6/18/20 | Message from the President
Dear MMA Community,
I hope you and your families are doing well and staying healthy.
We have been busy making plans for the summer and fall, and I have a lot of detailed information to share with you below, but before you read all the latest news from Castine, I want you to know that we are looking forward to welcoming you to campus for in-person classes on or around August 31.
We will be operating with adaptability and flexibility as guiding principles and will be ready to alter plans as needed. We may need to deliver blended courses—with some material covered in person and some online—and our schedules may be organized differently than usual, but we are committed to providing an excellent experience, with the support you need, this fall.
Please note that we are still on track to announce the academic calendar and detailed plans for the 2020-21 academic year by July 10 so that you can begin making plans to come to campus. Until then, we have these updates to share:
MMA has begun a slow, phased return of some employees to campus, with the goal to create the safest possible environment in which to work given the status of the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff are practicing social distancing, including wearing masks inside campus buildings, and have established staggered or alternating schedules to minimize interactions.
Small groups of seniors were on campus in late May and early June to finish in-person requirements for Steam Power Systems II and Electronic Navigation II that were not possible to complete during remote instruction. Those courses went well, and the students have finished those requirements.
In late May the academy received approval from the U.S. Coast Guard to run a “fast cruise” (as in held fast) pier-side for senior engineering and navigation students who, in order to graduate, must accrue final hours of sea time. Preparations for the fast cruise is nearly complete. A total of 60 seniors, faculty, and ship’s crew will be double-tested for COVID-19 prior to boarding the ship through a partnership with nonprofit biomedical research institute The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) and Puritan Medical Products. The cruise will be contained—with no one leaving or boarding—in order to maintain cordon sanitaire status throughout the six-week training period. Faculty and crew members are scheduled to begin testing on June 22. Testing for participating students will begin on July 2. The cruise officially begins on July 8 and ends August 4, 2020.
On campus, we are not yet welcoming walk-in visitors, but we are hosting Admissions tours on a limited basis for pre-registered families following health and safety protocols.
New Student Orientation
Incoming first-year students are completing their New Student Orientation during a series of virtual events hosted throughout the summer. In Zoom meetings and interactive Q&A sessions, students have the opportunity to “meet” MMA’s incredible faculty, dedicated staff, and fellow students. Family and friends are encouraged to participate in several of these online events, with particular sessions designed to address questions relating to financial aid, billing, and registration.
Ongoing Planning for the 2020-21 Academic Year
We are planning for in-person courses on campus beginning on or around August 31. Four committees of faculty and staff have been working together to assess needs, propose various options for scheduling, and recommend sound plans for delivering a successful academic experience for the coming year while also considering the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. Those committees will be incorporating student representatives into the discussions. The committees are focused on planning for the fall semester and we know that, in some cases, classes will be delivered in various formats to included traditional face-to-face, online and a blended format, combining in-person and online instruction. The committees are also working on opportunities for all students in the unlimited and limited license programs to meet their training cruise and sea time requirements. We are implementing social distancing, sanitization and other safety strategies to reduce risk while also planning for contingencies should we need to transition to remote instruction at any point during the semester. We anticipate that on-campus instruction for the fall semester will end by Thanksgiving and our Training Ship State of Maine will not cruise during this calendar year. More details on academic courses and schedules will be ready for distribution in July.
Health and Safety at MMA
Maine Maritime Academy is committed to providing a safe environment in which to work and learn. All members of the community must be responsible for following health and safety guidelines on campus in order for MMA to continue to operate on campus. We will widely share and post guidelines and information and will be reinforcing the following practices:
- Large traditional gatherings will be reconfigured to be offered virtually or in smaller groups
- Social distancing: maintaining a distance of 6 feet between individuals
- Wearing masks as specified indoors and for instances when keeping 6 feet apart is not practicable
- We will not be conducting general testing before classes begin; rather, we will use testing for symptomatic individuals as needed
- If we have a positive case on campus, we have facilities for isolating individuals who are sick so that they can recover while staying distanced from others
- We will follow protocols for out-of-state students based on Maine state health and safety requirements in place in August, including protocols for quarantine
Campus arrival dates are not yet determined, but we will be staggering arrival times in order to minimize large groups coming to campus at once and will schedule as soon as the academic calendar is finalized. Arrival dates will depend on each student’s major and/or extracurricular activities and will be announced in early July.
Please note also, that arrival times must follow Maine state health and safety guidance, including quarantining protocols that are in place for August.
Students living in Curtis Hall will be assigned an appointment time for moving in. Students and their (one) accompanying family member will complete their move-in with the assistance of MMA staff and will be asked to arrive on campus at their appointment time. The Department of Residential Life will coordinate and announce move-in appointments later this summer. At that time, individual accommodations regarding move-in assistance can be arranged.
In closing, please know that I continue to keep all of you in my thoughts during this challenging time. I hope that you and all your loved ones are well and I do look forward to being together on campus again soon.
Dr. William J. Brennan
Maine Maritime Academy