By UNIVERSITY TIMES STAFF
Although Pitt’s regional campuses all had moved to the Guarded Risk status by Aug. 24, they each have had their own challenges to face during this most unusual year. Despite this, they also have managed to continue to build their programming.
Each of the campuses is only open to members of the Pitt community, and in-person classes started in August. But fall sports have been cancelled or postponed at all the regional campuses.
The Bradford campus has faced a “significant budget cut,” President Catherine Koverola said, with some cuts being temporary and some permanent. Nobody has been laid off, she said, but athletic competitions and travel associated with them have been suspended.
Pitt-Bradford has the advantage of being a smaller campus, and its surrounding county, McKean County, has had just 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March and only two deaths.
Campus buildings were closed over the summer but have all been de-densified and re-opened with safety and social distancing guidelines and additional safety equipment. Classrooms were outfitted to meet the needs of Flex@Pitt. At Pitt–Bradford, 64 percent of courses are either being delivered face to face or are a hybrid; 36 percent are fully remote.
Surveillance testing was conducted on 63 returning students last month and no positive cases were found.
Students are being compliant with new guidelines, wearing masks indoors and outside of the buildings, Koverola added.
In the event someone on campus is symptomatic, they are isolated and tested. A fully trained contact tracing team is deployed and anyone potentially exposed is quarantined until test results return. Additionally, dorm rooms have been designated for isolation.
Additionally, Koverola has met with community stakeholders to explain the safety procedures to assuage concerns about the influx of students returning to campus.
Other Pitt–Bradford news:
Pitt–Bradford has purchased the former St. Bernard Elementary School, a Catholic institute that closed last year, from developer Goldenwest Group LLC to accommodate future expansion and development of athletic and recreation facilities. Part or all of the existing building will be demolished sometime next year. In the short term, the property may be used for the development of a campus garden in support of the biological sciences program, the broader campus sustainability initiatives, and community food insecurity.
The TRIO Student Support Services program has received a five-year, $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The program provides students with enhanced opportunities, including individualized academic, financial and career coaching and services, to help them successfully complete their undergraduate degree.
Like the other regional campuses, Pitt–Greensburg is now operating at the Guarded Risk status, which allows for most normal operations at a decreased density to provide space for social distancing.
Campus President Robert Gregerson said that retention among upperclassmen is up over last year, but, “We had quite a number of students who decided not to move to campus but remain as students,” and a couple dozen deferred their enrollment from fall to spring. There have been no cases of COVID-19 reported on the Greensburg campus.
Students at Pitt–Greensburg have the option of taking classes in-person or online through Flex@Pitt. All classrooms have been upgraded to include digital cameras and audio capabilities to allow for both face-to-face learning and remote learning (both synchronously and asynchronously).
A room in Cassell Hall, where the computer services department is based, has been converted to a studio that faculty can schedule and use to record class sessions that can then be posted to Canvas.
Several sessions were held this summer where faculty members who are skilled at using Canvas and remote teaching shared that knowledge with other faculty. The objective was to smooth the transition from Blackboard to Canvas, as well as to further enhance the remote learning/teaching experience for both students and faculty.
Other Pitt–Greensburg news:
A new Data Analytics major is now available to Pitt–Greensburg students. This brings the total number of majors offered at the Hempfield Township campus to 30. “This is exciting for our campus,” said Victoria Causer, visiting instructor in statistics and a member of the team of faculty who designed the program. “Nearly every sector of industry collects, stores, and uses data. The new data analytics program will provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to make these data useful.” The Data Analytics major consists of core course work in information science, mathematics, and statistics that students can complete in eight semesters.
Barnes & Noble College will be managing the Campus Bookstore this year, and the space will undergo renovations over the course of the year.
The Art Show @ Pitt-Greensburg will continue as a virtual event. Submissions are in process, and the show will open on Sept. 25. Deadline for submissions is Sept. 16. Find more details here.
Pitt–Greensburg is partnering with WQED to showcase the campus in on the public television station’s broadcasts, website, and social media platforms.
At Pitt–Johnstown, all classrooms have been upgraded to include digital cameras to allow for both in-person learning and remote learning through Flex@Pitt. Students can choose to be on campus or not.
The campus moved to the Guarded Risk status in August, which allows for indoor gatherings of up to 250 people and supports classes being mostly in person.
In addition, modification of each classroom’s air exchange rates will result in less air recirculation based on room size, ceiling height, temperature and room activity.
As part of the surveillance testing, 138 asymptomatic returning students were tested in August for the coronavirus and only one tested positive. Periodic surveillance testing will continue through the semester.
The Wellness Center is open with capacity restrictions, enhanced cleaning practices and mask requirements. Additionally, exercise classes employing proper social distancing practices will be offered. Online exercise classes also are being offered.
Student Affairs arranged for a long-term tent to offer an outdoor venue for student life activities of all types, with a focus on music and entertainment. Space may be reserved for campus activities through the Campus Activities and Engagement Office.Students should frequently check calendar.pitt.edu for information on all of the activities happening on campus, both in-person and virtually.
New lawn games and outdoor sporting equipment for clubs and students are available to reserve through Campus Activities and Engagement, including KanJam, Cornhole, Ladderball, Spikeball and Pickleball.
All food in the Dining Hall is being served by a member of the Chartwells team. The number of seats in the Dining Hall is limited in order to ensure social distancing and appropriate de-densification. Students can reserve a space in the dining hall using the dining website.
All student activity fees are reduced by 20 percent and all parking fees are reduced by 50 percent.
Other Pitt–Johnstown news:
- The Engineering & Computer Science Division completed accreditation this summer with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which assures that the engineering program has met standards essential to prepare graduates to enter critical STEM fields in the global workforce.
Pitt-Titusville had a “Ringing of the Bell” ceremony on Aug. 5 to celebrate the evolution of the campus.
Traditionally, when students graduate from the campus, they ring a large bell located on the campus. But this ceremony was bittersweet as it celebrated the last day for some faculty and staff, campus President Catherine Koverola said.
A larger celebration had been planned for the launching of the Pitt-Titusville Education and Training Hub, but social distancing guidelines limited it. Additionally, extensive renovations were planned for the Hub over the summer, but have been indefinitely paused.
The Hub is a collaboration between Manchester Bidwell Corporation, the Swanson School of Engineering Manufacturing Assistance Center and Northern Pennsylvania Regional College that provides educational opportunities uniquely tailored to the region.
Construction delays slowed down the full implementation of some of the campus’ programs, Koverola said, but a “small but mighty team” is still working hard to service students. Food services are available on the campus, but residential services aren’t.
“It’s one way that the University of Pittsburgh is truly meeting the needs of rural Pennsylvania,” Koverola said. “We are going to maintain our optimism and keep working.”
Pitt–Titusville is still developing new educational opportunities, including a new culinary arts program, she said.
Koverola said Pitt–Bradford and Pitt–Titusville are special campuses with unique identities that are immensely important to their communities.
“We’re really embedded in the community,” Koverola said. “And that’s part of our commitment to being safe with regard to COVID and also with helping our community have difficult conversations. It’s all part of who we are.”