As of today, most Pitt buildings will be off limits


As at 5 p.m. today, Pitt faculty, staff and students will no longer have access to all libraries, recreational facilities, computer labs, study areas and group spaces on all campuses that have been available through this first week of social distancing in response to the coronavirus COVID-19, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a letter to the Pitt community on March 18.

As a result of Chancellor Gallagher’s directive and Pennsylvania governor’s order to further limit campus operations and cease non-essential services, University building access will be limited to those essential activities included within the scope of the governor’s order, including select research, residence halls and Pitt Police facilities effective at 5 p.m. March 20, according to a statement from the University. Information will be posted on for any member of the Pitt community who needs to request access after this time. While requests will be reviewed, the University said it is critical that we work together to eliminate non-essential campus activities to support the health and well-being of the Pitt community at this time.

For instance, the Center for Biologic Imaging posted Thursday on Twitter that, “As instructed by the Chancellor the CBI will shut down at noon tomorrow (March 20th). All microscopes will be out of service (keys removed) and there will be no access to any part of the Center until further notice.

All University Library System locations closed for in-person business on March 19. Access to the physical collection is now restricted to items that can be scanned by on-site staff and delivered electronically. The ULS has a variety of online resources for research and teaching.

The MyHealth@Work clinic, a free service for faculty and staff, in the Medical Arts Building, 3708 Fifth Ave., will remain open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, but if you believe you have symptoms indicative of COVID-19, or if you believe you have had close contact with someone that has COVID-19, call 412-647-4949 prior to coming to the clinic.

For those who want to pick up items left behind in their offices, such as files or plants, it probably is wise to do that now.  

At the Senate Council meeting on Thursday, Kenny Doty, head of Online Learning & Technology Services at the Swanson School of Engineering, said, “We had a lot of faculty members who thought they could come in and teach from their normal classrooms. And we told them, that's just not a good idea to plan for.”

This presents the most challenges for those involved in on-campus research. In a letter to the research community, Rob Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for Research, Provost Ann Cudd; and Arthur Levine, senior vice chancellor for Health Sciences, said that, “With the exception of research related to COVID-19, minimal access to laboratories will be maintained so that critical activities, such as maintaining animals, unique reagents, or essential equipment and materials, can continue.

Essential activities include but are not limited to:

  • Work for which a stop or delay could cause harm to human subject well-being or maintaining animal populations.

  • Work whose suspension would cause a critical loss of unique or irreplaceable materials or data.

  • Management of equipment, instruments, or research infrastructure where lack of maintenance could create damage or endanger safety.

The letter said that those research activities that can be carried out remotely (planning, writing, literature review, remote data collection, data analysis, remote meetings, etc.) should continue during this time.

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


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