The University of Maryland in College Park is set to resume limited in-person classes Monday following three rounds of campuswide coronavirus testing.
About 15% of undergraduate classes will resume in-person classes Monday under the university’s “cautious, phased approach,” university President Darryll Pines said in a message Thursday.
“This represents a small but important step toward pursuing the full richness of a university experience that comes from an on-campus environment, where a community of scholars, students and staff unite for an academic, research, residential, social and athletic experience,” Pines said.
Over the past 15 days, the university conducted nearly 19,000 COVID-19 tests, resulting in 135 positives cases — a positivity rate of 0.7%. In addition, there were 143 self-reported cases at the university, which are unconfirmed, Pines said.
The school’s positivity rate is well below the positivity rate for the rest of Prince George’s County, which is 5.26%, and the positivity rate overall for the state of Maryland, which is 3.76%.
Even as it is moving toward the limited return to in-person classes, Pines said there remains “several areas of concern,” including a recent rise in the number of cases in athletics programs that forced the school to pause all training until all student-athletes are re-tested and a surge in cases involving Greek life houses.
Earlier this month, the university said 46 student-athletes from 10 different teams had tested positive for the virus.
And earlier this week, a report in the university’s student-run newspaper, The Diamondback, said residents of two Greek life houses — the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house and the Sigma Kappa sorority house — were asked to self-quarantine.
Another potential trouble spot: The university’s quarantine and isolation space is already more than half full — at 62% capacity — although Pines said many students will cycle out of their isolation periods by end of the week.
“If we are to maintain in-person instruction and on-campus housing for our students, these areas must see improvement,” Pines said. “We must remain vigilant in our actions.”
The university is set to conduct another round of campuswide testing during the weeks of Sept. 14, 21 and 28.
In addition, residence halls, classrooms and labs are all operating with “significantly lower levels of occupancy,” and cleaning and disinfecting efforts had been stepped up, Pines said.
In his message, Pines also pointed out that the College Park City Council recently approved an ordinance that increases the fine to $1,000 for anyone violating local health guidelines.
The university’s fall semester began Aug. 31, but all classes for the first two weeks were online.
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