Campus Sees Drop in COVID Test Positivity Rate; Spring Break to Proceed as Planned
University President Darryll J. Pines and Dr. Spyridon S. Marinopoulos, University Health Center director, thanked community members who are complying with 4 Maryland protocols, and said those who don't will continue to face significant consequences.
University President Darryll J. Pines and Dr. Spyridon S. Marinopoulos, University Health Center director, sent the following email to the campus community this morning:
Last weekend, the university implemented a set of urgent interventions in response to a concerning rise in COVID-19 cases within our community. We recognize that these measures created challenges for many of our students—both physically and mentally—and we want to express our sincere gratitude for your compliance and ongoing commitment to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is our collective work that will help end this pandemic.
Thanks to cooperation from our community, the number of positive cases on our campus has slowed, and our daily positivity rate from the last three days of major testing was approximately 1%. As a result, the sequester-in-place order will be lifted effective today, Saturday, Feb. 27 at noon. We will continue to actively monitor the situation and intervene appropriately as needed, including requiring additional testing in areas where we may observe increased viral transmission.
In-person instruction will resume on Monday, March 1 for those courses with a classroom component.
Indoor gatherings will be restricted to 10 persons and outdoor gatherings will be limited to 25 persons, at no more than one person per 200 square feet in either case. However, physical distancing and proper mask-wearing are still required regardless of the location and size of a gathering.
The Stamp Student Union, including the University Book Center, and RecWell facilities will remain closed through the weekend and will reopen on Monday, March 1. RecWell activities will be supervised and conducted within participant capacity limits. Reservations for informal recreation and limited programming may be made beginning at 6 a.m. Sunday, February 28.
Dining Services and Stamp will continue to offer grab-and-go dining options only.
Holding our community accountable
While we are now able to lift the sequester-in-place restrictions, our fight against this pandemic is not over. COVID remains present within our community. We do not take this issue lightly, and we have and will continue to impose significant consequences for community members who fail to abide by the 4 Maryland protocols.
Since the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester, there have been nearly 600 referrals made to the Office of Student Conduct for potential COVID-19 violations. Students have lost housing privileges, and we have issued more than 30 interim suspensions. In collaboration with the university, the city of College Park has significantly increased its compliance activities, resulting in over 250 warnings and municipal infractions for violations of noise and gathering limits, and assessing over $35,000 in fines.
If you witness behavior that could put our community at risk, please notify the university by submitting concerns to the ethics, compliance and integrity website.
Spring Break reminders
Spring Break will proceed as planned, March 14-21. We hope this mid-semester recess will provide our community with a mental health break we all need, even as we continue to remain vigilant to mitigate the spread of the virus in and beyond our community. No matter what you choose to do for Spring Break, you must be vigilant and follow public health guidance. If you choose to travel you must follow state requirements for travel and continue to practice all of the 4 Maryland behaviors. They remain our best defense to protect ourselves, our community and our loved ones.
As a reminder, the two weeks of instruction immediately following Spring Break—March 22-April 2—will be conducted online, and students must limit their movement as much as possible upon returning to campus. All students living in residence halls and any student who elects to travel for Spring Break are required to submit a negative PCR-based COVID test before returning to campus. All students are required to get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible after their arrival, confirm their results online and continue to be tested every two weeks. If you have not done so already, please make your COVID-19 test appointment for your return.
Thank you again for your commitment to keeping yourselves and each other safe.
Darryll J. Pines
Spyridon S. Marinopoulos, MD, FACP
Director, University Health Center
Chief Medical Officer
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