Dear UMPI Community,
I wanted to provide you with an update on our coronavirus preparations. I trust you’ve seen the message the Chancellor sent out last week, and below is a press release outlining the University of Maine System’s coronavirus planning efforts and continuity of instruction plans.
In addition to this work across the System, I wanted to make you aware of some things we’re doing here at UMPI to ensure that we are best prepared and that all members of our campus community have access to important information connected with this public health situation.
Our leadership team and emergency preparedness response team leads have been reviewing plans in the event they are needed. This includes:
- We have posted a Public Health Advisory banner on the UMPI website and myUMPI portal. These easy-to-spot yellow banners link to the UMS health advisory updates on the maine.edu website.
- CDC fact sheets about coronavirus are going up in the bathrooms and on bulletin boards around campus. (I have attached one to this email as well.)
- You can also visit the Maine CDC website for information about coronavirus: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/coronavirus.shtml
- I also strongly recommend viewing this link to a CBC video about Coronavirus and what we can all do to protect ourselves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIL5m5XznNY
Yesterday, Governor Mills convened a coronavirus response team to coordinate the state’s efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The risk of this virus in Maine remains low and there are, as of this date, no confirmed cases; the only person who met federal requirements to be tested for the virus tested negative. The Maine Center for Disease Control is leading the response team, which includes University of Maine System officials.
It is especially important to keep in mind that preventive measures against COVID-19 are the same ones used to avoid cold and flu: this includes washing hands with soap and water, use of hand sanitizers, avoiding contact with people who are sick and staying home in case of sickness.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2020
University of Maine System Planning for Continuity of Instruction
Chancellor Malloy, Presidents develop action steps for coronavirus preparations
Orono, Maine — UMS Chancellor Dannel Malloy and the presidents of Maine’s public universities have developed a set of action steps for coronavirus preparations that have been shared with the university community and stakeholders. The first action item is an update to university continuity of instruction plans to provide academic accommodations to students who may be forced to cut short international study plans and travel due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Continuity of instruction planning will also include developing accommodations for continuing instruction, lab, internship, or other experiential education, and exam administration if a protracted pandemic event requires any university campus to close for any period of time.
The University of Maine System currently has 109 students and faculty members on university travel outside the country.
Preparing Not Overreacting
There are no reported cases of the coronavirus in Maine and there is no indication that any campus operations will be immediately impacted. Maintaining an actionable continuity of instruction plan is good institutional practice in the event a campus closure is required to limit risks associated with infectious disease or in response to other emergency situations.
“We have world-class health officials here at the Maine Center for Disease Control and across the country tracking the coronavirus and working on medical advances and precautions to halt the spread of the disease,” said Dannel Malloy, Chancellor of the University of Maine System. “At our universities we are focused first on supporting our students and faculty who have been traveling abroad and making sure we keep everyone informed.”
“Longer term we are going to make sure Maine’s universities can deliver credit hours and support students if a string of snow storms shuts us down during final exams or in the unlikely event that a public health emergency impacts campus operations or traditional instructional delivery.”
The University of Maine System is working closely with the Maine Center for Disease Control and the Maine Emergency Management Agency and sharing updates from the state agencies with community members. For more information please visit the following coronavirus web pages established by the Maine Center for Disease Control and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The additional action steps for coronavirus preparations for the UMS include:
- Regular communication and daily updates to a new health advisory website;
- Outreach to update emergency contact information;
- Engagement with state education and higher education partners;
- Updating travel monitoring and prohibitions; and,
- Statewide university emergency preparedness summit focused on mission fulfillment and student health and safety during an extended pandemic event planning.
Additional Data and Information on International Travel
New Protocols for Travel Prohibitions: UMS is prohibiting official university travel to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran following US State Department and CDC recommendations. More prohibitions are expected should federal agencies escalate travel advisory levels for additional counties. Effective immediately requests for travel ban waivers will have to be reviewed by the Chancellor.
Tracking Student and Faculty Travel: The University of Maine System is tracking university travel through countries subject to heightened alerts and travel prohibitions. The universities stay in regular contact with university community members still traveling abroad. Currently there are no UMS students in China and one faculty member teaching UMaine students at a distance.
Italy Travel — UMaine statement as of 3/2/20: The University of Maine has 14 students in Italy who are studying abroad through three programs affiliated with the university. Those study abroad programs in Italy decided to close and evacuate students by March 10 when the State Department issued a Level 3 advisory for that country on Feb. 29. Those study abroad programs are now exploring online coursework so the students can complete their credits. Online coursework also will be available from UMaine and other University of Maine System campuses.
UMaine’s Office of International Programs has placed calls to the families of these 14 students.
The university will be working to support all community members who are abroad on university travel and impacted by the spread of the coronavirus. The protocol for anyone returning from Italy will be led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Editor’s Note: University travel is authorized by and paid for in conjunction with the University of Maine System. The System is not able to address with certainty the personal travel plans of its 30,000 students and employees.
ATTACHMENT: 2019 NCOV factsheet