Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

The health and well-being of PME’s community both on- and off-campus is our top priority. This page contains the latest news and information specific to the PME community regarding the response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The University is providing updated information for the entire University community on its online coronavirus information hub. The hub includes extensive information about public health, how to protect yourself, travel advisories and guidelines, planning ahead for the Spring Quarter, and support resources. More health information is available from UChicago Medicine, CDPH, and the CDC.

 

University Hotline

The University launched a new phone hotline for members of the campus community. Operators are prepared to answer questions on public health, campus facilities and services, travel, events and visitors, policies and more. The hotline can be reached at 877-744-4800 or 773-795-5374, Monday to Friday from 9 am to 7 pm Central Standard Time. Operators can help answer or route questions about changes for the Spring Quarter, remote learning, remote work questions for staff members and COVID-19 preparations.

Guides

Key contacts for questions

 

  • Beginning Monday, 3/23/20, the ERC loading dock operational hours will be reduced to 8am to 12 pm, Monday through Friday.
  • One staff member will be on site each day to facilitate shipping and receiving functions.
  • During these hours, the dock will be accessible for any shipments that need to go out and for any packages that you would like to pick up yourselves if you are on campus.
  • One mail run will be performed each day, between 12 -1 pm. Packages not delivered will be held on the dock and recipients will be notified.
  • All expected freight deliveries must be communicated to the dock as soon as you have an expected arrival date. We will make every effort to accommodate these deliveries, but we must have as much detail as possible about what we are receiving and when. Any uncommunicated freight delivered outside of the revised hours will not be able to access the dock and may be held by the carrier or returned to the sender.
  • Gasses will still be inventoried daily and changed as necessary. If you are in need of products from Airgas, please place your order with the dock personnel no later than Friday at noon. One order will be placed on Monday morning for Tuesday delivery as needed. A limited supply is being held on site for emergency replacements.

If you have any questions about the updated dock schedule and function, please reach out to Maurice Perry (mauricep@uchicago.edu) and Matt Williams (mattw2@uchicago.edu).

To: All Members of the PME Community
From: Matthew Tirrell
Subject: COVID-19 in the BSD Community
Date: March 23, 2020

I am sharing with you a message from Vice Provost Kim and Dean Polonsky regarding a BSD staff member who works on the 11th floor of the Cummings Life Science Building who tested positive for COVID-19.

The Cummings elevators and 10th and 11th floors will be closed tomorrow for deep cleaning. We expect the elevators and the 10th floor to reopen by 3pm.

In line with CDC and CDPH instructions, the University is reaching out to those who may have had close contact with the diagnosed individual and advising them to self-isolate at home for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms. If you are not contacted directly, it means we do not have reason to think you had close contact with the individual, per CDC’s guidelines.

Additional details can be found in the message below. We know this is a difficult and concerning time, and we encourage you to stay informed with University updates at coronavirusupdates.uchicago.edu. The University has also established a call center for those with COVID-19 questions or concerns, which you can reach by dialing 773.795.5374. You may also email COVID-19 questions to the University at coronavirusinfo@uchicago.edu.

Matt

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To: Faculty, Staff and Students
From: Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, Dean and EVP for Medical Affairs, Karen Kim, MD, Vice Provost for research
Subject: COVID-19 in the BSD Community
Date: March 22, 2020

Dear BSD community:

We learned this evening that a staff employee who works on Cummings Life Sciences Center (CLSC) 11th floor has tested positive for COVID-19.

In consultation with specialists at the University of Chicago Medicine, we determined that March 19th and 20th were the only days in the last week when this staff member may have come into contact with co-workers. Administrative staff who may have come into contact with the individual were notified earlier today. Thankfully, our colleague is stable and resting at home in self-isolation.

Given this situation, we are immediately closing the elevators as well as the 10th and 11th floor of CLSC for specialized deep cleaning. There will be signage indicating these closures. Upon completion of the deep cleaning, we expect that the elevators and the 10th floor will reopen by 3pm on Monday March 23rd; the 11th floor is expected to reopen by end of day on Tuesday March 24th. We will notify you if this timeline changes.

In line with CDC and CDPH instructions, we are contacting those who may have had close contact with the diagnosed individual and advising them to self-isolate at home for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing). The self-isolation guidance that was sent out earlier this week to all BSD graduate students is attached. If you are not contacted directly, it means we do not have reason to think you had close contact with the individual, per CDC’s guidelines. CDC does not recommend testing, symptom monitoring or self-isolation for people exposed to asymptomatic people with potential exposures to COVID-19, such as “contacts of contacts.”

We recognize that this news is concerning and the circumstances are difficult. The BSD and University of Chicago community is incredibly strong and supportive, and we must continue to rely on that support especially now. We ask that you respect our efforts to protect the privacy of the administrative staff member and the others who are contacted. We also encourage students who wish to speak to a counselor to contact the Student Counseling Service at 773.702.3625. The University offers the Staff and Faculty Assistance Program, provided by Perspectives Ltd. Employees may call Perspectives Ltd. at 800.456.6327 to speak with a counselor.

