September 14, 2020

Dear Heller Community,

I hope this message finds you all well and enjoying the first weeks of classes. As you will recall from my August 12 message, Zinner Forum is now a COVID-19 asymptomatic testing site, processing hundreds of tests per day. This resulted in a significant increase in foot traffic at Heller and caused us to reassess whether and how to safely resume any level of in-person presence. My team and I have worked to implement a new building use protocol for those who have a compelling need to access Heller for work or study. The protocol is detailed below and is available on Heller’s Fall 2020 website

Guiding Principles

While this pandemic continues we must promote personal and collective safety above all else. Those who can continue to work remotely should do so, with very few exceptions. That said, when a compelling need to access Heller space arises, we will do our best to accommodate requests equitably and consistently. Lastly, as with all plans for this year, we anticipate that this protocol will change as the situation evolves based on facts on the ground

Requesting Building Access

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 room or space aside from your own office, please submit a Classroom Reservation Request Form. 

Please send all requests at least 24 hours in advance. You may begin to submit requests on Monday, September 21. The building will be open for approved users on Monday, September 28.

You will be asked to provide a compelling reason for your request, and please know that we are setting the bar reasonably high. We understand everyone is working remotely under different circumstances and at different comfort levels. Examples of compelling reasons include:

  • Temporary lack of wifi or insufficient wifi bandwidth at home

  • Short-term disruption at your home

  • Significant limitations/challenges presented by your home living space

  • To hold or attend an optional in-person academic activity for a hybrid class

Compelling reasons do not include:

  • Missing your office or needing a change of scenery

  • Preferring to hold a meeting in person

If you are experiencing difficulty working or studying remotely due to long-term technology or bandwidth constraints, please contact Ron Etlinger or Ravi Lakshmikanthan. Our preference in these situations is to provide you with resources and technology to continue working remotely.

If you are given permission to use Heller space, you will receive an email from Ron, Cindy or Ravi confirming the terms of your building access. Depending on the nature of your request, you may be granted short-term access (i.e. for the next 2 days) or regular access (i.e. once weekly for the duration of the semester). The confirmation email will also specify which office or room you may use.

When assigning spaces we will prioritize rooms with windows that open to the outdoors, and rooms that have been outfitted with portable HEPA air filters. Staff members who typically work in a cubicle or share an office space will be given temporary access to an alternative office or conference room. No one will be permitted to share the same office space at the same time. 

Arriving at Heller:

Before you arrive, please familiarize yourself with the Campus Passport portal detailed in Provost Lynch’s September 2 email. (Tip: add the Campus Passport to your smartphone screen as an “app” shortcut). You must ensure that your passport is green (or yellow), confirming that you are in compliance with all university health and safety guidelines.

This includes completing COVID-19 training, completing (and passing) the daily health assessment, and being up-to-date with asymptomatic testing. Remember: All members of the Brandeis community MUST complete the COVID-19 training whether or not you are accessing campus. Lastly, make sure you wear a mask, and be ready to show your campus passport when you enter Heller.

Heller has hired several student workers as Health Assurance Monitors. A monitor will be stationed inside the Heller-Brown main entrance to check your Campus Passport and confirm that you have permission to enter the building given the above protocol. They will ensure that you are wearing a mask and will provide directions to those who are unfamiliar with the building layout. Please note that student monitors cannot grant building access on the spot to anyone who has not received permission in advance from Ron, Cindy or Ravi.

Once in the Building:

  • New building hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm. The building is no longer open evenings or weekends, as there will be no Health Assurance Monitors at those times.

  • Use the Heller-Brown main doors to enter and the side entrance of Heller-Brown (by the student mailboxes) to exit. You will need to swipe your ID card to enter. The Heller-Schneider entrance will be closed and locked. The entrance by Schneider G4 is reserved for community members entering the COVID-19 Testing Zone.

  • The asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing Zone (the ground floor of Heller-Schneider, Zinner Forum and patio) is completely roped off from the rest of the building. Do not cross the barriers or attempt to use a different exit or entrance than designated.

  • You may only use the office or classroom you are assigned. We ask that you do not linger in common areas, such as balconies, lobbies or hallway study nooks. If you run into a friend at Heller, we encourage you to chat outside and practice safe social distancing measures.

  • There will be no access to common appliances such as refrigerators, microwaves, vending machines or coffee machines. Heller Starbucks is closed for the year, though other campus dining locations are open. Please plan to eat in a campus dining location, tent or other socially-distanced outdoor space. 

  • If you must use the restroom or the elevator, please note only one person may enter at a time.

  • You must wear your mask at all times, and it must cover your entire nose and mouth. The only exception to this is if you are in your office, alone, with the door closed. If you can comfortably open the window in your space, you are encouraged to do so.

  • Please make frequent use of hand sanitizer stations and new self-service cleaning supplies located in the classrooms. Our fantastic facilities staff continue to clean the Heller building daily (including all restrooms), but we encourage everyone on campus to make a habit of wiping down their workspace at the beginning and end of their time on site. Faculty and staff should utilize new door tags to request “full service” cleaning after using their space (these have been placed in every office). We all share these spaces and responsibilities for keeping one another safe.

Changes to the Building

In addition to reconfiguring the layout of the ground floor of Schneider to accommodate COVID-19 testing, you will see many other changes to the building. All conference rooms and classrooms have new maximum occupancy signage posted. Portable HEPA air filters have been installed in designated classrooms. Plexiglass guards have been installed in a few places where foot traffic is often quite high, such as near the cubicles outside admissions. 

Facilities staff have installed signage throughout the building to encourage safer foot traffic patterns, meaning that you may need to give yourself a bit more time to find the appropriate route to your office. Heller’s stairwells are now designated as unidirectional, for example. You will see floor decals and signage throughout the building (and across campus) as a constant reminder to maintain 6 feet of distance and to guide foot traffic. 

In Closing

I believe that with these measures in place, we will be able to provide access to the Heller building when necessary, while mitigating personal and communal risk as much as possible. We welcome your questions and feedback at any time, and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we develop and implement this new protocol.

I’ve been impressed and encouraged (though not surprised) by the enthusiasm, positivity and kindness I have witnessed in our community these last few weeks. Thank you all for the care, good humor and shared sense of responsibility that you bring to your work. In these difficult times, it makes a big difference.


David Weil

Dean and Professor