New Policies for Fall 2020/Spring 2021
There are new policies that have been implemented to mitigate the inherent risks of congregate housing in an effort to keep everyone as safe as possible. Some are listed below, though the complete list of residence hall policies can be found here. We want to be transparent about these as living in a congregate living environment requires additional rules to maintain a higher level of safety.
- Meal Plan change: First-year students are required to have a 19 meal plan. This means the students can use 19 meal swipes on campus per week. This is to reduce students' need to go off campus to get food, with the goal of reducing overall community exposure.
- No/limited room changes: No room changes will be able to be processed to keep students from interacting with other communities. We will work hard to honor requests to move before the semester starts and between Fall and Spring semesters.
- Guests: In order to limit the spread of Covid-19, it is necessary to limit contact between people, particularly in the residence halls, which have high density. Accordingly, absolutely no guests from outside the university, and no USM students who live off-campus or in other buildings, will be allowed in on-campus residential spaces. This includes common areas in the residence halls such as classrooms and hallways, as well as individual student rooms. Residence halls will only be accessible to those students assigned to that specific building and to authorized university officials. Additionally, no more than two guests will be permitted in any room or suite at a given time, and must be with the explicit permission of all roommates. This is necessary because the density of the residence halls needs to be carefully maintained to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. Students are encouraged to work on group projects, socialize, and otherwise spend time together in socially distanced groups of less than 10 by reserving classrooms, going to Brooks Student Center or Woodbury Campus Center or the Library, and spending time outdoors.
- Assigned restrooms: To prevent the spread fo Covid-19 through bathroom exposure, students are asked to use their assigned restroom in their building, and to not use other restrooms in their building. We will work with our non-binary, transgender, and gender-expansive students to ensure that they have access to gender-inclusive or single-occupancy restrooms.
- Face Coverings: Face Coverings are required in all hallways, lobbies and common spaces outside of your unit (room, suite, apartment). Face coverings must cover your nose and mouth.
- Quarantine/Isolation expectations: Quarantine and Isolation are the tools we use to contain any active cases of Covid-19. If students have symptoms of Covid-19 and are getting tested, or have tested positive, they will be isolated on campus in an assigned isolation space. If students are exposed to someone who tests positive for Covid-19, they will quarantine in a nearby hotel provided by the university. There will be dedicated staff assisting with these processes, and assisting students in connecting with resources. Quarantine and Isolation processes come with some strong expectations to ensure the safety of our community.
- General compliance and honesty: There are many facets to keeping our community safe. Complying with any contact tracing done by USM or the CDC, being honest about where you’ve been or who you’ve been with, reporting symptoms if you have them, and not making choices that could expose you and your community to risk will be essential to allowing us to continue to provide housing. Our goal is not to punish students or create unnecessary restrictions. Rather, we want to ensure that we are able to continue to offer university housing to our students as we know that denying students housing could create situations in which they are unable to continue their education here at USM. In order to be able to provide housing, however, we need for those living on our campus to be honest about their own health, symptoms, exposure, and to follow the guidance of university staff and health officials.
- Health and Safety: All members of the University residential community—residents, staff, and visitors (if permitted)—will act in a manner that demonstrates respect and consideration for those around them, including respect and consideration for the health and safety of all community members. All residential students are prohibited from creating a health or safety hazard to others within the residence halls, apartments, suites and/or other University housing unit, and the University may request or require a resident to leave University housing if their continued presence in the housing community poses a health or safety risk for residential community members. Residential students are required to comply with health and safety laws, orders, ordinances, regulations, and health and safety guidance adopted by the University as it relates to public health crises, including but not limited to COVID-19. Guidance will evolve as the public health crisis evolves and may include, but is not limited to, social distancing, limitations on gatherings, wearing a face covering, COVID-19 diagnostic and surveillance testing (including before, after and/or upon arrival to campus), contact tracing, disinfection protocols, limitation of guests/elimination of guest policy, and/or quarantine/isolation requirements (including before, after and/or upon arrival to campus). Adherence to health and safety requirements applies to all residents, staff, vendors, and guests (if permitted), and extends to all aspects of residential life, including bedrooms, bathrooms, community kitchens, lounges, storage areas, basements, and other community/common spaces.
Are there policies about my job off campus, visiting my home in Maine, activities off campus, etc?
We ask that all students do individual risk mitigation for most of their daily activities. Can someone go to the grocery store? Absolutely - a necessary and fairly low risk activity. Does it make sense to go to the grocery store daily? It's likely better to plan meals ahead and reduce your risk. Similarly, if going home carries risk (perhaps you have many family members at home, or family members are not generally limiting their interaction with others), this would be something you’d need to assess.
Students need to take care of their health and reduce their risk. By reducing their risk, they are protecting our community.
Congregating in groups is especially risky. This includes restaurants, bars, and other places with many people. Please note that while there is no specific policy about this, if there are egregious violations that constitute a health and safety hazard to the community, there will be institutional follow-up.
What if I choose not to comply?
These policies are created for the health and safety of the community. Violating them brings risk to our community. While our actions always impact a community, it's very possible that one person’s poor actions could cause significant issues on campus, including the closure of campus or infecting other students who may suffer extreme, long-lasting medical conditions or even death. Any violations of our policies will thus be documented and the consequences will be significant. Community members that endanger the welfare of our community may be asked to move off-campus. Please help us to keep campus safe and keep housing open.