The news about the coronavirus COVID-19 and how it’s impacting operations at Pitt has been constantly changing this week. It’s hard to keep up with all the notices and websites giving University employees new guidance.
Below is a rundown of the latest, with links to more detailed information. The Public Safety website on COVID-19 remains the best place to check for the most recent updates:
Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced on Tuesday that all of this spring’s commencement ceremonies and activities, including those at Pitt’s regional campuses, have been postponed. Undergraduate commencement had been scheduled for April 26. In-person ceremonies will be re-scheduled at a later date. The chancellor’s message assured graduates that they would receive enough notice that they and their families could return to campus for the celebration.
Dependent Care and Parking Flexible Spending Accounts
The Benefits Department is temporarily allowing the suspension of Dependent Care and Parking Flexible Spending Accounts effective April 1, 2020 due to closures caused by COVID-19. If you would like to temporarily suspend your elections for one or both of these particular FSAs, you must submit a status change form detailing that you are unable to use the funds due to closures related to COVID-19, as well as submit the appropriate benefits election form that should display a $0 (zero dollar) value for the appropriate FSA in which you would like to suspend. Questions about Dependent Care or Parking FSAs should be directed to the Benefits Department.
Parking on campus
Parking Services is trying to make campus parking available to as many faculty and staff members as possible who are required to work onsite through the end of the spring semester. To request parking for this time period, email email@example.com and provide your:
- Employee ID
- Confirmation of your Essential Onsite status
- Vehicle make, model and color
- Preferred parking location through April 26,
- Contact information
Graduate students and Postdocs conducting essential research onsite can also file a parking request during this period by filling out this request form. Find more details on the Parking Services website.
Child Development Center
Pitt has decided to close the University Child Development Center until further notice, according to an announcement from director Mary Beth McCulloch.
The University Library System has announced that patrons do not need to return materials to the library at this time. All fines and due dates are currently suspended. The ULS also has a list of resources for accessing library materials online and for teaching online.
The PantherExpress travel management office has issued guidance that all Pitt-related travel is currently presumed non-essential. No travel should be booked for any future date at this time and there is not a date established as to when this prohibition will end.
Pitt IT earlier this week issued a warning about scammers who might take advantage of health scares to distribute phishing scams. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spawn dozens of such campaigns, scaring recipients into clicking on harmful links or attachments in emails, text messages or social media posts,” the warning said.
COVID-19 scams take many forms, including:
Fabricated notices from health organizations (e.g., the CDC or local/state health departments)
Fake updates from an employer about policies or procedures to address the risk
Phony websites containing maps and dashboards
Information about protecting yourself, your children or your community that contains malicious links or attachments
Charitable appeals to help victims of the virus, which are not legitimate
If you suspect a message may be a phishing scam, please report it by forwarding the email message as an attachment (or reporting a text or social media post) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other sources of information
Staff and faculty are encouraged to sign up for emergency notification alerts. The University’s Emergency Notification Service will be used to communicate through voice, text and email messages, as deemed appropriate in the event of an emergency.
The Office of Human Resources is working remotely until further notice, but can still handle HR-related inquiries during regular business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by phone at 412-624-7000, option 3, or through an online submission form. The HR website is being updated frequently.
Employees who must be on campus can express concerns with workplace safety via EH&S web form or by phone at 412-624-9505.
The Pitt IT website details resources and policies for remote working and teaching.
The Center for Teaching and Learning website also is being updated frequently with guidance and tips for teaching online.
The Pitt News continues to report on campus issues, even though its staff of students is not on campus