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4 posts from May 2020

05/31/2020

Civil Unrest - 6/1/2020

Civil unrest is occurring throughout the city, including West Philadelphia. In keeping with the City of Philadelphia's emergency operations and City office closures, all campus-based University operations are suspended for tomorrow, Monday, June 1, 2020. Only life/public safety essential personnel should report to campus tomorrow. 

USciences Department of Public Safety is patrolling along with our public safety partners from University City District, Philadelphia Police and UPenn Police as we continue to monitor activities on and around campus with increased patrols. Please remain alert, avoid crowds and continue to comply with the COVID-19 Stay-At-Home order. 

USciences Department of Public Safety will continue our efforts to ensure the safety and security of our community. While we encourage community members to stay at home, please remember to request a walking escort should you need to leave your home. This can be requested by dialing 215-895-1117 or x1117 from any campus phone. 

 

05/30/2020

USciences COVID-19 Update (5/28/20)

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students, 

Hello and best wishes to you and yours. It was a pleasure for me to come to you live during our Virtual Commencement Ceremony last week to celebrate the Class of 2020, to honor the achievements of our students, and to share the pride we take in the contributions that the entire campus made to ensure their success.

 

As we have recently shared with you, beginning today we are combining the weekly COVID-19 Task Force communication with my message. I very much appreciate all of the work of that group as they continue to address the current situation and plan for the fall. Stay tuned for more information from them.

 

We remain optimistic that we will be able to return to on-campus classes and operations for the Fall semester; however, we are preparing for a variety of scenarios keeping in mind the health and safety of our University community. We continue to monitor and comply with federal, state, and local guidance for social distancing. 

 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced last week that Philadelphia County is tentatively planning to move to the first phase (“yellow”) for reopening on June 5 - however, this remains to be seen. In “yellow”, some restrictions are lifted; however, physical distancing guidelines remain (see more details below). USciences does not anticipate reopening for non-essential campus operations before June 29. Understand that there is great fluidity here depending on state and local guidance as well as our comfort level. Of course, health and safety remain our guiding priorities. We will stay in touch with you regarding these dates.

 

As we begin to modify restrictions on activities and create new plans for a return to campus, the University community will experience changes in how we operate on a day to day basis. We will likely be using more hand sanitizer, wearing masks, keeping six feet of distance between one another, and implementing a host of other requirements and best practices. We will keep you updated regularly as we develop these plans and share details about our eventual return to campus. 

 

As we look ahead, let’s do so with optimism and with continued resolve - we can do this.

 

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”

Emily Dickinson

 

So, as I have recently said: Stay strong. Stay safe. Stay connected. Let’s focus on all that is good, despite the impact of this pandemic. Thank you.

 

All the best,

Paul

Paul Katz, MD

President

 

COVID-19 Task Force Announcements

 

Last Friday, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf provided what we hope is some good news for our region (and other parts of the state), permitting most counties in southeastern Pennsylvania, including the City of Philadelphia, to possibly advance to the Yellow Phase on June 5.  Please note that this is not definite yet. While many restrictions still remain in place in this phase, this does lift the “Stay at Home Order” allowing citizens more flexibility in their daily lives.  Physical distancing and cleaning measures must continue in the Yellow phase.  In addition, the following guidance is provided:

 

  • Telework must continue where feasible
  • Schools must remain closed for in-person instruction
  • Gatherings of up to 25 people are permitted/gatherings over 25 are prohibited
  • Indoor recreation facilities (e.g., gyms, spas, hair salons) remain closed
  • Indoor entertainment facilities (e.g., movie theaters, casinos) remain closed
  • In-person retail is permitted, with curbside and delivery preferred
  • Restaurants and bars are limited to carry out and delivery only

 

More details are provided on Governor Wolf’s website.

