The University of Maryland announced that the spring 2022 semester will begin in-person and as scheduled on Jan. 24, per a campuswide email. The university issued additional measures and requirements in an attempt to curb spikes of on-campus COVID-19 cases.
All students, faculty and staff are required to receive booster shots and upload confirmation of their vaccination status to the university’s health portal. The email added that the booster requirement must be met by Jan. 24 or within 14 days of becoming eligible.
The Pfizer and Moderna boosters are the only shots that will meet the new booster mandate, according to the email. The email also states those who do not comply with the vaccination policy may face consequences, including suspension or termination of employment.
The university’s requirement goes beyond the recently announced University System of Maryland vaccine booster requirement, which only requires students living on campus to receive a booster shot.
[USM requires COVID booster for students living on campus this spring]
The university encourages international students to receive their booster shot before arriving to campus, but those with limited access should contact International Students and Scholar Services before they return to campus.
Students, faculty and staff are also required to have a negative rapid antigen test, which includes at-home tests, no more than 48 hours before coming to campus on Jan. 24. Those who test positive will not be allowed on campus and must follow isolation and testing guidance provided by their state or county and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those who remain unvaccinated, which includes people with medical or religious exemptions, are still required to test twice weekly throughout the spring semester, the email added.
KN95 masks are required in all classroom settings, and masks must be worn at all times while indoors, including in offices, dorms and dining halls unless eating or drinking. KN95 masks can be obtained from the information desk at Stamp Student Union.
In addition to following the booster, masking and testing requirements, all community members — students, faculty and staff — must electronically sign the “I AM 4Maryland Pledge,” agreeing to abide by all health protocols.
The university’s announcement of a full in-person return comes as the state of Maryland is currently in a state of emergency for 30 days and numerous universities across the country have started their spring semester online.
[More than 10 percent of UMD winter classes set to be at least partially in person]
“At this point, there is little doubt that we will continue to see positive cases, both in our region and on our campus. Throughout this pandemic, we have learned that we are stronger when we act together,” the email said. “Let us commit ourselves to doing everything we can to protect ourselves and others in the coming weeks as we learn to manage life with this virus.”
The university reported 122 positive cases Thursday and maintains an average of about 55 cases per day, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. The university also experienced a surge at the end of the fall semester that broke records for the number of daily cases.
As the situation with COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, the email stated the university’s plans are subject to change based on the latest public health guidance.