The following provides important health and safety information from the UNE Onward plan, organized for online reading. Download the UNE Onward plan (PDF).
UNE Onward Promise: A Commitment to Community Health and Safety for Students and Employees
UNE expects the entire community of faculty, professional staff, and students to confirm their commitment to the campus-wide COVID-19 rules of community engagement regarding social distancing, masking, enhanced hygiene, testing, symptom checking, and contact tracing. All members of the UNE community are expected to honor their commitment to the University’s COVID-19 policies as they return to campus with the understanding that policies may change as regulatory or pandemic public health advisories evolve throughout the academic year.
Violations of UNE policies and protocols related to COVID-19 may subject individuals to discipline or other actions, including but not limited to removal from campus.
Please note that as of September 16, 2020, all students who have found themselves in a situation in which they might have been at higher risk for contracting the virus are encouraged to voluntarily go to the Student Health Center on either campus to be tested, free of charge. All students are encouraged to take advantage of this resource without repercussions. Students who volunteer for such testing will be granted immunity from any potential conduct violations related to the activity that puts them at increased risk. For example, students who volunteer that they have attended an off-campus gathering and who seek testing will not be punished for revealing their attendance at the gathering.
Likewise, any other individuals, identified by the volunteer(s), or others, as participating in such an event through a contract tracing process, will also be exempted from conduct violation processes in order to accurately ascertain the extent of the potential exposure.
We are taking this approach to encourage students to come forward for testing as needed, without fear of incurring conduct violations, in order to prioritize the health of our community.
COVID-19 Testing Policies
In an effort to safeguard the UNE community against the threat of COVID-19 infection and transmission, we developed a 4-tiered testing program that includes initial broad-based entry testing, ongoing symptomatic testing, focused surveillance testing of asymptomatic individuals, and testing of campus wastewater. For the spring term of 2021, we expanded our testing protocols to include ongoing surveillance testing, which calls for a percentage of students, faculty, and professional staff to be identified each week and asked to submit for testing on a voluntary basis.
Baseline and surveillance testing — both focused and ongoing — will be conducted in partnership with the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA. Students with symptoms that might be the result of COVID infection are tested with a point-of-care system on campus. All confirmatory testing is done in partnership with MaineHealth’s NorDx laboratories.
Upon return to campus for the fall 2020 semester, all undergraduate students were required to bring evidence of a negative viral test taken within 72 hours of arrival. We expanded this protocol for spring term of 2021 to include all graduate students and required that all students upload the results of their negative viral test result to Medicat prior to arrival on campus for the term.
Please note that there are two types of tests: antibody and viral. UNE required the viral test. Information about the difference between the two types of tests may be found on the CDC’s website.
Before the start of both the fall 2020 and spring 2021 terms, UNE encouraged students to communicate with their primary care physicians and local testing sites about test availability as the fall semester approached. We informed them that the website get-tested-covid19.org and other online resources provide lists of testing facilities based on address. We also informed them of an at-home test option that provides a fast turnaround time that is available to college students returning to campus.
Because the average turnaround time for tests some students' areas exceeded 72 hours, we encouraged those students to plan ahead and get the test sooner and then to self-quarantine until results were received.
After receiving a negative result, students were required to continue to self-quarantine until they arrived on campus.
This broad-based testing, first enacted for the fall term of 2020, provided critical baseline data that helped to inform our subsequent testing protocols. The student health center will provide ongoing testing for all students who develop respiratory or other symptoms that might reflect COVID infection.
On September 16, UNE’s COVID Response Team made the decision to enhance testing protocols by offering tests, free of charge, at both campuses’ Student Health Centers, to any and all on-campus students — undergraduate and graduate, residential and commuter — who have found themselves in a situation in which they might have been at higher risk for contracting the virus to voluntarily go to the Student Health Center on either campus to be tested. All students are encouraged to take advantage of this resource without repercussions.
Examples of such higher-risk situations would include:
- Travel to any state that is not among those which are exempt from Maine’s testing/quarantining requirements. Exempt states currently include New Hampshire and Vermont.
