Skip to main content

Resuming limited in-person undergraduate instruction


September 10, 2020


Dear Terrapins,

On August 10, I announced that the University would delay the resumption of the limited number of undergraduate in-person classes until September 14. This two-week delay allowed us to consider a wide variety of factors before commencing in-person instruction, including quarantine and isolation space, the number of unconfirmed self-reported positive cases, state and county positivity rates, compliance with 4 Maryland health directives, and staff capacity to manage positive cases.

Critically, it also allowed us to conduct campus-wide COVID-19 testing for faculty, staff and students and to assess the results before commencing in-person activities on campus.

Last week, we completed the third and final week of this campus-wide testing. Thanks to the tireless work of University Health Center staff and hundreds of volunteers, we conducted nearly 19,000 tests over 15 days, an amazing organizational feat.  The UMD-administered tests resulted in 135 positive cases, a positivity rate of 0.7%. 

We have received an additional 143 unconfirmed self-reported positive cases. Determining the positivity rate is not possible without having the corresponding number of unreported negative tests, but the university considers the total number of cases -- regardless of source -- in our decision-making process.

Based on a careful evaluation of a comprehensive list of factors, today I announce that we will proceed with our cautious, phased approach to the resumption of limited undergraduate in-person instruction on Monday, September 14 as planned. This represents approximately 15% of undergraduate classes offered this fall at the University of Maryland. 

This represents a small but important step toward pursuing the full richness of a University experience that comes from an on-campus environment, where a community of scholars, students and staff unite for an academic, research, residential, social, and athletic experience. It is a step made possible by a team of hundreds of faculty, staff and students and a measured approach to this fall semester that included:
 

  • Reducing the number of people on our campus, notably through significantly lower levels of occupancy in our residence halls, classrooms and laboratories.
  • Preparing our facilities for use, including cleaning and disinfecting, posting signage of behavioral requirements, and reducing the occupancy of academic, research, and social spaces.
  • Innovating the delivery of academic instruction, awarding hundreds of grants to faculty to create exciting new interactive ways of teaching and learning, and offering students the option to complete the fall semester fully online.
  • Underscoring the importance of our collective behaviors, actively working with the surrounding community on effective monitoring of behaviors, and developing appropriately stringent consequences for non-compliance. The College Park City Council just passed a new ordinance that increases fines to $1,000 for anyone who violates local health guidelines.

  
There remain several areas of concern. A recent rise in the number of cases in our athletics program forced us to pause all training until all student-athletes are re-tested. A number of fraternity and sorority houses have reported cases. Our quarantine and isolation space availability is currently at 62% capacity, though many students will cycle out of isolation periods at week’s end. If we are to maintain in-person instruction and on-campus housing for our students, these areas must see improvement. We must remain vigilant in our actions. 
 
Thus, we are proceeding gradually. Our dining halls remain closed for in-person dining, and we will continue to provide grab and go food options. Amenities at RecWell facilities and at Stamp Student Union will remain by appointment only. Our policy restricting guests in the residence halls will remain in effect. It is prudent to continue to limit activity until we learn more.
 
We will conduct a second round of campus-wide testing for faculty, staff and students during the weeks of September 14, 21 and 28. If you have not done so already, please register for your test on the COVID-19 testing information site. This testing is critical because it will help us compare the positivity rate with the testing just completed. If you are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 please call the HEAL line at the University Health Center. 
 
Based on similar systems at other universities and requests from student leaders, we have developed a voluntary way for students, faculty, staff, and affiliates to provide the names and contact information for UMD community members with whom they frequently interact. This platform is designed to aid in early contact identification should someone test positive for COVID-19. Close contacts are individuals with whom you interact with regularly, in-person while working, studying, or in residence on campus or in the greater College Park community. This system is optional and not required. You can identify up to five close contacts on return.umd.edu.
 
We will continue to provide transparent data and information on COVID-19 Campus Dashboard, including weekly positivity rate, number of weekly and daily new cases, and daily availability of quarantine and isolation space. We added a new section to track the number of unconfirmed self-reported positive tests and a “Notes” section that will provide additional context and explanation for the data.
 
On behalf of the entire Terrapin community, I would like to thank each of you for your diligence and your patience during this time. Every one of you has played a critical, interconnected role in planning for this complicated Fall 2020 semester. 
 
