Faculty and Staff

Task Force Updates

September 18, Update —Of 792 results to date from this week’s on-campus tests, there are six new positives. Contact tracing, as usual, is being activated. We are conducting a dry run this morning as final preparation for the change in on-site testing that will occur on Monday. The Health Corps will help further promote adoption of the self-assessment tool in MobileU, and we encourage all faculty and staff to use the app daily to monitor their wellbeing. Last, Upper Wismer will be open for in-house seating beginning this Sunday with an expanded menu. The automated counter system for analyzing traffic in Upper Wismer is just about complete.

September 17, Update—We conducted 1,204 on-campus tests this week. Final results should arrive within the next two business days. We are in a very good position to make the transition to our new testing partners next week. A significant majority of students have reserved a testing time slot for the rest of the semester, and the weekly online scheduler is no longer available. We are creating an “express test pass” for students who have visited Wellness Center with possible symptoms to expedite their on-site visit. The task force also discussed the beginnings of a “pivot to remote learning plan” should it ever become necessary.

September 16, Update - Today is the final testing day of the week which will see nearly 1,200 total tests conducted in the field house. We are reminding the community that students are always expected to have their Ursinus ID while on campus and must have their ID when visiting the field house for tests. The task force analytics team has begun looking into statistics and early transmission rates for both resident and commuter students. We also previewed upcoming athletic practices and the process around testing, particularly for those student-athletes who are commuter or remote learners. Currently, seven case managers are actively overseeing our quarantine process, and we continue to find ways to upgrade the experience of those living in on-campus quarantine. The Health Corps is interested in providing additional support. Last, the task force has begun to consider longer-term options for both testing and for the spring semester—though any discussions are very preliminary at this point.

September 15, Update - Today is the second of three testing days this week. Yesterday, 370 tests were completed and there are another 436 scheduled for today. We are finalizing a few changes to next week’s on-site testing operation to make the transition from Impact Health, to our in-house managers, as seamless as possible. Today at 2 p.m. the BLT for faculty and staff will discuss these changes. (Sign up here.) We are expecting five students to return from quarantine today. The task force is making progress on an on-campus flu shot clinic later this semester. Last, Ursinus continues to be involved in weekly AICUP-sponsored conference calls about possible advice on “return home” procedures should they ever become necessary this semester.

September 14, Update —Testing has begun this week and will occur through Wednesday, This Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, model will be the regular schedule for the remainder of the semester. We updated the dashboard to reflect five new positive tests (all in off-campus isolation) and a total of 22 students in quarantine. We spoke about upcoming changes that will enhance the testing operation, which will be communicated to campus later this week. We are putting up signage in the Commons lobby to ensure campus visitors for admission feel welcome. And faculty and staff are invited to participate in Tuesday’s BLT (check the faculty/staff page later today for topic information).

September 11, Update - Sodexo confirmed that “grab-and-go” dining will continue through next week, with the hope to move to indoor seating next weekend. We are putting up additional signage in Wismer to reinforce physical distancing and safety measures; Health Corps may help communicate those guidelines. We met again with the county office of public health about testing and decisions around isolation periods. They recommend all faculty set 15-minute timers when engaging closely (around 6 feet) with students and were complimentary of our current process. We were among many colleges to meet with the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP) to begin a discussion about what should happen if colleges need to go fully remote. We also spoke about doing a better job of acknowledging students who are commuting or learning remotely as part of our campus community.

September 10, Update - Today is the final day of on-campus testing for the week. The task force spoke about physical distancing issues in and around Wismer, and how we can better work with Sodexo to continue implementing those requirements. We also spoke about increasing student vigilance in following student guidelines in the evening and “off-hours.” We are putting up more policy and safety reminder signage around gateways and main access points to athletic fields. We are speaking this afternoon with a representative from the Montgomery County Office of Public Health to discuss how things are proceeding on campus. Students who are commuting are reminded that they need to participate in weekly testing to continue coming to campus. We continue to look at how to best provide on-campus flu shots this fall. Last, we issued an update on faculty and staff testing guidelines yesterday, and updated the Bears Return pages to reflect that news.