- Attending a party or other gathering, a religious service, or other social event in which social distancing or masking was not consistently maintained.
- Contact with an individual who is known or suspected to be positive for the virus, even if the level of contact does not technically qualify as “close” per CDC standards.
Students who volunteer for such testing will be granted immunity from any potential conduct violations related to the activity that puts them at increased risk. Likewise, any other individuals, identified by the volunteer(s), or others, as participating in such an event through a contract tracing process, will also be exempted from conduct violation processes in order to accurately ascertain the extent of the potential exposure. Conversely, students who do not voluntarily come forth and self-identify, and who are otherwise found through normal processes to have violated student conduct policies, will be subject to the normal conduct violation processes and consequences.
UNE encourages self-monitoring of symptoms among all members of the community, including employees. Employees showing signs of illness should seek immediate care from their health care provider.
Self-Monitoring, Reporting Illness, and Contact Tracing
Student Responsibility to Report Illness: Students who are in need of medical care should contact the Student Health Center or seek medical care at one of the local acute care facilities immediately. Those students who seek care at a facility off campus must notify the Student Health Center as well.
A student who experiences any of the symptoms described under Daily Self-Monitoring below who is in contact with a COVID-19-positive individual or who is diagnosed with COVID-19 is required to self-isolate and immediately contact the Student Health Center.
Daily Self-Monitoring by All Members of the UNE Community: Early detection of illness can prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the UNE community. All community members are expected to monitor their health daily. Students and employees are expected to stay home or in their dorm room if they are sick and if any of the following symptoms or circumstances apply to them:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Temperature that exceeds 100.4 F when measured with a household thermometer
- New loss of smell or taste
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
- Anyone in their household diagnosed with COVID-19 or has exhibited COVID-19 symptoms (listed above) within the last 14 days
- Close contact (being within 6 feet for 15 or more minutes) with anyone who has a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis or COVID-19 symptoms within the last 14 days
As noted above, students with any of these symptoms or circumstances are expected to contact the Student Health Center. Employees with any of these symptoms or circumstances are expected to contact their immediate supervisor and Human Resources.
Contact Tracing: UNE will assist the Maine CDC with contact tracing to the extent feasible. Those who are symptomatic must quarantine until test results are confirmed negative before returning to on-campus classes (students) or work (employees). Those who are asymptomatic are expected to quarantine for 14 days before return to on-campus classes (students) or work (employees).
It is required that students and employees follow the CDC quarantine guidelines during a public health emergency, such as we are experiencing now with Covid-19. Those required actions are explained in specific detail with answers to various quarantine scenarios by the CDC.
Immunizations: In order to improve the overall safety of the campus, we will strongly encourage all members of the UNE community who reside or work on campus to be immunized for influenza.
Quarantine Plan for Positive Cases and Those Awaiting Test Results
Employees who have a positive COVID-19 test or who are waiting for testing results are expected to remain at home until cleared by a health professional and Human Resources to return to on-campus work. Any arrangements for remote work during quarantine should be discussed and approved with the employee’s immediate supervisor and Human Resources.
Students awaiting test results must remain in their residence hall rooms. In some cases, such as when a student resides in a double room on a traditional residence hall floor (i.e. not a suite), the student may be temporarily relocated to ensure proper isolation during the waiting period. Students awaiting test results and/or who have a positive COVID-19 test who choose to return home and do not have high-risk individuals in their household may do so.
- For students who must remain on campus, the first floor of East Hall (residence hall) on the Biddeford Campus has been designated as the quarantine space for residential students. Transportation of students to this quarantine location will be provided by the University. The suite features in this residence hall include kitchenettes and single bedrooms. The locations of both hallway and building entry doors allow for restrictions to access, which prevents students not residing in that section from being able to enter. The programming of student ID cards, used for accessing residence halls, reflects this area as restricted. Only those residing on that hallway, as well as approved professional staff (e.g., Health Center, Housing, Security, Housekeeping) are provided access.
