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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 or attending class.  Those with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above or having symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, cough, unexplained loss of smell or taste, diarrhea, muscle aches, fatigue, runny nose or new sinus congestion, sore throat or headache) should not come to campus.  Residential students living on campus should remain in their rooms and non-residential students should remain at home until they speak with a SHAC clinician to determine whether self-quarantine or isolation is indicated.  All students are to immediately notify SHAC of their symptoms or possible exposure to COVID-19 by calling 215-596-8980 to schedule a TeleHealth/Zoom appointment and await further instructions from the SHAC clinician. See the Student Health and Counseling section  for additional information. After hours or on the weekends students can email a SHAC clinician at 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, or attend clinical experiential learning rotations, but may attend class via distance learning if able. 

Individuals can also access the CDC Self Checker for additional guidance at

Health Considerations for Faculty and Staff 

Notification of illness

Faculty and staff members who develop COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive for COVID-19, or have been in close contact with another individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, must: 

  • Notify their supervisor/department head who will then contact the Office of Human Resources as soon as possible. 
  • Contact their primary care provider for further assessment

Before an employee returns to work after having any cold or flu-like illness, or if the employee suspects they may have been infected with COVID-19 or exposed to someone with COVID-19, the following CDC recommendations must be followed:

  • If the employee tests positive for COVID-19
    • If no symptoms develop, isolation may be stopped after 10 days.
    • If mild to moderate symptoms develop, isolation may be ended after 10 days if at least 24 hours have passed without a fever of 100.4 or greater (without use of fever-reducing medications), and other symptoms are improving
    • If severe illness occurs, isolation should continue until symptoms have improved and up to 20 days
  • If the employee was not tested for COVID-19
    • If no symptoms develop, quarantine should be continued for 14 days
    • If mild to moderate symptoms develop, quarantine may be ended after 10 days if at least 24 hours have passed without a fever of 100.4 or greater (without use of fever-reducing medications), and other symptoms are improving
    • If severe illness occurs, quarantine should continue until symptoms have improved and up to 20 days
  • In the absence of symptoms, regardless of testing status (positive/negative, tested/not tested), individuals exposed to someone with known COVID-19 must quarantine for a full 14 days after the last known exposure.
  • The CDC has noted that under the new guidelines, "it is possible that a person known to be infected [through testing] could leave isolation earlier than a person who is quarantined because of the possibility they are infected."

University-sponsored seasonal influenza clinics 

  • Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to get a seasonal flu shot through the annual flu clinic sponsored by SHAC and the Office of Human Resources, or via their primary care provider. 
  • Seasonal flu clinics for the campus community (faculty, students, and staff) sponsored by CVS Pharmacy will be planned for September this year. CVS Pharmacy accepts most insurance plans. 

Contact Tracing and Testing

When Human Resources is notified of a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case within the USciences community, the individual will be assisted in identifying their close contacts – defined as being in direct contact (within 6 feet) for 15 minutes or longer, or having direct contact with infectious secretions, e.g., being coughed on.  HR will speak directly with the employee to determine who they have been in direct contact with over the previous 2 weeks. The employee will be asked to notify their close contacts of their possible exposure or positive symptoms and encourage them to seek guidance from their healthcare provider. If these contacts are USciences employees, HR will provide additional guidance and support while they self-monitor for symptoms or if they need to quarantine or isolate.  

Once SHAC has been alerted that a student has been exposed or is symptomatic for COVID-19, a clinician will set up a TeleHealth appointment to assess the student’s condition and symptoms, obtain a detailed history of the present illness, and complete a COVID-19 screening form. During this appointment, the student will be asked to list all direct contacts over the past 2 weeks, provide their class schedule, and clinical rotation site/contacts (if applicable). The student will be asked to notify their close contacts of their possible exposure or positive symptoms, and will encourage those individuals to seek guidance from their primary care provider.

Any USciences student identified as having direct contact with a source patient is to notify SHAC immediately of their potential exposure in order to obtain testing, initiate COVID-19 contact oversight/management, begin self-monitoring for the next 2 weeks, and obtain necessary support while in quarantine on campus or at home.  A SHAC clinician will provide additional daily guidance and support to students in quarantine while they self-monitor for symptoms and await their testing results; and to students who have positive symptoms/positive COVID-19 test results while under care in isolation in the designated residential facility or at home.

All students in quarantine are required to take their temperature twice per day, monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, and report these findings daily to the SHAC clinician for the 14-day period and until medically cleared.

