On Wednesday, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Chatham University, and Robert Morris University announced they are switching all classes to online instruction as the schools prepare for a possible spread of COVID-19.
For CMU and Duquesne the new format begins Wednesday, March 18. Classes are canceled at both universities on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 to allow instructors to prepare. Robert Morris will begin online classes on March 16, and Chatham on March 17. Pitt extended its spring break until March 23, when online classes will begin.
Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said the decision wasn’t easy, but in light of the virus’ recent spread, it was the right decision.
“A university is a socially intensive environment,” Gallagher told reporters in the mostly empty Cathedral of Learning Wednesday afternoon. “It’s, in many respects, a cruise ship without the water.”
International students who cannot return to their home country will be permitted to stay on campus, and have access to residential facilities as normal, Gallagher said. For college seniors preparing for graduation or others who need financial assistance, the school will accommodate students on a case-by-case basis.
“Students didn’t come to Pitt because they wanted to take online classes,” Gallagher said. “This is not ideal. This is a balancing act between trying to maintain our mission so our students can make progress, to a degree, while we take these steps to, in essence, have a large-scale social distancing.”
Duquesne University said its administration, “will confirm with clinical sites that any healthcare learners (students, residents, fellows) working in a clinical environment will not be involved in direct care of any suspected or confirmed case of novel coronavirus.”
In a release Duquesne said the suspension of in-person instruction will continue until March 31. Though if necessarily, the policy may be extended.
Carnegie Mellon University stated that students, staff and faculty 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.”
Residence halls and dining facilities at all schools remain open.