September 9, Update - On Tuesday, we completed 458 tests. Only seven students missed their appointment times. Beginning next week, we are strongly encouraging students to use the online schedule to “lock in” a weekly time slot for the remainder of the semester. In response to questions about quarantining, it is important to note we continue to support and to promote the county’s policy. We currently have five case managers led by Katie Turek who are working with the county and leading those efforts on campus. A reminder that masks are required in the fitness center, even when physically distanced. And we are working towards an on-campus option for flu shots; we plan to make those shots a requirement and will communicate more details soon.

September 7, Update —Today the task force updated the dashboard to reflect two new positive cases (now in off-campus isolation) and seven contacts now in quarantine. We spoke of the process for this weekend’s check-in. Returning students are adjusting to expectations and have all been made aware of the student guidelines updated last Friday. We are also updating the COVID testing guidelines for faculty and staff, specifically around the specifics of student interaction. We continue to work closely with the county department of health to clarify more details around isolation and quarantine protocols. This week’s on-campus testing will occur Tuesday through Thursday. Last, the new self-assessment tool found in MobileU’s “safety and emergencies” section goes live this afternoon.

September 3, Update — Today the task force confirmed one positive result thus far from 272 tests conducted on Tuesday. Wednesday’s results should be arriving soon. Contact tracing has been effectively activated and is still in progress. We are updating the dashboard to now include the number of staff and faculty who may be identified as contacts or who may need to quarantine. The online sign-in for next week’s on-campus testing, which is expanded to Tuesday, Wednesday AND Thursday, is now open and available to students. The new daily self-assessment feature in “Mobile U” is now in final testing and should be officially rolled out later next week. To date, the Wellness Center has collected more than 660 pre-arrival tests from returning students with only one confirmed positive case. Last, all offices should have received “welcome back kits” and, in designated areas of each building, no-touch thermometers. Additional information will be provided soon in upcoming HR-related communications.

September 2, Update— The task force continues to work with Collegeville leaders to discourage borough neighbors from visiting campus while in the Old Gold phase. Yesterday’s testing operation went relatively well, all available time slots were filled with very few missed appointments. Today, it is likely that 12 of the 13 students in on-campus quarantine will return to their rooms, while one of the two off-campus students in isolation may return to campus as well. To date, the Wellness Center has received 590 pre-arrival tests for returning upperclass students, and we will continue to collect those results through Sunday. The BLT for faculty and staff at 1 p.m. today will provide updates on dining services, support for commuting students, testing and other key topics. On an important final note, we are still in need of significant support for move-in this week, especially on Sunday. All faculty and staff are encouraged to volunteer. Sign up is at this link!

August 31, Update —There were no new positive results from last week’s testing. We are reviewing final options to expand the on-site testing operation to most effectively accommodate all returning students. We will continue to communicate information regarding the dashboard, which has been updated and is live. Important reminders and announcements about the upcoming move-in/check-in process will be sent later this afternoon. (Also note that student affairs is asking for additional volunteers to assist during move-in later this week.) We are fine-tuning the communications of the protocols and expectation of students in quarantine. Human resources is gathering more details around employee testing and what is covered through insurance. Stay tuned for more information on that for faculty and staff.

August 28, Update —To date we have received 252 results from this week’s tests with no positives. (We are awaiting results from nearly 200 more.) The final numbers will be reflected in the updated dashboard on Monday. We are meeting with dining services to review a few different, newer options for when all students return, with the goal of relieving pressure on Upper Wismer. We spoke again of refining the quarantine process and will be asking those students who quarantining off campus to get tested around the 10-days mark. We’ve established a contact tracing phone bank in Pfahler to facilitate that process. Students will be again reminded that only current residents are permitted within residence halls. And we are preparing a communication to returning sophomore, junior and senior students once again reminding them that pre-arrival testing is required, without exception.

August 27, Update —After the second week of testing, we estimate that nearly 440 tests were conducted on-campus. When available, the results will be shared on the dashboard. Our thanks to staff members Sam Harvey and Laura Cunningham who volunteered to support Katie Turek as internal case managers. We will be updating the dashboard to include a description of the timing and process for communicating results. The next campus communication on Monday, will clearly outline this process. We discussed dining services and ensuring students remain physically distanced when around—and in—Wismer. The bookstore is reminding students they must order all textbooks online through its website now, in order to have them in hand when the full semester begins. Last, we spoke about athletic / recreational activity around campus during the “old gold” phase. We considered our approach those activities that may break with physical distancing guidelines, while also supporting the mental and physical health of the students.

