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USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (4/22/2020)

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students


One of the most frequent questions that the Task Force is asked (and discussed at our weekly meetings) is how much longer we will continue to be required to stay at home, off-campus, and away from much of our day-to-day routine work.  While some states around the country have already announced plans to reopen some businesses and relax limitations on gathering, there have been no similar announcements in our region yet.  The University is required to follow the guidance of both the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This past Monday, Governor Wolf extended the statewide Stay-At-Home Order through Friday, May 8, 2020 - a little over two weeks from now.  Philadelphia has a similar Stay-At-Home Order and prohibition of Non-Essential Business Operations effective March 23, 2020 and until further notice.  Based on media reports, it appears that near-term relaxation of stay-at-home guidance is most likely to occur in parts of Pennsylvania with very few COVID-19 cases - not in our region.


However, even in the absence of a clear timeline for reopening by Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, the Task Force and University leadership are working on plans for a phased return to campus-based operations once local government allows us to do so. As with all of our initiatives related to COVID-19, our highest priority is the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and any plans put in place will be designed to maintain that safety.  We expect that there will be continued physical distancing requirements, as well as the need for face coverings/masks for months into the future - at least until a vaccine and/or effective coronavirus therapy is widely available. There almost certainly will be a “new normal” for months, if not years, to come.


The Task Force will continue to update the campus community in the coming weeks with any critical information. Today’s updates include not only reminders of procedures related to coronavirus, but also how you as an individual can help others in a time of need.


Coming to campus

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Health has released guidelines for businesses that require all individuals wear masks at all times (cloth masks are fine) and maintain physical distancing.  This guidance applies not only to essential personnel working on campus, but any individuals coming to campus for any reason.

  • Employees needing to pick up mail or other items from campus should first obtain permission from their divisional vice president who, if given approval, will then ask that you notify the Department of Public Safety of the time and location of their arrival on campus by calling DPS dispatch at 215-895-1117.


Blood and blood product donations

  • Hospitals across the country are experiencing significant shortages of blood products (whole blood, platelets, plasma) due to the reduction in blood drives nationally, the source of more than 80% of the American Red Cross’ supplies.

  • In addition, individuals who have recovered fully from COVID-19 may have life-saving antibodies in their blood, and could be eligible to donate convalescent plasma to critically ill patients.

  • If you are healthy and wish to donate blood, plasma, or platelets, or think you may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma, please go to the Red Cross website for more information.


Reporting COVID-19 Positive Tests

  • The USciences community has been extremely fortunate to have had very few cases of COVID-19, with all known cases making a full recovery.  However, we must continue to be vigilant, especially in the coming weeks, as the region is expected to continue to see significant numbers of new infections.

  • All students, faculty, and staff should continue to notify SHAC if you have been found to be COVID-19 positive via testing or are presumed positive based on symptoms.


Student refunds

  • All student credits for housing, dining services, and parking have been posted to student accounts.

  • The quickest way to receive refunds is to use ACH/direct deposit.  Students who have signed up for this service should receive refunds to their bank account this week.  Students who have not yet signed up may do so at Colleague Self Service- Banking Information.

  • For those students who do not have ACH/direct deposit, checks will be issued in batches beginning next week and through early May.


CARES Act Funding

  • USciences has been granted federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”).  

  • All initial funding will be made available for any student suffering financial hardship due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Additional information, including how to apply for funds, will be shared with students in the coming days.


Student Emergency Fund

  • In addition to the CARES Act funding, USciences is pleased to share that, through a tremendous effort by Institutional Advancement and many, many donors, over $80,000 was raised for the Student Emergency Fund last week!

  • Students who may need emergency funding should reach out to Joe Canaday, Executive Director of Student Success & Student Ombudsman at j.canada@usciences.edu.  


USciences COVID-19 Information

  • Information about the University’s status, FAQs, and links to governmental sites are available on our COVID-19 webpage.

  • COVID-19-related campus messages are posted 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.  


The COVID-19 Task Force