- All students in quarantine are evaluated on a daily basis, including self-temperature checks and Zoom/face-to-face meetings with student health clinical staff. All students in quarantine are required to comply with all quarantine rules, which will be provided upon quarantine. Students found in violation of the established rules will be required to leave campus and will not be able to return until they are cleared by a health professional. Well students who gain or attempt to gain access to the quarantine space will also face consequences for violating the clearly posted directives regarding restrictions on this space.
- Students who feel well enough to continue with classes during quarantine may participate remotely.
- Students may return to regular on-campus activities and housing when they are cleared by a health professional and the Student Health Center.
Personal Protective Equipment and Other Public Health Protective Measures
Face Coverings: In consideration of the State of Maine and CDC guidelines regarding the use of masks, the University requires the use of cloth face masks at all times (indoors and outdoors) with the following exceptions:
- Employees working alone in their private offices
- Students in their dorm rooms
- Employees performing work outside (landscapers, facilities management workers, etc.) who are able to maintain social distance at all times
- Community members engaging in moderate to high-intensity outdoor physical activity (e.g., running and other athletic activities) and who are able to maintain social distance at all times
- Individuals being filmed for video and photo shoots, including such projects as public relations videos and professional portraits, that are managed by University business units. In such instances, a subject’s mask may be removed only while visuals are captured. All others present must meet PPE and social distancing requirements. Subjects must provide consent to film without a mask and be given the option to wear a mask or opt out of the shoot.
- Individuals with a medical condition that causes difficulty in wearing a face mask and who have been granted a formal accommodation. Among faculty, the use of a face shield for teaching in lieu of a face mask may be considered a reasonable accommodation if formally approved. (Please contact the Office of Human Resources.)
- Other approved rooms and situations. Requests for additional exceptions should be submitted to the relevant unit head (e.g., dean of students, department chair, program director, or college dean, etc.). All requests will also be reviewed by an ad hoc committee appointed by the University’s senior leadership.
The University provides a cloth face mask for all employees and students. Any additional required personal protection equipment (PPE) will also be provided by the University.
Neck gaiters, bandanas, scarves, and masks with exhalation vents are not approved face coverings.
Employees and students who are unable to wear a mask for health or other reasons should explore their options via the reasonable accommodation request processes available through Human Resources or the Student Access Center, respectively.
Hand Hygiene: Employees and students are expected to wash their hands (at least 20 seconds of washing with soap and water) on a regular basis throughout the day, particularly when arriving and leaving campus, after touching their face, touching communal surfaces, coughing or sneezing, or using bathroom facilities. Hand sanitizer stations are also available at multiple locations across the campuses.
Cough Etiquette: Employees and students are encouraged to cough or sneeze into their elbow or use a tissue, covering both their mouth and nose, and then immediately wash their hands as described above.
Traffic Flow: To the extent possible, designation of certain doorways as points of entry and others as points of exit are to be followed. Right-lane traffic patterns (similar to vehicular traffic) are encouraged throughout all buildings.
Plexiglass Shielding: An inventory of high traffic transaction areas has been conducted to assess where shielding is useful, such as the Library Circulation Desk, Dining Services check-in station, and Solutions Desk at the Commons.
Security vehicles and shuttle buses have been outfitted with shielding between the driver and passenger seats to afford a greater level of protection when transporting individuals.
Specialized Protective (N95) Masks: Any employee or student required to wear an N95 mask (also known as an N95 respirator) is required to successfully undergo a health screening and must be fit tested by the professional staff in UNE’s Department of Environmental Health prior to being authorized to use the mask.
Protective Measures in the Student Health Center, clinical skills laboratories, and clinics: Social distancing is not feasible in the Student Health Center and certain clinical skills instructional laboratories, including the Oral Health Center and the Dental Hygiene Clinic, that require students to practice on patients, their peers, standardized patients (actors), and in the simulation environment, all with close faculty supervision. For non-aerosol-producing clinical care and skills training (taking blood pressure, listening to heart/lung sounds, etc.), all participants (health care providers, student examiners, student examinees, and faculty) must wear surgical masks supplemented with a cloth mask, gloves, re-usable cloth gowns, white coats, or other appropriate overlay apparel. For aerosol-producing clinical care and skills training, particularly in dental medicine and dental hygiene, students and faculty must wear N95-type masks and face shields, disposable gowns or overlay apparel, and gloves. Masks, gowns, and gloves will be discarded after each aerosol-generating procedure. Face shields can be cleaned and reused, in accordance with established protocols.
