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Classrooms After COVID-19: Fall 2021 Mode of Operation Announced

by Bailey Weber

Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash.

On March 18, the Chancellor released a statement regarding the mode of operation for the Fall 2021 semester. The Chancellor said that there were many details that needed to be worked out, but the University plans to be mostly in person next semester.  

President Dr. Robert Gregerson explained these details to The Insider more thoroughly.  

“In person is going to be the default. We will have a few classes that are fully remote,” Dr. Gregerson said.  

Students have been questioning whether or not the Flex@Pitt model will still be available. It will still be an option, under certain circumstances, according to Dr. Gregerson.  

“We will work with individuals, whether it be faculty teaching the class or students taking the class that may have different needs and are not able to be there. We will hopefully have the flexibility that everyone will have their needs met,” Dr. Gregerson said.  

Beth Tiedemann, the director of Advising and registrar, understands that this may change depending on state guidelines. 

“I think we are going to be monitoring [state guidelines] very closely over the summer. The decisions we made were made quickly,” Tiedemann said. “I think the hope is that we can return to in person and do so safely. We will adjust according to whatever the circumstances and guidelines are.” 

Dr. Gregerson has high hopes that most students will be vaccinated by late August. However, being vaccinated will not be required to return to class in person, as of right now.  

“By the time late August rolls around, I hope the large majority of us have all been vaccinated. Our stance is that we are not going to require vaccinations to go to class in person. This may change,” Dr. Gregerson said. “Universities around the country are making rules that students cannot return to campus without being vaccinated. We may get there, I don’t know. We strongly recommend it, but we will not require it.”

It seems that masks are going to still be required in classrooms. Tiedemann is unsure of other protocols, however. 

“I would not be surprised if masks were still required. Anything beyond that would be speculation,” Tiedemann said.  

Dr. Gregerson believes that the card swipe and temperature check machines implemented last semester will be used in buildings until further notice.  

“The swipe in the buildings is for contact tracing, in case a person that was later found to be positive was in that building, we can look and see who was in the building at the same time,” Dr. Gregerson said. “As for the temperature check, that may become a permanent thing. It also picks up people with the flu. People may not realize they have a temperature, and then go back home.”  

Members of the administration want the upcoming semester to feel like semesters of the past.  

Tiedemann is hopeful that things will return to normal.  

“The intent is for next fall to look and feel like a normal semester. We will be having Labor Day off, the three day weekend for fall break, and Thanksgiving break. Hopefully we won’t have to make changes,” Tiedemann said.

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  1. Editorial: Get Your Vaccine, or Help Your Family Get Theirs – The Insider

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