With the health and safety of the campus and our surrounding communities at the forefront, UMBC’s plan to re-open the campus is grounded in the best scientific information available about the COVID-19 pandemic and necessary public health precautions. Protocols for transmission prevention, symptom monitoring, and management of the inevitable COVID-19 cases that will occur in any public environment are prerequisites to implementing any level of return to the campus.
To that end, we ask that our community do their part in preparing for in-person interactions with faculty, staff, and students authorized to be on campus, with respect to masks, social distancing, and large gatherings. It is critical that we:
- Ensure the proper use of masks and social distancing in public spaces and prevent unsafe gatherings on campus. Face coverings or masks are required to be worn in buildings and outdoors when in the presence of others.
- Provide all campus community members with guidance to address inappropriate or unsafe behavior when engaged in on-campus activity.
- Ensure existing policies for appropriate on-campus conduct are updated and clearly defined.
- Ensure syllabi for in-person classes include appropriate behavior expectations and consequences for violating standards.
Why are these precautions necessary?
- When everyone occupying a shared breathing space wears a mask and maintains social distance, we reduce the threat of sharing the virus.
- When we wear a mask and keep social distance, we protect other people around us in case any of us may be infected.
- We primarily transmit the coronavirus to others by spreading infected respiratory droplets when we breath, speak, cough, and sneeze.
- Spread of the virus is more likely among people in close contact. This means being within six feet of someone for more than 15 cumulative minutes in a 24 hour period.
- Combining masks with social distancing helps prevent the spread of droplets into shared breathing space.
- Appropriate use of face masks or coverings is critical in minimizing risk to others near you.
- We can spread the virus to others even if we are asymptomatic.
- Asymptomatic means we may be infected with the virus and able to spread infected droplets to others even if we don’t feel sick.
- There is no way to know if we are asymptomatic without being tested, and no way to know if others around us are asymptomatic either.
- The safest behavior is to assume that everyone in our shared breathing space may be infected with the virus.
Proper use of masks and social distancing on campus
- Masks are not a substitute for social distancing. Whenever possible, we must use both in combination to prevent spread of the virus.
- Masks are required on campus in any public settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain. This may include outdoors settings as well as indoors.
- Masks must cover your nose and mouth.
- Masks must be worn and social distancing seating plans must be followed.
- Be aware of signs posted on campus providing specific requirements for food service areas, common areas, and other public spaces.
When are masks recommended but not required?
- When occupying an indoor space alone (unless there are specific safety requirements for your activity like research or construction).
- When outdoors and social distancing can be assured.
What if someone refuses to wear a mask or social distance?
- The message must be consistently stated that “my mask protects you; your mask protects me; our masks protect each other.”
- Recognize that wearing a mask can be difficult. Masks:
- Are not convenient and can be uncomfortable.
- Can be difficult for people who wear glasses (fogging).
- Can make speaking difficult and prevent eating and drinking.
- Can worsen breathing problems, anxiety, or fatigue.
- Can be conflated with political beliefs or beliefs about civil liberties.
- Everyone can lead by example:
- We can manage our own personal space and, when possible, create more distance between ourselves and someone without a mask.
- If we cannot manage distance, exercise courtesy when asking a person to use a mask; respect from both parties is essential.
- Empathize with people who experience difficulties wearing masks, acknowledge their concerns, and suggest increasing distance.
- Remind each other that these are behaviors we all agreed upon in order to be on campus.
- Recognize what DOES NOT work:
- Don’t engage in arguments or escalate a confrontation.
- Don’t attempt to shame someone; this strengthens resistance.
- Don’t make assumptions about why someone isn’t wearing a mask.
Who will respond if someone refuses to take these precautions?
- Public health concerns and increased vulnerability of some community members may make it necessary to call University Police if someone chooses not to follow the rules for masks and social distancing.
- University Police officers shall have a deescalation protocol to address such situations.
- Recognize that any response is likely to cause disruptions in classrooms and other public spaces.
- The protocol may include a list of reasonable circumstances for not wearing a mask properly or at all.
- If an individual does not have a mask, they may be provided with one.
- Officers shall determine if the individual is not complying with mask requirements because of breathing problems, anxiety, or other health concerns.
- If the individual states that any health concerns apply, they will be provided with referral assistance.
- If health concerns do not apply, then officers shall ensure the individual is aware of the campus rules as part of the agreed upon terms for returning to campus.
- If the individual is aware of return-to-campus rules, is intentionally choosing not to follow them, and continues to be non-compliant, officers may remove the individual from campus.
- Informal gatherings must utilize masks when social distancing is not possible.
- Gatherings that do not follow the guidance stated in the UMBC Code of Student Conduct will be dispersed.
For more information on appropriate on-campus conduct, please see The UMBC Code of Student Conduct, which includes a COVID-19 addendum.