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About 25 percent of classes at the University of Maryland will be held in person in the spring, and spring break will happen as planned, university President Darryll Pines announced in a campuswide email Tuesday. 

The email, which also announced the formation of a vaccine task force, comes as an unprecedented fall semester draws to a close and just ahead of state updates on vaccine distribution. 

Pines wrote that the spring semester will “look and feel much like the fall semester.” The schedule will remain the same, with classes starting Jan. 25, but the first two weeks of undergraduate instruction will be conducted online. 

Just like in the fall semester, all students, staff and faculty will be required to provide a negative coronavirus test result before returning to the campus for the spring semester. Students will also have to “sequester” for the first two weeks on campus and take another coronavirus test before in-person instruction starts, Pines wrote. 

The University Health Center will increase the testing provided on campus throughout the semester. All students living on or near the campus will be required to be tested every two weeks, Pines wrote. The same is true for staff and faculty who will be coming to the campus.

[UMD President Darryll Pines says decision not to offer pass/fail system is final]

Spring break will take place on March 14-21, as planned. This was “a most difficult decision,” but the break is important for maintaining mental health, Pines wrote.  

The two weeks of classes following spring break will also be conducted online, and in that period there will be a nine-day testing event where all students, staff and faculty returning to the campus will be required to be tested. 

The university will continue to provide on-campus quarantine and isolation spaces for students who test positive for or were exposed to the coronavirus. Additionally, all dorm rooms will be singles, Pines wrote.

With doses of the vaccine projected to arrive in Maryland as early as next week, the university formed a task force to prepare for the arrival, storage and distribution of a vaccine. The task force, led by University Health Center leaders Drs. Sacared Bodison and Spyridon Marinopoulos, will “operationalize” state and national decisions for vaccine distribution at this university.

“Our plans and decisions will be based on information and guidance from national, state, county and campus health officials,” Pines wrote. “We must remain nimble and flexible and expect change. If new information comes to light, we will not hesitate to adapt our plans accordingly.”