Defying the odds, Salisbury University is on track to be the only institution within the entire University System of Maryland to welcome students back to campus after Thanksgiving and avoid a complete online transition to finish the semester.
President of Salisbury University Dr. Charles Wight commended university members’ adherence to the semester’s new COVID-19 policies, such as social distancing, mask-wearing, frequent handwashing and routinely getting tested for the virus every 30 days.
“Statistically, SU is one of the safest places in the state,” Wight said during his weekly COVID-19 briefing this past Thursday. “Our low positivity rate this semester is proof that, when observed regularly and consistently, [these precautions] can make a huge difference.”
The other 11 schools in the system, however, have not been as fortunate in response to the pandemic.
Just down the road from SU, University of Maryland Eastern Shore braced for the effects of COVID-19 by kicking off fall semester classes early to avoid potential surges brought on by offering a holiday break, according to WMDT47.
UMES students attended their final day of classes Nov. 13, nearly a month before its originally scheduled conclusion of Dec. 6.
The University of Maryland, College Park has opted to move nearly all classes online after Thanksgiving break, with “very few exceptions” remaining in-person, according to the university’s student newspaper, The Diamondback.
While students who choose to stay in the College Park residence halls during the break will be allowed to remain on campus until the end of the semester, Dec. 14, all individuals who elect to go home for the holiday will be barred from returning until the spring.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County has decided to shut down its few remaining in-person classes — just 10% of classes this semester met face-to-face — and close all residence halls after Thanksgiving to move completely online, per the university’s student newspaper, The Retriever.
Towson University, Bowie State University, the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Coppin State University and University of Baltimore will all join UMD in moving online after the holiday, while Frostburg State University followed suit of UMES and has concluded its semester early, before Thanksgiving.
SU is scheduled to continue offering its current combination of in-person, fully online and hybrid-formatted instruction for its final remaining weeks of the semester.
Wight said the university does have contingency plans in place to quickly convert into a fully online format if the risk becomes too great to welcome individuals back to campus after Thanksgiving.
SU has maintained a COVID-19 positivity rate at, or below, 2% since late September, according to the university’s coronavirus dashboard.
For more information on SU’s monthly testing protocols or to view the latest university COVID-19 test results, visit https://www.salisbury.edu/coronavirus/testing-info.aspx.
By JAKOB TODD
Featured image courtesy of Salisbury University Pinterest.