37 posts categorized "COVID-19"

07/30/2020

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



04/30/2020

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (4/29/2020)

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students

 

It’s Finals Week!  It’s the busiest time of year for our students and faculty, and in the current unprecedented global situation, it is likely to be even more stressful than usual.  If you haven’t watched the fun Finals Week message from some of USciences’ high energy faculty and staff, take a look here - it will cheer up your day!

 

And, in related news, USciences’ Virtual Commencement 2020 is three weeks from today-- Wednesday, May 20th at 1:00 p.m. Plans are underway to make this virtual ceremony as student-focused and celebratory as possible. We will be sharing a link to the ceremony with the USciences community soon, and we will also livestream to the public atyoutube.com/usciences. Graduating students should check their email for more details. We will hold an in-person ceremony at a later date, when it is safe to do so. 

 

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

 

Future Planning

  • Governor Wolf released his “Process to Reopen Pennsylvania” last week, a plan that outlines a regional approach to reopening businesses and lifting some social restrictions.  

  • The current guidance suggests that areas of the state that have very few COVID-19 cases may begin to relax restrictions as early as May 8.  Given the high number of cases in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, there is no expectation that our region will relax the existing restrictions in the near term, but the Task Force continues to monitor local, state, and federal guidance related to this topic.

 

Financial Resources for Students

  • The COVID-19 Emergency Assistance fund 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.  We are currently working on a process for eligible students to apply for these funds, and expect to communicate it to students within the next two weeks.

  • All students may 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 atj.canada@usciences.edu.  

 

Wellness Resources

  • The Office of Health and Wellness google site has a variety of wellness resources - check out the “Staying Well While Staying Home” tab for links to virtual events like Zoom fitness classes, Friday lunchtime meditation, and cooking demos, as well as useful articles and links. There is a tab specifically for students and one for faculty and staff as well. 

 

Student Leadership Awards

  • Even though our time on campus this semester was cut short, we are extremely proud of the accomplishments of our student organizations and student leaders. We received over 200 nominations for Student Leadership Awards this year! 

  • Since we can’t be together to celebrate, our winners will be announced on theUSciences Instagramaccount by the end of the week. Stay tuned!

 

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

04/24/2020

USciences COVID-19 Task Force Update (4/22/2020)

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students

 

One of the most frequent questions that the Task Force is asked (and discussed at our weekly meetings) is how much longer we will continue to be required to stay at home, off-campus, and away from much of our day-to-day routine work.  While some states around the country have already announced plans to reopen some businesses and relax limitations on gathering, there have been no similar announcements in our region yet.  The University is required to follow the guidance of both the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This past Monday, Governor Wolf extended the statewide Stay-At-Home Order through Friday, May 8, 2020 - a little over two weeks from now.  Philadelphia has a similar Stay-At-Home Order and prohibition of Non-Essential Business Operations effective March 23, 2020 and until further notice.  Based on media reports, it appears that near-term relaxation of stay-at-home guidance is most likely to occur in parts of Pennsylvania with very few COVID-19 cases - not in our region.

 

However, even in the absence of a clear timeline for reopening by Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, the Task Force and University leadership are working on plans for a phased return to campus-based operations once local government allows us to do so. As with all of our initiatives related to COVID-19, our highest priority is the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and any plans put in place will be designed to maintain that safety.  We expect that there will be continued physical distancing requirements, as well as the need for face coverings/masks for months into the future - at least until a vaccine and/or effective coronavirus therapy is widely available. There almost certainly will be a “new normal” for months, if not years, to come.

 

The Task Force will continue to update the campus community in the coming weeks with any critical information. Today’s updates include not only reminders of procedures related to coronavirus, but also how you as an individual can help others in a time of need.

 

Coming to campus

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Health has released guidelines for businesses that require all individuals wear masks at all times (cloth masks are fine) and maintain physical distancing.  This guidance applies not only to essential personnel working on campus, but any individuals coming to campus for any reason.

  • Employees needing to pick up mail or other items from campus should first obtain permission from their divisional vice president who, if given approval, will then ask that you notify the Department of Public Safety of the time and location of their arrival on campus by calling DPS dispatch at 215-895-1117.

