By SUSAN JONES
The Greensburg, Bradford and Titusville campuses plan to proceed with mostly in-person classes starting today, but Pitt–Johnstown is giving students and instructors the option of remaining remote for the first two weeks of the semester.
Provost Ann Cudd’s message on Aug. 20 about allowing remote learning and teaching during the first two weeks of the semester said, “The presidents of our regional campuses will evaluate the conditions in their respective communities and communicate separately to their students regarding the availability of this flexibility on their campuses.”
The COVID-19 Medical Response Office this week released the latest percentages of faculty, staff and students who have uploaded proof of vaccinations, including for the regional campuses.
Bradford campus: 69 percent of all students; 83 percent of on-campus students; 66 percent of faculty and staff. In McKean County overall, 40.4 percent of people are at least partially vaccinated. Daily case numbers have been in the single digits for the past week, according to the state health department.
Greensburg campus: 57 percent of all students; 82 percent of on-campus students and 74 percent of faculty and staff. In Westmoreland County, 51.2 percent are at least partially vaccinated. Daily case numbers spiked to 185 on Aug. 18 and have been in the 70s to 90s since then.
Johnstown campus: 64 percent of all students; 82 percent of on-campus students and 62 percent of faculty and staff. In Cambria County, 46.5 percent are at least partially vaccinated. Daily case numbers have been in the teens and 20s for the past week.
In Pennsylvania, 68.8 percent are at least partially vaccinated and 54.6 percent are fully vaccinated. Daily case numbers for the past week have ranged from 1,786 on Aug. 22 to 3,615 on Aug. 24.
In a message to the Pitt–Johnstown community this week, President Jem Spectar said reaching the decision to allowing remote access to courses for students and instructors during the first two weeks of the semester, “was not easy and required weighing a mix of key factors including our educational mission and goals, student expectations and aspirations for learning on our campus as well as faculty views on the issue. Despite the challenges that some have expressed about in-person classes, the majority of our faculty have indicated that they prefer in-person classes and are looking forward to returning to the classroom.”
He also said that Pitt–Johnstown, as a small campus, “emphasizes and treasures the quality of the student experience in an up-close-and-personal learning environment for students,” and puts a premium on in-person instruction, engagement and collaboration.
Like the Oakland campus, Johnstown will return to full in-person instruction, advising and services on Sept. 13.
Those who have specific health needs that would make in-person teaching and learning difficult, should contact Disability Resources and Services directly to discuss reasonable accommodations.
Pitt-Greensburg will begin the academic year today with the large majority of classes held in person, campus President Robert Gregerson said this week.
“The decision to teach in person was based on a number of factors that we believe will contribute to a safe and healthy environment,” he said. “These include a robust vaccination rate among our students and a COVID-19 infection rate in Westmoreland County that is below that of Allegheny County. With appropriate testing procedures and disease mitigation processes in place, we feel comfortable that our campus community will continue to be safe.”
Gregerson also noted that the Greensburg campus has limited public foot traffic and that flexible work arrangements will continue to help de-densify the campus. “We will be carefully monitoring conditions and working with our colleagues in Oakland to make any changes to our working mode should that become necessary.”
Bradford and Titusville
For the first two weeks of the semester and throughout the term, courses at Pitt–Bradford and Pitt–Titusville will remain in person, except for those courses that were previously approved to be online or delivered in a hybrid fashion, interim President Rick Esch said this week.
“We made this decision in collaboration with members of our faculty leadership. The consensus was that they, as well as their students, want to return to in-person learning,” he said in a message to the community.
Esch said they based the decision on several factors, including low prevalence of the virus on campus and in the surrounding community. Also, the campuses — as well as the surrounding communities — are less dense, which helps to reduce the spread of any illness, including COVID-19. Similar to the other campuses, all resident students who are unvaccinated or did not disclose their vaccination status had to have a negative COVID test before moving onto campus, and all unvaccinated or undisclosed faculty, staff and students must participate in weekly COVID-19 testing.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
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