46 posts categorized "COVID-19"

09/03/2020

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students

Welcome back to all!

We hope you had a healthy, restful and relaxing summer, and are ready to embark on the new academic year!  If you’ve been on campus this week, you’ve likely noticed many changes. In addition to welcoming everyone back, the COVID-19 Task Force wants to share some additional information about adjustments to campus operations and important information on reducing the risk of transmission.

Many universities across the country have had outbreaks as students have returned to campus, including some within the City of Philadelphia.  The institutions of higher education in the City have been in contact with both each other and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health throughout the summer and as the semester starts, in order to share learnings and minimize the risk for additional transmission - both on our campuses and across the City.

The good news is that classrooms and on-campus settings have not been found to be areas of significant transmission - at least in Philadelphia.  However, outbreaks do seem to be driven both by students living in off-campus settings as well as smaller, more intimate social gatherings - as small as 3-4 people.  Asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission appears to be a significant source of infection.  Given this, each of us need to behave as if everyone is potentially infected.  This is the same message that we shared in the spring - and reinforces our guidance to wear masks at all times unless you are in your own private office or room.  Challenging as it may be to maintain for the long haul, face coverings/masks, physical distancing, and good hand hygiene are critical to limiting the transmission of COVID-19 until a vaccine is widely available - even in an off-campus apartment or house.

 

Study Spaces

  • We will continue to offer spaces on campus for students to study or to stream remote courses. When students are utilizing study spaces on campus they must:
  • Wear a mask at all times - even when in a private study room
  • Maintain social distancing of 6 feet between individuals
  • Keep occupancy of study spaces to no more than 25% of pre-pandemic capacity (updated maximum capacity signage has been placed in public and study areas)

As a reminder there are several locations on campus that have been identified as places where students can study:

  • J.W. England Library
  • Athletics Recreation Center (ARC) Lobby
  • STC Atrium/Study Rooms
  • 2nd floor above Tasty Drakes
  • Quad Dining Tent - *available only outside of dining hours or scheduled programming*
  • Outdoor tables throughout campus - Parenti Plaza, D’Angelo Mall, LLC Courtyard, Patio @ the ARC
  • Whitecar/McNeil 2nd floor Terrace 

Alumni Hall Testing Center (commuter students only)

The Alumni Hall Testing Center is prioritized for students who are commuting to campus. We ask that Residential Students use spaces within their residence halls or any of the other identified locations for group or individual study.  

 

Disinfecting/cleaning materials

Custodial services has placed disinfecting wipes and gloves in each classroom.  These are available to wipe down your personal space within the classroom.  We ask that you do not remove these materials from the classroom, so they may be available for fellow students and faculty to protect themselves as well.  

 

]Dining Services

It’s hard to miss the new dining tent that’s now in the Quad.  This is available for socially distant dining (minimum of 6 feet between individuals) as well as for study outside of dining hours).  Please do not relocate chairs and tables in this area, as they have been placed to maximize distance between diners. Listing of hours for the various food service locations (including the Wilson Dining Hall, Wilson Express, Coffee Lab, and Starbucks) around campus is here.  

 

Dining Reimbursements from Spring ‘20

All students with a meal plan in Spring ‘20 (Ultimate 700, 11MP,  5MP or 3MP) were given refunds that included their unused declining balance. There were no funds that rolled over to  Fall ‘20 for these meal plans.

All students with all DCB plans in Spring ’20 (250DCB, 450DCB, or 850DCB) who did not graduate had all unused funds rollover for Fall ‘20.

Any questions related to meal plan funds should be directed to Mary Policastro, Assistant Director of Auxiliary Services at m.policastro@usciences.edu

 

Griffith Hall Traffic flow

Our campus buildings now all have directional signage designed to maximize one-way traffic flow and minimize cross traffic during “rush hour” between classes and at the beginning and end of the day.  Most of these directional signs are self-explanatory, but Griffith Hall is one of our more complex buildings to navigate, so we wanted to provide some additional guidance to campus.

The Griffith Hall Main Entrance (by the circle) is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. At this entrance, those entering the building should use the center doors. Those exiting the building should use doors to either side to exit to the circle.

The doors at 43rd Street and D’Angelo Mall are for entry only.  After 5 p.m., when the Main Entrance doors are closed, please exit via the back stairways that lead to the Griffith/Griffith Annex Alley near IT/Kline and the EHRS/Chemical Stockroom.