 

Blood and blood product donations

  • Hospitals across the country are experiencing significant shortages of blood products (whole blood, platelets, plasma) due to the reduction in blood drives nationally, the source of more than 80% of the American Red Cross’ supplies.

  • In addition, individuals who have recovered fully from COVID-19 may have life-saving antibodies in their blood, and could be eligible to donate convalescent plasma to critically ill patients.

  • If you are healthy and wish to donate blood, plasma, or platelets, or think you may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma, please go to the Red Cross website for more information.

 

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 in the coming weeks, as the region is expected to continue to see significant numbers of new infections.

  • 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.

 

Student refunds

  • All student credits for housing, dining services, and parking have been posted to student accounts.

  • The quickest way to receive refunds is to use ACH/direct deposit.  Students who have signed up for this service should receive refunds to their bank account this week.  Students who have not yet signed up may do so at Colleague Self Service- Banking Information.

  • For those students who do not have ACH/direct deposit, checks will be issued in batches beginning next week and through early May.

 

CARES Act Funding

  • USciences has been granted federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”).  

  • All initial funding will be made available for any student suffering financial hardship due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Additional information, including how to apply for funds, will be shared with students in the coming days.

 

Student Emergency Fund

  • In addition to the CARES Act funding, USciences is pleased to share that, through a tremendous effort by Institutional Advancement and many, many donors, over $80,000 was raised for the Student Emergency Fund last week!

  • Students who may need emergency funding 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.  

 

The COVID-19 Task Force



04/15/2020

COVID-19 Task Force Update (4/15/2020)

To: All Staff, Faculty, and Students

As we enter our second month of isolation, we want to remind the USciences community to remain compliant with physical distancing guidelines, wearing masks while in public, and other protective guidance from the CDC and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health continues to track cases – and we are predicted to be entering a period where numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are likely to increase.  

 

Reporting COVID-19 positive tests

  • Because we still have essential staff on campus, we ask all students, faculty, and staff to notify SHAC if you have been found to be COVID-19 positive via testing or are presumed positive based on symptoms.   

  • For those who test positive for COVID-19 and who have been on campus in the 14 days prior, SHAC and the Office of Human Resources will reach out to identify direct contacts and provide additional guidance.

 

PPE Collection

  • USciences was able to make a second donation of  materials to the City of Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (OEM) that will be distributed to local healthcare institutions.

  • OEM expressed their profound appreciation for all of our donations – and we pass these thanks along to all of the departments who made these materials available during this time of need.

 

Homemade masks

  • Thanks to those who have already sent in homemade masks for our essential personnel!

  • There will be an ongoing need for these masks for individuals on campus, so for those with sewing skills, the CDC has provided directions to make homemade masks to be used by non-healthcare providers here.

  • Masks can be dropped off at the Office of Public Safety in Alumni Hall (open 24/7) or can be mailed c/o Michael Lapotasky, Director of Public Safety, 600 South 43rd Street, Philadelphia, PA  19104.

 

CARES Act Funding

  • Several weeks ago, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) was signed into law, establishing an aid package for individuals and companies impacted by COVID-19.

  • Higher Education institutions will be provided funds initially designed to support students who have been impacted.

  • USciences has submitted the required application and we expect to hear back soon on the availability of funds.  

  • We will have additional information to share with students and the rest of the community in the coming days and weeks regarding the amount of available funding, as well as how the funds are permitted to be distributed to students.

 

Limited housekeeping services

  • Beginning this week, we have scaled back custodial services to focus only on areas currently in use on campus.   

 

Office of Health/Wellness 

  • Stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit!  Check out the Office of Health and Wellness google site for tips, group fitness classes, contact information, and more.

  • Join Heidi Freeman and Patti Vanston on Fridays at noon for a weekly mindfulness break (Zoom link available on the Office of Health and Wellness site).

 

Student Leadership Awards

  • The Office of Student Activities is soliciting nominations for student leadership awards through this Friday, April 17.  Awards will be announced on Wednesday, April 29.

  • Please see Tricia Purcell’s email from Monday (4/13) with the list of awards and how to submit nominations.

 

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.  

  • Additional information about COVID-19 and links to governmental sites is available on our COVID-19 webpage.

  

 

The COVID-19 Task Force