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University of Maryland releases plan for spring semester, that has ‘look and feel’ similar to fall

The University of Maryland, College Park is expected to begin its spring semester at the end of January with a similar “look and feel” to fall classes, school leaders said Tuesday.

University President Darryll J. Pines said the first two weeks of instruction will be mostly virtual and then shift to a hybrid teaching with only 25% of classes in person.

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“Our goal is to provide the best possible academic and co-curricular experience for every member of our campus community, prioritizing health and safety,” Pines wrote in a letter. “If there is a lesson that we have learned throughout this pandemic, it is this: We must remain nimble and flexible and expect change. If new information comes to light, we will not hesitate to adapt our plans accordingly.”

Students will be allowed back on campus only with a negative COVID-19 test, and another test will be required before hybrid learning resumes. Anybody coming to campus will have to take a new test every two weeks, the university said.

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Spring break is scheduled to go on as planned, a decision Pines said was “difficult.” Ultimately, he said, he felt like it was the right thing to do because “our mental health is equally important as our physical health.”

Because students will be leaving campus, when they return from break classes will be virtual for two weeks as widespread testing is conducted.

“All of these plans should be considered provisional and will be subject to change depending on many factors, including national and state protocols, positivity rates on and around our campus, and our continued adherence to our 4 Maryland protocols,” Pines said.

Resident halls will operate at a reduced capacity, with students residing only in single rooms.

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The university formed a task force to help with the vaccine’s eventual arrival, storage and distribution.

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