COVID-19 Information for the ULS Community

November 24, 2020
 
Last Friday, President Erwin wrote this about the impact of the pandemic in his weekly Reflections: “ULS can rely on nothing more than your good sense. Each of us, as we live and move within a community beyond the Seminary community, must assess our own risks and take our own precautions. Except for our handful of residential students, our student body and our faculty and staff are now mostly separated; our faculty and staff have only limited and careful physical interaction, and I encourage them to reduce even that—as possible—in the weeks ahead. Those among us who may travel in these weeks expose themselves and others in new ways, and may be subject to quarantines imposed by the states they visit or return to. Those who work in church congregations should also exercise care not to become exposed or expose others. It should not be necessary to repeat the need for masks and the other daily precautions, but as I know that even I am becoming forgetful, I will. We’ve all seen the jokes about how it’s been 2020 for ten years already, and COVID fatigue is a very real thing—but it is dangerous to let it relax our vigilance.” Whatever Thanksgiving looks like for everyone this year, our hope is you find something and someone for which you’re thankful. Our hope is also that a year from now, we’ll be having a different and more positive conversation about the holidays. Thank you all again for your patience, cooperation and dedication to our mission. Please stay safe. 

November 23, 2020
The following information was distributed to ULS students, faculty and staff.

Dear ULS community:
As you know, several members of our community are currently quarantining in Gettysburg due to COVID-19 exposure. We realize this isn’t easy, but we are grateful for their diligence and for your understanding as we operate with reduced staff. We also know that closing the mailrooms may be inconvenient for some of you, but since ULS is closed Thursday and Friday, it’s a short mailweek.  A separate email will go out tomorrow regarding temporary mailroom hours for the week of November 30 In addition, faculty and staff (except those who remain in quarantine) who absolutely need to go into their offices may do so starting November 30, but again, we strongly encourage everyone to work remotely. 


November 21, 2020
The following information was distributed to ULS students, faculty and staff.

Two employees on the Gettysburg campus have tested positive for COVID-19. They are currently self-isolating. The CDC investigator at the Adams County State Health Center, PA Department of Health, has been notified. ULS has begun contact tracing and those impacted individuals are being notified and will quarantine for 14 days from the date of contact. The following actions go into effect immediately: 1. Gettysburg campus: All administrative buildings (not residential apartments) are closed effective immediately and until further notice. The food pantry, normally closed on the weekend, is currently accessible until 5:00PM tomorrow, November 22. It will then be closed until further notice. 2. Philadelphia campus: There are no confirmed positive cases ofCOVID-19 on the Philadelphia campus. However, because the number of positive cases is rapidly increasing in Philadelphia, and there is an anticipated spike over the next several weeks, all administrative buildings(except for residential apartments) are closed effective immediately until further notice. 3. Mail delivery on both campuses: There will no USPS mail delivery the week of November 23. The post office will be notified Monday morning to hold mail. We will notify everyone on or before November 30 if a staff member on both campuses has been cleared to go in and sort mail.  

October 1, 2020
The following information was sent via email to ULS students, faculty and staff.

Dear ULS Community:
First, I’d like again to commend our students, faculty and staff for collaborating to ensure that our online teaching and learning this semester has been a success. Even before the pandemic hit, ULS was well-positioned to utilize the technology and training needed to meet these challenges, and it has risen to the situation well. It is still a source of pain and frustration not to be able to meet as we once did, but we are all adjusting as best we can.
 
ULS’s Emergency Planning  and Operations Task Force (formerly the COVID-19 Task Force) was recently convened several times to review the ongoing impact of the pandemic on higher education, at our peer seminaries, and within the ELCA generally. All we know for sure at this point is that most attempts to reopen schools and colleges have proven unsuccessful, resulting in interruptions of learning, teaching and for many students, their daily lives. Most other Pennsylvania institutions of higher learning have approached the pandemic as we have at ULS.I believe our decision to remain online for the fall semester was wise and forward-thinking. We also believe that—all political proclamations to the contrary—it is unlikely that a viable and readily-available vaccine will be available before the end of 2020. Even if it is, it will take some months to have immunized enough Americans to make it possible to gather again in anything like the old ways.
 
