Fall is primed to look very different this year as the University of Maryland, Baltimore County released further information that provides insight into some of the changes that will impact students, staff and faculty.
Here are some of the highlights you need to know:
What we know about academics:
Around 10% of courses will be meeting in-person on campus or hybrid with some in-person meetings. The decisions on these courses were made by academic departments, and all courses that were approved had to pass “a rigorous health and safety risk assessment review,” according to the announcement. You can view the complete list here.
- The criteria depended on how necessary the course was for students to stay on track and/or how crucial the course was for relationship building between new students on campus.
After Thanksgiving break, residence halls will close and all classes will continue online only. This follows the same model as many other universities, in order to minimize risks when students usually leave and return to campus.
As most universities are, UMBC is slowly moving from fully remote to limited on-campus activities based on the public health situation, with the first day of the fall semester remaining unchanged (August 27). This means that administration is making decisions that are subject to evolve based on certain key assumptions.
All students who are returning to campus will have to sign a “Retriever Community Agreement.” This document is still in the works by UMBC administrators, but here’s a brief look into what we can expect:
- UMBC students will be expected to adhere to all COVID-19 emergency health and safety rules, policies, guidelines and signage enacted for the UMBC community. Certain buildings and spaces will be closed and/or have posted capacity limits. In addition, residential students will not be permitted visitors from outside of their building community.
- The UMBC Code of Student Conduct is being revised to include public health behaviors.
- Students will be expected to stay at home or in their residence hall rooms. They will also be expected to notify appropriate UMBC staff if they feel sick, have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or exhibits any COVID-19 symptoms.
What we know about campus resources:
The Academic Success Center and the Office for Academic and Pre-Professional Advising will still be functioning and have expanded to reach students at all locations. The Career Center will also be offering its services and will be hosting “a large-scale virtual career and internship fair” in September. Welcome Week will be a mix of virtual and hybrid events.
The document details more specifics surrounding “virtual applied learning and career development experiences” and more.
What we know about Residential Life:
According to Lisa Akchin, UMBC’s goal is to “make housing available to students who must be present to participate in on-campus instruction and are unable to commute.” Prior to the hall closings at Thanksgiving break, only one student will be assigned per bedroom. UMBC has stated that they will not be able to house all students who completed a license and deposit for the academic semester. According to the document, “Residential Life staff are working with University partners, including student leaders, to identify criteria for students to be offered the opportunity to complete a new housing license for the fall semester only.”
UMBC is a “mask-on” campus and everyone on campus will be required to wear a mask whenever social distancing is not possible, including residential communal spaces (ex: laundry rooms, lounges, etc.).
What we know about Research and Creative Achievement:
The Research and Creative Achievement (RCA) community launched their phased return to campus on June 15. This is Phase 1, and around 15% of the RCA community will be returning to campus. Out of the 145 requests from labs and faculty, 128 faculty, 48 staff, 176 graduate students and 20 undergraduate students will return back to campus, most with staggered shifts. They will complete online COVID-19 health and safety training prior to their return.
So what’s still up the air?
The conversations that have led to this point are plentiful. The Fall Planning Committee is made up of smaller work groups, which have been meeting often. UMBC has also been instituting focus groups with parents of UMBC students.
For Residential Life, there are still a variety of questions students might have. Those who applied to live on campus can expect an email update early in the week of June 22. Students who licensed with Walker Apartments will hear updates by July 1.
During the fall, students will hear updates about the spring semester in mid-October.
The Events, Activities, and Community Engagement Work Group is still working on determining guidance to provide to campus groups. So far, they have organized and are developing safety protocols for specific spaces on campus.
In July, UMBC will share details about the multiphase plan to allow for student athletes to safely return and resume practices and competitions.
According to the document, “most employees will continue to work remotely this fall.” The multiphase plan for on-campus workers will be sent out the week of June 22.
UMBC’s website with the Retrievers Return Roadmap continues to update as decisions are made. The Retriever will continue our coverage as the situation evolves and we learn more information about the fall.