Dear members of the MECA Community,
I am writing to you today to share an update on our plan to welcome students, faculty, and staff to campus as safely as possible this summer and fall. Maine College of Art is a home away from home for all of us and we are taking every measure possible to provide a safe teaching and learning environment for all members of our MECA family. As a learning community, we have all worked diligently to develop a plan to deliver a highly personalized studio arts education while prioritizing the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff as we face the challenges of COVID-19.
To best protect all members of the MECA community, we will be implementing a phased start for the return of our students. Instruction will take place in person as well as via hybrid and online forms of delivery, to provide maximum flexibility while preserving the essential elements of the learning experience.
Our academic plan gives students as much time as possible for in-person instruction at the start of the semester in the event that remote or hybrid online/in-person instruction is necessarily required later in the semester due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Course content that is most dependent on in-person learning and studio access will be prioritized, allowing students time to fully engage in studio work earlier in the semester.
Summer and Fall Updates
This summer we are pleased to welcome a small number of MFA and MAT students back to campus for in-person classes. MFA students will begin their Summer Intensive on Monday, July 6, 2020, and MAT students will begin their combined summer/fall semester on Sunday, August 2nd.
Our incoming first-year BFA students will begin their fall semester on Monday, August 24, 2020, more than a week before our returning undergraduates start their fall classes on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. With a limited number of students on campus in late August, we are able to extend the orientation period, offer activities in small gatherings, and allow staff and student leaders to connect with new students in appropriately-sized groups to facilitate their transition to Portland and the MECA community.
Students in MECA’s fall MFA program and Salt Graduate Certificate in Documentary Studies program will begin classes on Tuesday, September 8th.
Health & Safety Protocols for Summer and Fall Programs
To protect the well-being of all members of the MECA community, we have established health and safety guidelines to be implemented by policies and protocols that all members of the MECA community are expected to follow while on campus.
We are working with a specialist in Infectious Disease affiliated with Maine Medical Center to help facilitate a safe return to campus for our students, faculty, and staff, and will continue to consult with him on issues of health and safety throughout the semester. He will also be able to refer students for COVID-19 testing as needed. Additionally, we have partnered with the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard to provide weekly testing for all members of our campus community.
We are extremely fortunate that the size of MECA’s student body (less than 500 students) and the ample studio and instructional space (200,000 square feet) allow us to deliver an in-person education while complying with physical distancing recommendations. To assure the safety of our community, College-wide precautions will promote physical distancing whenever possible and require the wearing of face masks/coverings and/or shields in all common spaces on campus as well as in situations where physical distancing is not possible. Students, faculty, and staff will be asked to take their temperature daily – there will be contactless thermometer stations on the first floor of the Porteous and 380 Cumberland buildings. Good hygiene, especially regular handwashing, will be strongly encouraged. There will be limits on class sizes and gatherings, and food service in the MECA Cafe will be reconfigured to accommodate new best-practices.
Spring Semester Planning
As we move through the summer and fall semesters, we will continue learning from and adapting our health and safety protocols. The spring semester is currently scheduled to begin on January 11, 2021, and end on April 30, 2021. If health and safety necessitate, we will modify the calendar accordingly.
Our Learning Community
While we cannot control the external environment, we can do our best to plan for ways to respond to the many challenges facing us today. We are very grateful for the leadership of the city of Portland and the state of Maine for the excellent job they have done addressing the health and safety needs of our local community. Now, more than ever, I am extremely appreciative of the supportive and encouraging arts community that we are a central part of in Portland and I know that working together our creative learning community will thrive.
I look forward to seeing our students, faculty, and staff fill the halls of the Porteous building and to being part of the creative energy that is so inspirational. In these very challenging and uncertain times, art is even more important than before. While artists cannot directly solve the health, social justice, and economic challenges we are facing, art can affect people so that they are encouraged, emboldened, and enriched. Art is not just a reflection of our society, but a driving force that can inspire us all to make this world a better place.
All the best,
Laura Freid, President
For additional information, including move-in dates and answers to other frequently asked questions, please see 2020-2021 Welcome to Campus Plan FAQ.