Dear University of Maryland Community,
We write to you today amidst an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases in the State of Maryland and here in Prince George’s County. Yesterday, Governor Hogan announced a 53% increase in hospitalizations and a 52% increase in cases per 100,000 residents, clear indications that we are entering what he termed a coronavirus “danger zone.” We encourage you to read his full executive order.
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced stricter guidance effective Sunday: indoor gatherings should be restricted to 10 people (fewer for most homes and apartments) and outdoor gatherings to 25 people. Additionally, restaurants will be limited to 25% capacity indoors and grocery stores and other retail establishments will be limited to 50% capacity. Face coverings must be worn at all times when outdoors unless you are engaged in rigorous exercise. Prince George’s County health officials expect even stronger measures in the weeks ahead, as the weather gets colder and flu season progresses. We encourage you to read the County Executive’s full announcement.
Immediate Transition to Online Undergraduate Courses
Considering these key indicators, we are announcing that all undergraduate courses (with only a few approved exceptions) will transition to online instruction, effective Monday, November 16 and remain that way for the remainder of the semester. Graduate classes may continue in their present mode. Approved research activities may continue. Libraries will transition to modified Phase 2 operations. These measures are being taken in the best interest of the health and well-being of our campus community.
Testing and End of Semester
We encourage all students who are able to do so to begin making plans to return home for the remainder of the semester. Prior to your departure, please arrange for a COVID-19 test. This is a critical measure you can take to prevent virus spread to your family and friends. Appointments are available next week.
Students who elect to stay in our residence halls will be expected to restrict activities to the greatest degree possible. On-campus facilities, including Stamp Student Union and RecWell facilities, will be limited. Dining services will be grab-and-go only. For those remaining on or close to campus, please reserve a testing appointment for the week after Thanksgiving, December 1-4. And remember to confirm your results at return.umd.edu.
And remember, a flu shot is strongly recommended. Flu shots are available at the University Health Center.
The holidays are coming and we know you want to spend time with your family. Feeling connected to loved ones is important as we deal with the stress of rising case counts. Over the holidays, it will be easy to let your guard down, hug your friends and relatives, let your mask slip, and sit close together. You must stay aware and keep practicing safe behaviors. Wear your mask indoors if relatives come over, sit far apart, wash your hands frequently, open the windows, or celebrate virtually. If your plans are to be at home after Thanksgiving, we want you to stay safe for yourself and your loved ones.
Support for You
We know you have pandemic fatigue - we all do - but you must remain committed to the health and safety of our campus and community. These are challenging times for our emotional well-being. No matter where you are, we encourage you to reach out for support if you need it. We are all in this together. The University Counseling Center and Behavioral Health Services remain available, with some adjustments and precautions due to COVID-19.
The health and safety of our community depends on all of us remaining vigilant 4 Maryland.
Stay healthy and well,
Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland
Sacared Bodison, MD
Interim Director, University Health Center