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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 Katz, MD



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.