30 posts categorized "COVID-19"

07/30/2020

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (7/30/2020)

Dear USciences Students, Faculty and Staff, 

As we enter August and “back to school” season,  much anticipation is building toward the start of our semester on August 31. Sincerest gratitude to the many faculty and staff who have been preparing for this unique semester for many months now in order to safely deliver the best experience for our students. And thanks to our students for your patience during this challenging time.

Recently the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Health approved our plan to return to campus. Many thanks to our COVID-19 Task Force for putting this together.  Be sure to review the Return to Campus Guidelines published online. Dean of Students Ross Radish will continue regular communications with students to ensure we are all prepared to return to campus safely.

The Leadership Team and I remain committed to our values and to continuing our rigorous, high-quality USciences education, even when offered in some non-traditional ways due to the pandemic. Communications went out to the students last week regarding these plans. Our hybrid approach will include some on-campus experiences, online courses, and coursework that is a mix of the two. All student schedules will be updated in WebAdvisor with information about course modality this week. 

Tuition and fees support a variety of services and expenses at the University, both on-ground and online. These cover not only facility usage, but technology and services that support remote education and other student needs.  While the ultimate cost to deliver all of these services will likely be higher in the coming year, the University has committed to keeping both tuition and fees flat, with no increases for the 2020-21 academic year.

We will continue to monitor state and local guidelines as well as recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization regarding COVID-19. This ever-changing situation requires that we remain flexible and adaptable. 

I had the first meeting with the Diversity and Inclusion Council (David Forde, Ruth Roberts, Tyan Thomas, and student representative Massandje Dosso) last week to charge them with the responsibilities I’ve recently written about. The Council will be engaging multiple internal and external constituencies in this process - students, faculty, staff, student organizations, the Board of Trustees, and our local and regional community - as they launch their work to gather information and solicit input. You will be hearing more from them soon.

On August 19 at 3 p.m. we will be holding an additional virtual Town Hall for faculty and staff. Please be on the lookout for more details as well as information about question submission. 

I’m keenly aware of the toll that the last several months have taken on everyone - it is unprecedented. I hope that in the midst of your preparation for the start of classes and the coming semester you are continuing to take time for self-care and self-reflection. Please try and find ways to separate your work life from your personal life - it’s more challenging while we’re at home, which makes it even more critical that we all commit to doing so.

Finally, the recent death of civil rights icon John Lewis has been on my mind and I’m sure in many of your thoughts. It’s an important time for us to remember the contributions he and many others made to address issues of racism, diversity, and equity, but much remains to be done.

The journey of his casket across the Edmund Pettus Bridge was a memorable moment that I won’t forget.

So for this week’s quote, I chose this:

 

"You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone – any person or any force – dampen, dim or diminish your light. Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant."

John Lewis -  "Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America"

 

Stay Safe. Stay Strong. Stay Connected. 

Paul

Paul Katz, MD

President

 

COVID-19 Task Force Update (7/30/2020)

 Review the Approved Return to Campus Guidelines

The Task Force has shared an updated USciences Return To Campus Guidelines document available online. This document was recently given support from the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Health. 

Appointments at Campus Offices

In an effort to limit in-person interactions at many on-campus offices including the controller’s office, financial aid,  registrar’s office, and student affairs you will be asked to make an appointment in advance, rather than walk-in or drop by the office.  You are encouraged to do this for all offices. More information will be available on the Working Remotely website as the semester approaches.

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

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (7/16/2020)

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students

Updated “Return to Campus Guidelines”

The Task Force has updated USciences’ Return to Campus Guidelines; the updated PDF and webpages are available at Campus Guidelines.  The updates include recommendations for daily health checks for all campus community members, notification requirements, as well as additional details on contact tracing and testing.  Additional detail is provided on cleaning and disinfection, particularly of high-touch areas, as well as related to building traffic flow and signage.  

International students

On Tuesday, July 14, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement backtracked on guidance announced the previous week that would have required international students return to their home country if coursework were entirely online.  At this point, international students and institutions of higher education will continue to operate under the more flexible guidance provided in March.  