August 25, Update - The task force discussed our participation with Collegeville’s Business Development Committee and our communications with the community about the public avoiding campus. The process for escorting students into quarantine and isolation was reviewed and updated. The college has hired temporary staff—previous students—to support our COVID planning and processes and are looking at additional internal case managers to support Katie Turek. The contact tracing program is under the official direction of the county’s Department of Health and the task force continues to work in support of the county for the implementation. Today’s begins another round of testing and the online scheduler, which was re-activated last Friday night, continues to be helpful. A recap of these past few days will be provided for faculty and staff at tomorrow’s BLT session at 1 p.m.

August 21, Update - Today the task force was made aware of the first two positive results coming from this week’s on-campus testing. Both students have returned home for their isolation period. Three additional students have been quarantined, one of whom remains on campus for quarantine. We anticipated we would have positive results early this semester and campus partners have quickly come together to address the issue. Contact tracing has been activated. Quarantine guidelines are finalized and are being shared with students. While we are closely following our plans, this is an important reminder for each of us “Defend the Den.” A communication update, including a short video message from Mark Schneider, will be shared early this afternoon through social media channels and the Bears Return pages.

August 20, Update - We received the results of the approximately 200 tests conducted on campus this Tuesday, and there were zero positives. In total, we’ve conducted about 450 tests covering both days. The scheduling app and the process has gone smooth to date. New signage will appear early next week at all entranceways, asking visitors to remain off campus during the “old gold” phase. A reminder for everyone that masks MUST be worn in all public areas, including outdoors. The task force also spoke about cleaning services, the finalization of the quarantine plan and the self-assessment questionnaire that will be available in MobileU within the next 7-10 days.

August 18, Update -With first-years arriving, we walked through plans about this testing operation beginning today 11:00. We walked through the latest isolation and quarantine guidelines and will be posting those to the Bears Return page soon. We welcome Katie Turek from UCARE, who will play an important role in coordinating activity and communications between impacted students and relevant parties across campus. And we walked through procedures for those incoming students who may need to quarantine because they haven’t yet received their test results. Please join us on Wed at 1:00 for our next BLT!

August 13, Update - The task force recently met with LIT to discuss progress on several key technology projects, including updates to self-monitoring in MobileU, occupancy counts in Wismer to manage traffic and physical distancing, and online scheduling for the weekly student tests. We also spoke about using Myrin for dedicated spaces for virtual learning and for commuter students. We held conversations with Collegeville leadership about vocalizing support for one another. We are moving forward with plans for our internal case manager and discussed final details regarding our partnerships with an external test lab and on-site testing administrators. Our final testing process will be communicated to the campus community within a day or two.

August 11, Update– The task force met with LIT to discuss all ongoing technology projects, including updates to self-monitoring in MobileU, occupancy counts in Wismer to manage traffic and physical distancing, and online scheduling for the weekly student tests. We also spoke about using Myrin for dedicated spaces for virtual learning and for commuter students. We’re moving forward with plans for our internal case manager and discussed final details regarding our partnerships with an external test lab and on-site testing administrators. We all have changed the location of the first series of first-year student tests to the FLB gym from the fieldhouse, in order to accommodate registration.

August 6, Update —The task force recently discussed the successes of the admission office and continues to fine tune health and safety guidelines as we transition to the start of the semester and welcoming students back to campus. It reviewed the modeling information that Dean Schneider has been managing and presented at the August 5 BLT.

August 4, Update – The task force worked on the faculty and staff testing procedures, upcoming communications including those to faculty and staff about the returning to work, and the planning of ongoing health and safety training for the community. 

July 27, Update – The task force is in final discussions with potential testing partners, and the resulting process for pre-semester and in-semester testing procedures will likely be communicated in the next few days. We are looking at personnel who can manage the scheduling, coordination and overall internal logistics of the process. We will also finalize the official faculty/staff “return-to-work” guidelines in the coming days and post them to the Bears Return page.

July 24, Update – The task force took steps towards an updated color alert system. It will accompany a new dashboard that will indicate progress on several key measures including testing results. We are meeting again this afternoon with medical firms on testing procedures and logistics. The task force also reviewed a comprehensive extra-curricular / student activity plan that focuses on the students’ on-campus residential experience. We also provided final edits to our employee return-to-work guidelines document.

