August 12, 2020

Dear Heller Community,

Beginning August 19th, Heller will be one of two Brandeis COVID-19 asymptomatic testing sites for at least the fall semester. The other testing site will be at the Admissions Building. The Heller building’s unique layout allows suitable traffic flow for community members to be tested as well as safe access for those who need to use office space. As one of very few buildings on the upper campus with these features, we have agreed to serve as a Brandeis testing site as part of our larger commitment to campus public health.

What does this mean for you?
  • From August 19-21, the testing staff will conduct a pilot with limited testing hours.  Beginning the week of August 24th, testing will be held at Heller every weekday from 9am-4pm and will be open to the entire campus. We anticipate several hundred Brandeis students, faculty and staff will be tested at Heller every weekday.
  • The Heller building will be divided into a ‘Testing Zone’ (Heller-Schneider ground floor) and a ‘Heller Use Zone’ (Heller-Schneider floors 1-2 and all of Heller-Brown). There will be no direct foot traffic permitted between these zones (except for emergency egress). To provide maximum safety for all who will be using the building, we have designated specific entrance and exit points for the Testing Zone and for the Heller Use Zone.
  • The Heller patio, Zinner Forum, classrooms G1, G2, G3, and G4 and breakout rooms G5, G6, and G7 will not be used for meeting or study space.
  • Heller Starbucks will be closed, and there will be no access to the microwaves or vending machines adjacent to Zinner Forum.
What is the Heller Testing Zone and how will the testing site work?
  • Campus community members who sign up for asymptomatic testing at Heller will enter the building via the doors next to G4 (Glynn Auditorium) and will proceed along the hallway to the testing area in Zinner Forum. Access to the Testing Zone will not be permitted from any other entrance or via the Zinner Forum stairwell.
  • Upon reaching Zinner Forum they will check in and receive a test kit. They will then exit to the patio via the glass doors.
  • The  Zinner patio will have approximately 8 covered testing areas where community members will conduct their nasal swab, seal it and return it to testing staff to be sent to the Broad Institute for analysis.
  • To exit the testing area, all foot traffic will be directed along the patio sidewalk back toward the G4 entrance.
  • People in the Testing Zone will not be permitted to enter or exit via the Zinner Forum stairs, the elevator or the hallway by the Heller Starbucks towards G55.
  • As with everywhere else on campus, people in the testing zone are required to wear masks and follow physical distancing measures. The only time a mask may be briefly removed is while the testing sample is being collected outdoors.
  • Signage will be installed outdoors, throughout the building, and at every entrance, and floor decals will be added in the Testing Zone to help direct traffic and maintain physical distance. A traffic flow diagram is attached.
  • Additional information about the university’s asymptomatic COVID-19 testing program is available online. 
What if I want to work or study at Heller?
  • As we have said, our intention is to permit faculty, staff and students to work on-site at Heller only if they receive permission and have a compelling reason. The bar is reasonably high, especially given the anticipated increase in foot traffic at Heller due to testing. The vast majority of us should plan to work from home for at least the fall semester.
  • To request permission to work or study in the Heller Use Zone, please contact Cindy Thomas (for researchers), Ron Etlinger (for administrative staff) or Ravi Lakshmikanthan (for faculty and students). If you wish to reserve a classroom space, please fill out the Classroom Reservation Request Form.
  • If you receive permission from Ron, Cindy or Ravi to use your office or a pre-approved classroom space at Heller, please plan accordingly. The main entrances of Heller-Schneider and Heller-Brown will remain open for Heller community use, as will the first-floor side entrance of Heller-Brown (by the student mailboxes).
We plan to share a detailed building use protocol in the near future, including detailed information about which classroom and study spaces are available for reservation. We apologize for the delay – adjusting the Heller space to become a campus testing site has compelled us to revise our tentative plans. I appreciate your patience.
As a final reminder, if you wish to access the Heller building please reach out to Cindy Thomas (for researchers), Ron Etlinger (for administrative staff) or Ravi Lakshmikanthan (for faculty and students). If you have not done so already, please set aside time to take the COVID-19 training module, bookmark the daily health assessment tool, and become familiar with Brandeis’ high-frequency testing protocols and additional health and safety measures. 


David Weil
Dean and Professor