All campus facilities and operations have been designed to ensure compliance with the CDC’s 6-foot social distancing guideline where possible. Ground and floor markings, placed to maintain six-foot (ft.) separation between individuals, were positioned in known congestion areas to help guide and ensure appropriate social distancing.
All classroom furniture seating has been adjusted to accommodate a 6-ft. separation between individuals. In undergraduate science teaching laboratories that have fixed furniture arrangements, such as biology and chemistry labs, maximum class sizes have been set to maintain the 6-ft. distancing requirement. As noted above, class section sizes needed to be adjusted accordingly, which may have resulted in changes to students’ current schedules. (See Section III for more information regarding delivery of the curriculum).
Dining areas and other public seating spaces have been furnished to allow for the physical distancing requirements.
All students and employees are expected to remain in compliance with the maximum group size parameters outlined in the Governor’s Gradual Plan to Restart Maine’s Economy.
All University operations and shared office spaces have been reviewed to limit the density of individuals to the extent possible. This has been achieved through a variety of solutions including, but not limited to, remote work for all or part of the duties of some employees, flexible/staggered work scheduling, the use of plexiglass shielding as dictated by the specific student-facing needs of the department/area, and the re-purposing of small and large conference rooms to achieve social distancing targets. The use of Zoom videoconferencing technology is expected for all meetings whenever possible, including large meetings such as the monthly meeting of the University Faculty Assembly.
Restrictions on Use of Campus Facilities
To the extent possible, services for students have been designed to provide flexibility for access. For example, student academic support, counseling, student access, student health, and financial aid services are available in both face-to-face and virtual modalities, e.g. through Zoom or other online platforms. At the same time, the ability to maintain the health and safety of our community necessitates some limitations in hours of operation of some buildings, such as the libraries, the Ripich Commons, and athletic facilities, as well as the need for specific traffic flow patterns. Specifics are discussed throughout this plan and are directly communicated to UNE community members and any visitors to campus. Signage throughout the campuses helps inform everyone about traffic flow and facility restrictions.
Cleaning and Disinfection Policies and Procedures
UNE follows CDC guidelines for enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices in all campus facilities using products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and are appropriate for the particular surfaces.
Campus common areas, including common areas of the residence halls, such as restrooms, elevators, and reception areas, and other frequently touched surfaces are being cleaned at increased intervals by our Campus Services professional staff, including the use of an electrostatic sanitation system (commonly referred to as a portable misting/fogging system). Sanitation stations with equipment, supplies, product information, and usage guidelines are located in centralized areas of each building. Any member of the UNE community may request proper sanitation training through Housekeeping Services.
Employees are expected to clean and disinfect their personal work area daily. Any frequently touched areas should be cleaned with a household disinfectant or 70% alcohol cleaner. This includes computer workstations, keyboards, mouse and trackpad devices, desks, phones, door handles, and any other frequently touched areas. Trash receptacles have been placed in the hallways and outside office/work areas, and they are emptied by Housekeeping. Employees are also expected to regularly clean their face coverings or face shields.
Enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols are also being used for athletic facilities, such as the strength and conditioning, locker, and athletic training rooms. These protocols include self-service options for occupants, who are provided with equipment and materials, as well as daily deep sanitation by misting with electrostatically charged EPA registered disinfectants.
University fleet vehicles are sanitized by Facilities between uses by different drivers. Sanitization consists of cleaning of touched surfaces or misting as required. The contracted transportation companies, including the Portland Campus Shuttle and the Biddeford Campus to Biddeford Shuttle, use their sanitation protocols as approved by the State.
Student Health Center
Facilities: The physical footprint and staffing of the Student Health Centers have been relocated and expanded on both campuses to accommodate the possible need to manage both suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19, as well as to safely manage the regular and ongoing operations of student health.