ADA access to Griffith Hall is located at the ramp in the Griffith/Griffith Annex Alley just off of the Griffith Hall parking lot.

In an emergency situation, and in all campus buildings, please exit via the closest safe exit, regardless of COVID-19 traffic patterns.

Screen Shot 2020-09-03 at 9.14.10 PM

Student Handbook

The 2020-2021 edition of the USciences Student Handbook is available at: https://www.usciences.edu/student-life/student-handbook.pdf.  

 

USciences COVID-19 Information

  • Updated COVID-19 campus guidelines are available here.
  • Information about the University’s status, FAQs, and links to governmental sites are available on our COVID-19 webpage.
  • Urgent 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.  
  • Information on Pennsylvania travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are available at the PA Department of Health website.  

Thank you for your ongoing attention and support,

COVID-19 Task Force

08/25/2020

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (8/20/2020)

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students


The COVID-19 Task Force continues to monitor events in our region and nationally, including some local university closures in our immediate neighborhood.  We will continue to assess our institutional situation and make decisions based on the best evidence available that allows us to continue to deliver, safely, our mission to educate our science and healthcare professions student body.


Review the “Return to Campus Guidelines”

We continue to update the Return to Campus Guidelines as necessary; the updated PDF and webpages are available at Campus Guidelines. This week’s updates include changes to CDC isolation/quarantine guidance and information on the ARC operations and protocols, in addition to information regarding triggers for a transition to expanded or fully remote operations. These guidelines should be your primary and first source for information regarding our return to campus plan. Campus will be alerted when new information is added.


Penn Transit Shuttle

The Penn Transit Shuttle is scheduled to resume service throughout University City beginning the week of Monday, August 24th. Penn Transit has committed to providing safe and healthy transportation, using CDC-recommended products, increased frequency of disinfection, and enhanced attention to high-touch areas. Penn Transit is also being proactive in asking their riders to provide assurances that they are symptom free and have been self-monitoring for exposures and symptoms. University of the Sciences community members will be asked to give a verbal attestation at the time of service of their active self-monitoring for COVID-19 exposures and/or symptoms. Please see the Penn Transit Website for information on routes, ridership requirements, and safety.


Update on campus signage and hand sanitizer stations

Signs with information about face coverings, hand hygiene, social distancing, and wellness checks have been placed in all campus buildings.  Hand sanitizer stations have been mounted on the walls or on stands in public areas of all buildings as well.  Directional floor signage will be installed late this week and through next week in larger classrooms, stairwells, and public areas.


Clinical rotations

Students on clinical rotations, even in other states and regions, must continue to follow USciences guidance related to COVID-19.  This includes wearing of masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, and self-monitoring.  In addition, students should refrain from accepting food from patients or eating in clinical areas.  The latter is a Joint Commission and OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen standard, and will reduce the risk of exposure to airborne pathogens while eating.


Face coverings

We remind the campus community that face coverings/masks are required at all times on campus. - whether inside or outside.  The only exceptions to this are a) when individuals are in a single office without risk of being within 6 feet of others, and b) while eating and socially distanced.  

Two masks will be distributed to each student at the beginning of the semester.  Please note that students should arrive on campus wearing their own mask, as both USciences and the City of Philadelphia require face coverings. Additional information on mask distribution to students will be shared closer to the start of the semester.

Most departments have already received delivery of masks for their employees.  Any employees who have not received these masks should reach out to their supervisors. Employees who need face shields (in addition to masks) should reach out to their department head, chair, or dean; this item has been ordered in bulk centrally.  Please note that face shields are not a replacement for masks but should be worn in addition to masks in situations where close contact may not be able to be avoided (e.g., clinical settings or lab work).

Questions regarding housing and residence halls

Any questions related to housing and the student residence halls should be sent or referred to Residence Life at reslife@usciences.edu.  Residential students should monitor their USciences’ email for important information regarding the fall semester move-in process.


USciences COVID-19 Information

  • Updated COVID-19 campus guidelines are available here.

  • Information about the University’s status, FAQs, and links to governmental sites are available on the 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.  

  • Information on Pennsylvania travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are available at the PA Department of Health website.  


The COVID-19 Task Force

 

08/19/2020

A Message from President Paul Katz to our Students

Dear Students, 

I hope that you have had a good and restful summer and are ready for the start of the new academic year and the fall semester. 