Therefore, I am announcing that for January 2021 intensives, and for the spring 2021 semester, all ULS classes will continue to be offered only online. This decision was based on two factors. First, the number of positive COVID cases continue to rise around the country, there is no indication now (as spring registration must begin) that the virus will be less present or less dangerous in early 2021. Second, ULS students, faculty and staff have done an outstanding job in transitioning to an online platform, and to continue on this path is less disruptive than to take half-measures toward “normalcy” too early and then perhaps to have to call them back. Led by our dedicated IT staff, we can continue to refine the process, and I believe we are
well-positioned to continue online through the end of the spring 2021 semester. 

It is however possible that the state of the pandemic may improve over the first few months of 2021. That said, by March 1, 2021, after consulting with the Commencement Committee, we will announce plans for the 2021 commencement ceremony in addition to the postponed in-person 2020 ceremony. At some point I hope to have some kind of installation ceremony as well. We will do what we can, whenever we can do it. Also by March 1, a decision will be made regarding summer intensive classes.  
I realize many of you will be disappointed that we cannot meet in person next semester. I know everyone misses the daily interaction with fellow students and colleagues in addition to the strong bond we build through worship. No one feels this more acutely than I, as I so long to meet you face-to-face! However, our main concern is your health, safety and well-being of all members of the community. Thank you all for working together to fulfil the mission of ULS. I’m so proud of who we are and how we’ve come together as a community in this difficult time, made more difficult by its long duration.  

Know that you and your loved ones are in my prayers for health and safety. 
In Christ,
Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin
President


September 4, 2020
ULS Response to Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Reporting – Emergency Financial Aid Grants for Students
In response to Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) Pub. L. No. 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (March 27, 2020), United Lutheran Seminary reports as follows:

1. United Lutheran Seminary signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education the Certification and Agreement stating the intent to use no less than 50 percent of the funds received under the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to qualified students.
2. $28,079 was received by ULS for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.
3. The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to qualified ULS students was $163.25 per student.
4. The estimated total number of students at ULS eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants under the CARES Act is 172
5. The total number of ULS students who received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant under the CARES Act is 172
6. Eligible ULS students received their Emergency Financial Aid Grant check and accompanying letter via U.S. mail. Checks were mailed from the ULS Gettysburg campus on September 3, 2020.
7. ULS students who registered for residential courses were eligible to receive the above noted financial aid grant.
8. All funds distributed, final report.

July 15, 2020
Reporting procedures and guidelines for ULS students, faculty and staff re: COVID-19 symptoms and/or positive test results
(This information was distributed on behalf of the ULS COVID-19 ask Force via email on July 15, 2020 to ULS students, faculty and staff)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, ULS wants to be sure students, faculty and staff have reporting procedures and guidelines for those who are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive for COVID-19 or have come in contact (as defined by the CDC) with someone who is exhibiting symptoms or tested positive. Please note: ULS will not disclose the identity of the individual reporting COVID-19 symptoms or a positive diagnosis. ULS is not responsible for the disclosure of this information should the individual voluntarily share symptoms or a positive COVID-19 diagnosis with another student, faculty or staff member or on personal social media channels.  Following are the ULS reporting procedures and guidelines:

1. If you are a student living on either the Gettysburg or Philadelphia campus,or have visited either campus, and are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive for COVID-19, have come in contact with someone who has tested positive or someone who is exhibiting symptoms, you should begin self-isolation for 14 days, consult a physician and make a report to Ed Henry, Director of Human Resources at ehenry@uls.eduor 215-248-6393. Please do not file a report in person.  You must include the date(s) you were on campus, buildings or offices you visited and names of individuals with whom you had contact for the 14 days prior to exhibiting symptoms.  

