By SUSAN JONES
Pitt’s Oakland campus is moving back to Elevated Risk status as of midnight Sunday, Nov. 8, after a jump in student cases following Halloween weekend.
On Nov. 6, the COVID-19 Medical Response Office reported 32 new student cases since Nov. 3. That number had risen to 61 by Nov. 8. There were 52 students in isolation as of Nov. 6. In addition, there were two new cases among Pitt employees who had been on campus in the past seven day. The last three biweekly reports had shown new cases ranging from 11 to 17.
In a message Nov. 7 from Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner said the increase in cases “is not good. We suspect that the recent increase in positive cases on our campus is related, at least in part, to behavior during the Halloween weekend, when some students hosted or attended parties in which individuals did not physically distance or wear face coverings. If this suspicion is correct, we expect the number of positive cases will continue to rise, although, of course, we hope that it will not.”
The Oakland campus moved from the Elevated Risk to Guarded Risk on Oct. 19. This allowed for more in-person classes and student activities, although the number of in-person classes is still fairly low.
With the move back to Elevated, campus dining will be available via takeout only beginning with breakfast service on Nov. 9. Residence hall lounges, recreation rooms and kitchens will be closed.
The shelter-in-place period, which was supposed to start on Nov. 12, also will commence tonight. The idea is to make sure students are not infected before they go home after classes end on Nov. 20. Most students will leave before Thanksgiving and not return to campus until mid-January. Finals will take place online the week of Nov. 30.
In a message sent to students Oct. 26, the medical response office said sheltering in place means limiting “close contacts and extracurricular activities in order to lower the risk of exposure to the virus.”
During the shelter-in-place period, students should only leave their rooms or apartments to attend classes, labs or clinicals in person; pick up food; exercise safely; study in the library; work when necessary; and shop for essentials and medical needs. Group work for classes and student activities should be held virtually.
“It is critically important that you think about how you will travel home safely,” the medical response office said. “Because everyone has had a unique experience this term, we will be rolling out a chatbot tool next week to help you shelter-in-place properly, depending on whether you’ve had COVID-19 already, been a close contact of someone who’s tested positive, have vulnerable people in your family, and other important considerations.”
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at email@example.com or 724-244-4042.
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