As this next chapter opens on August 31, we must adjust to the new normal. But one thing that hasn’t changed is our pioneering spirit to forge ahead and help to mold the healthcare and science leaders of tomorrow. 

As I shared with you last March, we continue to hold true to our primary objectives: the health and safety of our University community and to continue the commitment to our University’s mission to offer an excellent education to our students. Our community has faced many challenges in the past 200 years, but I am encouraged by the flexibility, fortitude, and fidelity I’ve seen during this trying time.   

The COVID-19 Task Force, which comprises more than 30 representatives from throughout campus, has been hard at work to prepare the campus for the start of the semester and beyond. Their work includes the creation of safety plans for all on-campus operations which are detailed in the Return to Campus Guidelines as well as contingency planning. I know that there is a lot of detail in these pages, however, I encourage you to carefully review these guidelines as they are important to ensure that we can continue to safely continue our on-campus activities. Similarly, the weekly message from the COVID-19 Task Force is packed with valuable and current information.

These campus safety measures - including signage, increased cleaning procedures, and occupancy limits - are consistent with state and local regulations as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The timeline for signage placement, plexiglass deployment, and much more is Included in last Thursday’s Task Force message. My sincerest thanks to the Task Force and the many others who have been working diligently to prepare the campus for our safe return.

As a reminder you are asked to:

  • Conduct a daily health check before coming to campus. This includes taking your temperature and monitoring symptoms. 
  • Wear a mask everywhere on campus, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Keep your distance: stay six feet from others, even if you are outdoors or wearing a mask. 
  • Practice good hygiene: wash your hands with soap and water, use hand sanitizer when hand washing isn’t available, avoid touching your face, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. 

We are all responsible for the health and safety of one another during this time. 

Stay Strong. Stay Safe. Stay Connected. 

Paul


Paul Katz, MD

President

A Message from President Paul Katz

Dear Faculty and Staff, 

I hope that you have had a good and restful summer and are ready for the start of the new academic year and the fall semester. 

As this next chapter opens on August 31, we must adjust to the new normal. But one thing that hasn’t changed is our pioneering spirit to forge ahead and help to mold the healthcare and science leaders of tomorrow. 

As I shared with you last March, we continue to hold true to our primary objectives: the health and safety of our University community and to continue the commitment to our University’s mission to offer an excellent education to our students. Our community has faced many challenges in the past 200 years, but I am encouraged by the flexibility, fortitude, and fidelity I’ve seen during this trying time.   

The COVID-19 Task Force, which comprises more than 30 representatives from throughout campus, has been hard at work to prepare the campus for the start of the semester and beyond. Their work includes the creation of safety plans for all on-campus operations which are detailed in the Return to Campus Guidelines as well as contingency planning. I know that there is a lot of detail in these pages, however, I encourage you to carefully review these guidelines as they are important to ensure that we can continue to safely continue our on-campus activities. Similarly, the weekly message from the COVID-19 Task Force is packed with valuable and current information. We will share more information about the plans at our upcoming Faculty and Staff Town Hall on Wednesday, August 19 at 3 p.m. 

These campus safety measures - including signage, increased cleaning procedures, and occupancy limits - are consistent with state and local regulations as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The timeline for signage placement, plexiglass deployment, and much more is Included in last Thursday’s Task Force message. My sincerest thanks to the Task Force and the many others who have been working diligently to prepare the campus for our safe return.

As a reminder you are asked to:

  • Conduct a daily health check before coming to campus. This includes taking your temperature and monitoring symptoms. 
  • Wear a mask everywhere on campus, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Keep your distance: stay six feet from others, even if you are outdoors or wearing a mask. 
  • Practice good hygiene: wash your hands with soap and water, use hand sanitizer when hand washing isn’t available, avoid touching your face, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. 

We are all responsible for the health and safety of one another during this time. 

Stay Strong. Stay Safe. Stay Connected. 

Paul


Paul Katz, MD

President

08/13/2020

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (8/15/2020)

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students

Please carefully read these important updates from the COVID-19 Task ForceWe are excited to come together - both remotely and in person - as we finalize preparations for the fall semester in the coming weeks. This will certainly be an unusual semester and year, and we know that our university community is ready to fulfill our educational mission for our new and continuing students.  As an institution committed to educating science and healthcare professionals for the future, we are confident that our students, faculty, and staff will do everything they can to maintain the safety of our community; our future colleagues and patients will expect no less.  Together as a community we are ready to rise to this challenge!  

