7/31/20 | Message from the President

Dear MMA Community,

As August approaches, we are finalizing plans for the Fall 2020 semester. We have a number of important updates below and will continue to provide additional information online at the Fall 2020 website. Some of the following is for students; some applies to all. Please check the website for the latest news and reach out to the contacts listed there with any questions you may have.

This is not going to be a typical start to the year given the complexities with which we are faced because of COVID-19. However, we will be flexible, and we will adapt. We are in this together and our success depends upon all of us supporting one another and the institution as we adapt to changing circumstances.

First and foremost, everyone will need to support and adhere to our health and safety policies and procedures to be successful this fall. Wearing masks and other PPE as required will be as routine as putting on your shoes and carrying your MMA ID card. Creating exceptions for yourself and others will chip away at our ability to operate safely, so I ask you to do your part, which includes encouraging and helping others to comply. This is a responsibility that is shared among us; if you see something of concern, please respectfully say something about it.

We have been preparing since March to welcome students back to campus while also implementing all of the ways we can do that safely.

The foundation of our approach to this semester is the following: to maintain and sustain safety practices that protect the health of our community so that we can continue accomplishing MMA’s educational mission while we are also supporting a student experience that considers the whole person. In everything we do, we will be balancing three fundamental things: safety, MMA’s educational mission, and the student experience.

Please see below for important information on the start of the semester, and starting it off right:

Student Town Hall – August 4, 2020

MMA will be hosting a virtual “Town Hall” forum on Tuesday, August 4 at 7:00 p.m. for new and returning students and parents. Moderated by Dean Deidra Davis, the forum will include an introduction by President Brennan and updates from Vice President Elizabeth True; Director of Residence Life and Student Activities, Janice Folk; Commandant John Cashman; Registrar Amy Gutow; SGA President Roxie MacGregor; and Senior Stryker George Albert. Please send questions in advance to deidra.davis@mma.edu or post them in the chat during the Zoom forum. We will send the Zoom link on Monday via email.

Athletics Town Hall – August 6, 2020

The Athletics staff will be hosting a virtual “Town Hall” forum on Thursday, August 6 at 7:00 p.m. for new and returning athletes. The forum will focus on questions about the fall athletic season. Forum hosts will be Director of Athletics, Steve Peed; Associate Director of Athletics, Tricia Carver; and Head Athletic Trainer Jonathan Heeren. We will send the Zoom link on Monday via email.

Reporting to Campus and Move-In

All students should have received a notification of a check-in date and time from Janice Folk. If you did not receive it, contact Janice at janice.folk@mma.edu.

Friends and family may accompany a student to campus; however, only one individual may assist with check-in and move-in to Curtis Hall. Others will be asked to remain outside of MMA buildings.

All students are required to participate in a COVID-19 testing program upon arrival on campus. Please see email communications from Dean Davis regarding arrival guidelines.

  • August 14         Regimental training staff (Strykers)
  • August 19-20    New regimental students report for Regimental Preparatory Training (RPT)
  • August 26-28    New independent students
  • August 28-30    Returning resident students
  • August 29-31    Check-in for returning commuter students*

*Commuter students will be required to formally check in and participate in COVID-19
testing for the fall semester.

What-to-Pack Lists

Checklists for what to pack for the Fall 2020 semester are online! The list of what to pack are different for Independent Students and Regimental Students. Please note that 3 new items have been added this year due to COVID-19: masks/face coverings (we suggest bringing multiple so you have a clean one each day), thermometer, and hand sanitizer.  While cleaning products are available, cleaning wipes are also recommended.

A general guideline for packing for the fall: pack lightly! But, do bring a thermometer. And, if you will be participating in Ship Jump or any waterfront activities, please bring a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, or III personal flotation device (PFD/lifejacket).

Housing Contract

Due to the changes in the Academic Calendar and the new housing policies necessitated by COVID-19, we are updating the housing contract and will be sending residential students a new contract to review and sign prior to arrival later in August.

COVID-19 Action Plan

MMA has made plans for temporary housing for residential students who must be isolated because of a diagnosis of COVID-19, or quarantined due to identification as a close contact with a patient with COVID-19. However, this housing is limited and therefore reserved for those who are unable to travel home to isolate or quarantine. Therefore, we are asking you to make plans, in advance, for either getting home or an alternate place to stay on a short-term basis if you are required to quarantine or isolate during the twelve-week fall semester.

In addition, if circumstances require that the Academy transition to remote learning prior to the planned end of the semester in November, your COVID-19 Action Plan should include what you will do if you must return home for remote learning, if necessary.  We will be sending a form for residential students to complete to describe your plans.

Commuter students should also develop a COVID-19 Action Plan for use if they must quarantine or isolate during the semester, based on their housing accommodations and access to necessary supplies while restricted to home.

Academic Schedules

Academic schedules will be viewable on the portal and mobile app on the afternoon of Monday, August 3. All students will receive an email from the Registrar, Amy Gutow, on that day with important information about student schedules and Fall 2020 courses. According to the Academic Calendar, add/drop begins August 24, but the Registrar’s Office is prepared to help you with schedule questions as of Monday. It is our hope that you will contact the Registrar’s Office with any questions or concerns about your Fall 2020 schedule. The Registrar asks for your patience and understanding as she and her staff work to assist students during these next few weeks.

Entry Testing

We will be conducting entry testing for all students when you arrive on campus for check-in. All students will receive a consent to testing and release of medical information form by email prior to your arrival. You will also receive information on the testing for review. We will ask you to bring the signed form with you. More information will be available on entry testing on or before August 7.

If you test positive for COVID-19 during entry testing, you will have options for next steps you can take. Outlined below are a couple of possible scenarios based on student status:

  • Regimental New Student: step one would be to activate your COVID-19 Action Plan; you would still be able to progress with your academics, but a positive test would impact your ability to participate in Regimental Preparatory Training; you would make academic decisions in consultation with your academic advisor and ultimately make a plan to complete RPT later in your college career.
  • New Independent Student: step one would be to activate your COVID-19 Action Plan; you would still be able to progress with your academics, but you would need to consult your academic advisor and faculty regarding your need to take the first two weeks of classes remotely.
  • All Continuing Students: step one would be to activate your COVID-19 Action Plan; you would still be able to progress with your academics, but you would need to consult your academic advisor and faculty regarding your need to take the first two weeks of classes remotely.
  • If you test positive, you will isolate for at least 10 days according to your COVID-19 Action Plan and until symptoms are declining in order to obtain documentation from your doctor to give to Health Services so that you may come back to campus and resume in-person classes.

Faculty or staff members who will be working on campus some or all of the time will be tested. Faculty or staff members who will be working remotely in the fall semester will not need to be tested. For more information, visit the COVID-19 Employee Information section of MyMMA.

Contact Tracing

If we have positive cases of COVID-19 on campus, close contacts of the patient will receive notification. Tracing of close contacts will be done through the Maine CDC. Please be aware of your close interactions so that you can be helpful in the event that you test positive and in case your close contacts need to be traced. Interactions with others for more than 15 minutes, within six feet of distance, as well as physical interactions, are considered close contacts. Please consider limiting these interactions and perhaps logging your close contacts each day.

Ongoing Testing

MMA is currently developing plans for ongoing COVID-19 testing. The frequency of testing during the Fall 2020 semester will be determined in consultation with medical advisors and will be announced as soon as details are available.

Dining Update

Sodexo staff recognize that students and parents may have reservations about dining outside the home. The campus dining team is taking every precaution to deliver safe, high-quality food in a carefully controlled environment. These tools and techniques comprise our approach to strictly following local, state and federal guidelines:

  • Personal and Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Frequent hand washing
  • Team member health checks
  • Food safety measures, such as eliminating self-service options
  • Sanitizing and disinfecting using professional-grade products for cleaning high-touch surfaces
  • Social distancing measures, including limiting seating capacity, reconfiguring seating, and floor markers
  • Safe meal delivery options for students with symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Touchless entryways, online ordering, and cashless payments
  • Expanded carryout and prepackaged options

Safeguarding the health and well-being of every member of the campus community is our highest priority.

Health Screening App

Students will need to download a health screening app provided by MMA to check their basic health stats daily before participating in activities. Information about the health screening app will be provided at check-in or before. Students will need to have their own thermometer to complete the regular health screenings. Completion of the daily health check will be required for entrance to certain facilities such as the health center and athletic center. Faculty and staff will also be encouraged to use the app. Temperatures also may be taken as a screening tool at the entrance to certain buildings and activities.

Flu Shot

All members of the community will be heartily encouraged to get a flu shot during free clinics offered on campus in the fall. Students will be notified as soon as the clinic dates are scheduled.  Flu shots are offered at no charge to all who present proof of insurance.

Important Mail Room Update

The SGA funded an exciting project this summer to convert our student mailboxes, often underused, to a package delivery center. Rather than use an individually assigned mailbox that is too small for packages, you will receive a message from the Mail Room if you have received a letter or package with instructions on which box contains your mail, and the code to open the box. This provides you with 24-hour access to your packages and letters. We do need to limit this service to residential students and commuter students who live “on neck” in Castine who do not have access to mail delivery. Commuter students who can get mail at home should plan to receive their mail and packages at their home address.

Opening Events

We are currently planning for Ship Jump and Convocation, as well as livestreaming the events, so that friends and families can participate virtually. As we continue to plan we will keep you apprised of new information on the Fall 2020 website.

Thank you for taking the time to keep informed about what is happening at MMA and the plans we are putting into place to keep our community safe and focused on our educational mission and student experience. I cannot stress strongly enough that a safe and successful Fall 2020 semester depends upon all of us taking care of ourselves, being concerned for our shipmates’ welfare, and looking out for each other. This will undoubtedly be a semester like no other, but in true Mariner spirit, I have confidence that we will persevere and we will emerge stronger as a community than we have ever been.

Stay well,

Dr. William J. Brennan
Maine Maritime Academy