Guidelines and Phased Plan for Fall 2021


This guidance was current as of April 14, 2021. For the most up-to-date status and latest COVID-19 information, please visit

We have crossed the one-year threshold of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, our faculty, staff, and students have demonstrated flexibility, creativity, dedication, and resolve. Though much of our learning and engagement have occurred remotely, we look forward to welcoming all members of our community back safely to campus in the fall. Our plan is to resume our operations at full capacity in the fall 2021 semester. This document articulates a phased plan for gradually expanding in-person activities on campus to achieve our aim.
It is the presence of faculty, staff, and students – and their interactions – on campus -- that makes the University a successful and dynamic organization and a vibrant learning community. Being together allows faculty, staff, and students to get to know and informally interact with one another; it allows researchers to innovate and collaborate; it stimulates creativity through the cross-fertilization of ideas; and it allows students to fully benefit from the residential education experience and all that our campus has to offer.
We recognize that students, staff, faculty, graduate assistants, and others have shown tremendous flexibility and resiliency over the past year.  Many individuals have been working on campus and your physical presence has made an important difference in the continued and successful operation of our educational enterprise. 
As we look ahead to our shared presence on campus in the fall, we particularly look forward to joining one another through classroom-based and co-curricular learning. The creative efforts of instructors this past year have been both unprecedented and impressive. Instructors are encouraged to continue reimagining their courses in ways that reshape the future of teaching and learning for our University. Educational technologies that enrich learning will continue to augment our teaching and ensure that Maryland students have access to engaging experiences. We encourage the integration of new teaching tools and new teaching practices to support plans for in-person instruction this fall. We welcome greater social interactions for our students outside the classroom. 
We also recognize that, prior to the pandemic, there was considerable innovation across the campus in adopting multiple options for course delivery. As we move back to on-campus operations for the fall, changes from traditionally in-person courses to other delivery methods should be limited to cases in which there is a strong pedagogical justification and should have the approval of the department and college.
The chart at the end of the document outlines UMD’s phased and gradual plan for expanding in-person activities on campus. This plan is aligned with, and can be changed at any time based on, the state of Maryland’s plan, the Roadmap to Recovery, as well as guidance from Prince George’s County and campus health authorities. The plan has also been coordinated with state and county health officials, with additional guidance provided by the University System of Maryland. It is based on what we know today about conditions that appear to be achievable many months from now. We consider this to be a living document that may change as conditions evolve, or if our assumptions about what we believe to be achievable by the fall are not realized.
This plan aims at gradually expanding in-person campus activities in a phased approach, keeping our focus on the health and well-being of our entire campus community. Should health conditions change, other aspects of this plan may also change.

Assumptions for Fall 2021

  1. The state of Maryland and Prince George’s county allow full reopening of facilities and the state has reached Phase 3 of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan (and UMD has reached Phase 3 in its plan below). Vaccine appointments are widely available to the general population, including healthy adults over 16 years old.
  2. Day care participants and K-12 students can attend in person five days per week. 
  3. If required, masks will be worn in all indoor and outdoor public locations (and anyone wishing to wear a mask may of course do so, regardless). Any changes will follow Prince George’s County Health Department and its phased reopening plan.
  4. COVID-19 testing will be required for all UMD students, faculty, staff, and affiliates who plan to be physically on the College Park campus or at a UMD facility and for students living in the College Park area, as needed to monitor outbreaks and control spread. Testing frequency will be determined closer to the start of the semester. (See footnote regarding Extension and Experiment Station faculty and staff whose primary location is outside of the College Park area.1)
  5. Daily symptom monitoring may be required for vaccinated employees and students. It will continue to be required for those who are not vaccinated.
  6. Isolation will be required for those who have COVID-19, and quarantine will be required for those who have had significant exposure if they do not have proof of vaccination.
  7. Prince George’s County Health Department guidelines eliminate the requirement for 6-foot social distancing in higher education classroom settings. Most general-purpose classrooms are properly set up and available for use at their full capacity.
  8. The remote work expectation by the state of Maryland has been lifted.
  9. Residence halls are open to near full capacity with isolation and quarantine space maintained.
  10. Temporary guidelines related to COVID-19 accommodation policies have been lifted.2 Standing UMD policies and procedures for accessibility (VI-1.00D) and student accommodation (V-1.00G) will apply. 

1.Extension and Experiment Station faculty and staff whose primary work location is beyond College Park should follow their local health department guidance.
2. These include the USM guidance for faculty and staff and emergency procedures for excused absences for students.


Guidelines          Phased Plan      Full Plan (PDF)