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College of Medicine ramp-up roundup: Updates regarding on-campus work for the week ending July 24

Dr. Leslie Parent, vice dean for research and graduate studies; Dr. Terry Wolpaw, vice dean for educational affairs; Dr. Charles Lang, associate dean for graduate studies; and Dr. Neal Thomas, associate dean for clinical research, sent the following message to College of Medicine faculty, staff and students on July 24:

Screening update

New screening procedures still in effect

Thank you all for following the new screening process. Please continue to follow this process, as it will help contact tracing efforts.

Anyone who uses the COM main entrance or Biomedical Research Building entrance as well as all COM faculty, staff and students are required to follow these steps:

  • Before entering the building, complete a short, web-based form at each day.
  • Use the COM main entrance and Biomedical Research Building entrances only for temperature and symptom screening.
  • Scan your ID badge before entering the main doors.
  • Show your green check mark to the screener to demonstrate you have completed the online check-in.
  • See instructions on how to download the icon to your mobile device for easy access at

Screening hours at these entrances will continue Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Research Update

Research ramp-up: Laboratory research remains at 50% capacity for all departments and institutes. The transition to the next phase (75% capacity) is still several weeks away because of the relatively large influx of students into the College and other local participating factors. Lab supervisors should continue to creatively use split shifts for their trainees and staff to increase their time in lab, remembering the guidance to allow 300 square feet per person in the lab. We encourage investigators to plan well ahead when ordering supplies and reagents as we have received reports of some supply chain issues and inventory shortages.

Observational human subjects research: As announced last week, we are now reviewing requests for observational studies. In-person observational human subjects research will be considered for approval using the process developed by the University, which can be found here.

Education Update

Medical education: Our incoming class of medical students finished orientation this week and are moving into their first course – Transition to Medical School. Our third-year students also successfully returned to campus this week to start the direct patient care component of their clerkships. All third- and fourth-year students are now back in the clinical care setting, engaged in the direct care of patients and participating fully in clinical teams and outpatient practices.

Physician assistant (PA) program: This week our first-year PA students began a hybrid model that incorporates in-person coursework with continued online learning for the remainder of the summer semester. Second-year PA students also continued their clinical year experiences and preparing for their next rotation to begin on Monday, July 27.

Undergraduates on campus: We continue to increase our on-campus research presence, and more students are returning to campus. However, given the limited capacity within our facilities, the need to maintain physical distancing and the updates we’ve included in our lab standard operating procedures (SOP), undergraduate and high school students are currently not permitted to have an on-campus research experience. We must prioritize our resources and capacity for our graduate and medical students’ research endeavors. This situation is not expected to change until after Labor Day, at the earliest. After that date, we will reassess these types of research opportunities on a case-by-case basis. Remote internships are encouraged throughout the summer months.

Graduate education: It was great to see so many excited faces on this week’s Zoom meeting with our incoming students, and we appreciate your participation and many questions. Incoming students will receive finalized information on the upcoming orientation by the end of next week. Please routinely monitor your email account for a detailed schedule of events. We have implemented layered interventions intended to provide a risk-mitigated environment for the classroom and laboratory safety.

The Dean has officially approved our request to conduct some classroom instruction in person, while using appropriate PPE and adhering to physical distancing requirements. All graduate program directors will be forwarding information on the mode of instruction for specific classes in the near future. The research activities of graduate students already on campus should be proceeding largely unimpaired at this time. While phase 3 does impose laboratory capacity limits, working afternoons and evening as well as weekends is permissible. Finally, as a reminder, travel of any type is strongly discouraged as is housing visitors in your residence.

Additional News & Information

Reminder: University Fitness Center open with limited capacity
The University Fitness Center is open with a limited number of members and with shortened days and hours to ensure everyone’s safety. Hershey campus employees and students are eligible to return during Phase 1. The center is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit times are restricted to a maximum of 75 minutes. For more details, visit the UFC website.

Harrell Health Sciences Library open with limited capacity

The Harrell Health Sciences Library at the College of Medicine is now open to faculty, staff and students. It is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and closed on weekends until further notice. In this first phase, the library will restrict its capacity to 50% and implement new safety precautions.

Meeting Reservations

While most meetings should continue to be held remotely, meeting locations have been updated in BookIT to reflect the reduced capacity allowed in each room to maintain social distancing. Please remember it is the responsibility of the meeting leader to ensure the room capacity does not exceed the required number.

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