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I am a third year English Major at the University of Maine. In my free time I can be found playing rugby, working out, or enjoying a good book.

President Joan Ferrini-Mundy hosted a town hall on Nov. 17 on the subject of the then upcoming transition to online learning taking place the week of Thanksgiving.

Ferrini-Mundy began by thanking the students and faculty for their cooperation and ability to handle the unprecedented circumstances of the semester. She then introduced the panel of speakers, which included John Volin, University of Maine vice president of academic affairs and provost, and Dick Young, the director of UMaine auxiliary operations. Ferrini-Mundy also noted that residential COVID-19 cases have been kept quite low despite an uptick around the state.

The presentation then turned to statistics about the current state of COVID-19 on campus. Ferrini-Mundy again thanked students and faculty for adhering to the Black Bear Pact and the Clipper Pact on the UMaine Machias campus. At the height of the semester, the residence halls held 2,456 residents. The current enrollment is at 11,741 students, with 9,465 undergraduate students and 2,276 graduate students. Of those undergraduates, 2,059 are first-year students at UMaine. Out of the over 11,000 students enrolled, 70.4% are enrolled in at least one face-to-face course.

The UMaine Machias campus is hosting around 100 on-campus residents, and 762 total enrolled at the university. 43% of their first year students are living in on-campus residence halls, with 26% of the total undergraduate student body living on campus.

The presentation then turned to Provost Volin, who addressed the flash surveys conducted earlier in the semester. These were created to gauge student responses to online courses and their preparedness for the semester to go online again come Thanksgiving break. They found that there were worries about grading among the student body, and have made adjustments to the pass/fail options as well as the date by which students can finalize withdrawing from a course. He also promoted the winter session, which runs from Jan. 4 – 22. There are 57 courses being offered, and the registration period opened on Nov. 2. He clarified that students who have internet accessibility issues will be given resources to properly handle their individual situations, and later informed viewers that the Library Information Commons will be open through the break.

Volin encourages students to practice self-care over the upcoming winter break and to remain engaged with family and friends, as well as happenings around campus. He noted that the Fogler Library is offering a Winter Book Bingo event which could keep students engaged in campus life.

Following this, Andi Bowen, the director of student housing at UMaine, turned the focus of the presentation towards the upcoming transition to online learning. Bowen reminded viewers that the dorms will be closing on Nov. 8 at 8 a.m. The campus housing is scheduled to reopen Jan. 19, with students returning between Jan 19-22. Students will be emailed specific information about their move-in date and time closer to the start of winter break. If students have concerns about their scheduled move-in date, and wish to change it, they may contact housing at um.reslife@maine.edu. Bowen concluded her presentation by reminding students to take everything they need with them, as they will not be able to return to the dorms after they have closed.