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15 posts from March 2020

03/11/2020

COVID-19 - Campus Student Services Plan

Dear Students,

The University of Sciences remains open despite the transition to an online format for most coursework.   Included in this communication are important updates with regard to campus services including the residence halls, dining service, and the athletic recreation center.

Residence Halls

To mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19, the University is strongly encouraging all residential students to consider returning to their permanent residence if possible.  This is in alignment with the practice of social distancing during times of an outbreak.  The residence halls will remain open and are available to students who may need to remain on campus.  Guests to all residence halls will be limited to enrolled USciences’ students and guests may not stay overnight in the residence halls.  Any student who needs to remain in residence on campus should complete the Stay Request Form.

Dining Services

Sodexo dining services will remain open, but to minimize congregating in large groups, we strongly recommend taking advantage of a variety of options for take out, including:

  • Take out containers in Wilson Dining
  • Meal swipe at Tastydrakes for sandwiches, etc. (breakfast/dinner)
  • Meal swipe at Coffee lab (breakfast)
  • Meal swipe at Wilson Express (dinner)

Our Sodexo partners are developing an online takeout order form that will be shared (along with instructions for use) as soon as testing is complete.

We will continue to monitor utilization of all of Sodexo services over the coming days and weeks and update as necessary.

ARC

Beginning Monday, March 16th, the Athletic Recreation Center will be closed until further notice.   Despite careful attention to cleaning and maintenance of the building, its uses lend itself to be a place of increased risk of exposure to viruses such as COVID-19.  The University will continue to monitor the situation and will open the facility as soon as possible.   

We encourage all students to continue to check their University email on a regular basis for updates.   The COVID19 outbreak continues to be a fluid situation and the University will communicate important updates about the situation through this channel.  

 

Ross W. Radish, J.D.

Vice President of Student Affairs & Dean of Students

University of the Sciences

600 South 43rd Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

215-596-7573 (O)

215-596-8792 (F)

USciences: Where healthcare and science converge.

COVID-19 Academic Affairs Plan

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

USciences COVID-19 Taskforce continues to monitor the rapidly evolving external situation and is constantly reviewing the emerging recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Our primary concern is the well being of our University community members. The University is not “closed” but is implementing some changes to minimize the potential person-to-person spread of COVID-19. Towards that effort the following will be implemented and will continue at least thru April 17th (unless additional modifications are needed before then):

  • All didactic courses will be offered online, at their originally scheduled times, starting Monday, March 16th
  • Laboratory based coursework: some will continue in their current format offered on campus, and others will be moving to an online format by March 23rd (there will be individual communications by faculty to students so stay tuned!)
  • Clinical/Fieldwork will continue with those site partners that allow our students to stay. No student will be permitted to have direct contact with any patient who has been confirmed as having COVID-19.

 

Our goal is to continue to offer a high quality educational experience to our students while considering the safety of our University community and mitigating risks to health and safety. Instructors will be reaching out to students to share details and updates about specific courses. Students wishing to withdraw from clinical/fieldwork rotations should contact their program directors to discuss their options and understand the ramifications.

In addition to coursework, we know there are many people on campus actively engaged in research. We strongly urge people to wrap up any long term studies/experiments that require your presence in the laboratory within the next week and plan not to begin any long term experiments/studies requiring ongoing, physical presence in the laboratory until didactic courses return to a campus based operation.

As we continue to monitor this rapidly changing situation, we will update the campus if any of these plans change. Again, our main priority is the safety of our campus community. We appreciate your patience as we work through this together. If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

 

Mickey Cohen

Dean, Samson College of Health Sciences

Ed Foote

Dean, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy

Voki Pophristic

Dean, Misher College of Arts and Sciences

Elisabeth Morlino

Interim Provost/VP of Academic Affairs

215-596-8865

USciences

03/10/2020

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update #4 (3/10/2020)

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update #4 (3/10/2020)

Dear University Community,

The COVID-19 Task Force will be providing regular updates following our scheduled Monday meetings and as needed until such time as additional communications are unnecessary.  While the amount of information may seem overwhelming, it is important to review all of the information in these updates, as they will impact your everyday work and study. These communications will also be posted on the USciences Public Safety blog (https://emergency.usciences.edu/covid-19/).

