July 2020 Faculty Assembly Meeting Follow-Up Questions & Comments

Will there be special considerations made for faculty who have higher risk of occupational COVID exposure due to clinical proximity (e.g., health sciences)?

Individual schools will complete an Activity Area Plan to address their unique needs. As the health sciences or others who may have faculty at higher risk of exposure complete their plans, these types of issues should be addressed.

If faculty commute from a different county or state, how will different public health orders in those jurisdictions affect their responsibilities on Pitt campus? (Addressed: Case by case, but likely requires top-down clarification)

Regardless of the University’s operational posture, if a University member travels outside of the local region and adjacent counties, or engages in higher-risk activities like visiting crowded places where maintaining physical distancing is difficult or attending large social gatherings, quarantine for up to 14 days prior to returning to on-campus work is strongly recommended in order to monitor their health for COVID-like symptoms.

Individuals should also follow all current guidance from public health authorities including the CDC, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and their local county health department. Additionally, anyone who experience COVID-like symptoms should refer to guidance for symptomatic individuals.

How can the impact on class schedules be minimal if the number of seats available is 1/6th of normal capacity?

The capacity of each room varies by set-up, but will be restricted to ensure physical distancing is maintained. While very large classes may be entirely remote, it is expected that in guarded risk posture classes with less than 60 students will be able to meet, but in spaces with higher capacity. Classes with more than 60 students but below the very large threshold will likely operate in a cohort model, where a subsection of students is scheduled to be physically present in the room on a rotating basis.

Will classrooms be properly ventilated? (Addressed: Yes) What about non-Pitt buildings? (Unclear)

Yes, ventilation is specifically addressed in the Shared Spaces Standards and Guidelines. Leased space owners/landlords are required to meet all applicable indoor air quality code. Real Estate will inspect leased spaces before they re-open. Spaces that do not meet the air quality standards will not be used (e.g., Twentieth Century Club was deemed not usable for this reason). 

How can we ensure that volunteers who act in the place of remote faculty are not being coerced/forced? What is being done to ensure safety of those volunteers?

Following the Healthcare Advisory Group’s guidance, the University is putting measures in place to ensure Pitt classrooms are as safe as possible. Any person present in a classroom, whether student, faculty member or facilitator, will be required to maintain physical distancing and wear a face covering, and to follow other guidelines like staying home when sick, frequently washing hands and complying with the University’s Health Standards and Guidelines.

In addition, the Provost has suggested team teaching with other faculty who do not have a personal circumstance that puts them at high risk, or working with a teaching assistant, undergraduate teaching assistant or staff member who does not have a personal circumstance that puts them at high risk to help mediate or facilitate the interactions in the classroom. While such team teaching could enhance the experience for students, it is not required by the Flex@Pitt model.

Does the decision to teach remotely require approval? From whom?

Each Dean/Regional President, or their designee, will ensure that courses meet teaching standards and provide a dynamic, in-class experience for students. Generally speaking, however, while in-person instruction is encouraged, faculty members will be able to teach remotely under the Flex@Pitt model if they feel it is in the best interest of their health and safety.

Will the hybrid teaching guidelines differ for graduate/undergraduate instruction?

Specific guidelines will be determined by individual schools and programs to meet their unique needs while following the University-wide requirements.

What are the parking options for those who do not want to take public transportation?

Addressed: Watch for updates at the Parking Services website.

How will contact tracing work? How will COVID testing work? How will PPE enforcement work?

The Healthcare Advisory Group is preparing a comprehensive virus monitoring program which will address contract tracing, testing and other requirements. The COVID-19 Medical Response Office has been established to implement the HCAG plans. A policy and implementation committee including Pitt experts who study and model data related to behavior, health and decision making and a sub-committee of the Resilience Steering Committee are looking at compliance issues, and such measures as a Community Compact written by student leaders and a social norming campaign are in development.

How do you explain the University moving from a more restrictive (emergency) status to less restrictive (elevated) posture at a time when cases are rising?

The emergency operating status was not designed for prolonged use and not address how we would operate and manage the University through the pandemic. The Commonwealth’s red, yellow, green statuses complicated things further by seeming to suggest that more activity was permitted at a time when we were still working out how much activity we could safely manage on our campuses. The operational postures of the Resilience Framework clarify who is permitted on campus and allows us to react to changing conditions. The Elevated Risk Posture is more restrictive than the current Allegheny County Green Phase and provides University leaders the guidance they need to ensure the appropriate health and safety measures are in place.