March 11, 2020
Dear Members of the CMU Community:
The impact of COVID-19 has put Carnegie Mellon in the situation of needing to take unprecedented steps to balance our educational mission with the duty to protect the health and well-being of our entire community. While there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 at any of our CMU locations or in Pittsburgh, we feel that our best chance at limiting the spread of this virus is to implement new policies based on social distancing strategies that health experts recommend.
Remote Instruction: Beginning next week and until further notice, all CMU graduate and undergraduate programs on the Pittsburgh campus will move to remote, virtual or alternative teaching and assessment. Our Silicon Valley and Qatar campuses have already transitioned to online instruction, and we are working with all global locations to help them make the appropriate determination for their campuses.
For the Pittsburgh campus, we are cancelling classes on Monday and Tuesday (March 16-17) to allow faculty, staff and TAs time to finalize their preparations. Alternative teaching methods will then begin on Wednesday, March 18. This situation is rapidly evolving, but the Carnegie Mellon community should plan for remote teaching and learning to continue through the end of the semester. We will provide ample notice if and when in-person instruction can resume this academic year.
Students will soon receive information from their departments or instructors on how to access their classes, faculty and teaching support. In addition, Provost Jim Garrett and Marsha Lovett, director of the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation, will be following up with faculty and instructors to share additional information and to support teaching plans.
Housing and Dining: Students who wish to remain away from campus are encouraged to do so and will have access to, and support for, their courses; however, for those who are unable to go home, we will accommodate you and housing and dining services will be available. Further guidance is forthcoming.
Campus Operations and Events: Our current plan is for the university to remain operational, including research in labs and facilities. Additional guidance on research activities will follow in the coming days. Furthermore, we will practice social distancing as a strategy as much as is practicable to further mitigate the risk to our community. We strongly urge you to cancel or postpone all CMU events, whether on- or off-campus, that involve more than 25 people and refrain from planning future gatherings until further notice. This will affect campus life considerably, and we will communicate specific guidance on these matters in the coming weeks, including decisions on Carnival and Commencement.
As we move to remote instruction, we appreciate and are currently assessing the impact on staff and student employees, including potential arrangements for working remotely. Human Resources will be sharing official guidelines for staff in the coming days, and we ask that you stay tuned to these communications.
Domestic Travel: Finally, in addition to previously announced restrictions on international travel, we are also suspending all U.S.-based domestic travel for university business until further notice. We continue to work with our international campuses on the appropriate travel restrictions for their regions.
To our students, I recognize this is a disheartening step to have to take, and the decision to depart from the in-person educational and residential experience that we value so highly was not made lightly. I am especially sensitive to the disappointment our graduating students may be feeling as you lament the loss of the campus experience during your last semester at CMU. We recognize this impact and we feel your sadness as well.
I want to express my appreciation to the people who have been working diligently to prepare for this transition, including countless faculty, staff and student leaders. The coming days and weeks will undoubtedly bring questions and uncertainties that we need to resolve together. University leadership is working quickly and thoughtfully to plan for the impacts these decisions will have, and they will communicate additional guidance in the coming days. You can also continue to refer to our CMU-Alert webpage for updated information.
I ask every member of this global community to join me in facing these unprecedented challenges with equal parts patience and cooperation. By doing so, we can demonstrate to the world our exceptional innovation and collaboration, which are both the qualities that this moment demands and the values that have always defined the Carnegie Mellon University community.
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair