Pitt Athletics following detailed plan for return of staff


The June Panther Post newsletter for Pitt Athletics contains COVID Return to Work Protocols that might well contain clues as to how all University offices will operate when on-campus work resumes.

The document applies to more than 250 staff members in Athletics, who started returning to the Oakland campus and other facilities on June 1, with new groups arriving every two weeks. Around 70 people returned on both June 1 and 15. The last two groups, which consist of nearly 100 people, will come back on June 29 and July 13. The groups are staggered among four buildings — including the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on the South Side — and on various levels of each building to assist with social distancing.


Pitt football this week announced that if fans purchase tickets for the 2020 season through the Panther Ticket Office and any portion of the home schedule is not played, the value of the affected tickets will be refunded. Pitt Athletics is selling a Panther Mobile Pass to all seven home games for $135, which will give you different seats for each game.

Pitt football started returning to campus on June 8. Student-athletes in men's basketball, women's basketball, men's soccer, women's soccer and volleyball will start to come back to campus on June 29 for a phased return to voluntary offseason activities, Athletic director Heather Lyke announced June 23.

“All the measures you are being asked to adhere to have been put in place to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff, coaches and student athletes, which is our top priority,” Athletic Director Heather Lyke said in a message at the beginning of the Return to Work Protocols. “Due to the mutable nature of this virus, information is provided daily and our response to any new campus expectations must be equally adaptable. Please know we all need to be patient, flexible and understanding as we adjust to the new environment.”

The 19-page document covers a variety of areas from social distancing to wearing face masks to cleaning and space planning. It also contains a “Panther Accountability” statement that all staff members are required to sign before return to verify that they have reviewed the training document, and understand and agree to abide by all the guidelines.

People who are apprehensive to come back to work on campus at their determined date because they feel they are more at risk because of age, serious underlying medical conditions, or for other reasons have been told to visit with their supervisor and the Athletics Human Resources Office to determine a work plan that is appropriate, E.J. Borghetti, executive associate athletic director for Media Relations, said in an email

The protocols also outline procedures for an employee self-check screening process. Each employee must complete a daily questionnaire through an app or website before arriving at work, Borghetti said. The four yes-or-no questions revolve around whether an individual has experienced symptoms over a 24-hour period, traveled internationally or come in contact in the past 14 days with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. If the answer to any question is yes, they are directed to UPMC MyHealth@Work Center.

And there is a detailed chart of what to do if you think you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Chart on what to do if you suspect exposure to COVID-19

Back to work protocols

Some of the guidelines contained in the document include:


  • Maintain at least a 6-foot separation from other employees.

  • Minimize meeting people face-to-face whenever possible. Employees are encouraged to use the telephone, Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings, e-mail or instant messaging as much as possible, even when participants are in the same building.

  • If a face-to-face meeting is necessary, the meeting should be held for the minimum period of time possible. No more than 10 people may be present, and participants should sit at least 6 feet from each other.

  • Do not congregate closely in halls, break rooms, supply rooms, copier rooms or other similar areas.

  • Avoid handshaking, high-fives or other greetings that require direct physical human contact.

The document also encourages people to schedule meetings outdoors or in open spaces whenever possible.


  • All staff must wear a face covering in public areas of buildings.

  • Face coverings should be worn to and from work (walking into work) and in common areas while on campus.

  • Face coverings should fit properly. Mouth and nose should be fully covered, snug against the side of the face so there are no gaps and no difficulty breathing.

  • Face coverings may be cloth or medical grade and can be personal or will be provided by Athletics if requested. (Athletics, with the rest of the University, has purchased 140,000 Pitt-branded masks. See related story.)

  • Face coverings are not needed when working in an individual office but are required when more than one individual is within 6 feet distance at any time.

  • Face coverings are not PPE and may be used (and re-used) for as long as possible.

  • Face coverings that become soiled should be laundered if re-usable or replaced if disposable.


  • Clean and disinfect personal and shared workspaces.

  • Each area will be provided disinfectant spray and disposable cloth for their personal space. This will be to disinfect items such as desks, computers, phones, etc.

  • Staff will be required to place their trash cans outside their office door for servicing at night.

  • Limit use of kitchenettes.

  • Coffeemakers and water coolers will be discontinued.

  • Wipe down shared equipment after each use (such as microwaves, refrigerators, copy machines, etc.).


  • Assess space usage and address density concerns.

  • Develop one-way circulation routes through the workplace.

  • Signpost the direction of foot traffic in main circulation paths, corridors, stairs and entry points.

  • Mark increments of acceptable social distance spacing on floors where queues could potentially form.

  • Increase space between desks/workstations.

  • Add panels between desks/workstations including height adjustable panels for sit/stand desks, where applicable.

  • Specify seat assignments for employees to ensure minimum work distances.

  • Decommission and re-purpose large gathering spaces.

  • Reduce capacity of spaces (e.g. remove some chairs from large meeting rooms). 

  • Prohibit shared use of small rooms by groups and convert to single occupant use only.

  • Close use of some rooms.

  • Re-calculate the maximum capacity of each room and post on signage outside of room.


  • Once in buildings, limit your movements/circulation to only areas pertinent to carry out your daily job duties.

  • Please abide by all posted placards and directional signage.

  • Please limit use of restrooms to those most directly associated with your working areas.

  • Please refrain from roaming the building, concourses, hallways and common areas as much as possible.


Personnel using restrooms must do so in accordance with the 6-foot minimum space requirement between parties for proper social distancing. Several urinals have been marked “not in service” and sinks have been marked “not for use” in restrooms to support appropriate social distancing. Each commode can be used, with stall walls serving as sufficient space separation for social distancing.


  • Unless otherwise marked, all elevators are limited to four people per car with signage posted.

  • Personnel should use stairs where possible to minimize queuing for elevators.

  • Read and comply with instructional signage posted on healthy elevator use protocols including passenger limits and safe distances in the carriage.

  • Elevator cleaning processes and updates to ensure ongoing cleaning of high touch surfaces such as elevator panels and buttons will be routinely assessed.


Staff should not gather at communal meals and should not make food available in common areas where employees congregate.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 412-648-4294.


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