University of Maryland, College Park officials will implement new safety measures because of a rise in the number of coronavirus cases, according to a letter to the campus community released Thursday.
The letter, written by Darryll J. Pines, the university president, and Spyridon Marinopoulos, director of the health center, said there have been clusters — three positive cases within a “defined” area — and outbreaks — five or more positive cases within a defined area — both on and off campus.
“We are writing to you today because we have seen a significant and concerning increase in positive COVID cases on and around our campus in recent days,” the officials wrote. “From the beginning of this pandemic, we have pledged to take action whenever we see the threat of further spread.”
Enhanced precautions for students who live in residence halls or fraternity and sorority houses where positive cases are growing will force individuals to stay in their rooms or houses and not attend in-person classes or work. Testing will also be implemented for all asymptomatic students who live in those areas.
All student gatherings, indoors and outdoors, are restricted to no more than five people. The only exception is for in-person academic instruction where there are masking and distancing.
The university leaders said that as they implement new restrictions on campus, there will be “significant consequences” for violators. Students who are caught not following guidelines will be reported and disciplined by the Office of Student Conduct and could face suspension or expulsion if there are multiple offenses. Faculty and staff will be held accountable by similar processes, the letter said.
If there is not a decrease in cases, more restrictions, such as suspending in-person classes, lab research and other campus activities, might be added.
“We do not take lightly that these additional measures impact everyday lives,” the letter said. “We are keenly aware of the toll this virus is taking on our collective and individual mental health. But we cannot let down our guard against this virus.”