Image courtesy of University System of Maryland

University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay A. Perman urged universities to prepare for students to remain off campus for at least two weeks after the end of spring break, during which time instruction should be given remotely.

“The health of our students, faculty, and staff is my paramount concern as the University System of Maryland (USM) develops protocols in response to the coronavirus outbreak,” Perman said in a statement Tuesday. “Our recommendations align with those of our public health experts, and we’re prepared to adapt our protocols quickly as circumstances change.”

USM spring break begins Saturday, March 14, and ends Sunday, March 23. But universities are being urged to prepare for remote instruction through at least April 3, per USM guidance.

Perman said USM presidents may need to cancel classes to allow students, faculty and staff to plan for changes to their institution’s post-spring break schedule.

Towson University cancelled classes from Wednesday, March 11, through Friday, March 13, to prepare for remote teaching, learning and working after spring break.

“When preparing to leave for spring break, we ask students take all essential belongings, medications, and materials from your residence hall or work space in case it should become necessary to restrict return access to campus for at least two weeks,” TU officials said.

Perman said all campuses will remain open before, during and after spring break despite any class cancellations.

TU officials confirmed that their campus will remain open even if classes are not held in person after spring break.

On Monday, TU asked nine students and one staff member to self-quarantine after the individuals were potentially exposed to the coronavirus while attending the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, held March 1-3 in Washington, D.C.

Two people who attended the conference have tested positive for COVID-19.

The university asked those 10 people to stay away from campus for two weeks after the last date they attended the conference.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County, canceled classes for Thursday, March 12, and Friday, March 13.

UMBC officials also said that students should plan to not return to campus for the two weeks after spring break, instead preparing to take courses online during that period.

Staff should plan to return to work on Thursday, March 19. Campus events will be canceled through April 6 and all university-related out-of-state travel has been suspended, UMBC officials said.

University of Maryland, Baltimore, said it will likely cancel all in-person instruction after spring break and that people should prepare to fully convert to virtual teaching no later than March 23.

Any class that can use technology for teaching remotely should transition to such means of instruction as soon as possible, UMB officials said.

There are nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Tuesday afternoon, including five in Montgomery County, three in Prince George’s County and one in Harford County.

At about 5:46 p.m. Tuesday, Hogan announced Maryland’s ninth confirmed case of the coronavirus: a Montgomery County woman in her 60s, who contracted the virus while traveling overseas.

The woman had been aboard the same Egyptian cruise ship as five of the state’s previously confirmed cases, Hogan’s office said in a statement.

The woman is not hospitalized and is in good condition, the statement said.

Earlier today, while updating his cabinet about the state’s response to coronavirus, Hogan confirmed that a Prince George’s County couple, both in their 60s, had tested positive for COVID-19. The couple had been aboard the same Egyptian cruise ship.

The couple are now “at home and in good condition,” Hogan said during a cabinet meeting Tuesday.

That same cruise ship is connected to 12 confirmed coronavirus cases in the Houston area, but the Marylanders who traveled on that ship were aboard it on different dates than the Houston cases, Hogan said.

Nationwide, there have been at least 808 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, including 28 deaths, as of 4:37 p.m. Tuesday, according to a real-time dashboard created by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Hogan, Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson signed into law Monday a piece of emergency legislation that allows the state to transfer up to $50 million from its rainy day fund to put toward an emergency response to the coronavirus.

Hogan has also convened a COVID-19 response team including experts in public health and emergency management.

“These are kind of experts in the medical field that I think we’re just going to rely on them and their expertise because we want the smartest people giving us the best advice possible as we make independent decisions on the ground,” Hogan said Monday.

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at