The University of Maryland (UMD) will begin the fall semester with two weeks of all-virtual instruction, President Darryll Pines announced Monday.
“I know this two-week delay is disappointing, but it will permit us to phase in the resumption of on-campus activities and allow us to implement campus-wide virus testing, as outlined below,” he said in a statement.
Graduate education and research activities will continue as planned. Pines hopes that in-person instruction can begin on Sept. 14, however he said that the university is ready to double-down if COVID-19 positivity rates on campus and in the area increase.
“We will not hesitate to pivot to more stringent measures if dictated by these initial assessments, and health conditions within our state, county or campus.”
Students and staff are required to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to campus, UMD announced in July. A negative confirmation must be provided and anyone who tests positive must isolate.
“Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 prior to arrival will not be allowed on campus, and should consult with their health care provider immediately. These students and employees will be permitted on campus only after a required period of isolation has been met, per public health guidelines,” said a statement from the University System of Maryland (USM).
Students must also be tested after starting the semester.
Important Update: #UMD will begin the semester on Aug. 31 but delay undergraduate in-person instruction, delivered online until Sept. 14. All graduate-level instruction and approved research activities will proceed as planned. https://t.co/9ifGUry4we pic.twitter.com/jGynwVHsCL
— Univ. of Maryland (@UofMaryland) August 10, 2020
“We fully expect a number of individuals to test positive, and have developed appropriate procedures to initiate early contact identification, and protocols for isolation and quarantine so we can help protect against the further spread of the virus,” Pines said.
Monday’s statement also addressed dining and housing for the fall semester. During the two weeks of virtual learning, dining halls will be grab-and-go.
UMD said move-in is to continue as scheduled, however students should stay inside as much as possible until Sept. 14. The deadline to confirm housing for dorms/residence halls is Wednesday at noon. However, students who signed leases for the university’s two apartment communities do not have the same option. Students say South Campus Commons and Courtyards are not letting students cancel their leases, and are only allowing them to re-lease. The Diamondback reported that a petition is circulating to urge the apartment complexes to let students out of their leases.
“While I understand that we have signed a contract with the housing office, we were forced to make those decisions back in February before anyone could have foreseen the pandemic and online courses,” said Alyssa Shermer in the petition. Shermer began the initiative, which has over 2,100 signatures as of Monday evening.
“I understand the University has lost money due to the pandemic, but I urge South Campus Commons and Courtyards to consider the students who are being forced to pay for housing they no longer need or can’t use due to fear of contracting Covid-19,” she said.
🚨[THREAD]🚨on what's happening to South Campus Commons & Courtyards tenants at the University of Maryland: pic.twitter.com/VpF2Hi0muj
— Concerned Tenants of UMD (@umdtenants) August 8, 2020