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Pittsburgh Universities Move To Online Instruction As A COVID-19 Precaution

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
A panther statue on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland wears a mask on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. The school, along with others in Pittsburgh, announced they'd switch to online courses in the coming weeks.

On Wednesday, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of PittsburghDuquesne 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.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community. kblackley@wesa.fm
Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.