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USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (7/9/2020)

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students

As we begin to see an increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the country, I hope that you and your families are well and safe. This resurgence of the virus serves as a reminder of our need to be vigilant and flexible. 

We continue to be optimistic about our ability to gather again on campus in the fall and are finalizing plans for a hybrid of in-person and virtual courses and activities come August. No matter the medium, we remain committed to continuing to deliver the highest-quality learning to our students. You’ll read more specifics about this in the updates below.

While much is changing day to day, we must continue to be flexible and adapt to the situation as needed. I have seen the resilience of this community during this COVID-19 pandemic and I am inspired by the work our entire USciences family has done to succeed in spite of these challenges. 

Stay strong. Stay safe. Stay connected. 


Paul Katz, MD



The COVID-19 Task Force welcomes our new incoming students!  In addition to the focused updates below, please take a look at the important informational links at the bottom of this message for additional information about USciences' COVID-19 response.


COVID-19 Pandemic Individual Responsibility Statement and Attestation 

To minimize the risk to public health while on USciences’ campus during the pandemic, all faculty, staff, and students are expected to adhere to public health and University guidelines to minimize the spread of COVID-19.  All parties must work collaboratively to help alleviate the further spread of COVID-19 for these safety purposes. Ensuring the health of our campus community must remain our top priority. 


To this end, notifications and a Qualtrics survey link will be forthcoming to faculty and staff from Human Resources to complete the COVID-19 Pandemic Individual Responsibility Statement and Attestation.  Students currently enrolled in on-campus summer classes or participating in research will receive a similar notification, along with a link to the COVID-19 Pandemic Individual Responsibility Statement and Attestation. The information is to be completed immediately for those currently on campus or, if currently remote, prior to coming onto campus. Thank you in advance for your cooperation. 


Academic Calendar/Fall Semester
The USciences team has been working diligently over the last few months to establish plans for a safe return to USciences this Fall. We plan to begin the semester in late August, holding in-person instruction, conducting research in our laboratories, opening offices, and welcoming students to our residence halls and other facilities, while balancing the health and safety of our community. Our plans are consistent with guidelines established for colleges and universities from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia. We are committed to delivering the highest quality learning to our students while assuring the safety of our campus community during these challenging times.

We have made some changes to the academic calendar for the fall 2020 semester. The semester will begin as scheduled on August 31, with classes being held for most undergraduate students on Labor Day. Much of the in-person instruction is planned to be conducted prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. This is to give students flexibility in travel requirements as well as building a buffer in case we need to pivot quickly during the semester because of a rise in COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia. Many undergraduate courses will resume after the holiday in an online format for the remainder of the semester, including final exams. Details concerning professional and graduate student courses will be forthcoming in communications from your programs.

Classes will be delivered in a mixture of online and in-person formats for the Fall semester. Laboratory courses requiring a hands-on approach, as well as many smaller classes will have some in-person components designed to accommodate appropriate physical distancing and recommended safety features. Large lecture-based courses will be held online until the time when it is safe to resume these in our classrooms. Because of the way some courses are being scheduled, students will be restricted from switching between sections of their laboratory courses. Programs will soon start sending out communications with more specific course and programmatic details to their students that will answer many of the questions they may have. Those communications will continue as things evolve and we work through creatively scheduling and preparing spaces for in-person instruction.

Return to Campus Training – BizLibrary

Thank you to the 200+ individuals who have completed the online COVID-19 Safety Training programs. Please remember all employees are required to complete the training, available via BizLibrary for all benefits-eligible employees. “The Basics of COVID-19” and “Safe Re-Entry During COVID-19 for Employees” are located at the top of your BizLibrary home page or can be found via the search bar. Please also explore the optional opportunities in your team “Playlist.”  Other instructions have been provided to applicable part-time staff.  In addition to Human Resources, supervisors should track compliance with this requirement via the home page of the HR google drive or via the instructions sent for part-time staff. As a reminder, all individuals must complete this training before returning to campus. 

Mask pickup

The University will provide cloth masks to all employees and students, coordinated through the Department of Public Safety.  Departmental leadership should send requests for employee masks (number requested, department name, and departmental representative who will pick up masks) to Michael Lapotasky (m.lapotasky@usciences.edu).  Masks will be packaged by Public Safety and prepared for departmental pickup promptly.

Student masks distribution will be coordinated through the Office of Student Affairs and, for students participating in summer research, through the Provost’s Office.

Plexiglass barrier installation

The Facilities Department will be installing plexiglass barriers across campus over the coming weeks in high-traffic locations and where physical distancing is difficult.  Installation will be completed by the beginning of the fall semester.

Reporting Positive COVID-19 tests / Daily Health Checks

As a reminder, all faculty, staff, and students should check their temperatures at the beginning of each day, prior to arrival on campus.  Those with a temperature above 100.4 degrees or having symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, shortness of breath, chills, unexplained loss of smell or taste, diarrhea, muscle aches, sore throat or headache) should not come to campus.  

All students are to notify SHAC of their illness symptoms at student-healthinfo@usciences.edu, and await further instructions from the SHAC clinician.  Students are also encouraged to notify their primary care provider of their illness symptoms. While symptomatic, students are not permitted to attend class on campus, but may attend class via distance learning if able. Faculty and staff should notify their department head or supervisor (who should report this to the HR Director), and notify their primary care provider of their illness symptoms. 

Individuals who believe they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should remain at home, contact their healthcare provider or SHAC, and together determine whether self-quarantine is indicated.  Employees should notify their supervisors and Human Resources.

Individuals can also take the CDC Self Checker for additional guidance at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html


USciences COVID-19 Information

  • The University’s Return to Campus Guidelines are available on our website and will be updated periodically as state and local guidance changes.
  • 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