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Incoming Salisbury University chief diversity officer Joan Williams explains her plans for the upcoming academic year.

Salisbury Daily Times

Salisbury University students will return to campus Monday following the institution’s traditional Thanksgiving break.

However, SU is the only institution within the University System of Maryland to bring students back to campus for in-person instruction, opting not to end the semester early or transition to a virtual platform for the remainder of its class schedule.

This only includes the 12 schools that fall under the USM. The state currently holds a 6.3% positivity rate and has recently taken extra precautions to combat the virus. 

The decision stems from the university’s ability to keep its COVID-19 cases minimal. As of Friday, Nov. 27, SU has a 1.4% positivity rate, confirming 21 cases out of nearly 1,500 tests over a seven-day span.

Salisbury University administrators and staff helped a small number of students remaining on campus this Thanksgiving enjoy the holiday by preparing a traditional dinner. (Photo: Submitted Image: Salisbury University)

Salisbury’s positivity rate hit 6.5% early in the semester, but continued to decline over the past two months, prompting SU president Charles Wight to call the campus “one of the safest places to be” in the city.

“Our low positivity rate this semester is proof that, when observed regularly and consistently, (mandated precautions) can make a huge difference,” Wight said in a briefing. 

Students will be required to complete COVID test immediately once they return to campus. The semester is slated to end on Dec. 18.

The bulk of Maryland institutions will continue their semester after the Thanksgiving break, but will conduct classes online.

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The University of Maryland Baltimore County, which held just 10% of its classes in-person, announced it will shut down all remaining in-person classes following the break. Other institutions including Towson, Bowie State University, Coppin State University and University of Baltimore will enforce similar practices.

The University of Maryland College Park will give some students the option to remain in residence halls until the semester ends, but has opted to move nearly all classes online with “very few exceptions,” according to The Diamondback, UMD’s student newspaper.

Institutions such as Frostburg State and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore – which sits just over 10 miles from SU – ended their semesters early in preparation of any spike in COVID-19 cases.

UMES chose to kick off classes on Aug. 10 and continued to conduct mandatory testing periods. As of Nov. 20, the school had reported 45 cases and a 0.49% positivity rate.

Frostburg State reported a 5.65% positivity rate before shutting down in-person learning on Nov. 12. Of the 457 tests administered over the final two weeks, 34 cases came back positive.

Salisbury officials have also announced their plans for the upcoming spring semester, bringing