The SHAC clinician will notify the designated faculty from the student’s specific college or health profession program once a student has been identified as being potentially exposed or symptomatic for COVID-19. It is the responsibility of this designated faculty person to notify their student’s  faculty, class members, and  clinical preceptors (if indicated) that they may have been in contact with a person exposed to or symptomatic for COVID-19, and begin self-monitoring for symptoms over the following 2 weeks, continue wearing a mask, and follow strict social distancing practices.  

Based on current CDC recommendations,  those directly exposed to known COVID-19 positive individuals (having had close/direct contact less than 6 feet for greater than 15 minutes) must self-quarantine at home or on campus for 14 days after the last contact with the source patient, even if symptoms do not develop for the full 14-day period, regardless of obtaining a negative test result.

The University will maintain HIPAA compliance throughout these processes

COVID-19 Testing Considerations

Regarding symptom monitoring and testing, USciences follows the guidelines set forth by the CDC, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Philadelphia Department of Public Health officials, and the American College Health Association. The recommendations for COVID-19 testing continue to remain fluid; however, these organizations are not recommending mass testing as it will assess a person’s infection status only at a single point in time. A person who tests negative in the morning may become infected in the afternoon, the next day, or the next week.  Therefore, USciences is focusing on the critical importance of its prevention, mitigation, and monitoring efforts, and expects community members to follow personal safety practices at all times. Faculty and staff who require testing for COVID-19 are advised to consult with their primary care provider for the type of COVID-19 test they need and the location options where they can get tested. The University health insurance plans will cover costs associated with COVID-19 testing. Students who require testing for COVID-19 are advised to consult with SHAC or their primary care provider. 

COVID-19 Testing 

SHAC clinicians will provide COVID-19 nasopharyngeal molecular testing for active infection for students only.  COVID-19 viral testing will be provided to students who have symptoms of the virus or who have been directly exposed to a person with known COVID-19 or their secretions. Screening tests for COVID-19 for asymptomatic students are not currently available.  

A COVID-19 testing tent will be set up in the courtyard outside of Student Health/Whitecar Hall to facilitate safe social distancing and prevention of viral spread during testing.  Testing will be offered through scheduled appointments by the Student Health clinicians. Testing specimens will be sent out to either LabCorp or QUEST labs for processing according to the student’s health insurance lab capitation requirements.  These labs pick up specimens daily at SHAC. 

A SHAC clinician is assigned to oversee all COVID-19 health care management for students. In addition to COVID-19 testing, patient care management via TeleHealth, and daily monitoring of students in quarantine and isolation until discharge. This clinician will also be responsible for contact tracing, maintaining contact tracing data, and notifying the PDPH of all positive COVID-19 cases utilizing the PDPH COVID-19 reporting forms. The designated SHAC clinician has completed the Johns Hopkins Coursera Course for COVID-19 Contract Tracing along with two other SHAC staff members who may be asked to assist in contract tracing/identification if needed. 

Employees may request testing from their healthcare provider, or via numerous testing sites located throughout the City of Philadelphia.  Other municipalities may offer free testing; individuals should review their local governmental websites for more information.

At this time, there are not specific recommendations for antibody testing for asymptomatic individuals.  More information is available from the CDC on serology testing.

All employees and students who test positive or are symptomatic for COVID-19 must be medically cleared by their healthcare provider or the Director of Student Health (students) prior to returning to campus for work or classes/clinical. 

Please see the Student Affairs section for details pertaining to the COVID-19 process for testing, isolation/quarantine of residential students infected or exposed to COVID-19.

Campus Monitoring, Surveillance, and Voluntary Reporting

Faculty, staff, and students should notify either the Office of Human Resources or SHAC if they have visited an area of high prevalence (domestic or international) 14 days prior to returning to campus. They should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. Employees considering University-related travel should consult with their supervisor/department head for prior approval and are asked to travel only if it is deemed “essential.” Faculty and staff with known exposure to positive COVID-19 cases should contact their primary care provider regarding self-monitoring and quarantining. Students with known exposure to positive COVID-19 cases should contact their primary care provider and SHAC.

Healthy Hygiene Practices

All campus community members must 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.  Faucets should be turned off and on using available paper towels. Avoid sharing objects such as pens, utensils.

Consider using  a no-touch device such as the blunt end of a pen to operate elevator buttons, key pads, etc.

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


Nonessential visitors to campus are prohibited. Visitors who must be on campus should be approved by the appropriate leadership personnel and will need to follow all of the healthy hygiene and safety guidelines as described in the above and below sections of this document and the individual arranging the visit will need to inform them of such.  Visitors should check-in at Alumni Hall, the Photo ID location, or any concierge station in a campus building (e.g., Griffith lobby, STC lobby).  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. 

Face Coverings/Masks

Face coverings/masks must be worn at all times on campus and should cover both the nose and mouth. Face coverings/masks do not eliminate the need for physical distancing practices. The only exception to this rule is when individuals are within their assigned residence hall room or office alone, with limited likelihood of others passing through, or while eating.

