President Dr. Robert Gregerson released a message via email on Sep. 27 summarizing the expectations, requirements, and guidelines for students regarding COVID-19 vaccines, masks, and building procedures.
The University will not require students to disclose their vaccination status. However, they require students to either provide proof of vaccination or submit a weekly negative COVID-19 test.
According to the CMRO’s most recent update, 72% of Pitt-Greensburg students are vaccinated.
Students and faculty are also still required to swipe their Pitt-Greensburg ID to enter buildings. If they do not have their card, they must sign in with the concierge stationed at the building entrance. The concierges are meant to ensure students and faculty swipe or sign in.
The ID scanners keep a record of student and faculty traffic. This is to help determine who may be in need of a COVID-19 test before they enter campus buildings. If a student’s card swipe results in a red light, that student must submit a test immediately. After their third red swipe without a test, they will be subject to consequences such as fines or account holds.
If a student tests positive for COVID-19, the monitoring system will also help the campus retrace their steps and warn close contacts of a possible exposure.
Last week, Pitt-Greensburg’s Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Jacqueline Horrall sent a letter via email to the faculty providing “additional guidance from the Provost’s office regarding classroom attendance, instructional expectations, and the enforcement of health guidelines and compliance.”
The updated expectations include instructions on navigating student absences during the pandemic.
“Students should not be asked to provide medical proof of a COVID-19 diagnosis or quarantine order. Students who miss in-person classes due to an illness (or other University-recognized reason, such as a religious observance) and have communicated with faculty about their needs should not be subject to academic penalties, including having to resort to “drop the lowest grade” options or receiving zero class participation points on those days. Whenever possible, make-up activities should be afforded for laboratories and other in-person graded activities,” the letter said.
The letter also stated that non-compliant students, such as those who refuse to wear masks or take their weekly COVID-19 test, are “not entitled to make-up exams, but access to remote or recorded material should not be restricted.”
These guidelines are posted on the Center for Teaching and Learning’s website as well.
Most students have mixed feelings about the University’s policies. Julia Wainwright, junior highschool education and mathematics major, feels that the policies may be a nuisance, but they are necessary.
“Although the swipes are slightly inconvenient, I actually think it’s an effective way to measure and track COVID cases,” Wainwright said.
Wainwright suggested that Pitt implement “a more positive and friendly way to encourage vaccinations” as well because “there are too many negative punishments rather than positive reinforcements.”
Freshman nursing major Kayla Hunter doesn’t mind the ID scanners but can understand that other students may find it frustrating.
“I always have my card, so I don’t really mind it,” Hunter said, “but I think about the students that forget theirs.”
Senior business management major Terence Turk said, “I don’t mind the masks. … However, I don’t want to feel pressured to get the vaccine.”
Turk is concerned for non-compliant students subject to consequences as well.
“If students get kicked off of campus because they got COVID or continue not swiping, then they should get their room and board back,” he said.
Other public school districts across Westmoreland County have faced backlash from dozens of students and parents protesting against face covering mandates. On Sep. 7, protestors picketed against Governor Tom Wolf’s mask mandate outside of local schools.
Parents from Franklin Regional School District protested outside of the district’s middle and high schools on Sep. 8. Students of the Derry Area School District walked out of school to protest after reporting their attendance for the day as well.
Greater Latrobe School Board held a panel to decide how to approach protests after 25 students and a few parents picketed outside the entrance to Greater Latrobe Senior High.
Spencer Bowman, a senior at Greater Latrobe Senior High School, explained to WTAE why he walked out of school to protest.
“I’m just tired of wearing a mask. Now that it’s my senior year, I want a taste of normalcy before I leave Latrobe and go off to college,” Bowman said.
Greater Latrobe alumnus Mark Ancianese, a father of three, told the district, “Don’t sit up there as a school board member and tell me how to protect my kids.”
As of now, local school districts as well as the University are still legally required to follow Gov. Wolf’s mask mandate.