Maine’s community colleges to extend students’ spring breaks

In order to best prepare for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, Maine’s seven community colleges are all extending their student breaks from one week to two weeks.

“This decision balances our commitment to creating the best possible learning environment for our students, keeping our communities healthy and safe and preparing to respond nimbly to what is clearly an evolving situation,” system President David Daigler said. “We are working diligently to continue operating as close to normal as possible.”

System and campus leaders agreed on this course of action after careful review and discussion. The additional week will allow for more time to prepare to transition as many in-person courses as possible to new methods of instruction, should the need arise.

All of Maine’s community colleges are taking this same action on a staggered timetable, based upon their individual college calendars.

Three colleges – Southern Maine Community College, Kennebec Valley Community College and York County Community College – are currently on spring break this week, and will extend their student break through the week of March 16. Central Maine Community College has its regular break the week of March 16, and will extend it for students to include the week of March 23. Eastern Maine Community College, Northern Maine Community College and Washington County Community College have their usual break the week of March 30th and will extend the break for students to include the week of March 23.

“We aren’t yet in a position where we must move classes to an alternative form of learning, but we must be prepared to do so if it becomes necessary,” Daigler said.

Maine, as of today, does have one presumptive positive test for coronavirus in the state in Androscoggin County. The decision to extend the break in order for faculty and staff to prepare is based on the fact that the vast majority of community college students in Maine are Maine residents and commute to campus from their local area. The colleges are continually monitoring the virus spread within their area and consulting with public health officials. Based upon the factors as they currently exist, the colleges believe the prudent course of action is to continue normal operations as much as possible.

“This is a time of uncertainty, but we are focused on providing a safe and welcoming environment for our students, faculty and staff,” Daigler said.

The Maine Community College system has COVID-19 planning teams at the system and colleges that are constantly monitoring the situation. The highest priority of each of these teams is the health and safety of the college communities. Individual campus leaders are making decisions about campus events and gatherings, while broader actions are being coordinated systemwide.

As of today, no college has closed its residential facilities and some students continue living on campus during spring breaks for various reasons. Any decision to close residence halls will be made in close consultation with public health experts. If a college is forced to close its residential facilities, it will work to provide students with compelling reasons for remaining on campus a place to stay through the end of the semester. Those decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Regular updates are being posted on the MCCS COVID-19 information page.