As you are probably aware, the University of Maine System, Bowdoin College, and a number of other colleges and universities have announced that they will move all instruction online and close residence halls after their spring breaks in response to the potential spread of COVID-19. Many of you are wondering if SMCC will do the same.
This morning, after careful review and discussion, we have decided to extend our student break by one week in order to prepare to transition as many courses as possible to new modalities, including online learning. For SMCC this means that, for students, our break will extend until Sunday, March 22. Residence Hall students may move back into the dorms at 2:00 pm on March 22. Employees will be at work during the week of March 16.
All of Maine’s community colleges are taking this same action based upon their individual college calendars. We continue to work in close collaboration with COVID-19 planning teams across the Maine Community College System. Our highest priority is the health and safety of our college communities. However, the work that is underway is concerned with all aspects of college operations. Having a non-instructional week will enable faculty and staff to focus on the most important of those areas so that we can be as ready as possible to continue educational delivery throughout the current semester.
As of today, no college has closed its residential facilities. Those decisions will be made in close consultation with public health experts and will be made before the conclusion of break. If we are forced to close residence halls, we are committed to providing students who have legitimate reasons for remaining on campus a place to stay through the end of the semester, and those decisions will be on a case-by-case basis.
As of today, as announced by Governor Janet Mills, Maine has its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Maine. Unless and until the virus spreads widely in our area, we believe the prudent course of action is to continue our normal operations as much as possible.
These are challenging days for everyone. I want to assure you that we are determined to do everything we can to keep our communities safe and healthy. The situation is provoking anxiety and disruption in even daily tasks for many of us, and we are all understandably left with a sense of unease and uncertainty. Our dedicated students, faculty and staff work hard year-round to create a robust, warm environment where we can all do our best work. During this difficult time, we fully intend to continue supporting our community and ensure we provide the resources they need to get through this difficult time.
Regular updates are being posted to the MCCS COVID-19 information page. Please check back to that site often.
Also, please know that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) and 211 Maine have announced a new option for Mainers to get answers to questions about COVID-19 at any time. This service is available by dialing 211 (or 1-866-811-5695), texting your ZIP code to 898-211, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .