Dear campus community,
From the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Maryland has prioritized the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students. We have taken a cautious, data-driven approach, reacting quickly to outbreaks, and working closely with state and county health officials. And importantly, we have ensured that our actions have been timely and transparent.
While many higher education institutions cancelled spring break, we permitted a traditional spring recess, recognizing the toll this pandemic has taken on our mental health and well-being. In doing so, we implemented measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, including requiring pre- and post-break testing and implementing a two-week sequester for our students upon their return from break.
Due to these measures and the continued diligence of our campus community in following the 4 Maryland protocols, our positivity rate over the past two weeks has been 0.3 percent. Further, we have seen no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. Our low positivity rate, coupled with strong compliance with university and county guidelines, gives us confidence to proceed with a measured resumption of on-campus activities.
Effective Monday, April 5, we will:
- Resume in-person and hybrid classroom instruction;
- Increase occupancy of all research spaces up to 75 percent occupancy;
- Expand in-person activities at Stamp Student Union and at RecWell facilities, including group fitness, club sports and intramurals;
- Expand gathering limits to 20 persons inside and 50 outside, provided all safety guidelines are followed. But please remember that when it comes to mitigating the spread of the virus, smaller gatherings are better, and outdoor gatherings are better than indoors; and
- Open dining halls for dine-in options up to 50 percent occupancy, with physical distancing enforced. Grab-and-go dining remains the safest option and we encourage everyone to eat outside whenever possible.
These measures should in no way be interpreted as an invitation to forego the 4 Maryland protocols. In fact, quite the opposite. With the privilege of resuming activities comes the responsibility to adhere closely to the 4 Maryland protocols. Wear a well-fitted mask, inside and outside. Wash hands frequently. Practice physical distancing. Stay home if you are sick.
We will continue to closely monitor positivity rates, infection rates and other metrics. Your continued diligence in following the 4 Maryland protocols is expected and appreciated.
Update on Vaccines
Based on the guidelines as set forth by the state of Maryland, all university personnel are currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As of yesterday, all Marylanders over the age of 16 can pre-register for the vaccine in Maryland. We strongly encourage every member of our campus community to pre-register to be vaccinated and report your vaccination through the university’s Daily Symptom Check so we can accurately measure the campus vaccination rate.
There is now a central sign-up site for the state-run mass vaccination clinics in Maryland where you can pre-register for the vaccine. Prince George’s County currently operates several community vaccination sites for which you can pre-register. We encourage members of our community who are not in Maryland to check with their state and local health departments for vaccine distribution information.
Next week, we will initiate a pilot program with the Prince George’s County Health Department to administer a limited number of vaccinations on campus. A small number of vaccines have been provided by the county, and we will be offering appointments to frontline staff and employees with barriers to vaccination, including access to technology and transportation. Eligible employees will be contacted directly. We are hopeful that a successful pilot program will lead to the establishment of a larger vaccination site on campus. We would like to thank the staff of the University Health Center for leading this effort.
The promise of the vaccine and our collective approach to keeping our community safe gives us great hope for the eventual resumption of all campus activities. We thank each of you for your vigilance and your hard work, 4 Maryland.
Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland
Vice President for Student Affairs
Ann G. Wylie
Interim Senior Vice President and Provost