Dear Pitt Community Members:
Summer break is flying by, and—at every University of Pittsburgh campus—faculty and staff members are busily preparing for the fall term. Our planning efforts on this front are rooted in several key assumptions.
First: The coronavirus is still with us. In fact, new variants of the virus are circulating nationwide and worldwide and appear to pose an increased risk of transmission when compared to prior strains. Come fall, our campus operations will continue leveraging health-based requirements—like testing, contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine—to help us maintain a low-risk environment for all University members and campus activities. And, much like last year, we anticipate that health guidance will continue to evolve as circumstances warrant and that COVID-19 outbreaks will continue to disrupt travel—especially international travel.
Second: COVID-19 vaccinations are safe, widely available and effective. Our medical experts all agree: The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and those around you is to get vaccinated. When most of a community is vaccinated, the risk of outbreaks and serious illness due to COVID-19 infection plummets. We are strongly recommending that every member of our campus community be fully vaccinated, and our planning efforts to date assume that everyone follows this recommendation.
Third: Campus community vaccination rates will shape our approach. The degree to which our campuses will “return to normal”—i.e., are free of the many controls and requirements imposed during our last academic year—hinges on what share of students, faculty and staff follow our strong recommendation to be fully vaccinated.
On this front, every Pitt community member is responsible for modifying their behavior according to their vaccination status. Vaccinated individuals—who are generally less likely to fall seriously ill with COVID-19—will enjoy greater flexibility with regard to infection prevention and control measures. And unvaccinated individuals will continue to take precautions to help protect their own well-being as well as the well-being of our broader campus community.
Since the University does not generally know who is fully vaccinated, we have adopted the following approach: For health requirements that the University is responsible for enforcing, we will assume that everyone is unvaccinated unless an individual voluntarily provides evidence that they are fully vaccinated. Any information that an individual shares on their vaccine status is protected, and our medical staff will only use this information to determine which personal health requirements apply.
Detailed information on this approach is forthcoming. In the meantime, we have various resources available—student health services, our vaccination hotline at 412-383-4372, or MyHealth@Work to speak with a medical professional—to answer your questions about Pitt’s health programming and COVID-19 response. And, if you haven’t already done so, schedule your COVID-19 vaccination today.
I wish everyone a safe summer, and I am looking forward to seeing all of you on campus this fall.