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Return to Campus in 2021 for RCA Activities

Latest Update: January 14, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Over this past year all of our faculty and staff have been making significant sacrifices to aid our students and our colleagues through what has become a highly unusual year with many new and unknown challenges for all of us.  Our Number 1 priority is to put in place processes and procedures to assure that everyone remains safe and secure while pursuing our critical Research and Creative Achievement (RCA) activities.

We know that eventually we will recover from this serious challenge and the hardships and adjustments in our personal and professional lives that all of us are experiencing.  In the meantime, each one of us must understand and accept the urgency to stop the spread of this virus and continue to “Flatten the Curve.”  My thanks to all of you for your remarkable efforts during this challenging year.

In consultation with the Provost, the Deans of our Colleges, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, and UMBC’s Research Access Exception (RAET) Task Force, we have established the following processes for our RCA activities to ensure a safe environment for our faculty, staff, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students who require access to studios, laboratories, and critical research equipment on campus.

Please consult the UMBC COVID-19 page for a complete set of guidance documents

Return to Campus in January 2021 for RCA Activities

Any RCA team members approved to return back to Campus in January 2021 are required to adhere to the health and safety requirements outlined below.

  • Any currently active approvals for On-Campus RCA activities will remain in effect through at least May 31, 2021, but they will be subject to changing regulations issued by the State of Maryland, USM, or UMBC.
  • Failure to adhere to these requirements may lead to a suspension of On-Campus RCA access privileges.
Symptom Tracking during Winter Session
  • Any UMBC community member planning to return to campus in January must continue to symptom track over the break, since the duration of the break is shorter than the incubation period for the coronavirus. It is expected that you will complete the online symptom tracker every day, seven-days-a-week. 
Self-Quarantine and Testing Requirements after Out-of-State Travel
  • Any UMBC community member that has travelled to other US States – with the exception of Maryland’s neighboring states of Delaware, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or West Virginia – are required to self-quarantine for 10 (ten) days, but can end the quarantine early, once a negative COVID-19 test result has been received and submitted to the UMBC portal using this form.
  • Any UMBC Community member that has conducted international travel is required to self-quarantine for 7 (seven) days after return back to the US, even if a negative COVID-19 test result is received earlier than that. Please keep in mind that if your return to the US is through a state other than Maryland, then you will need to comply with the prior bullet regarding domestic travel.
  • Starting January 26, 2021, international arrivals will have to have a negative COVID-19 test before arrival in the US.  Please review the CDC Requirements for Testing and International Air Travel for up-to-date information.
COVID-19 Testing after the Holidays
  • All employees, researchers, and student workers who return to campus between January 4 and 26 must submit a negative COVID-19 test result. This test must be taken between January 2 – 9 and results must be submitted by January 11. Employees do not need to have results to return to work before January 11, as they will be following the safety guidelines outlined below.
  • You may take a test at an off-campus location of your choice and submit your results using this form.
  • Essential additional information about testing is available here. The link will be updated to include scheduling information as soon as it becomes available.
Additional Health Precautions
  • In addition to testing, we ask that our community members continue to take a number of health and safety actions to ensure the continued well-being of our entire campus community. This includes:
    • Physical distancing – all safety measures such as reduced density in labs continue to apply.
    • Wearing a mask in public and outside of your home. This includes your lab or studio area.
    • Regular and thorough hand washing.
    • Avoiding out-of-state travel and gatherings with people outside of your immediate household.
UMBC’s On-Campus RCA Facilities are currently operating under Stage 2 RCA Mode
  • Under Stage 2 RCA Mode we are requiring a minimum of 235 sq.ft. per individual in any laboratory or studio on campus. Please include those space considerations in your On-Campus RCA Activities Request.
  • Please see details on Research and Creative Achievement (RCA) at UMBC during COVID-19 for more information.
  • Any currently active approvals for On-Campus RCA activities will remain in effect through at least May 31, 2021, albeit subject to changing regulations issued by the State of Maryland, USM, or UMBC.
  • Under Stage 2 RCA Mode, resuming in-person, on-campus interactions for research purposes is currently not permitted. Please continue to monitor this web page for news and updates.
  • All individuals authorized for On-Campus RCA access under Stage 1 or Stage 2 RCA Mode are subject to mandatory COVID-19 Training, Testing, and On-line Symptom Tracking as outlined here.
Guidelines for Return to Campus under RCA Mode