As a final reminder, when you are on or off-campus, please practice our 4 Maryland healthy behaviors

  • Wear a mask or face covering over your nose and mouth at all times
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Practice physical distancing, by maintaining 6 feet distance between you and others
  • Monitor your symptoms on a daily basis

 
Let’s stay together (but six feet apart). Let’s stay dedicated and look out for one another. Let’s stay TerrapinSTRONG.
 
Sincerely,

Darryll J. Pines
Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland
He/Him/His
 
Twitter: @President_Pines
Instagram: @President_Pines

 

Additional Languages
Spanish
Creole

About

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 41,000 students, 14,000 faculty and staff, and 388,000 alumni all dedicated to the pursuit of Fearless Ideas. Located just outside Washington, D.C., we discover and share new knowledge every day through our renowned research enterprise and programs in academics, the arts and athletics. And we are committed to social entrepreneurship as the nation’s first “Do Good” campus.

DO GOOD 

Introducing The Nation's First Do Good Campus Transforming Idealism into Impact 

Academics

Spanning 12 schools and colleges, Maryland offers more than 200 degree-granting programs, many of them ranked among the best in the country. Our faculty includes three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, 60 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. And our students, who include the highest achievers in the state and nation, enjoy experiences unique to our location just outside the nation’s capital, including internships, research, and leadership and service opportunities.

Research and Innovation

The University of Maryland is one of the world’s premier research institutions. With our strategic location and scores of partnerships with government and businesses, UMD conducts groundbreaking research on some of the biggest challenges facing our global community, including cybersecurity and terrorism, bioengineering, public health equity, food safety and climate change. We strive to discover new knowledge and put it to work through innovation and entrepreneurship, advancing economic development and transforming lives. 


The newly launched Innovation Gateway will guide you to the resources, programs, partners, and spaces you need to activate and scale your fearless ideas into innovations that launch new ventures, catalyze growth, and advance economic development.

Arts

At the University of Maryland, the arts, the humanities and the sciences intersect to address important societal issues and shed new light on the human experience. Our vibrant campus arts community collaborates with local and national cultural organizations such as the Phillips Collection, Kennedy Center and Folger Shakespeare Library. Student and faculty artists, designers, historians, writers and performers are exploring new media, presenting new perspectives, investigating new techniques and engaging new audiences.

Events

October 23
12:00am (All day)
October 26
12:00am - 12:00am (All day)
October 26
12:00am - 12:00am (All day)

Athletics

Home of the Terrapins, the University of Maryland has one of the nation’s most recognizable and successful athletics programs. More than 550 student-athletes compete each year in 20 intercollegiate sports—12 for women and eight for men. Since 2005 alone, Maryland has won 19 national championships, including NCAA titles in women’s basketball, men’s soccer, men's lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, and field hockey. Since joining the Big Ten Conference in 2014, UMD has won a combined 32 regular season and tournament championships. Fear the Turtle!

Our Commitment to Student-Athletes

At the University of Maryland, our commitment to the safety and well-being of our students is paramount and resolute. For our student-athletes, that means both on and off the field.
The University of Maryland is committed to accountability, transparency, and fairness and is working to ensure our program upholds the values of our University.
Learn more about our commitment.

Student Life

The Terp experience extends beyond classrooms, labs and studios. It encompasses residence halls and dining halls, clubs and sports, fraternities and sororities, campus events and performances, and countless off-campus destinations. Maryland touts 800-plus student organizations, dozens of prestigious living and learning communities, and countless other ways to get involved. Students here can create a unique identity and grow as individuals, even as they’re part of a close-knit and diverse community. 

Latest information on Coronavirus

News

Latest news at Maryland Today

For media releases visit UMD Right Now


Coronavirus Updates:
We have worked diligently to develop and enhance plans for reopening our campus while prioritizing the health and safety of our community members. Hundreds of faculty, staff and students have collaborated in work-groups and teams to create and maintain a physically distant, yet academically and socially rich environment for the fall semester. Our plans continue to be coordinated with state and county health officials, with additional guidance provided by the University System of Maryland. Latest 4 Maryland Updates

Terps are bold, smart, curious and proud. We do good, in our communities and out in the world. We are fearless. And we are always looking to expand our ranks. Interested in becoming a University of Maryland student? This is where to start.

 

Terps Need Your Help

Brick MHelp Terps in Need. Your gift to the UMD Student Crisis Fund provides critical funds to students who need immediate assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Give Now