2. If you are a student who does not live on either campus, and are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or received a positive diagnosis, you do not need to report this information to ULS unless you voluntary do so. However, if you plan to return to campus for any reason, please follow the same reporting process as noted in #1 before doing so.  

3. If you are a faculty or staff member on either the Gettysburg or Philadelphia campus, please follow the guidelines and reporting process as outlined in #1.  

4. When ULS receives a report, it will do everything it can to notify individuals who had direct contact with the reporting individual and ensure CDC cleaning and disinfection guidelines are followed in the pertinent buildings/offices. 

5. Please note:Students should only be in campus administrative buildings to pick up mail or visit the food pantry. The only exception is student workers who need to be in administrative buildings for their jobs. Information on accessing the libraries can be found here.  Thank you for your continued cooperation and consideration of the ULS community.  


June 29, 2020

As previously communicated, August intensives are being held online and a decision regarding plans for fall classes would be announced prior to July 1. That said, we have made the decision that all fall 2020 classes, including intensives, will be held online. While we realize this may be disappointing to some of you anxious to get back to an in person classroom experience, there are several factors that contributed to this important decision. Since March, when the COVID-19 Task Force was assembled and campuses closed, the safety and well-being of the ULS community has always remained our top priority. 

From the onset of the pandemic, we have monitored data and projections from the CDC, the WHO and leading experts in the fields of infectious diseases and epidemiology, in addition to guidance set forth from the Commonwealth of PA and watching decisions being made by other academic and theological institutions. In addition, there is an anticipated “second wave” in the fall at the start of flu season, which could significantly impact the academic environment for in person classes. 

Prior to the pandemic, ULS was in the unique position to have vast experience teaching and learning online, asthe transition this spring demonstrated. We are also blessed to have dedicatedfaculty, including adjuncts, who provide a rich academic experience no matterwhat the delivery modality. Our faithful staff will continue to provideoutstanding service and ULS operations will continue without disruption.Students should use email as the primary way to contact faculty and staff. 

Campus housing will continue to be open. Anyone in campus housing who decides to move elsewhere will receive a pro-rated rent refund. Please contact Wendy Mizenko with questions.

Food pantries will remain open. 

Questions regarding field and contextual formation should be directed to Dr. Charles Leonard and Deacon Chelle Huth. 

Library policies can be found here. Details regarding worship will be forthcoming through the Rev. Dr. Charles Leonard, Dean of Worship Life, United Lutheran Seminary.  

The decision regarding January 2021 intensives and Spring 2021 classes will be announced before registration opens.

Thank you for your continued faithfulness in our mission and vision.


June 10, 2020
Adams County moves into the green phase on June 12. Philadelphia remains in the yellow phase. Telework for employees has been extended until July 6 to allow time to implement protocols and safety measures before there is a phased in return to work on both campuses. A decision regarding the plan for fall classes and October intensives will be announced by July 1. Several scenarios are currently under consideration by the COVID-19 Task Force.

June 4, 2020
Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the ULS community. August intensives will be taught online. Students, faculty and staff were notified via email. Further information on the fall semester will be forthcoming.

May 18, 2020
Adams County (Gettysburg campus) has moved into the yellow phase of the Governor's Process to Reopen Pennsylvania. Philadelphia County remains in the red phase. In the yellow phase, telework "must continue when feasible." Staff on both campuses will continue to telework until at least June 15 when more information will be forthcoming.

The COVID-19 Task Force continues to review the mandates from Governor Wolf’s Office regarding the plan to re-open the state. ULS employees (faculty and staff) were notified today that the work from home date has been extended until June 15, 2020.The COVID-19 Task Force continues to review the mandates from Governor Wolf’s Office regarding the plan to re-open the state. ULS employees (faculty and staff) were notified today that the work from home date has been extended until June 15, 2020.

