The COVID-19 Medical Response Office said it won’t release more travel guidance to students about the start of the spring semester until at least Jan. 4, according to a Thursday afternoon email.
The email said the University will give students at least two weeks notice before residence halls open to allow for a “phased arrival,” similar to the fall semester. But regardless of where students are located, the first day of classes will remain Tuesday, Jan. 19.
The CMRO said even though the spring term will be “volatile,” the [email protected] model was built to withstand worsening virus conditions. Pitt added 20 new COVID-19 cases, composed of 10 students and 10 employees, between last Thursday and Monday, with 10 students currently in isolation. Allegheny County reported 1,166 new COVID-19 cases Thursday for only the second time in the course of the pandemic amid a record number of deaths statewide attributed to the coronavirus.
“We learned a lot during the fall term, but we cannot rely on what we did this fall to work in these rapidly changing virus conditions. COVID-19 is widespread and much more challenging than it was when the fall term began,” the CMRO said. “We are very attentive to the processes we have in place and will adhere to public health guidance as we head into a difficult start to the spring term.”
The CMRO urged students to allow for flexibility in their travel plans because they will be required to follow county and state restrictions when arriving on campus in the spring. This includes providing a negative test result or quarantining for 14 days for non-Pennsylvania residents and sheltering-in-place for a period of time.
“As there may be requirements you must meet both before and after you travel, we ask that you stay as flexible as possible with your travel plans,” the CMRO said.
The CMRO will send updates to students twice a week, beginning Jan. 5, with more guidance.