Pitt to Promote Safety and Excellence Amid Presence of Virus

A person with a backpack walks in front of windowsThe University of Pittsburgh’s approach to operational planning amid the pandemic preserves commitments to its mission of teaching, research and service while helping to control the spread of COVID-19 and adapt to its ongoing presence.

In a May 29 message sent to the Pitt community, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher provided more information about the University’s planning process, the priorities and what to expect in the coming weeks.

“Since COVID-19 will be part of our lives for the foreseeable future, the end of the crisis phase isn’t defined by the end of the virus, but rather by our ability to adapt to its ongoing presence in our operations,” Gallagher said. “This means that we are not currently developing an emergency plan, but rather a plan to integrate a risk management program for the pandemic into all of our activities.”

Planning process and timeline

This communication follows his May 1 message that summarized Pitt’s planning process and timeline.

Early June: identify specific strategies to respond to possible scenarios and offer guidance so that faculty and staff can prepare for the year ahead.

Early July: communicate explicit guidance with students and their families so that they can begin to make plans for the fall.

Throughout summer: continue to adjust and fine-tune our plans and update our communication to reflect the latest information, current status of the pandemic and public health guidance.

Planning priorities

Gallagher also outlined the eight key factors covered in the plan, which include:

  • Infection prevention and control efforts
  • Operating postures and standardized responses
  • Universal approach to infection prevention and control
  • Tailored approaches in each activity area (i.e., instruction, research, housing, food services, etc.)
  • Individual accommodations
  • Posture-independent options
  • Separate planning by activity areas
  • Flexibility and innovation

“This approach of replacing a ‘crisis’ with a ‘modified normal’ will be complex. Each of us will be asked to learn some new skills and practice new behaviors. But we can be a safe place—and a responsible player in the global public health effort—while advancing teaching, research and service,” Gallagher stated. “And, while many once-familiar features of working or studying at Pitt will change, the most important parts will remain. In fact, I am confident that our plan will allow us to be the very best university we can be, even in the presence of the novel coronavirus.”