Message from the Health Center: Spring Break Reminders: Travel, Testing, Online Instruction and the UK Variant
The following message was sent to the university community by Spyridon Marinopoulos, Director of the University Health Center, on March 5, 2021.
Dear Campus Community,
As we approach Spring Break (March 14-21), I want to remind you of important precautions and requirements for a safe and healthy return to campus.
If you are planning to travel, review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guide for travel to ensure you are in compliance with all national, state, and local guidelines. The CDC provides guidance for before and after you travel, travel recommendations by destination, and more. The university's guidance on business travel continues to be in effect.
In addition to requirements for locations you may travel to or from, the following requirements apply to anyone returning to campus after Spring Break:
- All students who live in residence halls or in on-campus chapter houses, regardless of travel, must take a PCR-based COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to arrival and confirm their negative test result before returning to campus.
- All students who travel outside of Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware must take a PCR-based COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to arrival and confirm their negative test result before returning to campus.
- Students who are not listed above and are due for their bi-weekly test during Spring Break should arrange for a test off campus. All students are also required to be tested as soon as possible after returning to campus, and confirm results online. Please make your post-arrival COVID-19 test appointment based on when you plan to return to campus.
- Faculty and Staff: Per Governor Hogan's order, anyone who returns to Maryland from out-of-state travel must either obtain a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to arrival or immediately upon arrival to Maryland, or self-quarantine for 10 days. This guidance applies to all states, except Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC. Faculty and staff in this category must confirm their negative test result before physically returning to campus. For faculty and staff who have not traveled out-of-state:
- If you test between March 1 to 5, please test again before March 26
- If you test between March 8 to 12, please test again before April 2
For the two weeks immediately following Spring Break - March 22-April 2, 2021 - undergraduate course instruction will be conducted online. During this time, students can leave their residences to get food, exercise and get fresh air outdoors, and get tested, but must significantly limit in-person activities and movements on and around campus, and limit contact with others as much as possible to reduce the potential for spread of infection. Graduate courses during this time may proceed as normal.
We have previously communicated regarding the presence of emerging COVID-19 variants in Maryland, and have been operating under the assumption that these new COVID variants are present in our community. We have recently confirmed through a research study on campus that the variant first identified in the UK has been present within our community.
Although the presence of the UK variant on campus does not change our current mitigation strategies, please be reminded that the UK variant is known to be 30-50% more contagious and that additional emerging variants may be more virulent and may evade immunity. We must all remain vigilant and continue to practice the 4 Maryland healthy behaviors.
For members of our community who have been vaccinated, there is a new feature on the Daily Symptom Monitoring tool to voluntarily input your vaccine type and date. This will help campus health officials have a better understanding of the number of community members vaccinated to-date. It is important to still follow all 4 Maryland behaviors, including getting tested, even after being vaccinated.
Thank you again for your cooperation and commitment to the health, safety and well being of our community. I hope you will have a safe and healthy break.
Spyridon S. Marinopoulos, MD, MBA, FACP
Director, University Health Center and Chief Medical Officer, University of Maryland