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.

Individuals who require face shields for their work should request these items through their department.

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 using approved EPA disinfectants. This list was distributed multiple times by the Task Force and remains available.

High touch areas are to be disinfected at least five (5) times per shift and also after any increased activity in the area such as classes, labs, conferences, or events.

In addition to frequent disinfection, each area will be sprayed with an electrostatic sprayer containing PurTabs sanitizing tablets daily.

High touch areas include but are not limited to:

  • Door knobs, pulls, handles
  • Handrails
  • Classroom Desks
  • Countertops
  • Sneeze-guards
  • Cafeteria Tables
  • Bathroom Fixtures
  • Flushers
  • Soap and hand sanitizer dispensers
  • Paper Towel dispensers
  • Restroom stalls
  • Water fountains
  • Elevator cars (inside) and lobbies (call buttons)
  • Vending machines
  • Study Room Tables
  • Keyboards/Mice

Throughout the day these areas will be sprayed with disinfectant, with wait product-specific times being observed, and wipe away excess. Gloves, masks, and eye protection should be worn changing as frequently as the task and conditions exist.

This task will be completed at least five times per shift (morning, mid-morning, before lunch, after lunch, and end of business), making sure that all high-touch areas have been disinfected. Microfiber cloths are to be used and a new cloth should be used for each new location. 

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.

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. 

Entry/Exit Traffic-flow & Signage

The Department of Public Safety along with the Facilities Department have worked in collaboration to create (where feasible) an entry and exit flow path for building entry that will go into effect in mid-July in advance of  the Fall semester. Signage will be provided at lobby areas to inform pedestrians of the plan for the building in terms of entry, exit and ascending and descending floors. In addition, signage will be placed outside of restrooms and in all locations where a que may develop. Lastly, signage will be placed at all entrances to buildings and along the Woodland Avenue corridor sidewalk from 46th Street to 42nd Street with 5 signs on each side of the street to remind the public and our community members to help ‘stop-the-spread.’

In locations where significant duration of contact may occur (e.g., building reception areas, registrar, cash registers, etc.), plexiglass shielding (sneeze-guards) shall be installed to provide additional barriers to viral transmission. These will be installed at multiple locations across campus.

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. Signage for distancing will be placed outside elevators as well.

Reporting Unsafe Behavior

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

  • Employees may report violations of the guidelines either to a supervisor or to the Director of Human Resources (
  • Student Violations
    • To report student misconduct, that is actively occurring, please contact the Department of Public Safety by calling 215-596-1117. Where appropriate, Public Safety may respond on-site and file an incident report with the Office of Student Conduct.
    • To report student misconduct that has previously occurred, please use the COVID Incident Reporting Form.

Anonymous reporting is also available for students, employees, or third parties through EthicsPoint via the web or toll-free telephone at 888-266-0218.

Campus Closure Triggers

The USciences COVID-19 Task Force has shared the Return to Campus guidance in order to reduce the risk of disease transmission within our community.  However, we recognize that these measures will not eliminate all risk. While the University hopes to be able to hold on-ground class and laboratory work through the fall semester and beyond, we recognize that circumstances beyond our control may make that plan no longer tenable.  The COVID-19 Task Force has discussed what these triggers may be, and wanted to share our thinking with the campus community.  These factors have been informed by guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as discussions with the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the other institutions of higher education in the region.  

Ultimately, a combination of external and internal factors could result in further campus restrictions, up to and including full cessation of on-campus activities. The below lists are not all inclusive and other factors may be considered, as appropriate. USciences will continue to make the best decisions possible for the health and safety of our entire University Community. 

External factors

  • Governmental mandate for fully remote operations (including City of Philadelphia, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or federal mandate)
  • Trends in local institutions of higher education – particularly those in University City and the City of Philadelphia
  • Reduced capacity (total beds, ICU beds, or ventilators) in local/regional hospitals
  • Reduced availability of PPE regionally
  • Reduced local testing capacity 

Internal factors

  • Absenteeism in facilities or custodial staffing that may negatively impact the ability to maintain a safe and hygienic campus
  • Capacity restrictions in on-campus isolation/quarantine housing
  • Significant increases in positive tests (or percent positivity) on campus that overwhelm the University’s ability to isolate and contain
  • High absenteeism in SHAC medical staff preventing the ability to deliver routine care and COVID-19 care to students.

The COVID-19 Task Force will continue to track and monitor the above factors and others, and will continue to work closely with the City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Task Force on Institutions of Higher Education to assure clear communication not only across our own campus, but among the colleges and universities in our region.