The University continues to monitor public sources of information regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).   We also are working with the PA Department of Health regarding any local issues that may arise impacting the University. Our intentions are to continue to keep our University community as safe as possible and to mitigate risk.

Individuals returning from or having close contact with someone returning from a CDC Level 2 or Level 3 country (as of today: Japan, Italy, China, Iran and South Korea) in the last two weeks, should notify your dean or direct supervisor of this travel immediately, regardless of whether any respiratory symptoms or fever are present.  Additionally, any individuals who have known contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor immediately as well.  Deans or supervisors shall notify Human Resources (regarding employees) or Barb Siebert (regarding students) and we will implement protocols as shared in our last communication.  Close contacts of those who have traveled to CDC Level 2 or 3 regions, or who have been in contact with diagnosed COVID-19 patients, will be alerted separately.

All University-sponsored travel to CDC Level 2 and 3 countries is prohibited until further notice, for faculty, staff and students.  Previously scheduled travel to any of these regions should be cancelled.  Individuals planning travel to other international destinations should be aware that the CDC designations may change at any time, and you may be subject to quarantine upon your return.  Please consider whether any travel (whether business or personal) is necessary given the current worldwide COVID-19 situation.

Individuals with respiratory symptoms and fever should not report to work, class, or clinical site, and should be evaluated by their primary care physician.  Individuals with upper respiratory symptoms only should consider whether they can work/study remotely, and should monitor for any fever.

All University community members should practice good hygiene, including:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer after sneezing or coughing.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available. Additional hand sanitizer stations meeting these criteria are being installed in every building on campus over the next several days.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Do not share any food, drinks, cups, utensils, etc.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are ill.
  • If you are sick, maintain a safe distance of at least 6 feet from others to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious agents. Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet and for more than 10 minutes.
  • Stay home when you are sick and do not have contact with others.

Our custodial services provider, AFS, in collaboration with USciences Facilities Services, has installed an additional 35 hand sanitizer stations around campus - at least one in each building.  We also will be placing disposable antimicrobial wipes in computer labs.  AFS is performing regular disinfection of high touch areas in buildings throughout the day, and have added additional staff to provide extra cleaning in high traffic areas in the evenings and overnight.

We recommend additional “social distancing” guidelines (attached) for all community members in order to reduce the risk of disease spread.  Included in this guidance is the avoidance of large gatherings.  Please review any large meetings or events scheduled from your area and consider delaying or cancelling at this time.

In addition to the above guidelines, we want to remind the University community that COVID-19 can cause infection in anyone, regardless of race, nationality, or ethnicity; it is not a virus specific to any one group of individuals.  USciences will not tolerate discrimination of any kind, including discrimination or harassment associated with concerns about COVID-19.

Resource Information:

You can find the latest information on the spread of COVID-19, CDC travel guidance, and the World Health Organization recommendations at the following sites.  Please check these sites often for important updates.

https://www.who.int/ith/2019-nCoV_advice_for_international_traffic/en/

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

 

Valerie P. Weil, MD

Chief Financial & Operating Officer

 

Barbara M. Siebert, DNP, CRNP, FNP-BC, CNE

Director, Student Health
Student Health and Counseling

03/06/2020

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update - Message #3

Dear University Community,

The University continues to closely monitor the evolving situation related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to evaluate the outbreak’s impact on international travel involving members of our University community and operations here on campus. As you know, the health and safety of all members of our community is of the utmost importance to us here at USciences.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the epidemic has now spread to greater than 70 countries around the world. There are no diagnosed cases of COVID-19 identified in PA/Philadelphia area, at USciences, or connected to USciences students or employees.

USciences’ COVID-19 Task Force, consisting of leaders from across our campus, have been meeting regularly and reviewing information from outside experts to assess how the virus may affect our campus and those who may have traveled overseas during spring break.   We are working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health, and we are continually monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

With the University’s spring break soon coming to an end and the University community returning to campus on Monday March 9th, we want to take this opportunity to share with you the preventative measures we are taking to protect the health and safety of our University community.

