An Important Update for the SSW Community

By now, you may have seen or heard the statement by the University System of Maryland, which the University of Maryland, Baltimore belongs, that mandates all students and employees of the university be tested for COVID fourteen (14) days before arriving on campus. Individuals must provide university officials confirmation of a negative COVID test results. This does not apply to students going to field placements at locations not at UMB (unless dictated by that location) but only applies to those who intend to come on campus for class or other university work. (Please note that UMMC and the VA are not part of the UMB campus)

At this point, please know that the university leadership, including me, are working diligently to develop guidelines to best implement this policy. The immediate impacts created by this policy include:

  • The limited number of MSW classes originally scheduled to be in person this fall, including a class at Shady Grove, will now be entirely online. Impacted faculty and students have been contacted by SSW officials.

  • Select PhD classes scheduled to be in person this fall will not occur until October at the earliest. PhD students will be contacted by the PhD Program with more information.

  • Mission-critical employees at the SSW need to be tested 14 days prior to coming on campus. If you are already working on campus, please get tested as soon as it can be arranged.

  • An online form is in development that will be required of all faculty and staff to complete at least 24 hours prior to any visit to campus that is needed. You will need to provide proof of a negative COVID test result and attest that you will complete UMB’s Symptom Checker before visiting the campus. A link will be provided soon for the symptom checker.

  • Once implemented, it is imperative for faculty and staff who visit the SSW to be concerned about their own health and the health of all who are in our buildings. I would expect that all will cooperate with these procedures to demonstrate support of your colleagues, the SSW, and UMB.

As COVID numbers in Maryland and elsewhere continue to rise, I strongly remind everyone that you should not be on campus unless you have been deemed “mission-critical.” The rest of us all are expected to be working from home.

If you need to be tested, UMB leadership has provided the following information:

  • Students and employees in the Baltimore area can schedule a COVID-19 test at the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital. Make an appointment here.

  • Information on testing locations in the state of Maryland can be found here.

  • Students and employees living outside of Maryland should visit their state health department’s website for information on COVID-19 testing available in their state. A link to each state’s health department can be found here.

  • DO NOT contact UMB’s COVID Hotline to arrange a COVID test—ONLY call the Hotline regarding symptoms you have or after receiving a positive test result. If you are not feeling well, do not come to campus. Students who test positive for COVID-19 should seek medical advice from their health care provider and also contact the UMB Student Health Center at 667-214-1899 to discuss their test result. Employees who have been approved to be on campus and test positive should also seek medical advice from their health care provider and must contact the UMB COVID-19 Hotline at 800-701-9863.

As a reminder, we know that the best risk or harm reduction strategies we can use include:

  • Assessing for symptoms on a daily basis (e.g., fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell)

  • Limiting face to face interactions; if necessary, keeping 6 feet between individuals

  • Frequent washing of hands or use of sterilizing products (e.g., Purell)

  • Avoid touching your face

  • Wearing masks in public, in campus buildings, and on campus grounds

At the SSW, we are also creating protocols to ensure a safe and confidential environment for all which includes:

  • A simple process to report the findings from a COVID test

  • Access to report daily symptoms online

  • Signs posted throughout all of our buildings reminding all to practice those risk reduction strategies mentioned above.

I understand and share the stress and frustration that working from home causes. From feelings of isolation across the spectrum to needing some privacy while balancing work with the many demands of family are just a few of the complications. COVID is a mental health crisis, too. I remind all of you to please reach out to family, friends, or mental health professionals, as necessary, as we all continue to work together through this unprecedented challenge.

I promise to continue providing you with timely and important information as it unfolds. Thanks for your continued patience.

Dean Judy L. Postmus, PhD, MSW

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2020 University of Maryland School of Social Work

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