Message from the President: Taking Action Against Further COVID-19 Spread
The following message was sent to the university community from President Darryll Pines and University Health Center Director Spyridon Marinopoulos on February 18, 2021.
Dear campus community,
We are writing to you today because we have seen a significant and concerning increase in positive COVID cases on and around our campus in recent days. From the beginning of this pandemic, we have pledged to take action whenever we see the threat of further spread.
Over the past several days, we have seen clusters (defined as 3 positive cases within a defined area) and outbreaks (defined as 5 or more positive cases within a defined area) in several locations on and off campus.
New COVID Measures
With guidance from university and county health experts, we are implementing the following measures, effective immediately and until further notice:
- All student gatherings, indoors and outdoors, are restricted to no more than 5 persons, provided physical distancing can be maintained. The only exception to this rule is for in-person academic instruction, where we can ensure both masking and distancing.
- For all gatherings, regardless of location and size, masks must be worn and physical distancing practiced.
- All activities at, or offered by, Stamp Student Union, RecWell, and student organizations will be limited to 5 persons and must adhere to the Prince George’s County distancing guidelines (1 person for every 200 square feet). Individual reservations for exercise are still available at RecWell.
- Dining Halls will continue to offer grab-and-go service only. Students dining together in lounges remains prohibited.
- Enhanced Health Precautions will be implemented in any residence hall and/or Fraternity and Sorority Life house where positive cases are growing. These measures include students being required to remain in their residence halls or houses and in their rooms, not attending in-person classes or work, and eliminating visits to RecWell facilities, Stamp or other public places.
- We will be adding additional COVID testing for all asymptomatic students who live in residence halls or fraternity and sorority houses where clusters or outbreaks have been reported. The same is true for buildings under Enhanced Health Precautions. Affected individuals will be contacted directly with additional information.
Remain Vigilant 4 Maryland
The combination of COVID fatigue, new variants and this uptick in cases reinforces the vital importance of maintaining our 4 Maryland protocols. It is imperative that you wear your mask indoors and outdoors (ensuring a snug fit), maintain physical distancing (in addition to wearing a mask), wash your hands frequently, and stay home if you are feeling sick.
Failure to abide by these protocols will have significant consequences for every member of our community. Students not following these guidelines will be reported and disciplined by the Office of Student Conduct, which can include suspension and, for multiple offenses, expulsion. Faculty and staff will be held accountable by similar processes.
If there is no significant decrease in cases over the coming days, additional restrictions may be implemented including the suspension of in-person classes, laboratory research and other campus activities. If necessary, we will move all instruction to an online environment.
We do not take lightly that these additional measures impact everyday lives. We are keenly aware of the toll this virus is taking on our collective and individual mental health. But we cannot let down our guard against this virus. Even now, as the promise of a vaccine and a return to normalcy seems within our grasp, we must protect ourselves, our fellow campus citizens and those that we love.
Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland
Spyridon Marinopoulos, MD, FACP
Director, University Health Center and Chief Medical Officer