FAQs for the UMSOM Community
FAQ’s FOR UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND SCHOOL OF MEDICINE FACULTY AND STAFF
Is the School of Medicine open or closed during the new Step 2 advisory level? Are the other schools on the UMB campus open?
At the outset, we emphasize that UMB and the SOM will remain open during any period of episodic telework, including the current COVID-19 situation. UMB/ UMMS leadership declared that the transition to episodic telework began on Saturday, March 14, 2020. The regular restrictions and documentation for requesting telework are waived during this episodic telework period. At this time, the primary goal is to dramatically reduce the number of people on campus. All employees who are able to work remotely are immediately reassigned to telework. The evaluation of the need to continue the implementation of telework will be assessed periodically.
What expectations are there for employees who are teleworking? Are they required to work a full schedule every day?
Yes, employees who are able to work remotely are working as if they are in the office, with the same schedule as they would if they were on site. Conference calls, email communication and virtual meetings will now be used in order to conduct ongoing business. We encourage supervisors to allow as much flexibility as possible in terms of schedules for staff – as long as the work is getting done.
Can some employees be designated as essential so that they are able to come into the office if needed?
Yes, each department has identified individuals who may need to be on campus for a specific reason as “Category 1, Essential for Pandemic Circumstances – On Campus.” They will be able to gain access when needed. Some clinical faculty and researchers/laboratory personnel will continue to report to work on a regular basis. If there are additional people that need to be classified as Category 1, let your Department Chair or Department Head know and they will relay this information to Human Resources.
What constitutes a meeting in Step 2? Are all meetings prohibited (even if 2-3 people)?
All in-person meetings, including 1:1 meetings, will be prohibited. Per the Step 2 policies, all other meetings should be moved to virtual means or canceled. A Dean, Vice President or UMMS Executive can make an exception on a case-by-case basis for a meeting deemed essential to critical operations (e.g. clinical team meetings) that must occur in-person that can be achieved with social distancing.
Do FPI employees follow policies/guidelines established by UMB or UMMS?
While there will be some overlap on policies and guidelines between UMB and UMMS, FPI does have specific policies and practices that may be slightly different. FPI employees with questions regarding FPI operations during this event to contact FPI Human Resources at 4-1212 or to email their HR Generalist.
Do Resident Physicians follow UMB/UMSOM policies/guidelines established for Step 2?
No, residents are employees of UMMC and should follow UMMS policies. For questions, contact UMMS Human Resource representatives.
I have personal travel planned outside the state of Maryland Am I still able to go?
Per the Step 2 policies: 1) We prohibit work-related out-of-state travel.* (2) We strongly discourage personal travel outside of Maryland. (3) Travel related to a regular commute is permitted. (4) Travel of a guest to attend a campus event is prohibited. We may restrict access to UMB or UMMS facilities for anyone who travels against this advice.
*There are the following exceptions to this subsection: (a) travel that is within 75 miles from the traveler’s normal workplace for essential clinical or client matters. Granting an exception requires the approval of the Dean (with advance notification to the Provost) for UMB employees, students or faculty practices, or UMMS Executive for UMMS employees. This decision will be made based on information at the time the individual has chosen to travel; or (b) Travel to return home by an individual already travelling at the outset of Step 2.
How will postal mail be delivered/ distributed during this Step 2 period?
The UMB Mail Center will be on a modified schedule. Operating hours will be from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM. The UMB Mail Center will provide a one-time delivery and pick up between 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM for those departments requesting service. Please email Michelle Jordan, email@example.com if your department requires service.
Will the UM Shuttle operations be affected?
The UM Shuttle will operate at its normal hours as long as the university remains open. UMB will continue to reassess the shuttle operations and give guidance when necessary.
Are VPN connections still available for UMSOM employees who need them?
Yes. VPN connections are available for connection to applications that are not web based, for access to SOMFiles that cannot be copied to OneDrive, and for access to clinical applications hosted by UMMS such as EPIC. Almost all UMB applications and systems are web-based and can be accessed directly via a web browser on your home/remote computer. If you have any questions or for help in requesting a VPN connection, please contact the SOM Help Desk, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will security guards continue to be posted at all UMB buildings?
- Security guards will be stationed as usual during business hours. Access to buildings will require use of your UMB ID/ card at the external card-reader box.
Are all researchers and laboratory personnel required to report to work to continue research activities during Step 2 activation?