Visits: The Student Health Centers will be available to students for both face-to-face visits through both walk-in and scheduled appointments, as well as visits via Zoom. The Health Centers on both campuses continue to provide a full scope of care, including acute care visits, physicals, vaccinations, and laboratory services.
Testing: The Student Health Centers offer free COVID-19 tests to students who have found themselves in a situation in which they might have been at higher risk for contracting the virus. All students are encouraged to take advantage of this resource without repercussions. Students who volunteer for such testing will be granted immunity from any potential conduct violations related to the activity that puts them at increased risk. Likewise, any other individuals, identified by the volunteer(s), or others, as participating in such an event through a contract tracing process, will also be exempted from conduct violation processes in order to accurately ascertain the extent of the potential exposure.
Student Travel During the Term
Now that students have returned to campus to begin the term, travel during the term is strongly discouraged. All community members are advised against travel outside of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, until further notice. If individuals do travel out of these specified states, they must follow the 14-day self-quarantine/testing guidelines outlined above upon their return to Maine.
As of the date of publication of this plan, undergraduate students traveling to campus from areas other than Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont must sign an attestation that they have completed one of the following before returning to campus:
- A negative COVID test no more than 72 hours prior to entering Maine.
- Arrange for a test upon arrival & self-quarantine until the results are obtained.
- Self-quarantine for 14 days.
Individuals from Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are required to sign an attestation that they have not traveled to states or countries other than the specified states within 14 days of their return to campus.
These travel requirements are subject to change based on evolving state requirements.
Student requests for accommodations regarding participation in on-campus classes and other activities, face-covering requirements, or other COVID-19 related requirements should be directed to the Student Access Center.
Employee requests for accommodations regarding on-campus work and other activities, face-covering requirements, or other COVID-19 related requirements will be handled by Human Resources in consultation with the employee’s supervisor.
Ongoing timely, transparent, clear, and accessible communication is critical to the success of this resumption of on-campus operations plan. In this context, our guiding principle is that we cannot over-communicate, particularly when implementing a plan of this scale, and we recognize that all stakeholders need to be “on the same page” with expectations. Communication, therefore, involves multiple platforms and approaches, and the University’s existing communication infrastructure to support this plan is robust.
- Email: All members of the UNE community are expected to regularly check their email for all University-related business, including the regular and ongoing updates about the pandemic.
- UNE Website: Timely updates are posted here on the UNE COVID-19 website.
- Emergency Alerts: Students, faculty, and professional staff are expected to register their phones through U-online in order to receive emergency alerts sent from UNE’s Office of Security.
- Social Media: For those community members who use social media, updates and news will be communicated through the University’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.
- Signage: The use of extensive signage across the campuses has already been discussed in other parts of this plan.
- Departmental/Unit Updates: To ensure that communications reach intended audiences, unit supervisors are also asked to share updates with the faculty and professional staff in their respective areas.
- Stall Street Journal: Featured in restrooms across both campuses, the Stall Street Journal is a remarkably effective communication tool for messages about health and wellness and will be used to communicate messaging on staying well, symptom-monitoring, the value of social distancing, etc.
Additional communication strategies
In addition to these venues and platforms, there are additional communication strategies to reach students and their families (as applicable).
- Navigate App: Beginning last year, all incoming undergraduate students have been strongly encouraged to download the “Navigate” communication app (a function of UNE’s Education Advisory Board subscription) to their phones, which provides a “real-time” mechanism to push notices out to students. Adoption to date has been strong among first- and second-year students.
- Parent Email: Student Affairs is in the process of updating its parent email list for undergraduates so that, when appropriate, we can share messages with families. In residence halls, resident advisors (RAs) and area coordinators (ACs) will also help to spread information to that population.
- Communications to Students Abroad: For those students who are able to travel abroad, the Office of Global Affairs, which maintains regular contact with students traveling for semesters abroad, will serve as a significant purveyor of information to students while away. Staff in the office will also serve as a point of contact for the faculty who lead study abroad courses.
- Blackboard: The University’s learning management system, Blackboard, is an additional faculty-to-student communication tool.