes. This means that students may no longer be in driving distance of USM.
  4. Since the university is open, students are welcome to be on campus; libraries and other university buildings, however, may reduce access to the general public.
  5. There is not yet a System decision on events. USM has canceled some events, and we will continue to monitor our event schedule on a daily basis.
  6. There is not yet a System decision on commencement exercises.

 

WILL STUDENTS HAVE INTERNET ACCESS?

Yes, I think they will. Even if they do not have broadband access at home, many students have mobile phones with data plans; this is a start. In addition, the System office is compiling a list of locations statewide where UMS students can access free wireless. UMS campuses remain open, which means that there are at least 50 locations around Maine where UMS students can have free internet access and in some cases access to computer labs. Maine Community Colleges also have wireless, as do many public libraries, coffee shops, and career centers. We will get the full list of wireless locations to our students ASAP.

 

GOING ONLINE QUICKLY

Let me acknowledge that “quickly” is not the best way to go online. “Quickly” was not how I learned to teach online. But “quickly” is all we have today. At the end of this message I will paste links to a few articles that have been recommended to me by USM faculty and staff related to learning quickly how to teach online. First I want to share a few thoughts about the online transition with you:

  1. The System directive is that “in-class academic instruction” will go online or to distance modality. Some of what we do in our credit bearing classes is not “in-class academic instruction.” Is there anything in your courses that you could maintain while taking the academic content online? One-on-one instruction like music lessons could potentially continue face-to-face; clinical work could potentially continue; field placements and service learning might also be able to continue. Think about the specifics of this System directive as you plan.
  2. All courses should be grounded in learning outcomes. Let those outcomes—rather than the specifics of the face-to-face syllabus you designed—be your guide: there are many different ways to achieve a single learning outcome.
  3. Keep your plan simple. Face-to-face classes have synchronous times already established. Consider simply shifting your face-to-face class to a Zoom classroom.
  4. The best online teaching focuses on what students are doing, not what faculty are doing.
  5. Think about providing students equity rather than equality. Not every student has to have the exact same experience; students need to have equitable experiences, and different experiences can be equitable. Some students might be able to upload papers into a Google doc; others might need to hand write a paper, photograph it with their phone, and text you a picture of it. You can allow differences like this in the student experience.
  6. The syllabus exists because you created it, and if you created it, you can change it. Likewise, if you created a set of rules for your course, you can revise those rules. You have the authority to make changes to your syllabi and to your rules.
  7. Borrow good ideas from colleagues you respect. Look online for recommendations and models for how others are approaching similar challenges.
  8. Address disciplinary-specific questions to your Department Chair, Director, or Dean’s Office first: they are closest to your work.
  9. Full time faculty and Department Chairs should make sure part time faculty are reading the A-list and up to date on all System and USM communications.
  10. Be creative, and be courageous. I have no doubt that we can meet this challenge.

 

One piece of good news is that with so many universities and colleges closing or moving online or to distance modalities, there is a tremendous amount of information available online. I understand that science labs are a unique challenge, and I am working with a team of CAOs on that issue now.

Below are just a few of the many resources that have been recommended to me this week. Make sure you look for resources specific to your discipline as well.

Take good care of your health, and keep those questions, recommendations, and suggestions coming!

Your very grateful Provost,

JDU

From Paul Cochrane (thank you, Paul!):

To help ensure that CTEL is able to provide support for all of the faculty who will be requesting help, we are asking all faculty requesting support to follow this 3 step process:

  1. Complete the Readiness Assessment - This brief survey highlights areas that will help you plan for distance instruction and will help the CTEL team to align our support to faculty needs.
  2. Review CTEL's online resource guides:
  3. If you need in-person support, CTEL will be offering drop-in hours in person and via Zoom next week:
    • In-Person Group Drop-in Sessions - Held in 325 Glickman Library:
      • Tuesday, March 17th: 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
      • Wednesday, March 18th: 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
      • Thursday, March 19th: 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
    • Zoom Group Drop-in Sessions:

We will be adding additional drop-in sessions based on your feedback from the Readiness Assessment.

Should you need additional support, you can reach our team at ctelhelp@maine.edu. Given the anticipated volume of requests, we will respond to individual emails as quickly as circumstances allow.

Paul Cochrane, Ph.D.
Director of Online Teaching and Learning
Center for Technology Enhanced Learning (CTEL)

Dear USM Community,

Due to the rapidly growing impact of COVID-19 on the global population — including today’s declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organization — we have an updated announcement.

