Beginning of in-person classes pushed back to at least Sept. 14


In a letter to students, faculty and staff on Aug. 19, Provost Ann Cudd announced that classes on the Oakland campus would remain virtual until at least Sept. 14.

“This adjustment to the schedule will allow for the completion of staged arrival and shelter-in-place procedures so that all students can start in-person classes at the same time,” Cudd said in her email.

The semester officially started Aug. 19 with all classes being provided remotely on all campuses. Initially, in-person classes “where appropriate” were to start on Aug. 24, but at the Elevated Risk posture this meant the number of in-person classes would be severely limited.

Cudd said additional information about what in-person classes will take place while Pitt is in the Elevated Risk posture will be forthcoming. As of Aug. 24, the Oakland will be the only Pitt campus still at Elevated status. Pitt–Greensburg will join Bradford, Johnstown and Titusville in the more relaxed Guarded level then.

Students in residence halls are returning to the Pittsburgh campus in groups of 1,500. The move-in started on Aug. 11 and will be completed on Aug. 28.

Pitt is randomly testing around 400 students in each group of 1,500. Only two students in the first group of 452 tested Aug. 12 and 13 were found to be positive for COVID-19.

No results are available yet for the group of students who arrived in Pittsburgh over the weekend. Another group is moving in today and tomorrow.

Let me be clear: Your behavior is threatening a successful fall term for all of us.

Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner

In addition, Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner sent out a strongly worded email to students this morning warning them of the consequences of not following the University’s health and safety rules after reports of parties at off-campus housing that didn’t include face masks or social distancing.


The Pitt News reported on Aug. 20 that five Greek life chapters — Chi Omega, Kappa Delta, Pi Kappa Alpha, Alpha Tau Omega and Sigma Phi Epsilon — had been placed on “Interim Suspension of Registration” for allegedly violating the University’s Health and Safety Guidelines, the Student Code of Conduct and the Fraternity and Sorority Guidelines.

University spokesman Kevin Zwick told the Pitt News that an investigation is underway, and each chapter must “stop organizational operations until further notice.”  

Before classes started, student leaders had developed a Pitt Community Compact and added language to the Student Code of Conduct that said students violating the health rules brought on by the pandemic could face punishment.

“Let me be clear: Your behavior is threatening a successful fall term for all of us,” Bonner’s email said. “If you want to experience campus life as well as in-person classes this semester, then support the health and well-being of the members of our community with your actions.”

Students who host large parties could lose on-campus housing and access to all University buildings, even while a hearing is being conducted on the allegations. If found in violation, students could face suspension through the end of the semester. Even those who just attend these parties could lose on-campus housing for the rest of the semester or access to all University buildings.

Bonner urged students to not attend parties where physical distancing is not possible and face coverings are not being used.

“Since February, we have all had the time to learn about this virus and adapt to our new public health environment,” Bonner said. “Now it is time to demonstrate that you understand this is serious business, with serious consequences. We have one chance to get this right.”

In the past few days, several universities have changed direction on in-person classes because of increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases among students. The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill moved all classes online after just one week of in-person instruction after more than 130 new cases were reported on campus. Notre Dame, which began in-person classes on Aug. 10, announced yesterday that it is moving to remote instruction for two weeks because of “a steady increase in positive rates.” Michigan State told its students on Tuesday not to return to campus for the beginning of classes on Sept. 2, and instead will be fully remote throughout the fall semester.

Let me be as honest as I can, if this isn’t for you and you can’t take on this responsibility, then please go home. Your actions will only be endangering others, and you’re not welcome on our campus.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher

“You may not feel particularly at risk for this illness, but don’t make that assumption for others,” Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said Tuesday evening in a welcome address to incoming freshmen and transfer students. “For this to work, we have to adhere to a social compact. Let me be as honest as I can, if this isn’t for you and you can’t take on this responsibility, then please go home. Your actions will only be endangering others, and you’re not welcome on our campus.”

If students choose to leave, Gallagher said they can still take classes remotely and Pitt will refund their unused room and board with “no judgments.”

“If you stay and then act irresponsibly, there will be consequences,” he said, which could include removal from the University. But he rejected the notion that college students could not rise to the occasion and act responsibly.

The Pitt COVID Concern Connection allows for anonymous reporting of any COVID-related concern. Those who choose to provide an email address will receive a follow up.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 412-648-4294.


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