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

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students

We have a number of additional important updates today for the campus community.  

USciences policy on intolerance

  • Unfortunately, we have recently been notified of an incidence of racially intolerant social media messaging from a member of the USciences community, and the University is currently responding to this.

  • We remind all members of our 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.  This is a time when members of the University should rally together to support one another. This incident is counter to our institutional values as a community that celebrates inclusion and diversity.     

COVID-19 positive patients

  • The University was alerted today that a second USciences student tested positive for COVID-19.  The student experienced respiratory symptoms last week and has been resting at home since Friday, March 13.  

  • At this time, we have contacted all known contacts to the student identified yesterday as being COVID-19 positive.  In addition, all campus locations where this student was present over the last two weeks have been disinfected.

Ongoing campus notification

  • With the escalation of positive COVID-19 tests - not only in our community, but regionally and nationally - we will be focusing on outreach to known primary contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals in the future, and will not continue to notify the broad USciences community of each incident reported to the University.  

Short-term Leave of Absence Policy

  • Students are reminded that if they become ill for any reason, the University has a short-term leave of absence (SLOA) policy.  

  • This policy allows students to take up to 10 business days away from coursework to focus on their wellness.   Upon returning from SLOA, students are responsible for contacting their course instructors regarding missed coursework or examinations.  

  • More information on the policy is available in the Student Handbook on page 119.   

  • Students should contact their College Dean’s Office to begin the SLOA request process.

Recommendations for the community

  • Based on public health data available at this time, viral shedding occurs in asymptomatic patients, and may occur up to an average of 11 days prior to symptoms in those who ultimately develop symptomatic illness.  Given this, we all should be behaving as if we are already infected:  isolating as much as possible, practicing rigorous hygiene, and limiting travel outside our homes.

  • Anyone who is symptomatic with respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath) or fever should behave as though positive for COVID-19, and should self-isolate and seek testing. Individuals should check locally for available testing sites; the University does not have direct access to COVID-19 tests. 

  • Students should email the Student Health Center if they have respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath), fever, or contact with COVID-19 positive patients. 

  • Faculty and staff should contact their primary care provider and notify their supervisor of any respiratory illness or positive COVID-19 testing. 

The majority of our remaining residential students will be departing campus by the end of the weekend, and we wish all a safe and speedy journey.  For those students or employees who may be living with someone who is sick, the CDC has provided a guide for Disinfecting Your Home.

As a reminder, we will be posting all of our COVID-19-related campus messages at the USciences Public Safety Emergency Blog.  Status of campus operations, as well as tips for working and studying remotely are posted at the Working Remotely website.  Additional information about COVID-19 and links to governmental sites is available on our COVID-19 webpage.

Valerie P. Weil, MD

Chief Financial & Operating Officer

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

Director, Student Health

Student Health & Counseling