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Campus & Community

Commencement Canceled Amid COVID Surge

New Precautions Include Switching to Grab-and-Go Dining, Requiring KN95 Masks at Finals

By Maryland Today Staff

Students walk on McKeldin Mall

All indoor social gatherings where mask-wearing cannot be strictly enforced should be canceled through Dec. 22, President Darryll J. Pines announced tonight.

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

University President Darryll J. Pines sent the following email to the campus community tonight:

As our chief medical officer, Dr. Spyridon Marinopoulos, reported yesterday, our campus community—like many communities across the country— is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Earlier today, our COVID-19 dashboard was updated to show 98 positive cases from university testing plus an additional 12 self-reported cases (these results are from tests taken since Monday), and we expect to see another high number of cases from today’s testing. These are the highest case counts we’ve seen this fall semester. Given these numbers and the potential further spread of the virus, we are taking the following actions, effective immediately:

  • With a heavy heart, we are canceling all winter commencement activities, including the main ceremony scheduled for Dec. 20 and all college, school and department ceremonies scheduled for Dec. 21 and 22. This decision was not made lightly. We know how important this time is for our winter graduates and their families, but our first responsibility must continue to be the health and well-being of our community. All winter graduates will be invited to the spring ceremony in May.
  • All indoor social gatherings where mask-wearing cannot be strictly enforced should be canceled through Dec. 22.
  • All dining halls and the Stamp Student Union food court will transition to grab-and-go options only. This went into effect earlier today. RecWell facilities will maintain their finals hours of operation schedule through Dec. 21; however, basketball, volleyball and racquetball activities will be suspended immediately. All RecWell facilities will be closed Dec. 22-Jan. 2, with a limited reopening tentatively scheduled for Jan. 3.
  • Students who live in residence halls will be required to depart campus 24 hours after their final on-campus exam.

Final examinations will continue as scheduled, but all students and faculty must wear KN95 masks for all in-person finals. You may obtain a KN95 mask from the Stamp Student Union Information Desk. The data we track show that the risk of transmission in classroom settings is extremely low, which will allow our students to complete the academic semester without further disruption or postponement. However, anyone who is experiencing symptoms should not attend any in-person examinations and should work with their instructor to make alternative arrangements.

I am acutely aware of the impact this virus continues to have on every member of our campus community. Some members of our community are dealing with the virus themselves, or with loved ones who may be sick. We are all grappling with the strain and anxiety of this surge. None of this is easy.

Our decisions will continue to be informed by diligent tracking of cases, positivity rates and other trends, and guided by health professionals, including Dr. Marinopoulos. Let us all look forward to the start of a new year—and a fresh beginning.


President Darryll Pines Signature

Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland

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