Office of the President

Student-Focused COVID-19 Informational Resources

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

If you are having trouble securing assistance like SNAP, MaineCare, TANF, or General Assistance, but you think that you should qualify, please call Maine Equal Justice at 626-7058, ext. 205 or visit their website: https://maineequaljustice.org/

 

 

The Disability Services Center is actively meeting with students and providing a variety of services. Please visit the DSC website, call 780-4816, email dsc-usm@maine.edu to discuss services and schedule an appointment.

Students — Please consult USM's Disability Services Student FAQ page for a list of student-focused FAQ's and answers.

Faculty — Please consult USM's Disability Services Faculty FAQ page for a list of faculty-focused FAQ's and answers. 

If you are feeling unsafe due to the threat of domestic violence, please call the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence 24 Hour Hotline: 1-866-834-HELP

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 they are ready and willing to be creative in how to best provide services 24 hours a day.

https://www.mcedv.org/

You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

OR text LOVEIS to 22522

OR chat at thehotline.org

  

 

 

USM's Campus Food Pantry is available to help USM community members who are facing food insecurity.  

In accordance with the March 23 statewide directive issued from Governor Mills and Portland Mayor Snyder’s emergency stay at home order, as of Monday, March 30, 2020, the Campus Food Pantry will be available by appointment only. USM Students or community members with a valid USM ID who are struggling with food security are encouraged to email campusfoodpantry@maine.edu to request access.*

Appointments are available between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday–Friday. Please email at least 24 hours prior to the time requested.

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:

Preble Street: To-Go Meals will be available during regular Soup Kitchen hours, 7 days a week. Their Food Pantry will be available daily from1:30 to 3 p.m.

CARES Act Direct Aid Funds

Many USM degree-seeking students will qualify for funds through the CARES Act. CARES Act direct aid funds will be disbursed to eligible students via MaineStreet student accounts. Eligible students will receive these funds in the form of a check or direct deposit. 

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.


USM Student Emergency Fund

Students may request support from the Student Emergency Fund for an emergency situation, or for unanticipated and compelling circumstances that jeopardize their ability to successfully continue in school.

Student Emergency Funds will be provided in the form of grants, awards will be determined by committee based on the individual need. Award amounts typically range from $100 to $500. Decisions regarding amount and disbursement of funds are made on a case-by-case basis. Awards are not considered loans and do not require repayment. Some funds may be considered income and are therefore subject to federal taxes.

The Chancellor’s Office 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. 

If you have Computer Access Questions, please contact: help@maine.edu

If you are unable to access the Internet where you are, the University of Maine System’s NetworkMaine initiative offers free parking lot-based WiFi hotspots.

  • For students without computers:
    • Starting on Monday, March 27th, the Luther Bonney Computer Lab will no longer be open to students for walk-in service. For those students needing access to a computer, the Luther Bonney Hall Computer Lab in Portland will be available by appointment only. In Gorham, there are two computers available for use in Philippe Hall. 
    • Appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, on a first-come, first-served basis. To schedule an appointment please call 780-4280. Please be patient and understand there are a limited number of resources to handle these calls at this time.
  • UMS IT is working on a virtual lab solution for students who need access to specialty software (Windows only). This will provide you access to what has been traditionally offered on campus from your own computer. More information will follow once this solution is available.

Due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, University Health and Counseling Services is providing services as follows:

At this time, Health Services will not be open for on-site patient services. This applies both to our Portland location at the Sullivan Gym and our Gorham location at 156 Upton Hall. However, we are able to take your calls, manage your health concerns as best able over the phone, refill prescriptions, answer your questions or help to connect you to services in your community. Please call us at 780-5411. We will do our best to get back to you in a timely way.

Counseling Services is offering teletherapy to students beginning March 30th. For more information about this service, please call 780-4050.

 

The City of Portland's Multilingual Covid Guide provides information and resources in Portland's most spoken languages (Arabic, French, Portuguese, Somali, and Spanish).

