Pitt to Reopen for Fall Semester with Altered Schedule

Students at the largest university in western Pennsylvania learned they can return to campus for the fall, but plans for university operations are still developing.


The University of Pittsburgh will officially reopen for the fall semester with online classes beginning Aug. 19 and in-person instruction beginning Aug, 24.

Instead of returning to campus after the Thanksgiving holiday, students will finish the semester remotely, which ends Dec. 5. The university removed the Sept. 7 Labor Day holiday from the academic calendar.

According to The Pitt News, incoming freshmen received an “inadvertent” email from university Provost Ann Cudd on Monday afternoon. Other administrators sent out emails Monday evening with more information, but faculty and staff expressed frustration at the misstep.

“While beginning the semester early was always an option, we were not informed that a decision was made,” Chris Bonneau, president of the University Senate, told the Pitt News on Monday. “I hope this was just an oversight and not an indication of reduced faculty involvement in the plans for next year.”

Other schools, such as the University of Notre Dame, will pursue this model for fall 2020 to minimize the risk of sending students home and then back to campus. This came in response to predictions from health officials of a possible second wave of coronavirus infections in the United States occurring later in the year.

But not all schools are as optimistic. California State University, the largest chain of public universities in the United States, announced on May 12 that students cannot take on-campus classes at any of its 23 sites.

Though exact plans for sanitation and related protocol at Pitt are still developing, other information in the announcements relates to how students will have the option to attend a class remotely or in-person. The plan, called Flex@Pitt, will be finalized in the upcoming weeks.

“So that we can maximize this new model, classrooms will be upgraded with technology to optimize course delivery,” Cudd said in her email. “I believe that this model will allow us to respond with flexibility and with innovative, accessible approaches as we navigate this new terrain while continuing to deliver academic excellence.”

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher assured that on-campus housing will operate this fall, but the administration is still working on how to “de-densify” these spaces. Pitt will apply the same logic to other campus facilities, like classrooms and recreation centers, when deciding whether students can use a space this semester.

Plans for the spring semester have not been released.

Categories: The 412