A statement from President Peter Goodwin on UMCES’ commitment to diversity

Coronavirus Preparedness

Updated June 11, 2020

UPDATE: On June 15 will be moving into Phase 1 of our Return to Campus Plan for UMCES: Graduate Education and Phased Reactivation of Research.

All in-person campus events and summer programs, including those sponsored on- and off-campus should be cancelled or changed to virtual formats throughout the summer, and no new in-person meetings, conferences, or events should be scheduled until further notice. 

Our first priority it to protect our people and our campuses to ensure that our faculty, staff, and students stay healthy. For updates and preparedness resources from the University System of Maryland, visit University System of Maryland Coronavirus Preparedness and Resources

All UMCES campuses are teleworking with only essential personnel working on site. This will remain in effect until further notice. Any leave-eligible, non-essential employee unable to telework will be placed on Administrative Leave/or Excused Absence with pay. The USM has put out guidance regarding telework policies during this period of COVID-19 threat. If you find that you need to pick up essential belongings or material needed for teleworking, you must coordinate access to your facility from your Laboratory Director, or their designee in their absence, to be on campus. UMCES is asking that the relatively small number of essential employees who work on or have a scheduled visit to an UMCES campus to wear masks or face coverings when there is the likelihood of encountering others. Social distancing should continue to be practiced in all environments and please be sure to maintain heightened hygiene. Visit USM FAQS On Teleworking for additional information.

Guidance on Timesheets

People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19:
The CDC has identified conditions that may make individuals at high risk for COVID-19 and have issued recommendations to reduce their risk. If you believe you are in a high risk category and wish to work from home, please contact your supervisor or Lisa Ross at lross@umces.edu or 410-221-2017.

Hiring Pause Procedure and Exception Process
Because the vast majority of our community is working remotely, UMCES is implementing a hiring process pause for all vacant faculty, regular and contingent I and II exempt and non-exempt staff positions. This temporary hiring pause is consistent with practices put in place across the entire USM as a result of the State of Maryland’s Stay at Home Directive. For details, please consult Hiring Pause and Exception Notice (April 7, 2020).

UMCES has established a phased plan to reactivate research entitled Return to Campus Plan for UMCES: Graduate Education and Phased Reactivation of Research with many important UMCES-wide and specific research Unit details. The plan to reactivate laboratory and field research is based on three phases described below:

Phase 0: UMCES is currently engaged in Phase 0 of our reactivation plan, which involves preparation for the resumption of limited research activities at the UMCES laboratories. In Phase 0, a PI may designate to the Laboratory Director one person per lab to be allowed to return to their lab to ensure adequate personal protective equipment, check instruments, take an inventory and order supplies that will be needed for Phase 1.

Phase 1: Limited field and laboratory research may resume with significant restrictions to allow social distancing, health screening, enhanced cleaning, and monitoring the activities of personnel at our facilities. We hope to be entering Phase 1 in June, 2020.

Phase 2: As community conditions continue to improve, UMCES will move to Phase 2 with broader research and campus activities resuming.  However, the details of Phase 2 will be developed based on our experiences during Phase 1 and the current state of the pandemic.

Inevitably many researchers, graduate students, and staff will continue to telework even with a phased approach to the reactivation of field and laboratory research.  Please note that no-one will be required to come to an UMCES facility or conduct field work during this period, if they are unable or uncomfortable doing so. 

It is important to prioritize research activities that can be done remotely such as data processing, proposals, publications, reviews, virtual research group and administrative meetings, etc. ORAA and all research support offices are still fully functional, largely through teleworking capacity. UMCES particularly encourages the submission of proposals during this period of remote operation as we will emerge from this challenging period. Suitable caveats on timelines and project schedule should be included to give researchers maximum flexibility in ramping up activities.

