Carnegie Mellon University

COVID-19 Updates

Information and resources for the CMU community

Scotty with mask and vaccination bandaid
September 04, 2020

Guidelines for the CMU Experience This Fall

Dear Carnegie Mellon University Students:

The CMU Experience includes a rich university culture offering beloved traditions, opportunities for civic engagement, countless organizations to explore your passions and so many ways to make your mark. I am inspired by the many ways our students co-create an experience that builds community, promotes learning and personal growth, instills pride in being a Tartan, and gives back. And while this year will be unique from any other in CMU’s history, our commitment to curating a meaningful student experience is unwavering.

Our Tartan experience this year is quite different from the norm. Many students have elected to study remotely this year, and those students opting for an in-person experience have found many changes to our physical campus. We are committed to creating a welcoming student experience that aligns with our hybrid model of education and offers options to all students, regardless of physical location. I want to assure you that all students will have access to a robust set of experiences to complement your studies, no matter where you are located.

Over the summer I charged a Student Engagement Working Group led by associate deans Tera Monroe and Liz Vaughan to develop a set of detailed guidelines for the student experience this fall. The working group included representation from student government, Student Affairs (including the Cohon Center, Community Health and Well-Being, Residential Education, and the Office of Student Leadership, Involvement, and Civic Engagement), University Libraries, academic leadership, Enterprise Risk Management and experts from our facilities management teams. The group’s collective recommendations were reviewed and adopted by COVID Coordinator Daryl Weinert and the University Leadership Council.

As we begin the semester, I write to share highlights of these expectations and other services that will be available to you. With your health and safety as our top priority, many of your involvement opportunities will continue to be virtual, leveraging a variety of platforms and our collective creativity to build community in new ways. In-person experiences will also be available, albeit in a modified fashion.

  • Student organizations and academic departmental student groups will be eligible to hold approved in-person activities beginning on September 21. In order to support training for organization leaders and provide time for the required approval processes, we have placed a moratorium on any in-person activities until September 21. This applies to on-campus and off-campus activities. Approval to host events will follow a structured review and advising process to support appropriate mitigation strategies consistent with the return to campus plans submitted by all academic and administrative departments across campus.
  • We have developed trainings and resource guides, with a special focus on virtual engagement, which will assist student organization leadership as you develop plans to accomplish your mission in the semester ahead. To help us better understand the potential plans of our student organizations for the fall semester, each student organization and department-based student group should complete a brief survey by September 10. This information will help us refine our organization advising, support and resources to best meet the needs of our student groups.
  • Our flagship student engagement event, THE FAIR, has moved to a virtual format to allow students to safely explore the range and diversity of CMU’s student organizations, Greek Life and religious and spiritual groups. 
  • All groups and organizations must appoint two Student Pandemic Safety Ambassadors (SPSAs). Safety Ambassadors will complete training that aligns with A Tartan’s Responsibility to ensure accountability and protect the health and well-being of our community.
  • All volunteer activities this fall will take place either virtually or, if they are approved in-person opportunities, will be held on campus. Those of you studying remotely will be able to access volunteer opportunities. The SLICE website shares many virtual engagement and volunteer opportunities being offered by community partners. Additionally, throughout the semester a broad range of civic engagement experiences including voter engagement opportunities, educational programs on social issues and discussions with non-profit partners will be available virtually.
  • CMU’s Group X Fitness classes will continue to be available on demand (including virtual offerings), and our campus recreation facilities have reopened with limitations and restrictions. Procedures for using on-campus facilities are available on the Athletics website.
  • The university is creating “touchdown spaces” where students can spend time between classes. These spaces are identified with signage across campus.
  • University Libraries personnel are available during operating hours via phone, email or chat to offer remote assistance to students. All visitors who intend to study in Hunt and Sorrells libraries must reserve their seat ahead of their visit. Protocols for visiting the library in person, as well as hours of operation, are detailed on the library website.

Detailed guidance for in-person activities and spaces is available on the COVID-19 website, and student organizations may find health and safety guidelines, information on planning for fall and training resources on the SLICE COVID-19 webpage.


It is rewarding to see our community come alive again with your energy and passion igniting the CMU experience — here in Pittsburgh and around the globe. I am grateful to your student government leaders and our Student Affairs staff who have devoted countless hours this summer developing innovative ways to foster your intellectual and social growth while preserving the health and well-being of our community. I am confident in our preparations and know that you will embark upon this year the way Tartans always do: with creativity, curiosity and a spirit of collaboration. Wishing you all a safe and healthy semester.


Gina Casalegno, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students