 

Residence Hall Student Belongings Retrieval

 

  • We know that our students are eager to return to the residence halls to retrieve personal items.  In accordance with the guidance that we have received from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and City of Philadelphia, we have planned for the checkout/item retrieval process to begin on June 4 and to conclude by July 3.  
  • In an ongoing effort to promote safety and proper social distancing, a limited number of students will be permitted to check out at one time (maximum of one per floor in each residence hall). 
  • Click here to sign up for a date and 2-hour time slot to retrieve your belongings. You must select a time slot that corresponds to your building/floor. If there is no slot that corresponds to your floor under a given time, it means that the time slot for your floor has already been taken.
  • Please refer to the separate communication sent by Residence Life for additional information about item retrieval and safety precautions being implemented throughout this process.  
  • All questions should be directed to reslife@usciences.edu.

 

Return to Campus Planning

  • The COVID-19 Task Force is developing guidelines for limited reopening of campus over the summer and into the fall.  We do not envision any reopening prior to June 29, with the potential for some limited on-site operations after that date.
  • More information will be provided to the campus community over the coming weeks as we work with our state and local governments to assure compliance with regional and federal guidance.

 

Summer & Fall Classes

  • Summer 1 and Summer A classes are all being delivered online.
  • Summer 2 classes will be delivered online with the exception of a few laboratory courses.  Updates on these courses will be provided to enrolled students.
  • The Task Force and academic leadership continue to plan for on-campus delivery of the fall semester, with a number of changes based on public health and state and city regulatory guidance.   More information about these changes will be communicated in the coming weeks.

 

CARES Act Funding for Students – May 31 deadline

  • The CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Fund (HEERF) is now available to students to help cover some unexpected expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to these monies is reserved for students enrolled in a program that met on campus prior to the transition to online classes.  
  • Students may apply for funding at CARES Act Application.  Students are encouraged to apply by May 31 as the limited funds will be awarded in June.
  • Students may also access the USciences Student Emergency Fund for urgent financial needs.  This fund is available to all students, including those who may not qualify for Title IV/CARES Act funding (e.g., international or undocumented students).  Interested students 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.  

05/13/2020

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (5/13/2020)

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students

 

Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf updated his Stay-at-Home message, extending the order for southeastern Pennsylvania, including the City of Philadelphia, through at least June 4.

(full text at https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/20200507-TWW-Stay-at-Home-Order-Amendment.pdf).  At this time, there is not a specific date identified for moving to the “Yellow” phase for the Philadelphia region (when some restrictions will be lifted).

 

Commencement 2020 

  • One week from today – Wednesday, May 20 we will celebrate Virtual Commencement. Our live event stream will begin at 1 p.m., but you can log on beginning at 12:30 p.m. to see special messages from  the USciences community. Our virtual ceremony will have lots of surprises for everyone, and our commencement speaker, Michael Smerconish, promises to deliver a terrific message to the Class of 2020, their family and friends, and the entire USciences community. 

  • An electronic invitation will be sent to the members of the Class of 2020 tomorrow and an invitation to the entire campus community will follow.

 

Summer & Fall Classes and Return to Campus

  • Summer 1 and Summer A classes are all being delivered online.

  • Summer 2 classes will be delivered online, with the exception of a few lab courses. At this time, we are reviewing options to either deliver these laboratory courses on campus during Summer 2, or later in the fall. Much depends on the state and citywide guidance, and we will update the campus as soon as we have additional information from these sources. 

  • As noted before, decisions for our return (including delivery of the fall semester) will be driven by two critical factors:  a) the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and b) our mission to deliver the highest quality education to our students.

  • Processes for return to campus for all departments will be under guidance of the CDC, OSHA, and other governmental entities, and only at such time as both the Pennsylvania Governor and the Mayor of Philadelphia have permitted a return to on-site operations.  However, we will begin specific planning for this return over the coming weeks. 

 

Financial Resources for Students

  • COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund - Supported through the federal CARES Act, helps with education-related expenses associated with the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.  This fund is reserved for students who are currently enrolled in a program that met on campus prior to the transition to online classes.  An email will be going out shortly to all students with a link to the application for these funds.

  • USciences Student Emergency Fund (SEF) - Students may also access the USciences Student Emergency Fund for urgent financial needs.  This fund is available to all students, including those who may not qualify for Title IV/CARES Act funding (e.g., international or undocumented students).  Interested students should reach out to Joe Canaday, Executive Director of Student Success & Student Ombudsman at j.canada@usciences.edu.