On March 18, UMB announced that laboratories and core facilities will immediately transition from normal operations to ”Moderate Research Restrictions” status. The goal is to rapidly move to protect people and research programs, as well as key reagents and equipment. At this time, laboratories should ramp down activities significantly, conducting only research activities that are in a critical phase at this time. Critical phase means that abandoning them would cause a major or irreversible loss in project viability. Principal Investigators should carefully consider this criteria before approving the continuation of research, and where a doubt exists, should discuss the options with their chair, director, or dean. This high-priority work should be a very limited set of the current laboratory bench-based experimentation. See guidance here.
One objective is to reduce the density of people in research spaces in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. We expect substantial reductions in personnel achieved through staggering or rotating personnel. A target for large crowded laboratories is 30 percent occupancy and certainly fewer than 10 people at a maximum. Team up with other labs, so-called "Buddy Labs," to provide immediate close-by contacts for personal security or to cover animal monitoring in the event that an entire lab becomes quarantined.
Additional Information (3/20/20)
Post graduate fellows are employees of the university and may be designated as Level 1 Essential Employees. They should be included in the Principal Investigator's plan for maintaining laboratory function and resources, but they should not be unduly burdened with these responsibilities when compared to other employees in the laboratory. Personnel safety is of critical importance and it would therefore be best to perform needed tasks by creating a staggered schedule for staff to minimize the number of people in the laboratory workspace and maximize the degree of social distancing
Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) are students first and foremost and therefore every effort must be taken to keep them safe, consistent with the University's efforts to protect other students on campus. Accordingly, GRAs should not be designated as essential and every reasonable effort should be made to have them engage with and continue their research activities remotely. We will re-evaluate this requirement in two weeks when we have more information about the impact and trajectory of this pandemic.
GRAs may not be assigned employee categories such as Level 1 Essential Employee.
Exceptions: Although it is possible for a GRA to be granted access to the lab for an extraordinary and exceptional reason, the bar is very high. Any proposed request must be approved by the dean of the appropriate school and the UMB President.
- For animal research: See guidance here.
- For clinical research: See guidance here.
- For teleworking using laboratory electronic data: See guidance here.
- For laboratory compliance with regulations and policies: See guidance here.
UMB is not discontinuing research. We are prioritizing research activities that can be done remotely (data processing, proposals, publications, patents, reviews, research group meetings, administrative meetings, etc.) in the interest of our safety.
All employees will be notified if it becomes necessary to move to a higher level of “Severe Research Restrictions.
Will researchers continue to receive grant support services from UMSOM/ UMB during this period?
Yes, grant support services are available. Federal agencies are introducing significant flexibilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, the National Institutes of Health has built in flexibility for researchers and institutions related to grants administration, fiscal issues, and time periods for no-cost extensions, as well as delayed submissions and reporting. Please reach out to your program director as soon as possible with concerns and questions.
STUDENTS/ EDUCATION ACTIVITIES
What is the new policy for student clinical rotations?
Beginning Saturday, March 21 at the latest, the following policy applies to UMB students in their clinical rotations, field placements, and internships (whether in health, social work, or law):
- All in-person experiential learning activities with patients and clients must be halted and converted to virtual or other options that do not involve in-person activities.
- Group in-person activities with faculty for alternative experiences, inclusive of classroom simulations, formulary assessments, etc., are allowed if strict measures are taken to follow the 6-foot social distancing rule and documentation of that requirement is maintained.
- Options that include activities such as distance simulation, special online resources, and online activities such as telemedicine, telehealth, and telebehavioral health and similar means of care delivery are encouraged.
Exceptions to this policy: Some UMB students have unmet graduation requirements that are critical in order to graduate on time this year. Innovative solutions should be sought to meet these needs. For example, clinical and field rotations for a small number of students that can be deemed extremely safe from novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection for students may be considered. These solutions must be approved by the dean of the relevant school in consultation with the provost. Careful records must be kept documenting the decision, the safety of the situation, and explicit measures taken to assure social distancing.
Are all in-person didactics for students cancelled? If they are proceeding, are there restrictions are on how they proceed?
Yes, these are cancelled.
What support is available for faculty to use for teaching remotely (eg., conferencing software, etc.)?
For specific information for UMSOM faculty, please contact Joe Martinez.
General support information is as follows:
Use Webex, Skype for Business, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Blackboard Collaborate for virtual meetings.
For more information on Webex, including how to create a voice-only conference line - https://www.umaryland.edu/cits/services/webex/.
For more information on Skype for Business - https://www.umaryland.edu/office365/skype-for-business/.
For more information on Microsoft Teams - https://www.umaryland.edu/office365/teams/.
For more information on Blackboard Collaborate - https://www.umaryland.edu/blackboard/collaborate/.
For more information on Zoom Meetings -- https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362613-How-Do-I-Host-A-Video-Meeting