By SUSAN JONES
With almost all classes on the Oakland campus returning to in person on Sept. 13, faculty and students who haven’t submitted proof of vaccination or negative results from a recent COVID-19 test could soon find themselves left outside.
Today, targeted messages are expected to be sent to instructors and students who are non-compliant, notifying them of their status in University records, according to a statement from the University.
Beginning sometime next week, the University expects to begin enforcement measures. Specifically, an alarm will sound if Pitt affiliates have not uploaded proof of vaccination or have a negative COVID-19 test result, and will be asked by concierge personnel to exit the building. University officials are still working out the specifics of this plan, so stay tuned for updates.
Chancellor Patrick Gallagher made it clear at the Sept. 9 Senate Council meeting that anyone not meeting these criteria will not be admitted into any campus buildings.
“For those in the unvaccinated populations, that weekly negative COVID test is important. And it's important enough that we're going to turn off your access to the facilities if you don’t have it,” he said.
“This is a health measure, and we have to know that those folks that are in our facilities … are COVID negative.”
The tests are done through a mail-in system. You order them, they are sent to your home, you take a self-administered test and then mail it back.
“We’re quite concerned that the test return rate is too low, it’s below 10 percent of that population. And so, there's going to be a fairly large number of folks who are going to realize that they can't get into the buildings,” Gallagher said.
“Our goal is that if you need that test we want to make it as easy as possible for you to be able to get that,” he said. “Our goal isn’t to keep people out of buildings. Our goal is to keep everybody safe. So you will see a pretty dramatic ramp up of efforts to expand our testing program and make sure we notify people — I don't want people being surprised at the door when their badge isn’t working. That would be a pretty unpleasant experience. And if that happens to you to know very quickly where you can go to get a test and restore your access as quickly as possible.”
Gallagher said while the tests are free for the individual, the cost to the University of testing every unvaccinated person once a week, as well as some randomized testing and for those who are symptomatic, is estimated at $20 million to $50 million. Senate Council member Juan Toboas suggested a campaign to show people how that money could have been used for more aid to students or raises for faculty and staff.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
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