Updated Guidance for Students in CMU University Housing
Dear Students in University-Managed Residence Halls, Apartments and Fraternity/Sorority Housing:
We have received questions from many students and family members in response to the message I sent to you yesterday regarding COVID-19 response and its impact on university housing. Based on those inquiries, I am providing some additional guidance and clarifications below.
Decision-Making about Where to Live
Although the university has clearly communicated that all undergraduates living in university housing are strongly encouraged to complete the semester remotely if they have any ability to do so, I have heard from some students who have indicated that they are weighing their various options and have not yet decided whether to return to campus or live elsewhere. If you are considering the same, I want to ensure that you clearly understand that the community health situation in Pittsburgh is rapidly-evolving.
As of this writing, there are now two confirmed COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County. Last evening, the City of Pittsburgh declared a state of emergency that entails significantly restricting public gatherings, closing all K-12 schools for the next two weeks, and limiting access to some public resources. Details about that action can be found here.
In light of these developments, I strongly urge any residential student who has the ability to be living elsewhere with family or friends to enact plans to do so. We are committed to housing students who have no other option for the remainder of the semester. Given the rapidly-changing and unpredictable circumstances in our region, we need to prioritize supporting these students. For those of you who have options to consider, electing to finish the semester remotely will ensure we are able to support those who need us most.
We have received a number of questions regarding what we are doing to help protect the well-being of students, parents and family members during the move-out process. As detailed in yesterday’s message, the university expects that students who have visited specific cities and regions identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Allegheny County Health Department are not to return to campus, even if it is just to move out, unless they go through a 14-day self-isolation period at an off-campus location. To be clear, the same expectation applies to parents, family members or friends from those cities or regions who might wish to assist with a student’s move-out process. We have found such individuals to be very understanding and compliant with this expectation.
Dorm Room Movers has added some availability dates to assist with student storage needs. Please refer to the housing FAQs for updates. That said, the company has been also been overwhelmed with requests for service from many area colleges and universities. Some additional local third-party storage options include Compass Self-Storage, Guardian Storage, and Beyond Self Storage.
Also, a reminder that any student who needs to identify another individual (proxy) to go into their room and collect their belongings can do so by sending an email from their Andrew account to their Housefellow with a request to designate a proxy, including that person’s name and contact information. The designated proxy will then need to contact the Housefellow prior to their arrival on campus to schedule an appointment to meet to access the room.
To clarify how we will operationalize housing charges and prorated refunds*:
Students who need to live here for part or all of the remaining semester will be charged as usual, with a refund* prorated to the effective date that move-out occurred.
Any student who is NOT currently living here and will ONLY be returning to campus to retrieve their belongings MUST provide us that information through the COVID-19 Housing Plans Form. Once move-out has eventually occurred and we have confirmed that the student was not living here, a refund* will be provided, prorated to the effective date of March 16, 2020.
While the latter approach is being provided in deference to the fact that some students either cannot travel to campus due to travel restrictions or have been instructed not to return to campus based on community health guidance, I strongly implore those who do have the ability to come to campus to move out to please do so as soon as possible, particularly in light of the aforementioned rapidly-evolving community health situation in Pittsburgh.
We are still working with Enrollment Services to finalize the process to issue individual students’ pro-rated refunds and are unable to answer questions about that at this time. Our primary focus at present is assisting residents in moving out of the residence halls and ensuring that we know that all students have a place to live, here or elsewhere. As soon as we have an update about the refund process, we will communicate with residents who have confirmed they are finishing the semester remotely.
Some students who will be completing their semester in Pittsburgh have expressed some understandable questions and concerns about how the room reassignment process will work if we must deploy that strategy. Unfortunately we cannot provide details about that process yet as it is completely contingent on the number of students who need to live here for the remainder of the semester, and which buildings those students live in. I ask students who are wondering about this matter to be patient; it will be some time before we would proceed. In the interim, let me reassure you that any reassignments that may occur will be done in a thoughtful manner that enhances personal safety, maintains effective social distancing, and accounts for student needs. That is all the information we are able to provide on this topic at the present time.
Finally, I want to remind you that all residential students are required to complete the COVID-19 Housing Plans Form as soon as possible. As of this writing, approximately 50% of all residential students have done so. If you have not, please help support our planning efforts by completing the form.
Thank you for being understanding as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters. Our teams in Residential Education and Housing Services are here to assist and support you to the best of our ability, so again, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Associate Vice President of Student Affairs for Community Life
*A reminder from March 13 email: Students currently living in university housing and/or are enrolled in a university dining plan who move-out of housing or do not return to campus will have their housing and dining charges prorated. Specific details about these adjustments are forthcoming, including any applicable financial aid impacts