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COVID-19 Information

First 4 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in UMD Community

Research Operations Severely Restricted; Move-out, Housing Information Released

By Maryland Today Staff

Empty streets on UMD campus

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

Streets and sidewalks were empty late last week at the intersection of Regents and Stadium drives as UMD increasingly moved to online operations to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

The first four members of the University of Maryland community have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the university has announced, and it ordered most labs and other research facilities to temporarily close as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate.

Move-out for students living in university housing is beginning today, while those who’ve already left are scheduling move-out times beginning Friday—part of the university-wide effort to shift teaching online for the rest of the semester and reduce other in-person campus operations. 

Yesterday, the university confirmed that a staff member in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences had tested positive for the disease. During the previous two weeks, the staff member was only known to be on campus on March 12. 

That followed an announcement on Saturday that an individual who contracts with the University Health Center and Maryland Athletics on a part-time basis tested positive for the disease. Dr. Sacared Bodison, interim director of the University Health Center, said the university immediately began notifying individuals who it was aware came into direct contact with the individual and asked them to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance to remain home for 14 days and stay alert to possible symptoms.

Bodison also announced that two students who had returned from an Education Abroad Program in Barcelona had received a positive diagnosis. All Maryland students participating in the Barcelona program were notified of the diagnosis and told to follow the CDC guidelines for self-quarantining. 

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have proactively shared information with members of the campus community that we know came into close contact with any individual suspected to have COVID-19,” Bodison wrote. “It is likely that others of our community will be affected in the future since community spread is expanding nationally.”

The university on Saturday also announced that research in campus labs and facilities would temporarily halt, with one exception: work related to the novel coronavirus.

In an email to the campus community posted on the Division of Research website, Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin and Vice President for Research Laurie Locascio said that “Severe Research Restrictions” must be put in place by Wednesday, preventing basic and animal research experimentation that requires a physical presence at UMD. The measures will be in place through at least April 10.

Necessary maintenance operations will continue, they wrote: maintaining and caring for important instruments, animal colonies, cell lines and other valuable resources. They also recommended that graduate students and advisers use the next few days to place research projects in a state that allows them to be quickly restarted. 

No one may be forced to work on campus while transitioning to severe restrictions, and everyone going to work should follow safety precautions including frequent handwashing and glove use, disinfection of surfaces and maintaining a six-feet distance with others, they wrote. Anyone with concerns about their rights as a student or staff member may report them on an anonymous website.

Case-by-case exemptions for research requiring campus facilities will be evaluated at the dean’s level and submitted for final approval to the Office of the Vice President for Research.  Rankin and Locascio noted that universities nationwide are taking similar steps. 

“It is important to understand that we are taking this step in the interest of the health and safety of our community,” they wrote. “UMD is not discontinuing research.”

While faculty spend this week preparing to teach all classes virtually starting on March 30 and continuing through the end of the semester, students who live in university housing are scheduling times to move out. 

Residents must schedule appointments through the UMD Housing Portal to limit the number of people on campus at one time to comply with CDC recommendations.

Students who can’t return to campus to retrieve their belongings can leave them in assigned rooms until at least May 15 for later pickup. The Department of Resident Life said later check-out appointments might be available.

For students with no housing alternatives, Resident Life will consolidate emergency housing into one building or area and implement measures for appropriate social distancing. New assignments will be provided before April 5, the department said.

“Please know that our staff will work closely with every student and family that have special circumstances to find an agreeable solution,” the department said in a message posted on its website.

Dining Services will offer two meals per day, carryout only, from the South Campus Dining Hall for students approved to remain on campus in emergency housing. The Commons Shop is also open on a limited basis, offering some groceries and convenience items for their rooms. Emergency operating hours are here.

More information about the process, including frequently asked questions, is available here. Contact the Department of Resident Life staff at or call 301.314.2100.

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.