Safeguarding the health of our community is our greatest concern. Please continue to practice social distancing and follow the prevention guidelines offered by UChicago MedicineCDPH, and the CDC. If you experience flu-like symptoms, please call your physician.

We encourage you to stay current with  University updates at coronavirusupdates.uchicago.edu and by visiting the BSD-specific website:  biologicalsciences.uchicago.edu/coronavirus. The University has also established a call center for those with COVID-19 questions or concerns, which you can reach by dialing 773.795.5374. You may also email COVID-19 questions to the University at coronavirusinfo@uchicago.edu.

We will continue to keep you apprised during this evolving situation. Again, we appreciate your understanding during this difficult time.

To: All Members of the PME Community
From: Matthew Tirrell
Subject: Instructions for “Stay at Home” Order
Date: March 20, 2020

With today’s announcement of a “stay at home” order by Governor Pritzker, PME will begin implementing the essential-personnel continuity plans established by each lab group and business unit.

Under a “stay at home” order, essential research personnel means the fewest number of people needed to conduct activities that are required to preserve samples, animals, or functionalities critical to the long-term preservation of a lab or those supporting critical other projects.

Essential business personnel means the fewest number of people needed to perform functions that would have serious negative consequences for PME if not performed during an emergency or disruption, including tasks required for safety and facilities operations.

PIs and directors have identified a list of essential personnel for their area, which has been shared with our facilities team. Starting at 5 pm on Saturday March 21 and continuing through Tuesday, April 7, only individuals on this list will have access to buildings. I ask all PIs and directors who have not done so already to contact their essential personnel and outline plans and essential tasks.

Key contacts during the campus closure include:

You can also refer to the PME website for links to additional resources and information, including the University’s coronavirus hub and Spring Quarter websites.

The health and safety of the University and PME community has been paramount in the decisions made surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for your cooperation in these efforts.

To: All Members of the PME Community
From: Dean Matthew Tirrell
Subject: Planning at PME for Remote Learning
Date: March 19, 2020

All,

The University has developed additional resources for Spring Quarter and COVID-19 information that I would like to bring to your attention:

  • Spring Quarter Website: The University launched a new website, spring2020.uchicago.edu, to help individuals better navigate Spring Quarter. It provides resources and information for staff, faculty, and students and serves as a sister site to the coronavirusupdates.uchicago.edu site that will continue to focus on disease-related updates.
  • University Hotline: The University launched a new phone hotline for members of the campus community. Operators are prepared to answer questions on public health, campus facilities and services, travel, events and visitors, policies and more. The hotline can be reached at 877-744-4800 or 773-795-5374, Monday-Friday from 9am to 7pm Central.  Operators can help answer or route questions about changes for the Spring Quarter, remote learning, remote work questions for staff members, and COVID-19 preparations. 
  • Guides: Attached are three guides that can help you determine whether you need to self-isolate and guidance for what to do during self-isolation.

You can find information and links to all these resources on the PME website. You can also continue to send COVID-19 questions to coronavirusinfo@uchicago.edu.

We will continue to share any new guidance and information as it becomes available. Thank you to everyone for their actions and cooperation over the past weeks as we have implemented contingency plans in response to COVID-19. I am impressed and grateful for the quick response and collegial way the PME community has pulled together under these extraordinary circumstances.

Matt

Attachments:

To: All Members of the PME Community
From: Dean Matthew Tirrell
Subject: Remote Engagement & Continuity Planning
Date: March 16, 2020

As the Dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, I am the primary lead for our division’s continuity planning.  If there is a situation that demands on-the-spot presence and action and I am not available, Jeffrey Hubbell as Deputy Dean has been named as my second in command.  Rovana Popoff as Senior Associate Dean will be third in command until April 13th when Joshua Berg will take over as Senior Associate Dean for Administration and Operations.

Jeffrey Hubbell will chair a faculty committee on remote learning to facilitate the PME’s successful delivery of spring courses.  The committee includes Paul Nealey, Jun Huang, Andrew Cleland, and Mustafa Guler.  Paul Nealey and Rovana Popoff are our liaisons to the University remote learning working groups. IT Director Craig Hamill will be in charge of ensuring that faculty, who will be teaching in the spring quarter, have the appropriate computer equipment and IT support. They are all working together to share communications and coordinate activity.

Provost Lee’s 3/16 memo to faculty on planning for research outlines immediate actions for “significantly ramping down on-campus research activities.”  With the immediacy of her request, all research PIs and administrative supervisors will need to identify and provide contact information (email address and mobile number) for an alternative lead or second in command; that information should be shared with Maria Rubio by end of day tomorrow. Our facilities team will continue to conduct periodic walkthroughs of our buildings and facilities and will contact the PI and second in command, if the need arises.

As shared earlier, others in leadership roles include Craig Hamill – IT Support, Matt Williams – Facilities, Tarnisha Smith (HR), Jacob Homan (Finance), Tracy Walker (Administrative Support), and Devon McPhee  (Communications).  For specific COVID-19 questions, you can write to coronavirusinfo@uchicago.edu.