From the ULS COVID-19 Task Force - May 5, 2020
The following information was sent to staff, students and faculty: This update is being sent on behalf of the ULS Adverse Scenario Task Force, currently addressing the many issues that have, and will continue, to impact the seminary as a result of COVID-19. As of May 8, 24 Pennsylvania counties will move from the red phase into the yellow phase of Governor Wolf’s time line to reopen the state. Neither Adams or Philadelphia County are on this list, and there is currently no indication of when this will happen. More information from the Governor’s Office can be found here.

ULS campuses continue to be closed with faculty and staff working remotely through May 15 as previously communicated. Further information for staff and faculty beyond the May 15 deadline will be forthcoming by May 11.

We realize many of you have questions and concerns about August intensives and fall classes. Below is some important information as we look forward to the next several months.
1. By June 15, we will announce whether or not August intensives will be held in person or online.
2. Also by June 15, we will announce the date a decision will be made regarding fall classes. There are several different scenarios for which students, faculty and staff should be prepared as contingency plans regarding fall classes. They are:
a. Classes will take place in person with both campuses open.
b. Classes will take place in person on one campus and not the other. This would happen if  one county enters the yellow/green phase before the other, allowing one campus to open and mandating the other campus remain closed.
c. There will be a hybrid of in-person and online classes.
d. One or both campuses open with classes in person, and then there’s a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases/hospitalization in one or both counties, causing one or both campuses to close again with classes going online.
e. Classes will be 100% online for the fall semester.

Please note there are other scenarios being considered by colleges, universities and fellow seminaries around the county. However, these are the ones that best pertain to ULS. The June 15 deadline gives us time to continue to monitor the data coming from the state as well as those decisions set forth by other educational institutions.

Thank you for your continued patience, and for following best practices by wearing a face mask when leaving home and following social distancing guidelines of 6 feet.

From the ULS COVID-19 Task Force - April 30, 2020 -
ULS  wants to remind everyone to follow the State of Pennsylvania’s recommendations to wear a mask whenever you leave home. Any student or employee who needs to access a ULS building during the shutdown for work purposes must wear a mask. Any student accessing the food pantry on either campus must also wear a mask. This not only protects you, but those around you.
Thank you for your cooperation.

From the ULS COVID-19 Task Force - April 21, 2020
- The working remotely timeline has been extended from April 30 to May 15. June classes will be taught online. Buildings on both campuses remain closed.
The COVID-19 Task Force will continue to monitor the infection rate data and information forthcoming from Governor Wolf’s Office.

From the ULS COVID-19 Task Force - April 1, 2020 - Both campuses remain closed until further notice. Student apartments remain open. Hours for food pantries and mailrooms are noted below. Courses, including June intensives, will continue to be taught online.

From the ULS COVID-19 Task Force - March 30, 2020- ULS currently advises against any public gathering by students, faculty or staff outside of buildings on both campuses in a concentrated effort to enforce social distancing. Our top priority is the safety and well being of the ULS Community. We hope the time will come again soon when we can congregate in person with colleagues, fellow students and friends.

From Interim President Rev. Dr. Angela Zimmann - March 20, 2020
The following is an update to yesterday’s email regarding close down of both campuses effective 5:00PM today.This means no one should be in any campus building after 5:00PM today, with the exception of mail and food pantry pickups. That information is as follows:  

Mail

Gettysburg campus:
Starting March 23, the outside mail room door in Valentine will be locked and accessible with your access card.  Mail can be picked up at any time, bu twill only be sorted and put in mail boxes Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday after 12:00noon. If you have a large package delivered that doesn’t fit in your mail box, Evan Christensen will email you to pick it up. 

Philadelphia campus:
Starting March 23, the main entrance to Brossman will be unlocked Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM only with access to mailboxes. The rest of the building will be closed off. Please only enter Brossman to pick up mail and then leave.  

Food pantries
Gettysburg: Starting March 23, enter Valentine only through the elevator entrance will which require your access card. The food pantry will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12 noon to 2:00PM. Questions can be directed to Andrew Berdahl, aberdahl@uls.edu 

Philadelphia: The food pantry will operate as usual in Wiedemann. 

