Dear MECA&D Students,
We are looking forward to welcoming you back to campus for the start of the spring semester next week. While the pandemic required many emotional and physical adjustments, we learned that with planning, implementation of our new health and safety protocols, and community cooperation, MECA&D could offer a safe learning environment and maintain in-person instruction. Following our winter break, faculty and staff have been working hard to prepare the studios, classrooms, and residential spaces for your return and for the arrival of new transfer students.
We are pleased that together we created a culture of safety and creativity here at MECA&D. In anticipation of your return to campus, we are continuing the best practices that have helped keep our community healthy thus far. We will be maintaining our intensified cleaning protocols across campus, adhering to capacity limits in instructional spaces and common areas, reducing class sizes to accommodate physical distancing and capacity guidelines, and providing modified food service operations. You will still see the contactless hand sanitizer stations, contactless thermometer stations, and numerous plexiglass barriers across campus. Students, faculty, and staff will once again be required to participate in weekly required COVID-19 testing, to continue wearing cloth face masks/coverings within MECA&D buildings, and to observe physical distancing protocols to the best of their ability at all times.
Everyone in our community of artists did their part last semester and you are all to be commended for your commitment to our health and safety protocols. I am pleased to report that during the course of four months of weekly testing from mid-August through mid-December, we had no incidences of community spread on our campus, and our cumulative COVID-19 positivity rate was just 0.05%. This was one of the best records in higher education. For up-to-date information and to view MECA&D’s COVID-19 testing dashboard, please visit the Safe & Healthy MECA&D website.
As you know, before returning to campus, you are required to submit results from a COVID-19 test taken off-site between five and seven days prior to your return. This additional requirement has already proven to be a successful strategy as we resumed on-campus testing for faculty, staff, our graduate students, and our BFA Resident Assistants. We have conducted more than 400 COVID-19 tests over the first three weeks of January with no positive results through our testing program.
As we prepare to welcome you back this spring, we are confident that the guidelines, policies, and protocols we employed during the fall semester will help us maintain a safe and healthy environment this spring. We will be carefully monitoring CDC guidelines throughout the semester and will keep you updated if and when vaccines are made available to members of our community.
By renewing our commitment to working together, we can enjoy the privilege of making art and learning as a community. It is up to each and every one of us to craft the experience we want to have together. I feel fortunate to be part of our passionate, creative, and dedicated community of artists here in Portland. While this pandemic is not yet behind us, I have confidence that everyone at MECA&D will have the opportunity to thrive here. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and your understanding; travel safely and feel free to contact Student Life (firstname.lastname@example.org) should you have additional questions.
During this coming semester, I encourage you to give everyone in our community the benefit of the doubt, as hard as that may be at times. The pandemic, economic, racial, and social justice crises have affected each of us, our families, and our loved ones in different ways. Through empathy, patience, and a commitment to the common good we can all benefit, and together we can continue to create art that serves to inform, inspire, and ultimately provide hope for everyone in our society.
All the best,
Artwork: Window design by Sarah Sawtelle '19 for Maine College of Art & Design's Porteous Building, 522 Congress Street, Portland