Review the “Return to Campus Guidelines”

Last week the Task Force updateUSciences’ Return to Campus Guidelines; the updated PDF and webpages are available at Campus Guidelines. These updates include additional detail on processes for isolation and quarantine for students, new information on student move-in procedures, clarification on classroom and laboratory occupancy, as well as information on dining services.  These Guidelines should be your primary and first source for information regarding our return to campus plan. You will be alerted when new information is added.

Students at clinical sites

We remind students who are participating in clinical rotations that, regardless of location, all students are still required to abide by USciences COVID-19 guidelines and University policies.  This includes wearing of face coverings at clinical sites (even if local regulations are less stringent), as well as protocols for students with potential exposure.  As a reminder, students who have been isolated or quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure or infection MUST obtain permission from the Director of Student Health prior to either returning to campus or to any clinical site.

Faculty, Staff, and Student Worker Safety Trainings & Attestation

Ensuring the health of our campus community remains our top priority. As a reminder (or as an FYI for those now returning) all faculty, staff, and student workers are required to complete safety-related training and a COVID-19 Individual Responsibility Statement and Attestation before returning to campus.

Re: Training

All full-time benefits-eligible faculty and staff are to complete training through BizLibrary prior to coming on-site, via https://usciences.bizlibrary.com or by going to https://usciences.onecampus.com. Just enter BizLibrary into the search bar and click on the heart to make it a favorite. There are two video lessons posted in your queues (“The Basics of Covid-19” and “Safe Re-entry during COVID-19 for employees”), that will take no longer than 30 minutes to complete. Thank you to everyone who has already completed the training. 

All adjunct staff, student workers, or other part-time staff are to access the training through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP)  via  https://www.theeap.com as follows :  Go to the top of the page and click on Employees and Families.  Create a username and password.  Click on "Trainings" which will bring you to the BizLibrary Training Center.  Enter "Re-Entry During Covid-19 for Employees" - this is the only training that needs to be completed. Keep a copy of your certificate (see note below). 

Student workers will receive an additional notification from Student Affairs. New GSIs/GRAs will also receive a notification from their leaders with some special instructions as well. 

Re: COVID-19 Individual Responsibility Statement and Attestation

All individuals must complete the COVID-19 Pandemic Individual Responsibility Statement and Attestation found here in advance of coming to campus. This process should take you no more than 10 minutes to complete, and confirms your commitment to our safety and health priorities. Students will also receive this link from Student Affairs. 

Notes on Compliance/Tracking

Human Resources has posted a master list of participation re: all FT faculty/staff on the home page of the HR Google drive, which is updated daily. Supervisors/Department Leaders should check the list to ensure that those who plan to be on campus have completed these items.

Student Workers should show or provide copies of both their training certificate of completion and confirmation of the attestation to their supervisors prior to their first on-site shift.

Adjunct Staff and TAs with on-site assignments should provide the same materials to the following representatives in each college:  

Samson - Deb Zayon (d.zayon@usciences.edu)

PCP - Kiara Cam (k.cam@usciences.edu)

Misher - Sarah Robinson (s.robinson@usciences.edu)

The Task Force and the entire University Community thank you for your cooperation and attention to these matters. Again, ensuring the health of our campus community must remain our top priority and it will require our commitment to these items to be a reality.  

Cleaning protocols

The Task Force has fielded a number of questions related to protocols for cleaning campus, so we are providing an overview here – with additional detail to be added to the Return to Campus guidelines shortly.

High touch areas (including, but not limited to doorknobs, handrails, bathroom fixtures, water fountains, study room tables, keyboards) will be disinfected by custodial services five times per 8 hour shift (day and evening).  Each classroom will have gloves and disinfecting wipes for use by students/staff/faculty so that individuals may wipe down their desks before use.  

Hand sanitizer stations will be placed at entrances/exits of all buildings, with additional stands placed in high traffic areas in our larger buildings.  These stands will all be in place by the end of August.

Dining hall tables will be wiped down at least every 20-30 minutes and after usage.  

If any campus community member notes a low supply of hand sanitizer, wipes, paper towels, or other critical cleaning supplies, a work order should be submitted through School Dude (available in the OneCampus portal).