The following is a determination by UMS Chancellor Dannell Malloy and system presidents in a meeting today with the Board of Trustees. Each will be implemented as soon as possible:

  1. Effective March 23, 2020, UMS universities will transition all in-class academic instruction to online or other pedagogically appropriate distance modalities that do not require in-class presence for the remainder of the Spring semester. Graduate, clinical, and similarly-situated students should be transitioned to remote work if possible. Individual universities, colleges, and departments should provide all material assistance and accommodation possible through this transition.

  2. As part of UMS’s public health commitment to reduce exposure and the threat of virus spread, UMS universities will notify on-campus residential students to make plans to depart campus by Sunday, March 22, with personal and educational belongings necessary to complete their semester requirements remotely. Students who have already departed campus will be given opportunities to return to collect necessary belongings at an appropriate time. Residential and meal plan options will be available for those who must remain in or return to their on-campus residence during or from Spring Break due to extenuating personal circumstances, and those students should be advised to prepare for limited on-campus activity and interaction. In order to return to their on-campus residences, students who leave Maine for Spring Break must register their travel plans and will be subject to quarantine or self-isolation measures on their return.

  3. UMS universities will remain open and operational, with appropriate measures implemented (such as social distancing) to protect community health according to applicable CDC guidelines and recommendations. Employees will continue to report to work unless instructed otherwise or work-from-home accommodations are developed on a case-by-case basis. Each university should determine appropriate communication of these measures for their campus-based employees.

This decision was made with the understanding that many of our community members will leave southern Maine and return amid this ongoing concern.

In order to strengthen our social isolation strategy, we will be assessing major public spaces on our campuses that are frequently shared with the community at large. As a first step, beginning on March 14, we are limiting access to our libraries and fitness centers to USM students, faculty, and staff.

We will continue to share as much new information as possible, including updates from Provost Jeannine Uzzi and Vice President for Student Affairs David Roussel. Upcoming communications will include detailed logistics and further clarification.

I am sincerely grateful to every member of the USM Community that is rising to this challenge.

--
Dr. Glenn Cummings
President

A Message from Chancellor Malloy

UMS Community Members,

I committed to you in January that we would closely monitor the Coronavirus and its public health implications. I promised at the same time that we would make responsible plans to allow our students to continue their academic progress even if our normal academic operations are interrupted by public health measures that become necessary to reduce the likelihood of Coronavirus spread and disease transmission.

Our top priorities as the leaders of Maine's public university system are to advance the teaching, research, and service missions we have to our students and the people of Maine, while at the same time maintaining the health, safety, and well-being of our university communities throughout the State. The advent and spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19 in Asia and Europe and, more recently, in the United States now demands that we tip that balance heavily in favor of public health, which requires that we immediately adjust how we carry out our mission for the time being.

Maine is a safe place. We do not at present have any confirmed COVID-19 cases, although that will undoubtedly change in the near future. Our public universities are unique environments, with students from all over the country and world living, learning, and socializing in close environments. And at this particular time, on the cusp of higher education's traditional Spring Break period, during which our students leave our campuses to return home or visit destinations all over the United States and internationally, we are unable to reasonably ensure that students will not be exposed to the Coronavirus on their travels or return with it from Spring Break, unnecessarily risking the introduction and transmission of COVID-19 in our university communities and the State.

Therefore, acting to meet our responsibility to ensure the health and wellness of our university communities and the Maine communities in which we learn, work, and teach, the following decisions will be implemented as soon as possible:

  1. Effective March 23, 2020, UMS universities will transition all in-class academic instruction to online or other pedagogically appropriate distance modalities that do not require in-class presence for the remainder of the Spring semester. Graduate, clinical, and similarly-situated students should be transitioned to remote work if possible. Individual universities, colleges, and departments should provide all material assistance and accommodation possible through this transition.

  2. As part of UMS's public health commitment to reduce exposure and the threat of virus spread, UMS universities will notify on-campus residential students to make plans to depart campus by Sunday, March 22, with personal and educational belongings necessary to complete their semester requirements remotely. Students who have already departed campus will be given opportunities to return to collect necessary belongings at an appropriate time. Residential and meal plan options will be available for those who must remain in or return to their on-campus residence during or from Spring Break due to extenuating personal circumstances, and those students should be advised to prepare for limited on-campus activity and interaction. In order to return to their on-campus residences, students who leave Maine for Spring Break must register their travel plans and will be subject to quarantine or self-isolation measures on their return.