July 22, Update – We spoke about the process around testing and having internal “case managers” help coordinate and organize this important function. The college is speaking with vendors and other partners about how they intend to regularly test their employees as well. We have decided to postpone Thursday’s athletics town hall until we receive further guidance from the NCAA, and we have begun finalizing a self-isolation process for those students coming from “hotspots.”

July 20, Update - We’ve had a very good response rate on the student questionnaire we sent last week, asking for their housing and learning intentions. We also are in new conversations with several potential partners on testing, in addition to Quest and LabCorp, so that we may routinely and quickly conduct testing throughout the semester. Last, we are preparing for 3 important sessions: this week’s BLT, and the upcoming athletics and student affairs virtual town halls.

July 17, Update - The task force is close of detailing a comprehensive approach to manage testing of students, faculty and staff this semester. We are reviewing Governor Wolf’s new mitigation order that began July 15, and are studying any new implications for our campus. A student survey on housing and remote learning intentions was sent this morning, and other communications–including a new series of re-envisioned weekly BLTs–will roll-out next week. Last, we continue to address, as quickly as possible, dozens of questions submitted each week and post new and updated answers on the Bears Return pages.

July 16, Update - The Task Force continues to review questions surrounding reopening this fall and discussed the process for students choosing a remote option and how that information will be communicated.

July 13, Update - The Task Force continues to discuss testing and is preparing its final health and safety guidelines document. It has also discussed the requests for use of our facilities, as well as recent state Department of Health quarantine recommendations.

July 10, Update - The Task Force continues to review testing options and is also working on a guidance document for faculty and staff parallel to the recently released one for students. They were joined by theater, dance and music faculty to discuss class and performance spaces for the fall semester. Two town halls were held this week for students and their families. Over the next few days, the FAQ pages are being updated with answers to many of the questions and the recordings will be posted to the web next week.

July 7, Update - Task Force Update -Preparations are being made for town halls this week for new and returning students, and a draft of student guidelines was shared with families in an email sent on July 6.

June 22, Update – At 12:30 p.m. today, President Blomberg shared an update regarding the upcoming fiscal year. Please check your email for this important message.

June 19, Update – The college will announce decisions about our new fiscal year budget on Monday, June 22, followed by an email that shares our fall semester re-opening plans on Wednesday, June 24. We are fine-tuning the Ursinus-specific “phases” that provide additional clarity around our guidelines, particularly those for visitors and external audiences. We are moving quickly to implement a streamlined testing process.

June 18, Update – Plans regarding the college’s re-opening were shared with trustees at yesterday’s business meeting. That announcement, along with anticipated budgetary changes for FY21, are being finalized. A new COVID-19 landing page has been created to share audience-specific information, including re-opening guidelines. Student Affairs continues to make progress with “move-in,” and we continue to work towards a comprehensive testing plan for all campus members that kicks-in prior to their official return to Ursinus.

June 17, Update – The taskforce is working on two key communications for the next few days: plans for the college’s re-opening and anticipated institutional changes for FY21 as a result of the pandemic. Student Affairs has drafted a comprehensive “move-in” plan for students that will be communicated begin in early July. We are fine-tuning a process that allows all students, faculty and staff to be tested prior to their arrival on campus. We are investigating ways to install outdoor tents for academic and co-curricular activities. And we are working with Olympus on expanded clearing and janitorial plans.

June 10, Update – The taskforce is collecting final feedback from faculty about potential options for the fall semester. We also spoke staffing and preparing the Wellness Center as effectively as possible for the fall. We continue to investigate proposals from Quest and LabCorp about testing. We are working with facilities on an inventory of our buildings to promote social distancing measures. And we thank Collegeville Mayor Aidsand Wright-Riggings for his video messaging promoting LIVE! on Main, our new virtual event series!

June 8, Update – The taskforce is making progress on return-to-work guidelines for faculty, staff and students. Those guidelines will live on a webpage and as documents. A preliminary “phased” approach for the re-opening has been drafted that outlines key dates and addresses important questions. We discussed the different measures that facilities may undertake in buildings to promote social distancing. Last, a series of questions is being sent to Montgomery County colleges to encourage discussion and offer “best practices” in the region. June 5 Update – As the country transitions to the “yellow phase,” most Ursinus employees are asked to continue to work remotely. We continue to make progress on the re-opening strategy, which aligns closely with June 3’s preliminary re-opening guidelines announced by the PA Department of Education. We reviewed ongoing cleaning operations, ideas around a travel policy and upcoming communications.