Changes to guidance from the Pennsylvania Governor

PA Governor Wolf released updated guidance on Wednesday, due to the alarming increase in cases both in Pennsylvania as well as nationally.  The new executive order includes the following restrictions:

  • Indoor dining continues to be permitted but is limited to 25% capacity
  • Alcoholic beverages are permitted to be served on-site, but only with full meal service
  • Telework should be implemented wherever possible
  • Indoor gatherings are restricted to 25 people or less (including event staff)
  • Outdoor gatherings are restricted to 250 people or less (note that the City of Philadelphia has restricted outdoor gatherings to 50 people or less)

The full guidance is available here.

Travel restrictions

At this time, the University is following recommendations of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regarding quarantine after travel to states with high incidence of COVID-19.  The recommendation is for a 14-day home quarantine upon return.  This guidance covers all campus community members.  Please see the PA Department of Health website for the most up to date list.  

New Jersey also has quarantine recommendations, which should be reviewed by individuals residing in that state. Given the escalating cases nationally, travel to any location should be limited to that which is truly essential, and the potential impact of a two-week quarantine should be considered.

The Task Force is looking at these dynamic restrictions in the context of students who may be returning to campus after clinical fieldwork from locations on the quarantine list and will work to formulate specific guidance in those situations. In addition, we are working with both the City and the Commonwealth of PA to better understand options for students who live in high-risk states, and what measures both the university and affected students may need to take to maximize everyone’s safety upon return to campus.  Additional communication to students will be forthcoming.

 

Cancellation of fall athletic competitions

On Monday, July 13, the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Presidents Council – of which USciences is a member – announced that intercollegiate competition will not occur during the Fall 2020 season “due to safety concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.”  Additional information is expected from the CACC later this month, addressing potential new opportunities for athletes in fall and winter sports.  At this time, there are no announced changes to the spring sports schedules.

 

City of Philadelphia event restrictions

Tuesday, the City of Philadelphia announced a moratorium on public events larger than 50 people.  While, as a private entity, USciences is not bound by this moratorium, we plan to continue to adhere to local guidelines, particularly as they relate to public health.  As per the published Return to Campus Guidelines, non-essential visitors are prohibited, and any essential visitors to campus must adhere to safety and hygiene guidelines.  Events on campus will be limited for the remainder of the calendar year in order to maximize campus safety.

 

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

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

Paul Katz, MD

President

 

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

A Message from President Paul Katz - 6/25/20

Good afternoon, everyone.  I trust this message finds you well, safe and hopeful.

As you’ll read in this week’s COVID-19 Task Force’s message below, we remain cautiously optimistic about our region’s transition to the (not really back to the old “normal”) GREEN phase in late July. Coupled with this plan are our Return to Campus Guidelines and the myriad of actions that need to take place in order for us to return to campus safely. You all know the information regarding the uptick in new cases that is being seen in some regions - this worrisome change mandates that we remain vigilant regarding the projected course of the pandemic.

Despite growing and compelling data about reduction of the spread of the disease associated with physical distancing and the use of masks (The Lancet), adherence to this guidance remains quite variable in the U.S. As we return to campus and to Philadelphia, let us commit as a community to a “social compact” where we pledge to protect ourselves and each other by following our Guidelines and the national and local recommendations and regulations whether we’re on or off campus. Our first pandemic-related goal of ensuring the health of our campus community must remain our top priority.

The other topic that must go on as a focal point for USciences is how we plan as a campus united to address issues of racism, social justice and equity.  I want to thank those of you who have taken time following my message from last week to complete the survey we created regarding actions we can take. To date, we have received some great suggestions from students, faculty and staff. We will keep this survey open at least until July 3rd, so please take time to share your ideas. I was on a Zoom call yesterday where a leader of one of our higher ed neighbors opined regarding the challenges in planning a return to campus that “…if everything is a priority then nothing is a priority”. The truth in that statement cannot deter us from addressing this most critical priority.

I haven’t done so recently, but I will close with a quote:

 

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.

We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

Barack Obama


Thank you for your commitment to each other, our University and our community.

Stay strong. Stay safe. Stay connected.

Paul

Paul Katz, MD

President

 

If you haven’t yet had a chance to review the COVID-19 Return to Campus Guidelines, please do so at USciences.edu/CampusGuidelines.  All employees are required to review this information and will be required to complete mandatory training (available via BizLibrary or other instructions provided or forthcoming if part-time) prior to coming on campus.

