Skip to Main Content

Initial Results of UMBC’s Pre-Semester COVID-19 Testing

September 1, 2020 1:44 PM
Dear UMBC Community,

UMBC’s fall 2020 semester began last week with a conservative approach designed to enable some on-campus activity supporting students’ academic progress while protecting the health of our community. Eighty-nine percent of classes are currently online, two percent are in-person, and nine percent are hybrids (largely online, with in-person options or elements). On-campus housing is at 34 percent of capacity.

Early results of baseline COVID-19 testing among faculty, staff, and students approved to be on campus are now available on UMBC’s Public Health Dashboard. These results indicate a campus positivity rate of 0.7 percent. This reflects 19 positive results out of 2,560 documented test results from both on- and off-campus COVID-19 tests conducted between August 13 and August 26. This is below Baltimore County’s positivity rate of 3.7 percent, and is at a level to continue, for the time being, with UMBC’s planned approach to the fall 2020 semester. Please know that every positive case has received appropriate follow-up.

While we understand that it is not possible for any campus to be completely free of COVID-19, our community has adopted many important public health measures to limit spread of the virus. Beyond the COVID-19 testing requirements, the University also requires all faculty, staff, and students with access to campus to undergo ongoing daily symptom tracking and health and safety training. Additional UMBC public health measures include administrative controls (such as mandatory mask wearing, physical distancing policies, and staggered shifts) and engineering controls (such as reconfiguring spaces for physical distancing and replacing air filters).

We expect that the data in this initial report will shift somewhat over the coming days, as we receive a small number of delayed test results, and if some faculty choose to shift their hybrid or face-to-face courses to a fully online format. We are also planning another round of on-campus COVID-19 testing for residential students after the Labor Day weekend. 

We will continue to carefully update and review UMBC’s public health data and will notify the University community if there are changes that require our current plans for the fall semester to change. Campus factors that would lead to further restrictions would include: a significant increase in the percentage of positive cases or positive surveillance tests, inability to conduct ongoing surveillance tests due to supply chain gaps, or clusters of cases on campus that exceed resources to test, trace, and isolate. We will also be guided by the advice and actions of state and local government authorities and the public health status of our surrounding community.

We are deeply grateful for your collective efforts to keep our UMBC community thriving and healthy during this extraordinary time. We particularly want to thank the many staff from across the campus who worked together to develop and implement a safe and efficient on-campus testing process. 

We wish all a wonderful fall semester.

Provost Philip Rous
Vice President for Finance and Administration Lynne Schaefer
Co-Chairs, Fall Planning Coordinating Committee
Vice President for Student Affairs Nancy Young
Chair, Students, Health & Well-Being Workgroup
Tags: covid19
0 Comments (requires login)