Additionally, they have created this website, which is being updated daily: https://www.portlandofopportunity.com/covid19  

Resources for Somali Speakers:

  1. Portland Imam Mohamud Ali explains why it’s important to follow CDC guidelines: https://youtu.be/pmisfihN1fU

  2. Dr. Ahmed of Deering High school explains the impact of COVID-19 on students and parents and provides advice: https://youtu.be/UxDQxenbEes

  3. Yusuf Yusuf, a social worker with Gateway Community Services, discusses the pandemic's impact on people's ability to schedule appointments relating to DHHS, SSA, Immigration, housing, and many more topics: https://youtu.be/y5SMOJyXOe

  4. Mohamed Ibrahim, a Community organizer with Maine People’s Alliance, shares a new resource titled MainersTogether.com:  https://youtu.be/OipUnb2B7E0

Call the confidential Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault 24-Hour Hotline: 1-800-871-7741

Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. 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) at a hospital. They can talk through the process and any questions or decisions that someone may have.

https://www.mecasa.org/ 

USM based resources for sexual assault and harassment

Need to talk?

Contact Sarah Holmes, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator if you have questions or concerns about anything that has happened to you in the past or is currently happening.

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!

Need to 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/

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

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

The Libraries’ electronic reserves (e-reserves) system is available and many classes contain the required reading materials for your course. If you have been using the Textbooks on Reserves in the Libraries in print format, first check Vitalsource (use @maine.edu email to login or create an account) and Redshelf to see if the textbook is available for free for the rest of the semester. If it is not, ask your faculty member to request the appropriate chapters or pages be scanned and placed on e-reserves.  Faculty can submit scanning requests to usm.reserves@maine.edu  

Now, more than ever, it is important for USM students to have access to academic support. USM Libraries will continue to provide research assistance. We are also pleased to share that our peer academic support services will remain available to students virtually as well, including Subject-Based Tutors, Writing Assistants, Peer Academic Coaches, Technology Assistants, and Learning Commons Navigators.

To protect the students who use our services as well as our student employees from potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus, all appointments for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester will be delivered live online via Zoom. The scheduling process remains the same. Students can use our self-service online calendar to view available appointments and schedule a time for peer academic support. Please visit the Tutoring: Subject-Based Tutoring and Tutoring: Writing Assistance links under the “USM Quick Links” tab of the MyUSM portal. 

We now have a dedicated page on our AGILE website that highlights specific academic support resources for being successful under the current conditions: COVID-19 Academic Support Resources site.  Please feel free to contact our Coordinator of Tutoring Services, Naamah Jarnot, if you have any questions or concerns about connecting with peer support. We are here for you!

Please visit the LAC Writing Center website which explains how students can get online support with writing. Of course, we work with all USM students, but our Writing Assistants have worked closely with LAC faculty and are especially familiar with LAC assignments.

Contact: USMCareers@maine.edu

If you have questions about eligibility or applying for unemployment benefits, please consult the Maine Department of Labor's The Bureau of Unemployment Compensation website. 

The Career & Employment Hub has gathered resources that support students with employment concerns related to COVID-19: https://usm.maine.edu/career-and-employment-hub/employment-resources-those-affected-covid-19-and-others.

The Southern Maine Workers Center also has a helpline for anyone with questions. If you have questions about how to file for unemployment or what your rights are as a worker or how to organize in the time of COVID-19, please call the Workers' Support Hotline: 207-888-1010.

Please contact Student Employment Specialist Suheir Alaskari if you have questions. 

From March 23, 2020, Monday Missive: Many students with federal work-study this week received the good news that revised federal guidelines will allow continuity of payment through the end of the semester - or up to a point when their federal work-study funds have been exhausted. If you are a federal work-study student, please check your email for the detailed memo that went out. Discussions on how to help students who receive departmental or university funding, rather than federal work-study, began this week at the system and university level.

Veterans Services offers the USM community a standing invitation to join a Zoom-based drop-in discussion group held 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Click the Zoom link to join the group.

 

The May 3 edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram featured this "Where to turn to for help" guide that includes a broad range of state-, local-, and nonprofit-provided resources. 

Additional resources are available through our Important Contacts for Students and Families.