As I start my second year today as Chancellor, we're announcing
Together for Maine principles that will guide our universities and their communities to safely resume in-person teaching, learning, and work on our campuses this fall. To do so safely, we will all need to work together.
You know what we've been through together. We started watching the pandemic together in late January. We made plans together through February for how we could continue teaching, learning, and work should it disrupt our operations. And when that came pass in mid-March -- as we sent students, faculty, and staff home to avoid the serious risk of bringing the Coronavirus back to our communities following Spring Break -- together we did the hard work to move more than 210,000 credit hours from more than 7,000 course sections from face-to-face to online and other remote modalities in barely more than two weeks. You engaged with our students in more than 26 million Blackboard interactions and just over 250,000 Kaltura video sessions. And together with our students, we logged more than 400,000 Zoom sessions too, carrying on our coursework and our universities' business operations through the pandemic.
Together we granted nearly 4,600 degrees as we brought the semester to a successful close, keeping our students engaged with us with higher retention numbers than in pre-pandemic times.
We started looking ahead when we launched our
Fall 2020 Safe Return Planning Committee
on April 20. Since then, you and hundreds of your colleagues at every university and the Law School have been hard at work together with the same guiding principles we've used from the start -- helping our students continue on their paths to life-changing degrees while protecting the health of our university communities and those who live, work, and learn in them.
With the virus testing capacity we
with The Jackson Laboratory and ConvenientMD, as well as other innovative strategies like wastewater testing that we can employ to monitor against virus spread, our universities can meet our commitments to student, faculty, staff, and community health this fall by isolating asymptomatic occurrences of the virus and preventing its unknowing spread across our campuses. And with a communal commitment and discipline to personal hygiene, social distancing, group size limits, and mask-wearing in social situations, all of which our
Scientific Advisory Board
tells us are critical to maintaining the health and safety of our universities,
together we can safely resume
the in-person teaching and learning that our students want and need to be successful.
We've been fortunate in Maine, as our state and public health leaders have so far kept the virus from spreading unchecked. Going forward we will continue to monitor the public health situation, following civil guidance and adjusting our plans if necessary.
I want to be very clear as I close: The health and safety of our faculty, staff, students, and university communities is paramount. We all have a role to play in protecting each other's health when we come back together this fall. And we'll do whatever is necessary to protect the health of at-risk faculty, staff, and students too, with testing, contact and symptom tracking, isolation and other supports where necessary, and adjustments to our academic and business operations that allow meaningful opportunities for participation even if we can't all be together at the same time.
We're working together today like never before. Indeed, unified accreditation
as well, giving us new opportunities to work together across our System and state. I look forward to working together with all of you in the months ahead to make unified accreditation successful as well.
We all want to be together in Maine this fall on our university campuses. If we are disciplined, and if we respect the science-based fact that our health choices affect the health of those around us, we can do this safely together.
Thank you for doing your part to bring us all safely back
Together for Maine.