The Next Phase of Pandemic Planning
Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon University Community:
I wrote to you back in late February communicating our expectation that CMU employees who have been working partially or completely remotely would continue in that mode through at least June 30, 2021. I write today with high-level updates about Carnegie Mellon’s plans for the next phase in our return to in-person operations. As always, flexibility and adherence to public health recommendations continue to be the guideposts for our planning.
As Provost Garrett mentioned in his message March 12, CMU is optimistic about resuming operations to support as many in-person experiences as possible, both inside and outside the classroom. We envision a return to in-person learning for most of our courses, the standard residential experience for students, as well as increased availability of on-campus opportunities for organizations and recreation. Thus, this plan necessitates bringing more of our staff back to campus. Currently, approximately 35% of our staff are working in-person to some degree on campus. Beginning in July and August, CMU will begin transitioning many more of our employees and research community back on campus in some capacity by the end of summer.
CMU leadership will be coordinating with units across the university to share guidelines for this transition period. Unlike our planning during the summer of 2020, where units and research labs submitted detailed plans centrally for review and approval, this summer units will be responsible for adhering to high-level guidelines in their planning while directly addressing the specific business needs of their departments. Depending upon the programs and services delivered, units may be bringing more or fewer employees back to campus or may employ staggered work schedules or other approaches during this period. Units will be communicating planning details for their organizations directly to employees over the coming weeks, including providing guidance to faculty for how they should approach the expansion of research activities in their laboratories and office suites for students and post-docs. However, the overall goal is to have far more in-person programs and services in place by the fall. For the longer term, building on experiences we’ve had and the lessons we’ve learned over this past year, Human Resources is evaluating possible adjustments to CMU’s policies on remote work and flexible work arrangements and will be communicating those as they are decided.
This next phase of the return to campus is possible due to the increased availability of COVID-19 vaccinations. The university has been working to secure appointments for our community members, and we will continue to communicate details for these opportunities as they are available.
We are always monitoring the spread and impact of the virus in our region. Allegheny County is currently experiencing a surge in positive cases, including variants of the virus. While we are optimistically planning for this fall, we need to remain vigilant as COVID-19 still presents a threat to our community.
The steps we can all take to mitigate the spread remain crucial: always wear facial coverings when you are with people from outside your household; wash hands frequently; maintain physical distance from others; complete your daily self-assessment; and if you’re going to be on campus, be sure to participate in Tartan Testing. Thank you.
Chief of Staff, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives
CMU COVID-19 Coordinator