March 6, 2020: Communication to Students, Staff, and Faculty from Dean Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,

With the news that 3 residents of Montgomery County have tested positive for COVID19, I thought it would be helpful to provide a brief update and to resend the guidance from earlier this week.  The three individuals are, as I understand it, all recent returnees from traveling to a country that has been identified as a level 4 country (the highest risk which has been assigned to just a few countries) and are all recovering at home. This is a plus from an epidemiological standpoint because it should relatively possible to trace their contacts since returning to the US and get them tested (not that testing is available in Maryland). 

In response to a number of inquiries from you, I have included the message, sent out earlier this week.  For students who are wondering about attending field placements, you should do that unless they learn that their field placement has been closed.  If that occurs they should stay away and contact their Field Liaison who will work with you (and your Field Instructor and the Office of Field Education) to identify alternative activities that will fulfill any lost field work days. Please click on the link to read the longer description about clinical, field, and internship placements. 

I certainly hope that there will not be any such closures but do not have the expertise to predict how wide the circle of infections will be from this small outbreak in Maryland and any other outbreaks that will occur. Fortunately, we have been slow in getting new cases which has given the state more time to develop testing, prevention, and intervention protocols. Also, the UMB Corona Virus webpage has updates on a daily basis at  We continue to discuss this at the UMB and SSW level on a regular basis—guided by the news, the CDC, and our own world-renown virologists (did you all know that we have a very large Institute for Human Virology at UMB and it is headed by one of the identifiers of HIV [Bob Gallo] just a few blocks away).

Please continue to send your questions forward and continue to use basic best hygiene practices.


Sincerely yours,

Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW (he/him/his)
Dean and Professor and Chair, Executive Committee of the Grand Challenges for Social Work
University of Maryland School of Social Work
Baltimore, MD 21210
410 706 7794