June 2020 Updates June 2020 Updates from Point Park University President Paul Hennigan on the COVID-19 Situation
Dear University Community,
As we prepare to welcome back undergraduate and graduate students to our Downtown Pittsburgh campus in August, we’re very aware that we must all follow the health and safety protocols provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Health. In addition to social distancing and wearing face masks, we are undertaking a number of efforts to maintain a lower-than-usual number of individuals in all areas of our campus. This action is required in the Governor’s reopening and operating guidelines for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and is recommended by our University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) expert partners. Courses will be spread out over all available class time periods. Using available technology and innovations in course design, faculty are planning classes this fall that may allow fewer students to gather at any one time. Traffic on elevators and in stairways will be regulated to allow for smoother, less populated passage. In addition, we’ll limit the capacity of gathering places, such as student lounges and meeting rooms. These and a host of other measures will help make our campus in Downtown Pittsburgh a place where students can thrive.
This fall, our academic calendar will not change. Our traditional fall semester classes begin August 31, and will continue through December 14, 2020, followed by final exams. However, following the Thanksgiving break, all classes and exams will continue remotely. We are moving to remote learning for the final two weeks of classes and exams to help decrease the possibility of a resurgence of Covid-19 following the weeklong break. Our Faculty are preparing classes to ensure that all work requiring campus facilities and in-person instruction can be completed prior to the Thanksgiving break or independently thereafter. The final few sessions after Thanksgiving will be designed by faculty to maintain the high level of instruction and learning experienced throughout the semester, and final exams also will be given remotely.
Although class instruction after Thanksgiving will be remote, the University will remain open and operational on-campus. This means:
- University housing will be available for those students who wish to remain on campus. Some students remain in University housing during the Thanksgiving break, and they will be allowed to do so. Students who wish to stay in housing after the break are welcome to do so up to the usual move-out deadline for winter break – noon Sunday, December 20, 2020. Those who elect to leave University housing after the Thanksgiving break will be eligible for a pro-rated refund
- University offices will remain open. All offices and University services for students, staff and faculty will remain operational.
- University computer labs and media services will remain open. Students who wish to use the computer labs may do so, and media services will continue to provide equipment and services during the last weeks of classes after Thanksgiving.
- University athletics will continue its regular schedule. Student athletes will continue to work with our coaches to deliver the highest level of competition possible for all of our 18 varsity sports. The University will follow the guidance of the NAIA and the River States Conference to compete in the safest environment for our student athletes, coaches and fans.
- Some Playhouse events will continue as scheduled after Thanksgiving. Please revisit the Playhouse schedule for updates on all events this year.
This fall semester will present a number of challenges to our Point Park community. Through the efforts above and others, the University is providing in-person, on-campus education focused on student learning and informed by our expert health partners at UPMC. During the week of July 6, 2020, the University will publish our Guide to On-Campus Learning and Operations 2020-21. During that week, I will host a video presentation for all students and their families. We will ask you to provide your questions in advance and follow-up with any questions after the video presentation.
Dear Point Park Returning Students and Families,
I am writing to update you on two important items: Emergency aid for students from the Federal CARES Act and On-campus learning and operations starting with the Fall 2020 semester.
First, over 1,100 students have applied through the University for emergency aid under the Federal CARES Act. If you have not yet applied, please do so here.
Second, regarding the University Planning process for on-campus learning and operations starting with the Fall 2020 semester, there are many factors we have been closely tracking to ensure that all students not only receive a quality learning experience but one that takes place on a campus that is safe and welcoming for all.
We are witnessing growing racial tensions throughout our country, including protests taking place in Pittsburgh. I recently emailed our students, staff, and faculty to express the University’s commitment to standing with and supporting those in our community who are hurting. As a University, we affirm that there is no place for hate, racism, or discrimination, and we work to make Point Park a welcome place for everyone. Part of that welcoming environment is our community oriented police department led by Chief Jeff Besong. Our Officers are friendly, familiar faces on campus, ready to help in all situations. One way that our Officers communicate with all students, staff, and faculty is through the University’s Point Alert system, which provides campus notifications. Find out more about our Campus Police and Point Alert system here.
Regarding COVID-19, since the middle of March, local university presidents have been in regular communication with officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Education regarding University operations during the COVID-19 pandemic and re-opening our campuses for the 2020-21 academic year. We have developed comprehensive re-opening plans that have now been affirmed by the State of Pennsylvania.
At Point Park, we have a number of University task forces dedicated to redefining the University so that students continue to receive the quality education that they expect from Point Park. We are working closely with medical professionals from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who are advising us on public health and its application to an urban campus. We will share our University Reopening Plan with each of you. This Plan includes guidance from state and local governments and the CDC, and will be followed by all students, faculty, staff, and visitors when on campus.
We will make this document available on the Point Park University COVID-19 webpage during the week of July 6, and we will email all students, staff, and faculty once posted.
I am also planning to host a live virtual Town Hall with returning students and their families the week of July 6. During this Town Hall, we will discuss how we plan to operate as a University community, on campus for the 2020-21 academic year. We will discuss campus safety, academics, student success and career readiness. Our medical advisors from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will be available as well. You will receive an invitation to this Town Hall meeting, and I look forward to connecting with each of you in early July. In the meantime, please stay healthy and enjoy this unconventional summer.