“We have reached a critical point in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and we all have a responsibility to keep our community and our neighbors safe,” Pines wrote. “It is imperative that every campus citizen follow our 4 Maryland protocols and these new interventions.”
Under the restrictions, students at the flagship university are required to “sequester-in-place” as of noon Saturday, meaning that they should stay in dormitories or sorority or fraternity houses as much as possible. They are allowed to go outside “to get fresh air only in the area immediately surrounding their residence hall and to pick-up food from dining halls.”
Those who live off campus in and near College Park also were “strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible” and limit activities.
The university has been operating with a mix of in-person and remote instruction. But starting Monday, face-to-face classes will move online for undergraduates and graduate students. The measures will be in effect for at least one week.
U-Md.’s online coronavirus dashboard shows a spike of 36 new student cases reported Thursday through the university’s testing program, with another 22 on Friday and 16 on Saturday. There was also a spike in unconfirmed, self-reported student cases, including 24 on Thursday and 37 on Friday.
Around the Washington region and much of the nation, cases have been declining recently.
But there are troublesome pockets of spread of the dangerous virus, including at some colleges and universities. The University of Virginia in Charlottesville and other schools in Virginia are seeking to contain outbreaks.
U-Md. has about 40,000 students, with about 4,300 housed on campus.
A union representing workers at U-Md. said the latest developments show the university must do more to protect front-line employees from infection and illness.
“Our calls for greater safety measures, procedures, and protocols have been ignored for too long and this is part of the reason we continue to have bad outcomes on campuses,” AFSCME Council 3 and Local 1072 said in a statement.