Also, I'd like to reiterate that faculty and staff were given a grace period to get what they need out of their offices by 5:00PM today then leave immediately after that.

Thank You for your cooperation. Please stay safe.
In Gratitude,
Rev. Dr. Angela K. Zimmann
Interim President


From Interim President Rev. Dr. Angela Zimmann - March 19, 2020, 7:30PM
In accordance with Governor Tom Wolf’s directive today that all “non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania” must close “physical locations” in order to slow the spread of coronavirus, both the Gettysburg and Philadelphia campuses will close at 5:00PM on Friday, March 20, 2020. Faculty and staff should not return to campus unless they absolutely have to get items from their offices. If this is the case, you must do so no later than 5:00PM on Friday, March 20, 2020. Administrative buildings on both campuses will not be accessible after 5:00PM on March 20, 2020. Maintenance and security will be accessible through their normal contacts.

Classes will continue online as previously planned.

We advise students on the Gettysburg campus to visit the food bank to stock up before 5:00PM on Friday, March 20, 2020. Information on accessibility to the food bank in Gettysburg will be forthcoming. The Philadelphia campus food bank will operate as usual for now.

The Seminary’s apartment buildings on both campuses will remain open. If students have questions, they should contact Dean Sebastian. Faculty and staff questions can be directed to Human Resources. More information will be forthcoming as the situation evolves.

Please stay safe, stay home and be blessed.
In gratitude,
Pastor Angela

From Interim President Rev. Dr. Angela Zimmann - March 18, 2020

Dear ULS Community:

With the increasing concern regarding the spread of COVID-19, and in continued efforts to keep the Seminary community safe, we are putting temporary policies into effect in accordance with new CDC guidelines to promote social distancing and to cancel public gatherings of 50 people or more for at least  the next eight weeks. There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 on either campus. However, it is our highest priority to minimize the spread of the virus and ensure the well-being of the ULS community.

Therefore, as of today: 

1. There will be no physical commencement ceremony on May 15, 2020 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Lancaster. The Commencement Committee is discussing alternative ways in which we can celebrate this special day and recognize the accomplishments of our graduates. We will continue to post updates on the ULS Commencement  web page. Students slated to graduate have been already been notified of this change and will continue to receive updates.

2. All ULS events on both campuses are cancelled until further notice. Please watch for updates.

2. Both ULS Library branches will be closed entirely starting March 19 through April 1. New policies and practices can be found on the  Library  home page and the ULS Library COVID-19 response page.This situation will be reassessed after April 1, with additional information posted on the Library web pages noted above. After-hours access to the Wentz Library has been discontinued.

3. Information regarding June intensives and any public events in June and July will be announced/posted soon.  We will continue to update the COVID-19 Information and Resource page on our website and monitor this situation.

Please share your prayers with those who have been directly impacted by this virus and reach out to those who may need help or are experiencing anxiety. The strength of our faith will help us get through this challenging and difficult time. 

With gratitude, 
Rev. Angela K. Zimmann, Ph.D.
Interim President

From Interim President Rev. Dr Angela Zimmann - March 17, 2020
We recommend you continue to reference the must reliable sources of information about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and what to do if you are sick - both from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From Interim President Rev. Dr. Angela Zimmann - March 15, 2020
Residential students on both the Gettysburg and Philadelphia campuses received guidelines on how and where to report confirmed confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) and ways the seminary will assist them.

The Philadelphia campus Open House scheduled for April 18 has been cancelled. Please watch for further updates on the rescheduling of this event. If you're interested in any ULS degree program, you can request more information here.

From Interim President Rev. Dr. Angela Zimmann - March 10, 2020


Dear ULS Community:

Students, faculty and staff were notified that during intensives week (March 13-21), all classes were moving online, and that public events and chapel services were cancelled. Since then, our COVID-19 Task Force has continued to diligently monitor the actions of area colleges, universities, our sister seminaries and government health organizations while preparing plans of action that put the health and well-being of our faculty, staff and students at the forefront. At this stage, the most proactive approach is to prevent the spread of the virus by limiting the number and size of gatherings on our campuses and the number of people coming to campus, and through “social distancing” measures.  
Please note: There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 on either the Gettysburg or Philadelphia campus. However, the number of confirmed cases in Pennsylvania continues to rise.  

