Welcome to Issue 10 of Recap, MICA’s regular communication on the College’s progress and planning around the return to campus for Spring 2021 and beyond.

Welcome to issue 10 of Recap—our 10th Edition—and MICA’s regular communication on the College’s progress and planning around the return to campus for Spring 2021 and beyond.

Recap is also a place for dialogue, so we encourage you to use the Comment on This Topic button at the end of each story. We use your feedback to help build our shared understanding as One Team MICA.

And as always, some information may not apply to all programs and constituents, such as Open Studies. For specific information, please use the departmental directory at the end of this issue.

In This Issue:

  1. Reflecting Back, Looking Ahead: Recap’s 10th Edition

  2. Recap Revisit: Remaining Unpaid Leave Days and Future Fiscal Outlook

  3. How To: Meyerhoff Dining

  4. Taking Care: MICA Student Counseling Services, EAP, and Work/Life Program

  5. Recap Reminder: On-Campus Testing Program Time Change and Clarification

  6. What If: Contact Tracing

  7. Just the Headlines: Building Hours

  8. Transparency Report: Comments from Community
Recap’s 10th Edition
As we share our 10th edition of Recap, we look back at the past year spent in this pandemic, and how every aspect of our lives—including how we best communicate—has changed.

We hope this communication vehicle, aimed at bringing you the current thinking as we make our way through this unprecedented time together, has been helpful. And as always, we encourage you to share feedback on each story, to help continue to inform future issues.

Looking back, we all saw case counts and the positivity rate rise across the country and in Maryland in November, December, and January. But, these numbers have been decreasing in recent weeks, and are expected to continue to decline in February and March. It is important to note that the variant strains of the virus that are on the rise are more contagious, which could impact this downward trend, and a modest rise in cases is possible this spring as businesses reopen and more socializing occurs with weather warming up.

Looking forward, vaccinations are increasing and are expected to ramp up significantly in March and April when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will likely be added to the supply chain.

MICA continues to work closely with our consulting epidemiologists, who provide science and evidence-based advice. They have expressed a high level of confidence that by mid-summer all faculty and staff will be vaccinated, as well as many, if not possibly all, of our student population.

Based on this information, as well as our success with the public health and safety measures we have put in place this spring, we believe the College will likely be able to open in Fall 2021 in a revised and expanded Operational Mode 4.

Below are some of the key planning assumptions for the Fall 2021 return to campus that we have begun discussing with the campus community:

  • MICA will be functioning in Operational Mode 4 and may be near normal operations.
  • Almost all faculty and staff, and potentially many students, will be vaccinated against the COVID virus.
  • Our curriculum will be a blend of face-to-face, hybrid, and online courses, but we will be prioritizing face-to-face instruction and the return to campus of students, faculty, and staff.
  • Physical distancing will likely be relaxed, while other public health and safety measures—such as masking, restrictions on eating and drinking, and some modifications in shop/studio access—will likely remain in place.
  • Residence halls will be open, with somewhat reduced capacity to accommodate the need for continuing occupancy limitations and precautionary isolation and quarantine space.
  • We will need to closely monitor the evolving situation with respect to international travel and visas, both in terms of international students’ ability to come to campus and the possibility for international programming in the fall.

These are the key assumptions currently informing our planning. We look forward to communicating more specifically our plans for Fall 2021 in the coming weeks as discussions with faculty, staff, students, and College leadership help us to further refine this plan.

Remaining Unpaid Leave Days and Future Fiscal Outlook
In Recap 05, we laid out details around the College’s COVID-related budgetary measures that require 10 days of unpaid leave for all employees with salaries over $50,000 during the 2020-2021 Academic Year. Employees who were furloughed in the fall or spring are exempt from taking the unpaid leave days. To help facilitate this, the College closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Unlike in the Fall Semester, MICA will not close for one week in the Spring Semester. Any remaining unpaid leave days must be taken by May 31, 2021, and scheduled before March 1, 2021. Please work with your supervisor to schedule a time to take remaining unpaid leave days.

If you took unpaid leave in that week after Christmas, you should have five remaining days to schedule and take.

Unpaid leave days must be registered by the employee in Workday as "Unpaid/Excused".

  • You may apply for unemployment during these mandatory leave days. Please see Recap 06 for information around applying for unemployment benefits.
  • You will not lose any MICA benefits during the unpaid leave period.

If you have not done so already, please make sure you read the latest update on MICA’s Fiscal projection for our Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21), which was sent via email on February 10. This memo shared a preliminary outlook on possible campus Operational Modes for Summer and Fall 2021, and also outlined the budget planning process for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22).

Here are highlights from the memo—TL;DR style:
  • We have a net increase of 73 students enrolled in Spring 2021 compared to Fall 2020, with 92 living in residence halls.
  • Due to the expenses of reopening and necessary public health and safety measures, the spring term results in a net cost of approximately $1.3 million.
  • Even with federal and state relief aid, the projected deficit is approximately $13 million for the full FY21.
  • Despite this deficit, we can confirm that there will be no additional furloughs or salary reductions for employees during this fiscal year.
  • While we are confident that MICA will make a full fiscal recovery from the impact of the pandemic, it will likely take two to three fiscal years to reestablish an optimal revenue base.
  • It is still too early to project the FY22 budget and respond to related questions.
  • The FY22 budget, to be developed this spring, will be approved by the Board of Trustees on May 21, 2021, based on a set of health and operational assumptions that will need to be monitored over Summer and early Fall 2021.