UMCES remains committed to expanding and enhancing the student learning experience and will continue to provide online instruction in the Fall of 2020.  Graduate students working on laboratory and field research will follow the guidelines set forth in the phased reactivation of research activities as set forth in the Return to Campus Plan for UMCES: Graduate Education and Phased Reactivation of Research

New graduate students are being admitted in Fall 2020.  Some students may start their graduate experience through telework depending on the level of community spread of the coronavirus in the state or country they are coming from as well as the nature of their research and education plans for the Fall 2020 developed with their major adviser.  However, all laboratory or field activities will be governed by the rules established within . UMCES will not allow new visiting graduate students or scholars to reside at any of its locations during this phased plan.

UMCES Education Information and FAQs includes updates on our current education status, course suggestions and resources for moving online, Zoom and Moodle information, tips for hosting online meetings and defenses, and a general FAQ section. Should you have specific concerns, please direct them to the UMCES Vice President for Education’s office at education@umces.edu.  Please continue to copy us on correspondence with the MEES office as well.

Visit the Student Resource page for additional information.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has continued to spread globally and throughout the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued higher level travel alerts for various countries and regions.

Travel is allowed under the Return to Campus Plan for UMCES: Graduate Education and Phased Reactivation of Research (hyperlink).  As that plan states travel, depending upon where you travel for personal or professional reasons may require that you do not come to an UMCES unit for 14 days after your return to Maryland or a contiguous state.

UMCES employees can securely seek help for personal or work‐related problems through our Employee Assistance Program, GuidanceResources. Services are available to ALL UMCES students, faculty and staff and their immediate family/household members. To access EAP services online, use the following link: www.guidanceresources.com or access the App searching for GuidanceNow. The web ID is USMEAP.

Creating Your Win-Win: What’s Now & What’s Next
These online weekly meetings for the UMCES community will engage participants in personal and professional development topics as we gather virtually to share, stretch, and build community. Each session will include a brief mindfulness practice, topics of discussion chosen by the group, and brief training sessions that span the personal-professional continuum. Contact Denise Yost at dyost@umces.edu for details and access information.

Graduate students / FRAs: Tuesdays, 3:30 p.m.          
Staff / FRAS/ Faculty: Thursdays, 2 p.m. 

Mental Healthcare Resources 
In addition to mental health care options available through UMCES, the UMCES’ Mental Health Committee has assembled Mental Healthcare Resources and Contacts with information about national, Maryland, and local resources available in each campus’ neighborhood. 

Staying Social: Links and Ideas for connecting socially
Click HERE for ideas for staying connected virtually with colleagues, family and friends, from online card games and gaming to karaoke and dinner parties. 

Maryland Unites
For more about how you can help your community in Maryland, visit the Maryland Unites website for opportunities and resources.

We invite you to share questions or concerns regarding this crisis at engage@umces.edu.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Click here to view. 


Guidance on Timesheets for COVID-10 Event

For questions and to find out more information contact Lisa Ross, Director of Human Resources directly at lross@umces.edu.

If you missed an all-UMCES virtual meeting, find them online below:

UMCES Virtual All-Hands Meetings
March 27
March 20
May 8

UMCES-Wide Sector Discussions (April 7, 2020)

We invite you to share questions or concerns regarding this crisis at engage@umces.edu.

Coronavirus Q&A

What is novel coronavirus? Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this novel (new) coronavirus, which was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”). Source: CDC

How does coronavirus spread? The virus is thought to be transmitted from person-to-person in close contact (about 6 feet). The virus may be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes and produces respiratory droplets that infect a nearby person. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic; however, some spread might be possible before people show symptoms. Source: CDC

What are the symptoms? The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Source: CDC

What should you do if you have symptoms? If you are experiencing symptoms, you should contact your medical provider.

How can you protect yourself? At this time, there is no vaccine that prevents COVID-19 infection. You can reduce your risk of contracting respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, by taking the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Talk to your medical provider about getting an influenza vaccine. While the influenza vaccine does not protect against coronavirus infection, it can help keep you healthy during the flu season. Flu activity has been high in the United States this year. Currently, your risk of getting the flu is much greater than your risk of contracting COVID-19.

Source: Maryland Health Department