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University System of Maryland recalls all students abroad, mandates telework for nonessential employees

The University System of Maryland Chancellor is recalling all students abroad and telling employees to work from home, as coronavirus concerns continue to rise.

Chancellor Jay A. Perman said the mandates come after discussing options with the 12 university presidents, according to a release.

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All students studying abroad, including those not in Europe, are asked to return home, Perman said, due to President Donald Trump’s new travel restrictions. The chancellor also said he is advising international students to not travel to their home countries because there is a “significant possibility that return to the U.S. will be severely limited.”

The universities will also follow Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s directive, announced Thursday afternoon, that only essential employees will work on campus. Non-essential employees must telework immediately, the release said.

Perman is also prohibiting all out-of-state business travel for system employees and is advising the other university presidents to do the same.

Earlier on Thursday Hogan announced gatherings of more than 250 people must be canceled or postponed. Perman said the same will apply to university campuses and he encouraged people to avoid small, on-campus gatherings where social distancing can’t be practiced.

Through discussions with university presidents, Perman said each institution will decide how to handle athletic gatherings on a “case-by-case” basis because each sport is different.

The University of Maryland, College Park also announced it’s canceling classes and closing administrative offices a day earlier than previously planned amid rising coronavirus concerns.

Classes and exams will still be held Thursday night, according to a university news release, and residence halls won’t close until Friday at 7 p.m. as previously planned.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County previously canceled classes Thursday and Friday, but the remaining 11 campuses were set to close at the end of the week.

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College presidents in the system had wide latitude to make their own decisions before the university system announced the changes Thursday. Most of the 177,000 undergraduate and graduate students will continue their studies online after the break.

The flagship University of Maryland, College Park previously canceled class the week after break, March 23-29, and said students will be taught remotely for at least the following two weeks. Students should plan not to return to classes on campus until at least April 10, although the university will remain open and will accommodate those who need to be there. The University of Baltimore also said it will move its classes online for at least two weeks beginning March 23.

There are 12 confirmed cases in Maryland and more than 127,000 cases worldwide. More than 4,700 people have died from coronavirus. In the U.S. there are more than 1,500 reported cases and 39 people have died, the majority in Washington state.

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