 All supervisors should have received an email from Ruth Roberts, Director of Human Resources, on Monday, with additional information on departmental planning for returning to campus.  In addition to those directions, supervisors should assess their departmental needs (faculty and staff) for cloth masks for employees and email requests to Mike Lapotasky, Director of Public Safety (m.lapotasky@usciences.edu). The Department of Public Safety is working with the Office of Purchasing and Auxiliary Services to package and distribute branded cloth masks to all employees who will be on campus through their departments.  Information on student mask distribution will be communicated shortly.

The City of Philadelphia is currently in a modified YELLOW phase of reopening, with some additional activities permitted as of June 26, and with potential plans to transition to GREEN phase later in July.  Please note that the University guidelines may be more restrictive than either the Philadelphia or Pennsylvania guidance (but cannot be less restrictive).  The GREEN phase is not a return to “normal” but is intended to establish and maintain an environment with a lower risk for disease transmission. Information on guidance for the City of Philadelphia is available here.

USciences COVID-19 Information

06/18/2020

IMPORTANT UPDATE: USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (6/18/2020)

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students

We have an important update today that impacts the entire campus community.  As discussed in prior communications, the COVID-19 Task Force has been working to finalize our interim guidance for return to campus.  That guidance is now available for your information here, and includes a link to download a pdf if preferred.  Please review this document as soon as possible, in advance of returning to campus, and refer back to it as often as needed.  As discussed previously, limited reopening will occur on Monday, June 29, with a ramp-up of on-site operations after that date.

It is critical for supervisors and department leadership to review these guidelines immediately, as planning for your departments must be within this framework.  Employees in your areas will be looking to you for direction on departmental operations.

There is a required online training module that must be completed by employees before returning to work. More details will be forthcoming from Human Resources.  Additional information for students will be shared shortly.

We have a few other updates for campus:

Residence Hall Student Belongings Retrieval

  • We were able to allow students to begin picking up their belongings last week, and so far it’s been a success.  Maintaining physical distancing, over 100 students and their families returned to campus to get their items.  We expect the remaining belongings to be removed prior to the July 4th holiday.

  • 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.

Emergency Funding for Students 

  • Students who applied for CARES Act funding by May 31 will be receiving funds shortly.  Approximately $300,000 in grants were provided to 219 students.  We continue to accept additional requests from students.  More information is available here.

  • The University has been able to provide over $90,000 to students through the USciences Student Emergency Fund in recent months.  Currently, there are no funds available in the Student Emergency Fund.  If more funds become available students will be notified.  

USciences COVID-19 Information

  • Thank you to supervisors and employees for tracking their COVID-19 related hours in the past, that action is no longer necessary. 

  • 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.  

  • Resources to promote well-being for students, faculty, and staff are posted on the Office of Health and Wellness google site. 

 

The COVID-19 Task Force

06/15/2020

USciences Return to Campus Planning for Fall 2020

To the USciences Community:

I hope this message finds you well. The recent months have been challenging, to say the least. I am very proud that the two primary goals we set at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic have been met - to ensure the health and safety of our University family, and to continue to offer the same excellent education for our students.

Our third and most recent goal is to prepare for the Fall semester and a return to on-campus operations -  I am writing today to update you on our progress toward this milestone.

Our plans are to open campus and resume many in-person activities for the fall semester. 

The USciences COVID-19 Task Force, deans, faculty, and University leadership have been working diligently over the last few months to establish plans for a safe return to USciences this Fall. We plan to open in August with 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. We have been in close contact with representatives from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia and we will   follow the guidelines established for colleges and universities while continuing to offer the highest quality learning to our students.

It is important to remember that these plans may change due to conditions beyond our control - such as a resurgence of the virus or changes in local regulations. We will continue to monitor the public health situation, communicate regularly with the campus community, and alter our guidelines as needed to ensure the ongoing safety of all. 

Classes will be delivered in a mixture of online and in-person formats for the Fall semester. The in-person portion of laboratory courses will be focused on those skills requiring a hands-on approach. By creatively arranging our facilities, we will be able to accommodate in-person instruction for some smaller courses. Larger lecture-based courses will be held online until the time when it is safe to resume these in our classrooms. Smaller classes will be held in-person and plans are being readied for physical distancing and the appropriate recommended safety features.

