As we approach the start of the fall semester, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight a few key areas that we ask everyone to keep in mind as we move forward in our “new normal.”
1. The campus will have a different look when you arrive. Most notable will be the abundance of signage that identifies the various measures we are implementing to keep everyone safe. You will notice that our buildings will have assigned entry and exit points, and dedicated stairwells for going up and stairwells dedicated for going down. Additionally, we have identified entry/exit points for only individuals with ADA needs to mitigate the risk. We ask that you please observe all signage when traversing the campus both internally and externally.
2. We will largely be focused on serving our students in the coming months and do not plan to open to the general public at this time. Because of this, we are planning to keep many of our buildings locked to minimize the risk of walk-in traffic. We are hard at work to upgrade door locks on specific buildings so that we can limit access to our current faculty, staff and students. We expect to keep Folsom/Pullen and Wieden halls unlocked during the day, but other buildings will remain locked.
3. While some faculty and staff will be returning to the campus, most are not returning full-time, and we will still have a large number of people working from home. As one of the major changes in the new normal this fall, it will be important that in-person discussions, meetings, and general interactions are minimized as much as possible. Where in the past you might have taken a trip to the CIL to get help from IT, or gone to Preble to visit with individuals in the Student Financials office, in today’s environment it is imperative that we conduct as much business via phone, email, and video conference as absolutely possible. As an example, to further emphasize the point, even if two individuals are on campus, in the same building and only a few offices apart, all non-in-person options should be exhausted before meeting with someone in person. This is especially relevant for meetings with many participants – the safest choice going forward will be to utilize Zoom or other video conferencing options and we do not anticipate in-person meetings at this time.
4. Lastly, a quick note to again clarify the requirements around face coverings. Face coverings are required at all times while on the campus. This includes both inside and outside. There are very few exceptions, which can be found on the UMS Safe Return website (https://www.maine.edu/together/community-guidance/employees/ ). One of the main exceptions is if an individual is in an office, alone, with the door shut. It is important to remember that doors must be fully shut, not even partially open with signs warning people to stop.
We thank everyone for all the hard work that has gone into preparing our campus for the safe return of our students, faculty and staff. We are especially grateful for the flexibility you all have shown with the new normal.
We will learn things, we will change things, and we will keep everyone’s safety at the core of what we do.