  • All refunds for rooms, dining, and parking have been processed for students.  Students with questions on this topic should email studentaccounts@usciences.edu for the speediest and most informed response.  

 

Residence Halls/Student Personal Belongings 

  • The Residence Life team continues to monitor Governor Wolf’s guidance and will share specific timing on moveout plans as soon as permitted.

  • Students should monitor their USciences email for additional information about this process.  Students with questions should contact reslife@usciences.edu.

 

Procurement

  • As we develop plans to return to campus, all departments will need to consider supply inventories - specifically Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, or cleaning supplies.  As we return to campus and identify supply needs through the summer, please coordinate purchase of these items at an institutional level.

  • All purchasing of these items should be coordinated through the Director of Purchasing and Auxiliary Services, Vince Horn (v.horn@usciences.edu). 

Reporting COVID-19 Positive Tests

  • Despite the relatively low number of known coronavirus cases in our University community, we must continue to be vigilant, especially as planning begins for a return to campus.

  • 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.

 

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

05/06/2020

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (5/6/2020)

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students

 

We made it through Finals Week – and just a few short weeks until the members of the Class of 2020 officially become graduates of USciences!  While this is far from the typical end of the academic year, it is a huge milestone for our talented and hardworking students – and we are proud of them all and know they will be moving on to make a difference in the world, even as that world has changed so dramatically.

 

Commencement 2020

  • Virtual Commencement planning is well underway! We are working to create a virtual stage and each graduate is submitting a photo, which will be displayed on the screen when their name is called. 

  • We will be sending an electronic invitation to the members of the Class of 2020 that they can forward to family and friends, inviting them to celebrate their achievement.   

  • An invitation will also be emailed to campus so the USciences community can join together in cheering on our graduates. 

  • Help us congratulate the Class of 2020 today by submitting video messages for the class here!   

 

Financial Resources for Students

  • The COVID-19 Emergency Assistance fund (CARES Act) helps with education-related expenses associated with the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.  This fund is reserved for students who are currently enrolled in a program that met on campus prior to the transition to online classes.  Students will receive instructions to apply for assistance later this week via email.

  • Students may also access the USciences Student Emergency Fund for urgent financial needs.  This fund is available to all students, including those who may not qualify for Title IV/CARES Act funding (e.g., international or undocumented students).  Interested students should reach out to Joe Canaday, Executive Director of Student Success & Student Ombudsman at j.canada@usciences.edu.

  • All refunds for rooms, dining, and parking have been processed for students.  Students with questions on this topic should email studentaccounts@usciences.edu for the speediest and most informed response.  

 

Residence Halls/Student Personal Belongings

  • The Residence Life team has developed a plan that will coordinate students retrieval of their personal belongings in our three on-campus residence halls, as soon as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania permits us to do so. 

  • The plan is designed to maintain social/physical distancing guidelines while permitting students and a limited number of family members to retrieve their belongings efficiently from their dorm rooms.

  • While we do not yet have a clear timeline from the Governor, students should monitor emails for additional guidance about this process; we will share information as soon as we are able.  Students with questions may contactreslife@usciences.edu.

 

Procurement

  • As we develop plans to return to campus, all departments should be reviewing supply inventories and identifying needs, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, or cleaning supplies.

  • All purchasing of these items should be coordinated through the Director of Purchasing and Auxiliary Services, Vince Horn (v.horn@usciences.edu).  Please reach out to Vince and let him know of your department’s specific needs so that he may coordinate across the institution.

 

Return to Campus Planning/Fall Semester

  • Many of you are wondering about our plans to return to campus, and what the fall semester will look like.  

  • Our decisions for the fall will be driven by two critical factors:  a) the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and b) our mission to deliver the highest quality education to our students.

  • We don’t believe the above two factors are mutually exclusive, and our faculty and academic leaders are working hard to develop multiple scenarios that will allow us to meet both criteria.

  • That said, we are optimistic that we will be back on campus in the fall – but likely with some modifications to allow us to meet health and safety guidelines.  

  • We will be communicating more details in the coming weeks.

 

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 as planning begins for a return to campus.

  • 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.

 

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