 While there are still many details to work out, we are planning for the semester’s courses to begin as scheduled on August 31 with most of the in-person instruction conducted prior to the Thanksgiving holiday in order to minimize the spread of the virus as flu season begins.   

Throughout this unusual chapter in the University’s 200-year history, we are focused on maintaining the outstanding education and student experiences that are hallmarks of USciences. We will continue to uphold this focus despite the unknowns that lie ahead of us. I am encouraged by and grateful for the community of individuals who make up our  family. I know that we will continue to support one another as we have in the past.

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you all soon on campus.

  

Stay strong. Stay safe. Stay connected.

 

Paul

Paul Katz, MD

President

06/04/2020

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (6/4/2020)

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students

 

It’s been a difficult week for many of our community members, and we hope the resources that the University offers will be of help to some or all of you.  We did want to continue to provide updates in this communication focused on the coronavirus pandemic and the University’s response.

 

The City of Philadelphia today confirmed that it will align with Governor Wolf’s recommendation to move to the YELLOW phase as of Friday, June 5 - more details are here.  However, at this point, the City has also extended the mandatory citywide curfew from 8:00pm through 6:00am Friday (details here).  

 

The transition to YELLOW in the City does not allow gatherings at this time, nor does it change recommendations on face coverings and social distancing.

 

Residence Hall Student Belongings Retrieval

 

  • Unfortunately, due to the current civil unrest in the City of Philadelphia, we will need to delay retrieval of student belongings.   All students who were scheduled to pick up belongings this week will unfortunately have to reschedule.  Residence Life has contacted these students and will create additional time slots as necessary.

  • Residence Life will continue to monitor the situation and reach out to students if additional future time slots are impacted.

  • If you have not yet signed up for a time slot, please note the below:

    • 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.

 

Clinical Education

  • PA sites: students can go to clinical sites in Pennsylvania now. We should be able to resume limited, in person instruction on campus in our clinical programs after the University opens back up for limited operations. June 29th is our target date for this, subject to change if local or state guidance is amended.

  • NJ sites: a request for a waiver was sent to New Jersey last Friday afternoon. All students scheduled for NJ sites are paused at this point and any students currently at these sites have been recalled pending notice from the State. Updates will be sent as soon as we hear from NJ about the waiver application.

  • Outside of PA/NJ: if the region or state is not yet “open,” fieldwork coordinators will need to review local guidance for students in fieldwork. If there is no specific guidance, students may participate in this educational activity. (For those states or regions that are “open”, e.g., Florida, if local guidelines permit students to do fieldwork or are silent on the topic, students may continue to their assigned clinical sites.)

  • REMINDER FOR ALL CLINICAL SITES:  University guidance does not permit students to have direct contact with patients who test positive for active COVID-19 (i.e., active viral load). They may (and are encouraged to) work on teams that are taking care of COVID-19 patients, as long as direct contact does not occur.

 

Return to Campus Planning

  • The COVID-19 Task Force continues to update procedures for limited reopening of campus in the summer (after June 28th) and expanded opening into the fall.  The City of Philadelphia issued guidance for institutes of higher education in the City on Friday, May 29 and the State issued guidance yesterday. We are incorporating this into our internal documents. We anticipate releasing the plan to the campus in the coming weeks.

  • As previously noted, we do not envision any reopening for non-essential personnel prior to June 29, with the potential for some limited on-site operations after that date.

  • Governor Wolf’s current and updated guidance for the state is provided here.

  • The City of Philadelphia’s guidance will be shared when it is public.

  • The Task Force and academic leadership continue to plan for modified on-campus delivery of the fall semester; more information will be shared with the release of our Return to Campus guidelines in the next several weeks.

 

CARES Act Funding for Students 

  • Students who applied for CARES Act funding by the May 31 deadline will be notified in the coming weeks of whether they will receive funding.  We expect to distribute the majority of these funds before June 30, 2020.

 

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 University's Wellness Resources are available to students, faculty, and staff.  Please don't hesitate to take advantage of them.

 

The COVID-19 Task Force




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