Uncertainty looms for spring break as Maryland reopens
Salisbury University’s abbreviated two-day spring break is on the horizon just as the state eases its coronavirus restrictions.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced an executive order Tuesday lifting capacity limits on indoor and outdoor dining, retail businesses, fitness centers and religious establishments, which will take effect at 5 p.m. Friday. Large venues, such as theaters and stadiums, will be allowed to admit up to 50% capacity.
Mandatory masking requirements are still in effect, and restaurants and bars will only be able to serve seated, socially-distanced customers, Hogan said.
Instruction at the university will conclude Friday and resume Wednesday, providing the SU community with a potential break of four days on or away from campus.
SU Vice President of Student Affairs Dane Foust warned of potentially hazardous behavior that could increase as a result of the break mixed with the recently warm weather.
“Please don’t let down your guard,” Foust said. “And if you drink, be careful … alcohol and other drugs can cause you to loosen your inhibitions and make you be unhealthy.”
SU President Charles Wight said the university’s residence halls and dining facilities will remain open during this year’s spring break should campus members decide to remain on-campus. Students, faculty and staff will need to remain compliant with the university’s testing protocols to maintain access to these facilities, however.
SU has identified its highest total of weekly coronavirus cases since mid-December this week, capturing 44 cases over nearly 5,000 tests administered since March 4, per the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. The campus still maintains a positivity rate under 1%.
The university is in its second week under tightened COVID-19 testing protocols, with on-campus students required to receive a rapid antigen test once per week.
SU testing will remain open every day of the week — including during spring break — in the Great Hall of Holloway Hall.
Wight said university members are encouraged to continue with their regularly scheduled weekly test dates, though limited makeups will be allotted from March 17-18 using https://sutesting.timetap.com.
“Thank you for continuing to take precautions to protect your health and the health of others around you,” Wight said.
The executive order does not change the university’s plan for a primarily virtual spring commencement ceremony, Wight said.
Maryland is currently seeing a gradual decrease in coronavirus positivity, most recently capturing a seven-day average of 3.6%, according to the state’s own coronavirus dashboard.
More than 1 million Marylanders have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 584,389 have received both doses, per the dashboard. Wicomico County, meanwhile, has fully vaccinated just over 12% of its total population.
Hogan previously announced that the Eastern Shore’s first mass vaccination site will open in the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center no later than March 18.
Wight said campus community members are “strongly encouraged” to receive their vaccines once made available, though there is still no formal requirement in place for the university.
SU students who are on campus less than once per week must give notice of at least three business days to COVIDTesting@salisbury.edu in order to schedule a coronavirus rapid test to gain access to university facilities, per a recent Stay Informed email. Students will then be granted a one-day pass after receiving a negative test result.
For more information on SU’s 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 Baltimore Sun.