For all students, faculty or staff who have traveled to or have had close contact with those returning from a CDC Level 2 or Level 3 country (as of today: Japan, Italy, China, Iran and South Korea) in the last two weeks, we are instituting the following precautions:

  • Notify your Dean or direct supervisor of any recent travel immediately.
  • You must self-monitor at home for 14 days before returning to campus. You will be allowed to return to campus after a 14-day monitoring period. During this time, you should monitor yourself for symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath.
  • Students must call the Student Health Center at 215-596-8980 to review recent travel history and receive guidance regarding your self-monitoring period and return to campus once cleared.
  • Students may call Student Health to report their daily self-monitoring findings so the clinicians can track known students at risk.
  • If you develop even a mild cough or low-grade fever (100.4 F), continue to stay home and self-isolate. This means avoiding close contact (approximately six feet) with other people, including family members and pets.
  • If you develop respiratory symptoms and/or fever during the 14-day monitoring period, call your primary care provider’s office, or contact your local health department, or local Emergency Department and provide details of your recent travel and symptoms to determine if further medical care is needed.
  • If you develop severe respiratory symptoms and/or fever during the 14-day monitoring period, call 911 and provide details of your recent travel and symptoms prior to going to the hospital.
  • Use a private bathroom
  • Avoid unnecessary travel outside the home
  • Have food and pharmacy items ordered and delivered to the home

After spring break, if any student is not feeling well, he/she should immediately call the Student Health Center to make an appointment. For any faculty or staff member who becomes ill, we ask you to be in contact as soon as possible with your primary care provider.

Key Points to Remember:

COVID-19 Clinical Definition

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 infection include fever and lower respiratory tract symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath.
  • Currently, the incubation period is thought to be up to 14 days, meaning an individual can be infected, contagious, and showing minimal or no symptoms during this time.
  • The CDC guidance indicates COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets with close contact, which is similar to influenza and other respiratory  pathogens. However, infection from fomites or other sources of the body are yet unknown.

Hygiene

There is no need to change your routine or activities at this time.  However, all individuals should be diligent in practicing routine hygiene etiquette to prevent all types of infections including COVID-19.  These steps include:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer after sneezing or coughing
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Do not share any food, drinks, cups, utensils, etc.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are ill
  • If you are sick, maintain a safe distance of at least 6 feet from others to reduce the risk of transmission of germs. Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of patient and contact for >10 minutes.
  • Stay home when you are sick and do not have contact with others

As this is the time of year when colds and the flu are common. The same precautions noted above should be taken if you come down with a cold or the flu.

The CDC does NOT recommend the general public wear surgical masks, as these masks do not prevent the wearer from inhaling airborne virus particles due to the lack of a snug seal.  Masks are only recommended for individuals in the general population who already show symptoms of coronavirus and must go outside, as the mask can reduce the spread of the virus during a cough or sneeze.

Employees, Students Traveling Internationally

Moving forward, employees and students who have planned international travel should monitor the U.S. Department of State and CDC-issued travel alerts prior to departure. Currently, the CDC is recommending avoiding all non-essential travel to China and other affected countries as indicated on their web site.  

Students, Faculty, and Staff, within 14 days of returning from international travel involving destinations where COVID-19 has been reported and who have symptoms of respiratory illness should be evaluated by their primary care provider and should be medically cleared prior to returning to work or school.

Resource Information:

You can find the latest information on the spread of COVID-19, CDC travel guidance, and the World Health Organization recommendations at the following sites.  Please check these sites often for important updates.

This is a dynamic situation as new information emerges on a daily basis. We are doing everything we can at USciences to protect the health and well-being of our University community members and thank you for your cooperation.

We will continue to monitor guidance from local, state, and federal public health officials and will keep the campus community updated on any significant changes.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue. 

 

 

 

03/05/2020

Coronavirus Awareness & Update

USciences has an emergency management team consisting of leaders from across our campus who are meeting regularly and who are reviewing information from outside experts to assess how the virus may affect our campus and those who are overseas.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the epidemic has now spread to more than 40 countries around the world.  Earlier this week, the CDC alerted Americans to begin to prepare for the spread of the coronavirus in the United States. They also advised to prepare for the possibility of disruptions to daily life, suggesting that businesses, schools and families plan for its potential impact.  The latest information on the spread of the illness is available at CDC Novel Coronavirus. The World Health Organization is also tracking the disease. We recommend you follow this advice and check their sites often.

With the University’s spring break approaching the week of March 1-8, we wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to all members of our campus community about the importance of staying informed about the spread of COVID-19. We are strongly recommending and encouraging our students, faculty and staff to be cautious about their travel choices during spring break and beyond.