March 10, 2020: Letter on COVID-19 to UMSON Students from Jane M. Kirschling, Dean

Updated 03/11/2020

Dear Students,

The health of our community, and especially our students, is our top priority. With the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) now in Maryland, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) are taking measures to ensure the safety of our community as well as those who are under our care.

We have created a webpage, nursing.umaryland.edu/covid19, for information regarding UMSON operations as they relate to COVID-19. UMB has also created a webpage, umaryland.edu/coronavirus, for information that impacts the UMB campus. These webpages are updated regularly with information and guidance intended to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. You are expected to review the webpages twice daily for updates.

Following advice provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state, and University experts, to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses, we are adopting the following measures effective immediately until further notice:

  1. Whenever possible, students, faculty, and staff will maintain at least 6 feet of social distance while interacting and will not congregate in open areas, hallways, or outside of simulation and lab spaces.
  2. UMSON student organizations will hold essential meetings remotely. Essential meetings are those that must take place to reach a decision either to advance a student organization’s mission or to discuss a critical issue impacting the organization. All other student group gatherings (study sessions, etc.) are considered non-essential and should be canceled. Questions should be directed to the Student Success Center, nrsstudentsuccesscenter@umaryland.edu or 410-706-5426.
  3. UMSON Student Success Centers in Baltimore and at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) will continue to provide academic advising and other student success services through non-in-person methods. Other student service offices (Registrar and Student Placements, Admissions and Student Scholarships) can be contacted via email at nrsregistration@umaryland.edu or nrsadmissions@umaryland.edu, respectively, or by phone at 410.706.0501.

Starting Monday, March 23, we will institute the following changes for spring classes:

  1. No classroom-based classes will meet in person. Your section instructors and/or course coordinators will communicate with you about alternative delivery for the course.
  2. Examinations will be delivered through Examsoft or other virtual methods. We are working to provide services for students who have testing accommodations under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Your instructor will coordinate with you regarding how these exams will be administered.
  3. Students will continue to participate in in-person simulations and labs because group sizes are small and hand hygiene in the lab environment is easy to achieve.
  4. Students in clinical rotations or practicum experiences will continue with the understanding that the clinical site may limit student participation in selected experiences or may notify the student or UMSON that the clinical placement needs to be discontinued. Per UMB guidance, UMSON students will not provide care to persons who known (COVID-19 confirmed) or suspected (COVID-19 rule-out) patients. As always, be mindful of the need for confidentiality of HIPAA-protected patient information and avoid sharing events in your clinical settings through email or social media.
  5. Students conducting research as part of their studies or research assistantships will follow UMSON’s Office of Research and Scholarship-issued guidelines; UMSON students will not engage research participants who are COVID-19 rule-out or COVID-19 confirmed.

All members of the UMSON community will be expected to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations for prevention, which include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

If you’re concerned about your health, contact a care provider. To make an appointment at UMaryland Immediate Care, call 667-214-1899.

If you are sick, you are encouraged to stay home to limit the spread of germs. Those who present with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (defined as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) should not be at UMB, USG, or clinical sites and should practice social distancing.

If you are unable to meet course and/or clinical requirements as a result of being exposed to COVID-19 and/or quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19, UMSON will make every effort to support your completion of the course/clinical requirements, as applicable.

Please also keep in mind that we are a community, and we want to ensure that all feel welcome and safe during our educational and workplace pursuits. See our guidance related to being vigilant and mindful of how an outbreak like COVID-19 can impact members of our community.

In collaboration with UMB, we will continue to assess the situation over the coming days and weeks and may make updates as appropriate.

Sincerely,

Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dean and Professor