We strongly encourage you to make yourself familiar and follow the CDC Guidelines for Institutes of Higher Education, updated May 30, 2020. Under “Promoting Behaviors that Reduce Spread” the CDC provides strategies to encourage behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19.

  • Staying home or self-isolating when appropriate;
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette;
  • Cloth Face Coverings;
  • Adequate supplies;
  • Signs and messages.

IMPORTANT: Any of your RCA team members need to stay at home if they feel unwell.  COVID-19 often starts with mild symptoms such as:

  • Fever or chills;
  • Sore throat or dry cough;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Headaches or muscle pains;
  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, runny nose or congestion.

If you or any of your RCA team members has tested positive for COVID-19 or exhibits ay symptoms consistent with COVID-19 as outlined above, we strongly request contacting UMBC’s University Health Services, 410-455-2542 who will notify UMBC’s Contact Response Team.

As you return to campus, you will notice signage throughout the buildings reminding you to keep yourself and others healthy.

  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Keep your phone in your pocket or bag;
  • Sanitize shared equipment before and after use;
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others;
  • Avoid touching your face and mask.

We will continue monitoring public health information issued by the CDC and OSHA for updated guidance on this global pandemic and will be watching our campus community for signs of potential exposure.

Please note that we may need to reduce access or shut down labs or buildings on short notice should any signs of the virus become evident on Campus.

Prior Stage 1 RCA Mode – June 15 to August 31, 2020
  1. All in-person meetings continue to be held via teleconferencing or videoconferencing methods.
  2. We estimate that Stage 1 RCA Mode will accompany 20-25% of normal RCA activity density.
  3. On a rolling basis, faculty RCA team leaders are being invited through their Department Chairs or Supervisors to submit a DocuSign form with the On-Campus RCA Activities Request to request access to On-Campus labs or studios.
    • RCA Faculty Team Leaders need to submit a detailed plan following social distancing guidelines, with minimum number of RCA Team Members on campus at any given time, to relaunch their RCA activities.
  4. All On-Campus RCA Activities Requests are subject to detailed review, including the Department Chair, Environmental Safety & Health, the person responsible for access to the Campus facility, the Associate Dean, the Dean, and the VPR.
  5. If you have a need to conduct Off-Campus RCA Activities, please coordinate with your Department Chair to submit the Off-Campus RCA Request via DocuSign.
    • We encourage you to keep your UMBC-related Off-Campus RCA activities to an absolute minimum.
    • International travel on UMBC business is not permitted under the current conditions.
    • Documentation from the host site is required to confirm that the proposed RCA activities can be conducted.
    • Carefully consider your personal or professional travel plans, since a stop-over in certain states may require up to two weeks of self-quarantine.  These limitation are subject to change.

In lieu of On-Campus Research or Creative Activities that cannot be conducted at this time, alternative activities could include proposal development; preparing prior results for publication; reading research articles; contacting prospective collaborators and sponsors; and studying new research tools and skills. During this time, OSP continues to be ready to work with you on proposal development and submission and assist with communications with current and prospective sponsoring agencies.

UMBC has approved procedures to assure business continuity that must be followed.

Just as faculty and student are demonstrating their creativity and adaptability to ensure that classroom instruction is able to continue in an online format, we encourage graduate students and their thesis/dissertation committees to develop alternate ways to fulfill requirements if graduate student research and creative achievements are disrupted by not having access to research facilities and studios. The Graduate School is available to consult on these questions.

We are appealing to all of you to consider not only your own safety and well-being, but also the well-being of those who are tasked to take care of critical business during this difficult period.