Move to Guarded Risk comes with several caveats


Four of Pitt’s five campuses are now operating at the Guarded Risk Posture, with Johnstown the remaining holdout at Elevated Risk.

The number of cases on the Oakland campus have been relatively low since students began returning to Oakland residence halls on Jan. 29. As of March 9, there have been 94 students test positive since the beginning of the semester; 19 remain in isolation. Six new cases were reported among Pitt employees this week.

The Johnstown campus has had 23 student cases since Jan. 29, while Bradford has had only three and there have been none at Greensburg or Titusville. The Pittsburgh, Bradford and Titusville campuses all moved to Guarded Risk on March 11. Greensburg moved to Guarded Risk on Feb. 22.

A message from Student Affairs last week warned students to celebrate small with their pod or roommates this St. Patrick’s Day. It pointed to the spike in COVID-19 cases after Halloween weekend last year.

This decision to move to Guarded status, which is based on the recommendations of the Emergency Operations Center and the Healthcare Advisory Group, is dependent on continued low, stable case numbers and strong compliance with health and safety rules next week.

Guarded Risk allows for most instruction to be in person, except large lectures, and most activities can be in person with virtual options and limited restrictions.

The CDC on March 8 said that people who are vaccinated could once again gather in small groups at home without masks or social distance, but a reminder from Pitt on March 10 said not here.

“Pitt community members who are fully vaccinated at this time are not permitted to have unmasked gatherings with other fully vaccinated people — or to visit with other unvaccinated people who are low-risk — anywhere on a Pitt campus,” the announcement said. “The University’s policies are not changing as a result of these interim CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated people. We will continue to monitor interim public health recommendations and update the Pitt community.”

Staff are still encouraged to work from home whenever possible, according to David DeJong, senior vice chancellor for Business and Operations. “Due to the increase in permitted activities on campus, there is the potential for more on-campus work in the Guarded posture,” he said. “However, we did not see a significant increase in on-campus work when we shifted to Guarded last fall.”  

Many requirements remain in place in Guarded Risk posture, including:

  • Wearing face coverings, indoors and out, with very few exceptions.

  • Maintaining a proper physical distance of 6 feet or more from others.  

  • Washing or sanitizing hands frequently

  • Minimizing the number of close contacts outside of roommates, pods and households.

Other pandemic-related updates:

  • Pitt–Greensburg will allow spectators for 2021 spring outdoor sporting events. Spectators are limited to student-athlete's immediate family members and on-campus students, faculty and staff members. Find more details here.

  • During the period of Feb. 1 to 28, 101 questions and concerns related to COVID-19 were submitted through the Pitt COVID Concern Connection tool. This confidential resource can also be used via phone (800-468-5768) or text (412-903-3456). The majority of questions and concerns received were about access to the vaccine, wearing face coverings on campus and in indoor spaces, and parties and gatherings being held on and off campus. There was an increase in reports about people not masking properly indoors on campus.

  • The latest stimulus plan, which passed the House on March 9, contains nearly $40 billion for higher education. No word yet on how much Pitt will receive. The formula for determining how much each school receives is based on the relative share of students receiving federal Pell Grants a college enrolls. The bill, which President Biden was expected to sign March 11, also includes adult dependents for the first time, which means college students who are claimed by someone else on their taxes will be eligible for the $1,400 in direct payments. The payment will go to the taxpayer.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 724-244-4042.


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