  3. UMS universities will remain open and operational, with appropriate measures implemented (such as social distancing) to protect community health according to applicable CDC guidelines and recommendations. Employees will continue to report to work unless instructed otherwise or work-from-home accommodations are developed on a case-by-case basis. Each university should determine appropriate communication of these measures for their campus-based employees.

The above directives will be in effect until further notice and will be regularly reviewed. All previous UMS public health directives and restrictions remain in place.

As I've said previously, I know you share my concern for the welfare of our communities. We are all also committed to maintaining our students' educational progress with the least disruption possible. The actions announced here represent our best effort to balance both.

Thank you,

Dannel P. Malloy
Chancellor

Colleagues,

Recent developments in the spread of COVID19 underscore the need to be prepared for the potential of a campus closure and the cancellation of in-person classes. CTEL is committed to supporting faculty should the need to deliver all courses from a distance become a reality. Preparation is key, so having a plan in place is essential. Our best guidance is to keep things as simple as possible for you and your students, and to lean heavily on software and platforms that are supported by UMS, familiar to students, and easy to use.

To assess your own readiness, and provide CTEL with a sense of faculty needs, please fill out this survey. We ask that you reflect honestly on your own abilities, and think in terms of the types of support you and your students will absolutely need in the coming days and weeks.

Finally, whenever possible, we ask that you take advantage of the self-service resources that you can find on the USM Digital Learning site, or plan to join us for an upcoming virtual session on a topic of interest to you. We will be adding additional sessions based on topics identified in the survey. As always we are available via email.

Complete the Survey

Upcoming Virtual Sessions (when you have completed the survey, we will forward you a zoom link for the upcoming sessions):

  • March 13th, 10:00 – 12:00 p.m. — Backboard Basics
  • March 13th, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. — Getting Started with Zoom
  • March 16th, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. — Using Google Suite
  • March 16th, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. — Zoom for Screen Recording and Lecture Capture

 

Jeannine Diddle Uzzi, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Colleagues,

In a press release outlining directives to the University Community earlier today, a call to complete plans to support continuity of instruction by March 23rd was announced. To support this effort, the US:IT team has produced a resource guide to inform students, faculty and staff on the tools and options available to support remote instruction, learning, and work. This guide focuses on the suite of tools the US:IT team and campus partners are prepared and able to officially support. When considering alternate tools, please consider the potential support needs of students as well as accessibility requirements and data security. We are available to consult with faculty and staff to assist with these planning efforts.

As the University continues with readiness plans for the impact of a potential widespread Coronavirus outbreak, we also wanted to raise awareness of the looming threat from cybercriminals who will leverage this health event to cause disruption or make a profit. Our primary goal is to maintain trusted communications with students and employees to offer updates and advice in the best interest of your health. All official communications from the University will be posted on the Health Advisory page available on each UMS campus website, including the UMS healthy advisory website. If you receive email or other communications that direct you to take action, please verify such requests with the appropriate Health Advisory page.

Besides the potential for misinformation, we also expect cybercriminals to send emails containing attachments embedded with malware or links to malicious websites that advertise relevant information, and an increase in phishing emails that spoof University officials requesting your credentials or other information. Furthermore, be wary of solicitations for donations as they may be from fake charities. Your attention and vigilance will serve to protect the University from these threats.

Should you have any questions or need assistance, please contact help@maine.edu or visit the UMS IT Support site.

Sincerely,

David Demers
Chief Information Officer

Dear Colleagues,

Today the System Office asked all faculty members to prepare to teach via online or distance modalities by March 23. This does not mean that we are closing the university, nor that we will necessarily suspend face-to-face instruction at any point in the future. This does mean that we must be ready to deliver our classes via non-face-to-face methods by March 23.

There are a variety of ways in which to comply with this directive. As I asked last week in the Scribe, the first step is to make the Blackboard site for your class available if it is not already. Blackboard gives you a document repository and a platform from which to communicate with all students in the event that we must suspend face-to-face instruction. The next steps depend on your discipline and your skills and comfort level with technology. CTEL has a plan for helping faculty members prepare that include the following:

  • A faculty readiness survey will go out today and will drive drop-in Zoom workshops next week. PLEASE RESPOND TO THIS SURVEY.
  • Open faculty help sessions will be held this Friday and all next week.
  • Starting tomorrow, CTEL will be sharing resources to help faculty create plans to transition classroom instruction to distance delivery. These will include a schedule of open group drop-in sessions with the Learning Design team via Zoom and a "how to" guide to be added to the USM Digital Learning faculty resource site.