 

Additional information on cleaning protocols is available in the Return to Campus Guidelines.

 

Campus status updates

In response to a number of questions about timing of installation of various protective measures, please see the below update:

  1. Informational signage (face coverings/hand hygiene, etc.) - already in place on most doors; remaining signage in public spaces to be posted by the end of next week (8/21)

  2. Directional/distancing signage on floors - in place in Dining Hall/Starbucks/Tasty Drakes.  Additional floor markings will be installed by the end of next week (8/21)

  3. Disinfectant wipes/buckets - Will be distributed to classrooms/teaching labs by 8/28.

  4. Hand sanitizer stations - Wall-mounted hand sanitizer stations already in place in a variety of campus locations including dining hall.  Additional stands delivered 8/11 and will be assembled and in place by 8/21.

  5. Woodland Avenue signage - Large sandwich boards being delivered 8/12 and will be placed on sidewalks at the end of August

  6. Plexiglass shielding - installed at all requested high-traffic locations; additional plexiglass available for new requests.

  7. Dining tent - to be installed in the Quad beginning 8/24. See the Dining Services video to check out specific changes in Wilson Dining Hall and Starbucks.

  8. All air filters in campus buildings will be changed the week prior to the start of classes (week of 8/24).

 

Questions regarding housing and residence halls

Any questions related to housing and the student residence halls should be sent or referred to Residence Life at reslife@usciences.edu.  Residential students should monitor their USciences’ email for important information regarding the fall semester move-in process.

 

USciences COVID-19 Information

  • Updated COVID-19 campus guidelines are available here.

  • 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.  

  • Information on Pennsylvania travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are available at the PA Department of Health website.  

 

The COVID-19 Task Force

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (8/6/2020)

Updated “Return to Campus Guidelines”

The Task Force has updateUSciences’ Return to Campus Guidelines; the updated PDF and webpages are available at Campus Guidelines.  There is now included additional detail on processes for isolation and quarantine for students, new information on student move-in procedures, clarification on classroom and laboratory occupancy, as well as information on dining services.

Appointments, please

Many of USciences’ offices are now available for on-campus services.  However, in order to reduce crowding and assure safety of all of our campus community, many services require appointments in advance.  Student Affairs, Student Health and Counseling, and the Registrar’s Office all require appointments.  Please contact those offices directly to schedule.  If students are unsure of how to contact a particular office on campus they can call the main line of Student Affairs at 215-596-8950 and will be transferred appropriately.

Please check the Campus Operations site for updated information on offices requiring appointments.

Parking survey

All employees received a parking survey last week from Director of Public Safety Michael Lapotasky, with the deadline for completion today (8/6).  Please complete this survey so we can assure adequate and appropriate parking.  Students will be receiving a separate parking survey shortly.

Curbside pickup is now available at the J.W. England Library!

Curbside pickup is a way to get materials, while keeping students, faculty, and staff safe. Interested in getting material from the library?   

  1. Go into your account (https://library.usciences.edu/) and place holds on the material you need. Only 5 holds are allowed at a time.  

  2. For same day pickups, please place holds by 12 pm.  

  3. Pick-up times are Monday through Thursday (through August 14th) and Monday through Friday (after August 15th) from 10 am to 3 pm. We are not able to lend on the weekends currently.  

  4. When ready, head over to the library!  

  5. Look for the designated marked area outside the library and call the circulation desk at 215-596-8960 

  6. Please have your ID ready and read it to the circulation member.  

  7. We will verify you, check out your items, and place them in the designated basket for you to pick up! The books will be wrapped in brown paper.  

    Reminders:

  • Please stay in the marked area until staff has gone back inside the building.  

  • The library building is still closed. We are not able to allow entry currently but hope to be open soon!   

  • All material needed must be placed on hold. We will not be circulating kits, models, games, and other objects at this time.  

  • For returns, please use the designated basket. We are not taking items by hand.  

 

Questions regarding housing and residence halls

Any questions related to housing and the student residence halls should be sent or referred to Residence Life at reslife@usciences.edu.  Residential students should monitor their USciences’ email for important information regarding the fall semester move-in process.

 

Ongoing 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.  

USciences COVID-19 Information

  • Updated COVID-19 campus guidelines are available here.

  • 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

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