Breaking down Pitt’s health and facilities guidelines


The University’s health guidelines for the fall include advice we’ve all become familiar with — wear face coverings, stay socially distant and maintain appropriate personal hygiene.

But the detailed documents on the website contain much more, including specific rules for the High, Elevated and Guarded Risk levels. After reading them all, we’ve boiled down the guidance as it relates to health issues and how that will impact facilities. These documents were developed with input from the Chancellor’s Health Care Advisory Group.

Health issues


At all risk levels, a face covering should be worn inside campus buildings, except when eating or in an enclosed single occupancy space, such as a private office. In the High-Risk posture, face coverings also should be worn outside in public and on campus.

Personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes specialized gear like N95 respirators, surgical masks and gowns, will only be necessary for those who are told by their supervisor or instructor that it is required.


Social distance: Maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from other individuals, whether you are inside or outside, even if the other person isn’t exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. The only exceptions are for roommates and in research labs where physical distancing may not be possible.

Avoid small spaces: Limit the amount of time spent in a space with other people, especially smaller spaces like bathrooms and elevators.

Barriers: Plexiglass or other barriers must be installed, where practicable, in workspaces where people must face each other or are unable to be 6 feet apart, such as student service counters and cash registers.

Flow of movement: The movement of people must be minimized throughout indoor spaces. Stairwells should be designated as one way, and stairs should be used in place of elevators when possible. The Office of Planning, Design and Real Estate on the Pittsburgh campus and Facilities Management on the regional campuses will advise and assist with decreasing density and adjusting the flow of people in buildings.

Restrooms: Shared or public restrooms will be modified to support physical distancing. Signs will be posted to remind people about avoiding forming lines at restrooms, capacity limitations and spacing requirements. Facilities Management will replace automated hand dryers with touchless paper towel dispensers.

Sign with elevator capacity limits

Elevators: Only four people are allowed in an elevator at one time, unless otherwise posted. Elevators will be clearly marked with capacity restrictions. University members are encouraged to take the stairs for travel five stories or less if they are able.


The number of people allowed to gather will be limited based on Pitt’s current Operational Posture. For instance, at the Elevated Risk level, the maximum number is 25, while at Guarded Risk it is 250. Gatherings should be held remotely when possible.

To maintain 6 feet between people, chairs and desks will be marked not for use or removed from classrooms and other shared spaces. This includes furniture in common areas such as conference rooms open to public corridors, lounges, breakrooms, lobbies and other similar space.

In classrooms, the University’s capacity analysis will determine whether there are enough seats for projected demand. In most cases, classroom capacity will be reduced by 67 to 75 percent.


  • Facilities Management and Auxiliary Services staff members will conduct operational pre-return inspections, including of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, to confirm that all building systems are operating and maintained properly and proper signage and hand sanitizing stations are in place. Owners of buildings where Pitt leases space have confirmed they will follow University Standards and Guidelines for building readiness.

  • University members are responsible for cleaning/disinfecting high-touch surfaces in their assigned work areas and shared spaces, such as break rooms and lunch areas, before and after use. Additionally, students and employees should disinfect individual work surfaces including desks and chairs before use.

  • High-touch surfaces (e.g., desks, doorknobs, keyboards, elevator buttons, railings) and common areas must be disinfected and sanitized multiple times per day.

  • Cleaning products designated by the federal EPA for use against COVID-19 must be used. Wipe dispensers with the appropriate disinfectants will be located in all educational spaces (classrooms, teaching labs, computer labs, etc.). Departments must make EPA-approved cleaning products available to their employees for use in their spaces on campus.

  • Facilities Management and Auxiliary Services will deep clean and sanitize University spaces following a thorough process approved by Pitt’s Office of Environmental Health & Safety, following all CDC and Allegheny County Health Department requirements. That includes deep cleaning of all learning spaces each night and all spaces prior to the re-opening of buildings and over winter break.

  • If a person who tests positive for COVID-19 has been in a campus building during the time they may have been infectious, Environmental Health & Safety will work with the cleaning crews to identify the spaces to be closed for a 24-hour period, during which the space must be cleaned. EH&S will notify occupants when the area is cleared to reopen.

Safe mobility

Authorized travel: At the High-Risk level, no travel, including locally and to other Pitt campuses, is permitted. At Elevated Risk, travel is limited to that needed to fulfill a core job function and must be approved by senior leadership. At Guarded Risk, all travel is permitted.

Personal travel: Regardless of the Pitt’s operational oosture, University members are strongly encouraged to remain in the local region and adjacent counties of their home campus and avoid any travel until the end of in-person classes for a given academic term. Prior to returning to campus from personal travel, University members must monitor symptoms and quarantine as necessary.

For the full reports on all these issues, go to the COVID-19 Standards and Guidelines page.

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


Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.

Follow the University Times on Twitter and Facebook.