University System of Maryland (USM) Statement on COVID-19 Testing and a Remote Start to the Fall Semester at Towson University (TU)
Baltimore, Md. (Aug. 22, 2020) -- Leaders of USM institutions have worked hard over the past several months to ready their campuses for the unique circumstances of the return to Fall 2020 semester. This work has been informed by the latest guidance and information from federal, state and local public health officials. The result is a structure of best practices pertaining to testing, surveillance and disease control that has assisted each institution in developing its own plan addressing the health and safety needs of its students and employees.
As part of this planning process, the USM announced on July 30 additional procedures and protocols related to testing, symptom monitoring, and infection prevention and control for all students and employees returning to campus in the fall. Institutions have also established outlets for reporting on the number of positive COVID-19 cases on campus and are sharing such information with local public health officials to facilitate contact tracing. These procedures are intended to help the USM fulfill its commitment to protect both the campus and local community and reduce disease transmission.
Last week, as part of its proactive plan of testing and symptom monitoring for those arriving on campus, TU has conducted daily COVID-19 PCR testing on campus. A recent sample of 627 individual tests included 55 positive results. In keeping with its disease protocols, TU officials have notified the Baltimore County Health Department and contact tracing is underway.
Out of an abundance of caution, TU’s leadership has also announced that all classes—which were scheduled to start on Monday—will begin under a remote learning format and will continue in that capacity for the remainder of the week. That will provide the campus the necessary time to conduct disease mitigation, continue testing and surveillance, and coordinate with local public health officials.
It is clear that TU’s proactive plan of testing and surveillance has worked well, and USM leadership appreciates the swift and decisive action taken by the campus. The health and safety of students, faculty and staff—along with safety and accountability of local communities—will continue to drive the planning and administrative decisions of the USM and its institutions. Responding in real time to this historic and ever-changing pandemic will require flexibility, and near-daily collaboration between federal, state, local and campus leaders and public health officials.
Contact: Mike Lurie