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Health Center Director Reiterates Need for Boosters, Testing, Masks

Spring Semester to Begin With Extra Vigilance Due to Omicron

By Maryland Today Staff

Students on McKeldin Mall

With the new semester set to begin amidst the COVID-19 Omicron variant surge, University Health Center Director Dr. Spyridon Marinopoulos is reminding the campus of the importance of precautions including boosters, masks and testing.

Photo by John T. Consoli

University Health Center Director Dr. Spyridon S. Marinopoulos sent the following email to the campus community this afternoon:

Last week, President Pines, Provost Rice and I wrote to share several new measures designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As we start the Spring 2022 semester on Jan. 24, the Omicron variant has forced us all to maintain flexibility and patience as we continue to deal with this pandemic. To fully experience all that the spring semester has to offer, we need your help.

I wanted to provide a reminder—and a few clarifications—about our plan. It rests on four primary strategies that are incredibly important as our campus returns to full operations and full density.

Vaccine Booster Requirement
We are extremely fortunate to have a 98% vaccination rate on our campus; it was critical in helping manage the spread of the virus during the fall semester. Now, we must all get boosted to maintain the same level of protection.

  • Every member of our community—faculty, staff and students—will be required to stay up to date with their vaccine by obtaining a mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine booster by Jan. 24. If you are not eligible to receive a booster by Jan. 24, you will need to obtain your booster within 14 days of becoming eligible.
  • This requirement does not include the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because the CDC no longer recommends this vaccine in most cases. However, if you have already received a Johnson & Johnson booster, this will meet the booster requirement.
  • You must upload your booster information at www.myuhc.umd.edu by clicking on “Enter My COVID-19 Vaccination Information.”
  • Faculty, staff and students who are not up-to-date with their vaccine by receiving a booster when eligible, including those with an approved medical or religious exemption, will be required to test twice weekly and sign a risk memorandum until they become up-to-date.

Testing Requirement
As we prepare to begin the spring semester with a fully populated campus, it is important to remember our shared responsibility to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Having everyone take a test immediately before our collective return is essential in helping us prevent positive cases from reaching our campus. We recognize that tests have recently been hard to find. However, as supplies are expected to increase in the coming days and weeks, we believe that everyone should be able to find a test.

  • All faculty, staff and students must make their own arrangements to be tested using a rapid antigen test (including home tests) or a PCR test within 48 hours before returning to campus on Jan. 24. For residential students, you must test within 24-48 hours before you return to your residence hall. Click here to find resources for off-campus testing options. Note that this is a partial list; you may select any testing location convenient to you.
  • For this test, you are not required to upload your test results. This testing protocol is part of our collective responsibility to help minimize infection within our community. We are counting on each of you to do your part.
  • If you test positive, you must postpone your travel to campus and follow all applicable CDC, state, county and campus guidance for isolation and testing, which includes isolating for a minimum of five full days. A negative rapid antigen test at the beginning of day 6 is required prior to ending isolation and returning to campus.
  • If you test positive and are already in the College Park area, you must report to the HEAL Line at 301.405.HEAL.
  • Additionally, everyone residing in the state of Maryland must report a positive self-test to the state.

Face Coverings
Proper wearing of masks and face coverings remains one of our most effective methods to reduce transmission.

  • Masks must be worn at all times while indoors, including in all offices (except while working alone in a private office), residence halls and dining areas (except while actively eating or drinking).
  • KN95 masks are required in all classroom settings and recommended everywhere. Fully vaccinated instructors/presenters may remove their mask to address the class, provided they maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others at all times. Eating and drinking are not permitted in classrooms.

I Am 4Maryland Pledge
Containing the spread of the virus to the greatest extent possible is a shared responsibility for every member of our campus community. Thus, all faculty, staff and students must electronically sign a new Spring 2022 pledge by Jan. 24 to abide by all health protocols.

Complete information about our COVID-19 precautions, policies and protocols can be found at umd.edu/4Maryland, where they are updated regularly.

Thank you all for doing your part to help us mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as we begin our spring semester.

Sincerely,

Spyridon S. Marinopoulos Signature

Spyridon S. Marinopoulos, MD, MBA, FACP
Director, University Health Center
Chief Medical Officer, University of Maryland
He/Him/His

Schools & Departments:

University Health Center

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