Building on Success, CMU Preps for Spring Semester Arrivals
By Kelly Saavedra
With strict mitigation protocols still in place from the fall semester, Carnegie Mellon University plans to continue delivering its transformational educational, instructional and research programs through both in-person and remote instruction for many of its courses this spring while remaining committed to the health and wellness of its community.
“We can be much more intentional now about adopting the innovations that we have refined and formalized from the fall,” said Provost Jim Garrett. “Our faculty have taken creativity to new heights with concrete strategies and lessons learned.”
The start of in-person instruction will be delayed by one additional week, meaning the first two weeks of classes for all students will be remote-only February 1-12. The full hybrid mode, including in-person classes, will begin on Monday, February 15. This change from the original plan is an added precaution as we begin the semester given the elevated prevalence of the virus in the Pittsburgh region. Research activities will proceed consistent with approved return-to-campus plans.
Whether you are returning to campus after the break or arriving in Pittsburgh for the first time, you’ll find all of the same protocols in place that worked to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 last fall — plus a new weekly asymptomatic testing program that can provide results to faculty, students and staff within 2-3 business days through an onsite laboratory.
“Thanks to the efforts of everyone in our community, we were able to successfully complete our fall semester by maintaining key mitigation practices like completing daily self-assessments, practicing physical distancing and wearing facial coverings,” said Weinert, Carnegie Mellon’s chief of staff and COVID-19 coordinator. “Now, as we turn our attention to the upcoming semester, it is imperative that we sustain the good behaviors and habits that heightened our safety and unlocked the privileges of in-person experiences in the face of this pandemic.”
University leaders continue to actively monitor the pandemic globally and locally and may adjust preparations and policies according to the latest information and guidance provided by government agencies.
For now, here are a few highlights of what to expect.
Arrivals. Carnegie Mellon requires a 14-day self-quarantine for all students coming from anywhere outside Southwestern Pennsylvania at the start of the semester. If students are unable to arrive two weeks before in-person instruction begins, the hybrid model of education enables them to participate in their courses remotely until their quarantine period is completed.
Winter Welcome. Winter Welcome kicks off the spring semester on January 23 and runs through February 13. These three weeks of virtual programming include events focused on well-being, community, making friends and having fun.
Wellness Kits. CMU is again providing a free wellness kit to each Pittsburgh student living on or off campus. Each wellness kit contains two branded cloth facial coverings, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, a digital thermometer and a card summarizing A Tartan’s Responsibility. Students can pick up a wellness kit during Winter Welcome events at the beginning of the spring 2021 semester.
Dining. Many on-campus dining locations will be open beginning January 23. Visit the Dining Services website for information on hours of operation and carry-out ordering options while we are in a restricted posture. The community is encouraged to use the GET Mobile ordering platform.
Fitness. The fitness facilities in the Cohon Center and the Tepper Building will be open during the spring semester with safeguards to support your health and well-being. Group X classes will be offered in-person, online and via Zoom. Class schedules can be found on the Athletics website.
Libraries. Protocols for visiting University Libraries in person, as well as hours of operation, are detailed on the library website. Library personnel are available during operating hours via phone, email or chat, to offer their assistance to students who are studying remotely.
Touchdown spaces. Touchdown spaces are available throughout campus where students can spend time between classes. These spaces are identified with signage across campus. Additional tents and outdoor spaces will be added as weather permits during the coming weeks.
Shuttle and Escort Services. Those who are interested in using Shuttle and Escort Services can view the schedule online. For the health and safety of our community, we require all passengers to wear facial coverings. Do not ride the shuttle if you have potentially been exposed to COVID-19, or if you are experiencing any symptoms. Avoid unnecessary interaction with passengers and drivers. When possible, take an earlier or later bus to avoid overcrowding during peak times.
Tartan Testing. CMU has launched a new asymptomatic testing program, including the opening of an on-campus laboratory, that enhances the way we detect and prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the CMU community. The new program will allow all asymptomatic Carnegie Mellon students, faculty and staff in the Pittsburgh area, as well as on-campus dining and custodial affiliates, to be tested once per week throughout the spring semester.
Contact Tracing. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to download both the NOVID and the COVID Alert PA apps. The NOVID app alerts you to those within your community who may have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or been a close contact of a confirmed case. The COVID Alert PA app is the official mobile app developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
A Tartan’s Responsibility. As a reminder, all members of the Tartan community are required to adhere to strict requirements to enable the Carnegie Mellon community to resume living, learning, working and interacting together. These include:
- Completing the daily self-assessment tool to track symptoms.
- Wearing facial coverings.
- Maintaining physical distancing.
- Regularly washing hands.
- Following rigorous and swift contact tracing and expectations of isolation for those who are symptomatic, test positive or have been in close contact with those who have tested positive.
“Although life as a Carnegie Mellon student is of course different living through a pandemic, I am so proud of how our students have created new ways of coming together to enrich our university culture and explore your passions,” said Gina Casalegno, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students.
“We adopted a motto of Tartans All In, Everywhere last semester," she added, "and you demonstrated that together we can maintain the privilege of an in-person experience and ensure continuity in your CMU education.”