With University expectations for remote engagement and continuity planning quickly evolving, I also want to reinforce the expectation that we will all need to be flexible as we adapt to carry out the PME’s central mission of research and education.  As we identify the mission essential functions (MEFs) of the PME that will ensure our on-going operation,

  1. We will need to be mindful not only of what we consider to be our own individual responsibilities, but also what we might be called up to do in other areas of the organization;
  2. We will not be able to expect the levels of support, referral, and delegation that we have been used to under normal operations; 
  3. We all need to take the time to become familiar with on-line and other resources and to be as self-sufficient as possible.

Administrative and support areas (both central and lab-specific) will need to take the time to make information, policies, and practices relevant to their areas as transparent and accessible as possible so that others might be able to take on tasks/responsibilities where they can.

Mission Essential Functions are the limited set of PME functions that must be continued throughout a disruption of normal operations in order to fulfill the mission of the PME.  Per the University’s Office of Emergency Management, MEF’s typically do not include:

  1. General training and exercises
  2. Long range planning
  3. Travel to conferences
  4. Audits and inspections
  5. Non-essential visitors or meetings.

Essential versus non-essential: the distinction between these categories is whether or not a function must be performed during a crisis.  Essential functions are those that must be performed, even during emergencies and disruptions. If this function is not performed it will have severe negative consequences for the PME. If determined that a function must be performed during or immediately after an emergency or disruption, the function is mission essential.  Functions can also be deemed essential if they are mandated by safety or a requirement such as regulation, law, executive order, court order, regulation, management priority, grant-funding contract, internal procedure, etc.

Again, for information about the public health situation related to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and University actions to date, please visit UChicago’s coronavirus online information hub.  Per University guidelines, if you need to self-isolate because you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, graduate students and post-docs should be in contact with their PI and/or the Dean of Students, faculty should be in contact with me or my designate, and staff should be in touch with their supervisor and/or HR Director.

Other relevant resources are below:

  • CDC Guidance to Schools & Workplaces
  • UChicago Dean-on-Call: The Dean-on-Call is the University official responsible for providing referrals, information, and support to students during an emergency.  Students, faculty, or staff may contact the Dean-on-Call any time there is a concern or emergency in order to get advice and support. The Dean-on-Call can be reached through the UCPD dispatch at 773.702.8181 or 123 from any campus phone. The Dean-on-Call may also be reached through a direct paging system by calling 773.834.HELP (4357).

Medical Resources:

  • Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.
  • Student Health Service (SHS): 773.702.4156
  • Nurse Advice Line (after SHS business hours): 773.702.4156
  • UChicago Medicine Emergency Room: 773.702.6250

PME Facilities Contacts:

  • Matt Williams, ERC Building Manager (773-673-4282)
  • Paul Julson, PME Facilities Director (847) 707-0956
  • Jennifer Robles, Building Technical Assistant Director (773) 569-7320
  • Peter Duda, PNF Technical Director (805-636-2323

Again, I appreciate the flexibility and leadership that all of you are showing and will continue to show as we move forward to carry out the research and education of the PME.

To: All Members of the PME Community
From: Dean Matthew Tirrell
Subject: Remote Work
Date: March 13, 2020

Per the recommendations today of President Zimmer and Provost Lee, staff, graduate students and postdocs should work with their supervisors and PIs to make arrangements to complete work from home whenever possible.

Labs and campus remain open, and experimental research may continue. When on campus or in the labs, follow recommended social distancing and hygiene protocols, such as dispersed placement at lab stations, frequent hand washing, and increased wipe-down of equipment and surfaces.

Anyone who feels unwell should stay home. Those with reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days.

We will continue to share new developments and guidance as they arise. The health and well-being of our community is our first priority. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in these efforts.

To: All Members of the PME Community
From: Dean Matthew Tirrell
Subject: Planning at PME for Remote Learning
Date: March 12, 2020

With the announcement from President Zimmer and Provost Lee this morning about the move to remote learning, I want to make you aware of planning activities underway at PME for Spring Quarter and other potential disruptions due to COVID-19. 

  • Academic continuity planning: Our Dean of Students Office and IT Department are working closely with the University to implement remote learning for the Spring Quarter. I have scheduled a meeting with faculty this afternoon to discuss Spring classes and how best to move them online.
  • Administrative continuity planning:  Administrative directors at PME have begun development of a business continuity plan that outlines essential administrative functions at PME, as well as essential personnel to perform these functions in the event of absenteeism and partial or full campus closures. In this ever-evolving situation, it’s best to have plans in place to adjust to the situation as needed.
  • Research and lab continuity planning: I encourage faculty members and their lab groups to begin continuity planning for research in the event of absenteeism and partial or full campus closures. This includes identification of essential research tasks which cannot be completed at home, as well as individuals needed to complete those essential tasks. Again, it is best to be prepared in an ever-evolving situation such as this.

I appreciate your patience and partnership as we continue our preparations in response to these extraordinary circumstances.

As the situation evolves and we receive additional guidance and information, have these contacts available for questions:

For information about the public health situation related to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and University actions to date, please visit UChicago’s coronavirus online information hub . A link to the hub is also available on our [pme.uchicago.edu]website.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.