Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

07/13/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/13/2020 08:01

College of Medicine ramp-up roundup

From left, Dr. Leslie Parent, vice dean for research and graduate studies; Dr. Terry Wolpaw, vice dean of educational affairs; and Dr. Charles Lang, associate dean for graduate studies and Dr. Neal Thomas, associate dean for clinical research.

The following message was sent on behalf of Dr. Terry Wolpaw, Dr. Leslie Parent, Dr. Chuck Lang and Dr. Neal Thomas.

July 13, 2020Penn State College of Medicine News

As we complete the first full week of July, we continue to appreciate your assistance with the College of Medicine's (COM) ramp-up efforts to bring faculty, staff and students back to campus. We aren't quite ready to move to the next phase, but we will continue to monitor the density of people in the College and compliance with our COVID-19 safety guidelines to determine our next steps. It is important to note that in order for us to be ready to bring 100% of our faculty, staff and students back to campus, we need 100% compliance with the processes we have put in place. We know these are challenging times, and we appreciate your help in making that possible. Until then, please continue to work at home if you can do so, and we will keep you posted as new updates are available.

New screening procedures starting July 13

As we prepare for another group of medical students to join us back on campus and assist with contact tracing and daily screening efforts, the COM will implement a new screening process starting Monday, July 13. 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

Anyone who uses the COM main entrance or Biomedical Research Building entrance will also be required to follow these procedures.

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: The big news in the research arena is the change in clinical research. Changes in allowable observational research have been reviewed at the University level. Stay tuned for specific details on these changes in the next few days.

After more than three weeks in phase 3, laboratory research has achieved a steady state with departments and institutes working at or near 50% capacity. We would like to thank the College faculty who have in large part continued to work remotely so that students, fellows and research staff can actively pursue their research. It appears that our faculty have put the past several months at home to good use as the Office of Research Affairs reports a nearly 18% increase in NIH submissions in May and June, compared to last year.

Many have inquired as to when the College might be expected to transition to phase 4. Leadership is monitoring a number of variables, and there are no immediate plans to move to the next phase at this time. This decision was reached based on the large influx of medical, graduate, physician assistant and nursing students into the College in the coming weeks, coupled with the opening of Hersheypark and local businesses. We are continuously monitoring state and local data and will follow guidance from state and local health officials in determining when to move to phase 4. To prepare for next week's meeting with departmental and laboratory safety officers, please forward any questions and/or concerns on lab and building safety to the Office of Biosafety ([email protected]).

Lab weekly schedules: Until further notice, each lab should continue to continue to submit their weekly research schedules to the chair or designee for review, and then upload your files into BOX here.

Personal responsibility: As we grow accustomed to a new normal, we must guard against complacency. It is our collective responsibility to adhere to public health guidelines both at the College and outside of work. Properly wearing masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene by all are essential in preventing the need to return to a more restrictive phase. As always, any individual who has a fever or shows other signs of potential COVID-19 infection should not enter the building and should immediately contact either Employee or Student Health. Please remember there is absolutely no eating or drinking in the hallways or public areas.

Education Update

Medical Education: Next week is an exciting one for medical education. Our incoming class of medical students arrived in Hershey this past weekend and is currently quarantining to be able to join us on campus Wednesday, July 15, for their first day of orientation. This year, orientation will be virtual through Zoom ― a first for our medical school ― but we have many fun activities planned for this group of students to help them create lasting relationships with their peers. Our third-year students will also return to campus to start their direct patient care component of their clerkships.

Graduate Education: Research laboratories are now open to all graduate students to pursue their research or for lab rotations by our current first-year students. Any student who encounters difficulty in gaining a meaningful research experience should contact their program director or Dr. Lang ([email protected]) immediately. Based on guidance, and in consultation with faculty experts in epidemiology, medicine and public health, the Office of Graduate Studies has adjusted room capacity so that almost half of our fall courses will be conducted in person. For those students with a medical need, remote learning options will also be provided.

Preparations are well underway to help mitigate risks for students, faculty and staff as we return to classrooms and labs this fall. These include screening and contract tracing, in addition to mask-wearing and physical distancing. This site may be helpful for planning purposes - Guide to Returning to Campus. Finally, we are putting the finishing touches on orientation, which starts Aug. 17. This week-long event will be a mixture of remote learning and in-person activities designed to build esprit de corps among incoming and current students in a safe and fostering environment.

International Students: On July 6, 2020, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)'s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that it would no longer provide exemptions for international students taking all of their classes online for the fall 2020 semester due to the pandemic. The Graduate School at Penn State has provided a list of FAQ's for students that are relevant to both incoming and current students. If you have any questions about this policy change, please contact Dr. Lang ([email protected]) for guidance.

Additional News and Information

Harrell Health Sciences Library opens July 13 with limited capacity, new guidelines

The Harrell Health Sciences Library at the College of Medicine will reopen its doors Monday, July 13, to faculty, staff and students. It will be open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and closed on weekends.

In this first phase, the library will restrict its capacity to 50% and implement new safety precautions. The following new guidelines will be in effect:

  • Access will be limited to Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine faculty, staff and students only, and name badge access will be required.
  • Masks must be worn at all times.
  • Maintain proper social distancing.
  • No food or drink is allowed.
  • Limit your time in the library to no more than three hours.
  • Books can be checked out, but visitors should not remove books from the stacks. They should ask the library staff for assistance.
  • Do not move furniture.
  • Clean and disinfect the area you were sitting in before you leave. Sanitation stations will be provided.
  • The library should not be used for through-traffic. Please seek an alternate route to your destination.

Meeting Reservations

While most meetings should continue to be held remotely, meeting locations have been updated in BookIT to reflect the reduced capacity numbers 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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