FAQs about Thanksgiving Break

FAQs about Thanksgiving Break


Campus-wide testing the week before Thanksgiving will be available for students who are traveling. Additional details will be sent by the University Health Center. To register for a COVID-19 test, please visit the the Keep Terps Safe Portal.

Yes. All students living on campus should be tested for COVID-19 during the week of November 30, either during an on-campus testing event or at an off-campus facility, and report any positive result through the HEAL Line (301) 405-4325.

Yes. As noted in Provost Rankin’s recent email to the campus community, we recognize that students will want to travel home during the Thanksgiving Break. Students who elect to travel during the Thanksgiving Break and then return to College Park for the final three weeks of the semester are required to:

  • Be tested for COVID-19 during the week of November 30—either during an on-campus testing event or at an off-campus facility—and report any positive result through the HEAL Line (301) 405-4325; and,
  • Sequester as much as possible upon return, limiting activities and interactions, and not attending in-person classes for 14 days (until December 12).

The university transitioned to online instruction effective November 16 to help mitigate the escalation of COVID-19 cases in our region and in response to an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases in the State of Maryland and here in Prince George's County.

Students who travel for Thanksgiving are asked to remain home after Thanksgiving travel to reduce the virus's spread and de-densify campus. A negative test result, prior infection, or a doctor's note will not result in any exceptions. We cannot provide exceptions to individuals who have already contracted COVID-19. These actions are about the good of the whole during an increasingly difficult time in the County, State, and country.

We know this isn't easy and involves some sacrifices. Please understand that these decisions are not made lightly. The university is committed to doing our part in virus prevention. All the measures we are taking are done with great thought and care. We have to consider the health and safety of our students and the health and safety of our faculty and staff (and their families)--not to mention the health and safety of the surrounding community.


The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff are paramount. The decision to reduce the Thanksgiving break housing options was made based on the most recent public health guidance and in recognition of an increase in COVID-19 positivity rates nationally and in Maryland. Courses will transition entirely to online instruction with few exceptions, and residence hall housing options have been modified and revised to reflect current public health indicators.

The University of Maryland remains focused on the health and safety of our community and maintains that priority in decision making related to COVID-19. As predicted by the CDC and public health experts, the nation is experiencing a fall surge of positive COVID-19 cases. Days after the nation experienced its highest one-day total in positive cases; the University announced plans to transition to online instruction after the Thanksgiving break, and the residence halls students who planned to travel would need to remain home or elsewhere for the rest of the semester to help mitigate the escalation of COVID-19 cases in our region.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan described the surge as an "indisputable fact" and urged Marylander's to stay vigilant in our collective actions to prevent the spread of the virus. The university is committed to doing our part in virus prevention.

No. This option is no longer permissible. This decision was made based on the most recent guidance and increased COVID-19 positivity rates nationally and in Maryland. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff are paramount. We know this news may be disappointing, yet current public health guidance indicates this is a necessary step in keeping our community healthy.

No. Residence hall students have options from which to choose for Thanksgiving Break. There are no refunds for any of the options.

No. For students who live in the residence halls and need to remain on campus during Thanksgiving Break, there is no additional fee.

No. Students who choose this option should plan to depart campus by no later than 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, November 25, and should take any items they might need for the entirety of the winter break; including any valuables, medications, identification, keys, etc..

However, students do not need to move out nor do they need to take all their belongings as long as they intend to return to the same room for Spring semester.

We expect students to make responsible choices and take actions to keep themselves and our community safe and healthy. Eliminating non-essential travel is an important strategy for limiting the risk of contagion. Given the volume of travel around the Thanksgiving holiday and the communal nature of holiday gatherings, we ask students who choose to remain on campus for Thanksgiving break and the remaining three weeks of the semester to stay in the College Park area. Students who leave College Park during the break are expected to stay at home for the remainder of the fall semester.

Students who remain on campus should continue to follow 4Maryland healthy practices, wearing masks, washing hands frequently, and maintaining proper physical distance from others. Students should not attend gatherings where these physical distancing measures are not practicable. Limit your trips off campus to those areas in College Park immediately around the campus and within walking distance.

Given the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the most highly-traveled times of the year and often involves gathering with extended family, friends, and neighbors, our advisory aims to mitigate risks of contagion during a traditionally high-travel period, which can then be compounded by the timing of the onset of cold and flu season. Exposure to COVID-19 is a possibility any time one is in a public setting or around others. Given the increase in COVID-19 positivity rates nationwide and here in Maryland, we are proceeding with an abundance of caution to help keep our community healthy and safe.

Yes, due to the rise in positivity cases nationwide and locally and the need to mitigate the risk of exposure and the virus’s spread, the residence hall guest policy will be modified.

Effective Wednesday, November 25, at 10:00 a.m., residence hall students may only host one other student in their room. The guest must be a current residence hall student staying on-campus for break and the remainder of the fall semester. Residents who depart campus and off-campus students may not visit the residence halls.

We must also reserve the right to amend the guest policy further should public health conditions warrant further actions later.


Dining Services has updated information and meal options for November 25–29 for residents with dining plans staying in residence halls during the Thanksgiving break.

  • Students with dining plans will have access to a warm Thanksgiving meal from Dining Services and must pick up the meal by 2:00 p.m on Thanksgiving Day. We encourage residents to enjoy your meal with loved ones virtually.
  • The Commons Shop (located in the South Campus Dining Hall building) will be open for limited hours during the break for students to purchase food using a dining plan meal swipe. Additionally, students may use their Dining Dollars for retail purchases in the Shop.
For the most current information about dining options, The Commons Shop hours, and food availability near campus, please visit the Dining Services website.

Under normal circumstances Dining Dollars do not roll over; they are part of one-semester dining plan contracts. However, due to the global COVID-19 public health crisis and the University recommendation that students finish the semester remotely, under certain specific circumstances unspent Dining Dollars will roll over from fall to spring this year.

Resident Student Dining Dollars: If you have a Resident Dining Plan, and you indicate to Resident Life that you are leaving campus at the start of Thanksgiving Break and not returning to campus this semester, then your unspent Dining Dollars will roll over to Spring 2021 Semester.

Students with Optional Dining Plans: If you have purchased any of the Optional Dining Plans, and you indicate to Dining Services that you will be completing the semester remotely and not returning to campus this semester, then your unspent Dining Dollars and unused Connector Meals will roll over to Spring Semester. Email diningplan@umd.edu to request a rollover.

We will continue to provide dining and retail opportunities to the campus through the end of the Fall semester December 22, 2020. Because we are open and providing services, roll over will not apply to any Dining Dollars or Connector Meals owned by students who continue to use campus services and/or visit dining locations during and after the Thanksgiving break.

Dining Dollars that roll over to the Spring Semester will be available to students starting January 25, 2021 and will expire on May 20, 2021.