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Return to Campus Update

Coronavirus (COVID-19): The latest updates about USciences return to campus: The full plan for a phased return of employees and students:

Campus-Wide Guidelines and Procedures - COVID-19 Return to Campus

Daily Health Checks

Faculty, staff, and students should check their temperatures at the beginning of each day, prior to arrival on campus (excepting residential students).  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.  Residential students living on campus with symptoms should remain in their rooms and non-residential students should remain at home.  All students are to notify SHAC of any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 at, and await further instructions from the SHAC clinician.  Students are also encouraged to notify their primary care provider of their illness. 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 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 may review the CDC Self Checker for additional guidance at

Contact Tracing and Testing

When Human Resources or SHAC is notified of a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case within the USciences community, all efforts will be made to identify all close contacts (defined as being within 6 feet for 10 minutes or longer, or having direct contact with infectious secretions, e.g., being coughed on).  HR or SHAC will notify close contacts and provide additional guidance to those individuals.

Based on current recommendations, those exposed to known COVID-19 patients must  self-isolate at home for 14 days after last contact, even if symptoms do not develop.

SHAC is able to provide COVID-19 viral testing for students only.  COVID-19 viral testing will be provided to students who have  symptoms of the virus or who have been exposed to a person positive for COVID-19. Screening tests for COVID-19 for asymptomatic students are not currently available at SHAC.  Employees and students may request testing from their healthcare provider, or via numerous testing sites in the City of Philadelphia.  The City sites have differing requirements for testing; please review specific websites for details. Other municipalities may offer free testing; individuals should review their local governmental websites for more information.

At this time, there are no consistent clinical recommendations for antibody testing.  More information is available from the CDC on serology testing.

Healthy Hygiene Practices

Practice frequent and thorough handwashing, including washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  When soap and water are unavailable, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.  Minimize touching of surfaces and objects that others may touch, including elevator buttons, door handles, sink handles. Consider using  a no-touch device such as the blunt end of a pen to operate elevator buttons, key pads, etc. Faucets should be turned off and on using available paper towels. Avoid sharing objects such as pens, utensils.

Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout campus – at least one at every building entrance, and more as available.

Face Coverings/Masks

Cloth masks are protective of others, and are recommended by the CDC as a primary method to reduce transmission of COVID-19.  Face coverings/masks should be worn at all times on campus by students, faculty, staff, and visitors, and should cover both the nose and mouth. Face coverings/masks do not eliminate the need for physical distancing practices.  The only exceptions to this rule are:

  • when individuals are within their assigned residence hall room or office alone, with limited likelihood of others passing through, or while eating (and practicing physical distancing)
  • children under 2 years of age
  • those with medical contraindications to wearing a masks (e.g., difficulty breathing, inability to remove one’s mask without help)

The University will supply several cloth masks for each employee and student - cloth is preferred for non-clinical personnel or clinical personnel outside of a care delivery setting.  Individuals are responsible for the care and cleaning of these masks.  Information for proper use and cleaning of masks is available through the CDC:

Face coverings/masks should be inspected by the wearer prior to putting on and should be discarded if damaged or deformed. Do not wear face coverings/masks that are dirty. 

Face coverings/masks may be temporarily stored in a clean bag or container, with the wearer’s name displayed. Containers should not be sealed if the mask is moist.

Face coverings/masks should be removed without touching the outside (e.g., remove from the ear loops/straps), with hand washing performed before and after handling the mask. Directions on how to safely put on, wear, and take off a cloth face covering from the CDC are available here.

Masks and respirators with exhalation valves should not be used as a face covering as these allow unfiltered exhaust air to be released, and are not protective to others.

Campus visitors should wear masks in accordance with the above guidance.  The Department of Public Safety in Alumni Hall will have a modest supply of masks for visitors; depending on usage and availability, this supply may be depleted at peak times. Masks will also be available for purchase at TastyDrakes. Visitors who do not have masks may be requested to leave campus if none are available.  

Cleaning and Disinfection

Frequently touched surfaces in public areas will be cleaned and disinfected by AFS/custodial services throughout the day, with a full cleaning of occupied spaces daily.  

When the University is notified of a presumed or positive test for COVID-19, areas where the individual may have been will be isolated and disinfected by custodial services using currently-recommended deep cleaning protocols.  Access to the space will be limited until after such cleaning occurs.

No-touch trash receptacles will be utilized (open top and/or foot pedal).

Research laboratories should be cleaned regularly by laboratory staff (see Research Laboratory section). Floors will be cleaned and trash removed as in past years by custodial services.

Water systems (e.g., drinking fountains, water bottle fill stations) will be cleaned, flushed and checked for safe operation prior to return to campus by facilities and custodial staff.

Never mix a product containing chlorine (such as bleach) with a product containing ammonia. The resulting release of gas can be dangerous.

General Guidance for Cleaning Computers

  • Use only a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid abrasive cloths, paper towels, or similar items.
  • Avoid excessive or vigorous wiping, which might cause damage.
  • Unplug all external power sources, devices, and cables.
  • Don't get moisture into any openings.
  • Don't use aerosol sprays, bleaches, or abrasives.
  • Don't spray cleaners directly onto the item; spray onto a cloth as recommended above
  • Other questions regarding cleaning of computer equipment should be directed to the Help Desk.

Physical Distancing

In-person meetings should be avoided in most situations; video conferencing and/or telephone conferences are preferred options.  When in-person meetings are unavoidable, individuals should maintain at minimum 6 feet spacing, wear face coverings, and avoid person-to-person contact (e.g., handshakes).  If absolutely necessary, meetings should be limited to 10 people or less (assuming appropriate social distancing); this number may change with state or local guidance.

Nonessential visitors to campus are prohibited.  Visitors who must be on campus should follow all guidelines including 6 foot distancing, wearing of face coverings, etc.  Critical University events, including summer open houses, will be reviewed in advance by the divisional Vice President to assure participants follow current guidelines and practices.

Capacity in communal spaces will be limited to that which allows proper social distancing.  Updated capacity limits will be posted in public spaces prior to students and staff returning to campus.  All seating in communal areas should be spaced at least 6 feet apart. 

If feasible, one-way traffic should be considered through public areas, with clearly marked entry and exit locations.  Facilities and Public Safety staff will work with departments to periodically assess and re-evaluate this traffic flow as we resume operations.

In locations where significant duration of contact may occur (e.g., building reception areas, registrar, cash registers, etc.), plexiglass shielding shall be installed to provide additional barriers to viral transmission.

Elevator capacity will be limited to a number allowing for appropriate distancing – likely 1-2 people per car.  Tape will be placed on the floor of elevator cars marking out appropriate spacing. The campus community is encouraged, when able, to take the stairs, staying to the right hand side when walking up or down.

Reporting Unsafe Behavior

As an educational institution with a focus on science and healthcare, we expect that all members of the University community would abide by recommendations meant to promote and protect the health and welfare of others.  However, individuals observing behavior inconsistent with these Return to Campus Guidelines have several options for reporting.  

  • Employees may report violations of these guidelines either to a supervisor or to the Director of Human Resources (
  • To report misconduct by students, please contact the Department of Public Safety.  Where appropriate, Public Safety may file an incident report with the Office of Student Conduct.
  • Anonymous reporting is also available for students, employees, or third parties through EthicsPoint via the web or toll-free telephone at 888-266-0218.
  • Public Safety Officers on campus will actively and professionally address any observed behaviors that are inconsistent with the guidance herein