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UMD Requiring Students To Sequester-In-Place Until Feb. 27 After Spike In COVID-19 Cases

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) -- The University of Maryland is asking students to sequester in place after a COVID-19 outbreak was reported.

For one week, classes will be online only.

The university reported 95 new cases over the last week, with a significant jump in new infections starting Thursday.

In a letter to the community, university officials wrote Saturday:

Effective today, the University of Maryland is implementing urgent interventions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on our campus:
  • All students living in residence halls and on-campus fraternity and sorority houses must sequester-in-place, effective at 12:00 noon today. 
  • All students living off-campus in the greater College Park area are strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible and limit your activities.
  • All in-person instruction for undergraduate and graduate courses will transition to online instruction beginning on Monday, February 22.
  • Approved laboratory research activities, already operating at 50% capacity and with strict masking and distancing precautions, may continue as scheduled.

These measures will be in effect for at least one week, through Saturday, February 27.

Earlier this week, the university notified the campus about a rise in COVID-19 cases. Although they took steps to mitigate the situation, the campus still saw a rise in cases.

All students must remain in the dorm rooms and residential halls as much as possible.

"Students may go outside to get fresh air only in the area immediately surrounding their residence hall and to pick-up food from dining halls," the university said in a statement.

Only student employees who work with Resident Life, Residential Facilities, Dining Services and Testing in Stamp are permitted to report to work.

Wicomico Hall has been opened to add isolation capacity for positive cases, and additional space will open as needed.

"It's a hard decision. It's a hard decision for the university to make, but it certainly was the right one," Dan Alpert, University of Maryland, College Park Student Body President, said.

Alpert said students are concerned, and that they aren't the only ones causing the recent spike in cases.

"It's not just the student's fault. I think a lot of times there is the misconception that it's only a student-caused issue," Alpert said. "But the reality is we really do need the help from the county to enforce our bars and establishments and our apartment buildings that aren't following guidelines and aren't enforcing them as they should be."

A similar COVID breakout was reported at Johns Hopkins University earlier this month.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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