USM institutions mandate COVID-19 testing for all planning to return to campus in-person
The University of Maryland has put up posters on the campus in preparation for students' return to campus in August. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)
All students and employees returning to University System of Maryland institutions in-person in the fall must be tested for the novel coronavirus within 14 days prior to their arrival, the system announced in a press release Thursday.
Anyone returning to a system institution in-person must provide university officials confirmation of a negative COVID test result, according to the release. Those who test positive for the virus will not be permitted on campus until they comply with a required period of isolation.
Additionally, the system announced, all students and employees returning to system institutions must start daily symptom monitoring and reporting 14 days before they arrive on campus. Universities will issue further guidance to those who report symptoms associated with COVID-19, according to the release.
Students who are crossing state lines to arrive at system institutions must also comply with Maryland guidelines for testing and quarantine, the release read. And, those who test positive for the virus after their arrival on campus should consult with university officials regarding isolation requirements. The University of Maryland has previously announced it will set aside residential spaces for isolation and quarantining if needed.
These new steps come amid recent increases in COVID-19 cases across the country: As of this week, Maryland is reporting an average of 873 new cases per day. Meanwhile, cases in Prince George’s County have increased by 56 percent over the last few weeks, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said in a Thursday press conference.
“The uncertainty surrounding COVID spread and impact demands that our plans be flexible enough to respond to disease risk in real time, changing as COVID conditions and safety guidelines change,” the system’s release read. “[The measures announced Thursday] are intended to help all of us within the USM fulfill our mutual commitment to protect one another and do our part to reduce disease transmission.”
In response to the latest spike in cases, some universities — including American University, Georgetown University and George Washington University — have announced they will go fully online, marking a reversal of their original reopening plans. At this university, 92 percent of undergraduate course sections will be held at least partially online.
As for testing, some system institutions will evaluate students and employees as they arrive on campus, the release read. At other institutions, campus community members should follow testing guidelines issued by officials at their universities.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1072 — the union that represents employees at this university — applauded the system’s announcements in a tweet, encouraging institutions to make testing “regular/repeated,” implement comprehensive contact tracing and provide workers with adequate protective equipment.
Great news! Let’s make that regular/repeated and get comprehensive contact tracing, enforcement and provision of PPE. Keep writing those letters, folks! ? https://t.co/dGjC25vpem https://t.co/fZfzYKtOir
— AFSCME Local 1072 (@afscme_1072) July 30, 2020
This university provided free testing for campus community members on June 14 and 15, and has indicated it will host additional testing events in the future.