As coronavirus cases soar, University of Maryland students are expected to occupy more than 500 seats in in-person or partially in-person winter courses.

About 10 percent of winter courses will be in person or include an in-person component, according to an independent analysis by The Diamondback. Nearly 90 percent of courses will be delivered online. 

The return to classes comes as the state reported a 26 percent coronavirus positivity rate on New Year’s Day. As cases rise in the region, some nearby Washington, D.C., schools — including American, George Washington and Georgetown universities — have announced a virtual start to the spring semester. Virginia’s George Mason University announced classes will resume as planned on Jan. 24.

At this university, instructors and students in in-person winter classes will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test before their first class, university President Darryll Pines announced at the end of December. Students will be required to wear KN95 masks during in-person classes. The winter COVID-19 protocols are “subject to change,” Pines wrote in the Dec. 22 email.

The return to classes comes in the wake of a hectic end to the fall semester. In a campuswide email during finals week, Pines announced the cancellation of winter commencement

Still, in-person exams continued — with a caveat requiring students to wear KN95 masks. More than 4,500 students petitioned to shift finals online. The Student Government Association passed emergency legislation pushing against the university’s decision. 

[UMD announces most winter term classes to shift online]

They canceled the commencement, so [administrators] obviously know that is a problem. But they are not willing to cancel in-person finals, which can also be as much of a breeding ground for COVID,SGA President Kislay Parashar told The Diamondback in December. “That’s the big issue.”

In a New Year’s Eve email, Pines and Provost Jennifer Rice wrote that the campus will continue operating normally through January. They also urged community members to get the booster shot as soon as they are eligible. A booster requirement for faculty, staff and students could be announced by Jan. 10, the email added.
This story has been updated.