Message to Students on Campus Reopening

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Monday, July 20, 2020

The following message on campus re-opening was sent to UMD Students by Vice President for Student Affairs, Patty Perillo, on July 20, 2020.


Dear UMD Student,

I hope you are enjoying your summer and that you and your families are well. I am writing to welcome you to the fall 2020 semester at Maryland, where we are committed to doing all we can to keep our community safe and healthy. I am excited to welcome you back, whether in-person or virtually, as you - our students - bring our campus community to life! As the Vice President for Student Affairs, I wanted to share some important information with you about how the campus experience will look for all of us this fall. 

We are doing our best to share as much information as possible in a timely way. Throughout the spring and summer there have been many planning committees, with student leaders involved on each, actively working to make decisions about a gradual, phased and safe opening of campus for the fall semester. The ever-changing nature of the coronavirus and state and local mandates have made this planning and decision-making process more complex. We do care about each and every one of you, and we want you to have as much information as possible in order to make the best decisions for you and your family. Last week, you should have received an email from Provost Rankin about your fall course schedules and by now you should know your personal and specific fall schedule of classes. Additionally, if you are living on campus, last week you received a communication from Resident Life providing you with more information about our residential opening plans for fall 2020. So, we hope that you now have as much information as possible about academics and your residential expectations.

We are committed to making the fall semester safe, healthy, engaging, and as enjoyable as possible for all of our students. We will provide lots of opportunities for safe engagement and involvement outside the classroom. Eppley Recreation Center and the Stamp Student Union will be open and will provide both in-person (safe and socially distant) and virtual activities, including the always popular, late night Terps After Dark programs. Two dining halls will be open with reservation only seating and some dining outposts will be open with carry-out options. The Health Center, Counseling Center and Career Center will be open for appointments, both virtually and in-person as needed. Resident Life and Fraternity and Sorority Life will provide opportunities for engagement in small groups and virtually. Some large scale programming will be offered outdoors where all can maintain a safe social distance. Our new president, Dr. Darryll Pines, and I will celebrate our new students with a multimedia President’s Welcome event. We promise to welcome you with open arms, in lots of ways that are as safe as possible. 

I wanted to share a few more details about how we plan to make this possible. The university's health and safety plan contains essential components to safely reopen and operate the campus, with early detection of infectious cases as the key to limit outbreaks. 

Without exception, you will be expected to abide by the 4MARYLAND expectations that promote critical healthy behaviors:

  1. Wear a face covering at all times indoors and outdoors when other people are nearby. (We will provide all students with two masks each.) 
  2. Stay at least 6 feet from others at all times.
  3. Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable.
  4. If you are sick, do not go to class, campus events, or work…in fact, you should not leave your room/home. If you live on campus, we encourage you to please bring a thermometer and a wellness kit with you.

Beginning in mid-August, you will be asked to watch an educational training video on COVID-19 to understand how it spreads, how to take care of yourself and our community. As part of this training, you will be asked to read and sign this pledge:

I hereby agree to abide by the responsibilities specified in the I AM 4MARYLAND COMMITMENT to the UMD COMMUNITY and to practice throughout the fall semester all of the safety measures it describes. I understand that following these measures is critical to the safe operation of the campus, my own safety and the safety of others, and that failing to do so jeopardizes the community and my opportunity to remain at the University of Maryland.

Each day while on campus, all students, faculty and staff will be asked to complete a symptom monitoring checklist on an app you will download on your phone. You will be asked to report your temperature and any onset symptoms of illness. More information on this will be provided soon.

I also think it is important for you to know that as a way to maintain a healthy community, the university will engage in the following:

  • Testing (required). We are exploring the possibility of having all students required to have COVID-19 testing when you arrive on campus. We will offer voluntary testing for all members of our campus community.
  • Contact tracing. Any positive diagnostic test results will be communicated immediately to the state health authorities, who will then activate a contact tracing team to identify potential secondary cases to limit the spread of infection. UMD will supplement, as needed, the state-administered tracing.
  • Environmental monitoring. UMD faculty experts are developing opportunities for early detection of impending illnesses by monitoring wastewater, air and high-touch surfaces in campus buildings.
  • Cleaning protocols. All buildings approved for occupancy will be cleaned on a regular basis, including enhanced cleaning of high-traffic areas.

It is abundantly clear that having a successful fall semester on campus will largely be dependent on the care and safe behavior of you, our students. For us all to remain safe and well, and for the campus to remain open to a physical presence, we all need to commit to doing our best to keep ourselves and others safe. We care about all Terps so much! We want to do all we can to take care of you and support your ability to take care of yourself and others. We all must be 4MARYLAND.

Despite all of our best efforts, people on our campus will get COVID-19. If students living on campus are suspected of having COVID-19, we will test them and we will provide safe isolation and quarantine spaces for them. Close contacts to a student who tests positive will be required to quarantine; we've reserved spaces on campus for such. Students with compromised immune systems should weigh all the variables about community living before making a decision about living on campus. Again, we care so much about you and want you to make the best decisions for you and your family!

As we have seen throughout the spring and early summer, things continue to evolve and change. We hope this provides more detail to the information you’ve received thus far. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more. In the meantime, please let us know what questions you have by contacting us at VPSA@umd.edu. We really do want to support you in all ways possible.

We are very excited to start our fall 2020 semester with you next month. Until we connect again, stay healthy and well. 

Go TERPS!

Patty Perillo, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs

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