June 2, Update – A Level 3 meeting will happen this afternoon. Today we discussed the details of a meeting with Marriott officials about potential housing options for students in the fall should they be necessary. CASE and LIT are working on internal guidelines for conducting on-campus meetings, and we continue to look into the best use of recreational facilities. A team lead by Prof. Dawley is exploring contact tracing options. Please submit more questions at the COVID-19 inbox!

June 1, Update - The task force is focusing on all variables associated with Montgomery County’s expected transition to the “yellow phase.” We are looking at recommendations related to travel—both discretionary and essential—and how we can best minimize travel to-and-from campus for the fall semester. We continue to engage with potential testing partners to develop a plan that is in the best interest for Ursinus and should be in a position to share updates soon.

May 29, Update - The task force continues to look through multiple aspects of what a safe return to campus will look like including travel guidelines, classroom needs, the use of athletic facilities, key communication timelines and more. The latest announcements have involved news about CARES funding and a change in the timing of the employee performance reviews. Later today, President Blomberg will provide another campus update on key progress points.

May 28, 2020 — The task force continues to work toward planning and setting guidelines for employees’ return to campus and is considering several different scenarios for students’ potential return to campus in the fall, as well as options for COVID-19 testing. We also continue to be in touch with Montgomery County officials regarding plans for re-opening.

May 26, 2020 – We will be engaging with task force leaders at other Montgomery County colleges and universities this week to discuss plans and resources required for the return of faculty, staff and students to residential campuses throughout the county. A summary of those topics for discussion will soon be posted to the Canvas site for faculty and staff, and we’ll be keeping Montgomery County officials apprised of the discussion among colleges. Meanwhile, student move-out from campus continues to proceed.

May 22, 2020 – We are anticipating a very busy weekend for move-out, which has progressed nicely this past week. We’ve started thinking about the Commons and how it may accommodate visitors beginning this fall. The development of an internal “guidance” on how to consider our employees’ return to campus remains a priority, and we continue to look at “temperature stations” and other measures that will need to be in place soon. Letters about CARES funding have been sent to students. Please note: wear masks when working indoors and in tight common spaces. Thank you!

May 21, 2020 – We held an introductory meeting with LabCorp to discuss testing options for our campus community, which remains a priority for the taskforce. More details to come soon. We are working closely with the office of human resources to create internal “guidances” on what a return-to-work for staff and faculty may look like. We will be communicating with our students an update on CARES funding, and discussed plans around the launch of a virtual summer event series.

May 20, 2020 – Move-out continues to go well! We’ve begun discussing preliminary guidelines around a “return-to-work” plan for faculty and staff. We’re beginning a classroom inventory that will help determine how best to accommodate stricter space and usage guidelines. We’re meeting today with LabCorp to continue learning more about possible testing options, much like we’ve done with Quest Diagnostics. And we’ve started putting together plans for a new virtual event series this summer promoting music, culture and intellectual discussion for Ursinus.

May 19, 2020 - Today is the second day of move-out. Yesterday’s session went well. Signage has been placed around campus that masks must be worn when entering all buildings. We continue to make progress on discussions about the fall semester and have engaged the presidents of other Montgomery County colleges to share best practices and informative resources with one another to assist in those decisions. Last, we continue to discuss testing and what a campus-wide implementation may look like.

Monday, May 18 - The college officially launched “move-out” this morning. We met with Quest Diagnostics on Friday to begin discussions around testing and what a campus-wide implementation may look like. We are placing an initial order for masks and are updating signage saying that masks must be worn when entering all buildings. Communications about CARES funding other general campus updates are now being developed. 

Friday, May 15 -  The college continues to follow-up on this week’s meeting with Montgomery County Commission Chair Dr. Valerie Arkoosh and County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alvin Wang about regional collaboration. We are meeting with regional neighbor Quest Diagnostics on further strategies around testing options, and looking at ways to use grants to provide additional digital training and instruction opportunities for faculty this summer.

Wednesday, May 13 - President Blomberg, the task force and college Wellness staff met virtually with Montgomery County Commission Chair Dr. Valerie Arkoosh and County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alvin Wang to discuss a collaboration for dealing with COVID-19 on college campuses. Ursinus, the first college to reach out to these officials, is positioned to be a leader in coordinating efforts county-wide. More to come.