Please read the full memo here.

Meyerhoff Dining
Last issue of Recap, we brought you a How To video that helped walk you through getting your temperature taken each time you are on MICA’s campus. We’re bringing you another one in Recap 10—this week, we focus on dining at Meyerhoff—to help you get through your day-to-day activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MICA Student Counseling Services, EAP, and Work/Life Program
We know how challenging life can be normally and also understand the extra stress that comes from living through the pandemic. We want to remind students that the Student Counseling Center is a resource you can rely on.

At the moment, individual counseling sessions are virtual and available to students in Maryland only due to licensing restrictions. But, SCC staff can meet with any MICA student, regardless of location, to assist in finding mental health services.

Additionally, follow @mica_studentcounseling on Instagram for more advice and tips from Cara Ditto, LCSW-C, staff therapist. Want to get to know the staff? Want wellbeing tools and resources? Looking for general information about what MICA’s Counseling Center offers? Head to the Student Counseling Center website for more information.

For MICA employees, don’t forget, you have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Work/Life Program.
  • EAP allows you to talk to a licensed professional counselor to learn coping skills, and you may be referred to the appropriate professional for in-depth, long-term help.
  • The Work/Life specialists find supportive services, check availability and make the referrals to help with: eldercare and childcare; legal and financial issues; time management; and parenting and adoption. See the MICA website for more information.

And, keep an eye out for another Caregiving During Corona meeting, an informal gathering for faculty and staff to share, reflect, and support each other, which is scheduled for March 5 at noon. Watch for additional details closer to the date.

On-Campus Testing Program Time Change and Clarification
As MICA’s on-campus COVID testing program continues, we want to share a small change to the schedule, as well as a clarification.

Effective this week and for the remainder of the semester, the testing site will close at 4:30 p.m. instead of at 4:45 p.m. Also, please take note that during each day testing occurs, there is a break between noon and 1 p.m. for lunch.

As a reminder, the testing team expects to encounter scheduling conflicts, so we ask that everyone plan to attend as close to their designated day and time as possible. If you would be able to attend before or after your assigned time on the same day, that would be preferable. If not, you may attend on a different day and time, but please note that there may be delays as the testing team works to accommodate all participants in a safe manner.

Please see the updated testing schedule that reflects the end of day change and the lunchtime clarification:

Contact Tracing
As a reminder, What if? is an ongoing feature of Recap intended to help create a shared understanding of what the 2020 - 2021 academic year will look and feel like by posing real-world "what if" scenarios submitted by the community.

What if there is a positive COVID-19 case on campus? How is it determined that a COVID-19 positive case at MICA is the result of a community based or MICA based transmission?

We spoke with Dr. Judith Kinney, associate vice president of Student Health and Wellness, to get a better understanding of how the College figures out where a MICA community member was exposed. As a reminder, all data being tracked in relation to testing can be found on MICA’s Reopening website.

"Through contact tracing, it can be determined where the impacted individual was likely exposed to the virus," Dr. Kinney told us. "If the impacted individual was exposed through contact on MICA's campus, it's deemed to be a MICA based case.  If not, the impacted individual was likely exposed outside of MICA and the case is deemed a community based transmission."

Building Hours
We’ve put together this graphic to help you better understand building hours this semester, broken down by weekday or weekend, as well as by access for undergraduate and graduate students. For more information around building access, please see the flowcharts we shared in issue 08 of Recap.

A Snapshot of Responses from the Previous Issue of Recap
As mentioned previously, we’ve included the ability for you to submit comments on individual topics for each issue of Recap in order to help provide an open dialogue around the complex and evolving issues of mounting the 2021 semester.

We thank all of you who have submitted thoughtful comments. Those comments are used to inform future issues, raise awareness on topics, and ultimately help build shared understanding as One Team MICA. And while we cannot provide individual recognition for each comment, we are providing a summary snapshot of those comments to promote transparency.
Please address specific questions to an appropriate departmental contact.
Graduate Studies: graduatestudies@mica.edu

Undergraduate Studies: ugstudies@mica.edu

Student Affairs: studentaffairs@mica.edu

Open Studies: openstudies@mica.edu

Finance and Operations: vpoperationsandfinance@mica.edu

Technology: helpdesk@mica.edu

Strategic Communications: communications@mica.edu

Human Resources: humanresources@mica.edu

Strategic Initiatives: strategicinitiatives@mica.edu

Advancement: advancement@mica.edu

Admission: admissions@mica.edu

Parent Relations: parentrelations@mica.edu

That’s it for this installment of Recap. Thank you for your engagement in this ongoing dialogue and building of shared understanding. If there are any topics you would like to have addressed in future installments, please provide your ideas here.

Stay safe and be well.

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