Therefore, ULS is implementing the following protocols:

1. Effective March 23, 2020: All classes will be conducted online. We will continue to evaluate the situation. However, it is highly likely that classes will remain online until the end of the semester with no in-person instruction. Students and faculty should not report to classrooms. A decision on commencement will be made in April. A decision on June intensives will be made at a later date.  

2. Effective March 16, 2020: Residential students on both campuses have the option to remain in the dorms/apartments to take courses online or leave campus and take courses online. There will be no food service on either campus. Food pantries will stay open, but we encourage students to stock up on a weekly basis. If residential students decide to move out of student housing, prorated housing fees will be credited directly to your account. Commuter students should not come to campus for class. All students should monitor their CANVAS course sites for additional information from instructors. 

3. Effective March 16, 2020: ULS libraries will be open for individual students, faculty and staff only, but closed to the public and group meetings. Reduced hours maybe implemented so please watch for additional information. We encourage students to utilize online library resources as much as possible. If a resource is not available online, please contact library staff at library@uls.edu.  

4. Effective March 16, 2020: All public events on both campuses, including student-planned events, are cancelled until further notice.  

5. Effective March 16, 2020, Chapel services on both campuses are cancelled, until further notice. 

6. Effective immediately: Students who work on campus should contact their supervisors regarding arrangements.

7. Effective immediately: ULS is not accepting new requests from outside organizations to host events on either campus or is not taking requests for guest housing on either campus.

We understand some of these decisions will disrupt our daily lives and some members of the community will be satisfied, and others will not. However, please keep in mind this is an unprecedented situation that affects individuals and communities well beyond ULS.

Our goal is to act in a proactive manner that will help reduce the spread of the virus within and beyond our community. We can face this challenge by working together as one, united institution, and having compassion for those impacted by COVID-19 and preparing for this situation to get worse, before it gets better. We will continue to update you on this ever-changing situation.

In gratitude,

Rev. Angela K. Zimmann, Ph.D.
Interim President


COVID-19 Update from Seminary Ridge Museum

Read the Press Release

Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ's

What is coronavirus and what are the symptoms?

Coronavirus is a type of virus that can cause a wide range of illnesses, from the common cold to severe pneumonia. The novel, or Wuhan coronavirus, has been named COVID-19 and is a new strain of coronavirus.

How is the virus spread?

It is spread through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets,similar to a cold or the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), person-to-person spread of coronavirus is most likely to occur with close contact, or contact within six feet, with an infected person who coughs or sneezes.

Have there been any cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in Pennsylvania?

Yes. Please check the Department of Health website
Philadelphia Department of Public Health: 215-685-6717
Adams County Department of Public Health: 717-334-2112

How can I prevent contracting coronavirus?

Wash your hands with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds, frequently and efficiently. Avoid touching your face with your hands. When unable to wash with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid sharing food and drinks or participating in other activities that may result in exposure to saliva or secretions. Avoid sharing devices like smartphones. Those who are showing symptoms are encouraged to cover their mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and seek medical care. Do not use your hand to cover a cough, but rather your sleeve instead. If you are sick with the flu or another illness, you should stay home and avoid contact with others for as long as you have symptoms. In this case, ULS employees should contact their supervisors and students their instructors.

Is there a treatment for coronavirus?

There is currently no medication to treat or prevent coronavirus. Like many viruses, steps may be taken to manage symptoms caused by coronavirus.

Will wearing a surgical mask help protect me from the novel coronavirus?

Surgical masks may help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses when worn by people who are sick. According to the CDC, if you are not sick, a mask will not be useful. You should follow your doctor’s instructions on this matter.

CDC "What to do if you are sick with coronavirus" poster