For now, per the System Office, you may not convert face-to-face classes to online format unless you meet the conditions in the System memo, reiterated in #3, below.

AFUM President Jim McClymer issued a statement related to planning for COVID-19 on 3/5/20, which you will find at the end of this email.

The following information responds to some of our community members' frequently asked questions:

  1. Almost all university-sponsored travel is non-essential, including travel to academic conferences.
  2. Searches and interviews will move exclusively to Zoom immediately and until further notice. This applies to both faculty and staff searches.
  3. Using CDC guidance, people 60 years of age or older and/or who have pre-existing health conditions are at particular risk.
  4. Class attendance policies must support students' ability to stay home when they are ill. Please do not ask students for doctors' notes they may not be able to obtain because of increased demand on our health care system, and please make every effort to keep students up to date with course materials and information when they are absent. In short, please be as flexible as you possibly can on attendance policies.
  5. The time frame on all COVID-19 directives is "until further notice." This morning's UMS directive will be reviewed within 14 days.
  6. If you believe you need to self-quarantine for any reason, please consult your medical doctor, coordinate with your USM HR partner, and advise your supervisor.

Jeannine Diddle Uzzi, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

 

AFUM UPDATE — 3/5/2020

AFUM.org or AFUM.info

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19, the Corona Virus, remains a plausible threat. The Universities and UMS are working on plans to deal with any disruption that may occur. One possibility is that a, or multiple, campuses, may be closed for an indeterminate time period.

On-line classes will likely continue uninterrupted, at least for faculty who have internet available at home.

For the rest of us, I urge that, if at all possible, we continue to serve our students, our state, and our disciplines by doing whatever we can do.

Assuming you have internet;

  • Consider teaching your course through Zoom, Black Board, Google Classroom, Facebook Live, YouTube or even email of pdf files. Student with access can continue to engage with the material, do homework, write papers, and even do take home exams.
    • Consider being a resource to others that may have technology issues or to discuss how best to deal with the situation.
    • Certain types of courses may be very difficult to do online, such as lab courses. In some cases, a virtual lab experience may be acceptable in the circumstances.
  • Continue Committee work and service thorough email/Zoom etc.
  • Some of our labs can be shut down safely, some require planning for the care of plants and animals, while some equipment may need to be put into a “safe” condition to prevent damage. Consider developing an easily followed list of the minimal things that must be done, understandable by a non-expert, to secure your lab. Give a copy to colleagues, in case you lose internet access, so that they can inform the appropriate people at the University.
  • Grad students and undergrads working on lab projects may find some other fruitful theoretical/computational/ literature work to do while things are shut down.
  • Remember that we are more than just the work we do. Reach out to connect and support each other.

As we do what we can to meet our multiple missions under these circumstances, UMS is assuring me that they will do their part; pay and benefits shall continue for members.

UMS and AFUM shall continue working cooperatively to deal with any issues that arise.

 

AFUM NEWS

Impact bargaining over BrightSpace implementation, as well as some issues associated with Navigate, begins Friday, 3/6.

AFUM will be holding our Delegate Assembly on Saturday April 18 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor. MEA unis UMPSA and ACSUM will be holding their DA at the same time/location. I want to publically thank the ACSUM team for organizing the meeting. UM AFUM-VP Pank Agrrawal will be talking about making the most of our negotiated retirement investment opportunities.

More information will be coming from your Chapter Presidents.

In Solidarity,

Jim McClymer, AFUM President

Dear USM Community,

Last night I joined fellow presidents, provosts, other university leaders and UMS Chancellor Dannel Malloy to update the system-wide response to COVID-19, which has produced the following directives. They concern CDC guidance and policies for travel, spring break and classroom instruction.

The directives include the following:

  1. Although no decision has been made yet to discontinue in-class attendance and instruction, UMS Presidents and the Dean of the Maine Law School will instruct all faculty to prepare plans by March 23, 2020 for class instruction to transition to online or other distance modalities on that date or thereafter at the direction of the Chancellor, or alternatively, on or after the same date, to permit students to complete course requirements and earn full semester credit through pedagogically appropriate means other than physical presence in class. Requests for exceptions must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with Risk Management, the involved university Provost and President (or Law Dean), and the Chancellor.

  2. Considering CDC guidance that recognizes heightened COVID-19 health risk for older persons or persons with pre-existing health conditions, older faculty or those with pre-existing health conditions who are ready to do so may transition as soon as possible to online or other instructional modalities that do not require physical presence in class. Older staff employees or those with pre-existing health conditions who communicate a desire to work remotely should be given preference for “telecommuting” work-from-home arrangements to the extent possible. Older students or those with pre-existing health conditions may seek assistance or accommodations from their university accessibility services office.
  3. Until further notice:
    1. All UMS-sponsored non-essential air travel is prohibited.
    2. International travel is prohibited to countries with a Level 3 or 4 advisory in accordance with U.S. State Department and CDC guidelines.
    3. Exceptions may be granted only by the Chancellor, in consultation with the involved university president and UMS Risk Management.
    4. UMS faculty, staff, and students are strongly discouraged from personal travel to any domestic or international area with known COVID-19 cases or community transmission, and Presidents should widely communicate this recommendation to their campus communities.
  4. So as to avoid unnecessary travel, UMS universities should encourage students to remain on campus through Spring Break and broadly communicate appropriate residence hall and dining options for those who do so.

You’ll be hearing more from Provost Jeannine Uzzi later today on how USM will support the preparations for possible changes in academic instruction.

I encourage all students, faculty and staff to take a few minutes and read the full message, attached here. The new information is also posted on the UMS Health Advisory, where materials are being updated as this situation changes.

--
Dr. Glenn Cummings
President

Dear USM Community,

Let me wish you a happy and healthy Monday.

As we continue to see headlines about the growing spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, I would like to share with you some of the actions that are underway here on our USM campuses to both protect ourselves and prepare for the virus’s possible arrival.

  1. In the coming days you will see new hand sanitizing stations erected in common areas. Though the cleaning elixir is scarce these days, our Facilities Management staff has managed to get an abundant supply and we encourage everyone to use it as they pass by. There will be new posters hung at entrances and in common spaces reminding everyone to be vigilant hand washers. (A short CDC video demonstrates the procedures and answers some good questions.) I must also repeat our wish that if you are ill, please stay home. Rest and get well.

  2. As COVID-19 continues to spread, it behooves us to plan for the possibility of an interruption in instruction, particularly in our ability to deliver face-to-face classes. We are asking faculty to consider how they will adapt their courses so that students can keep progressing through their courses if they are unable to meet face-to-face.

    Our goal is that the virus impact as little as possible each student’s progress to a degree. That said, a one-size-fits-all approach will likely not be possible. Most faculty will be able to transition their courses to an online format of some fashion. But we also recognize that not all students have access to computers and high-speed internet. Some courses — studios, laboratories, clinicals, and other forms of experiential learning which are so central to USM's academic vision — require a face-to-face presence. We ask that students stay in close communication with their faculty, and in the event something goes wrong, to be in touch with our department chairs, directors, and deans.

    In the event of a closure, not every course will be adapted in the same way, and although I would ask in advance for your patience, every decision we make as an institution will be guided by the recommendations of our health experts, University of Maine System guidelines and directives, and most of all, our service promise: Student Focused Every Day.

  3. One of the best ways we can slow this virus is to move less. I must ask you to limit your travel. If you are considering traveling to other states, particularly those that have declared a health emergency, I ask you to reconsider. If you live in the residence halls, we can offer the ability to stay in your dorm during spring break at no cost. However, there will be no meal service. As the situation continues to change, the University of Maine System may also limit some travel for sports teams and student organizations.

With all of these changes — some coming daily or even hourly — I have asked Nancy Griffin to become our point of contact for all questions about COVID-19 and the university’s response. She is well versed in the activities of many departments and their work to keep everyone healthy as we mitigate the virus’s effects. She can be reached via email.

Finally, I must ask you to consider your own personal plans. Just as the university is preparing for the possible arrival of COVID-19, I ask you to consider the way your own personal schedules and finances may be affected by the virus as it spreads. Do you know how you would get home in the event of a closure? If you are traveling during our spring break, have you checked the national CDC’s travel information? While we hope that the impact of the coronavirus here will be minimal, our responsibility demands thoughtful preparation. If you would like any assistance, please reach out to the Office of the Dean of Students at 207-780-4035 or send an email.

Thank you (and please continue to wash your hands regularly),

--
Dr. Glenn Cummings
President