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How Safe Is Pitt? A Closer Look at COVID-19 Guidelines

by Maggie McLeod

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COVID-19 regulations are continually changing, which means some students at Pitt-Greensburg may not understand how contact tracing is being conducted this semester and what the protocols are regarding vaccinations and building entry. The Insider spoke with Pitt-Greensburg’s President, Dr. Robert Gregerson, in order to better understand COVID-19 guidelines and expectations for students.

When students enter Smith Hall, Chambers Hall, Millstein Library, Powers Hall and Village Hall, they are greeted with a security guard whose job is to enforce the use of the ID scanners. However, many students are unaware of what these ID scanners are for. Most students that The Insider spoke with thought it was simply to confirm students’ identification, as the campus is currently closed to the public. 

Dr. Gregerson explained the purpose of these ID scanners. 

“When they swipe their ID card, it will give a red light and a noise signal to indicate that the student either tested positive or did not submit a test,” Dr. Gregerson said. “If the machine blinks red, students will not be permitted into the building.”

However, during the faculty senate meeting on Oct. 13, Dr. Gregerson said to faculty that the ID scanner system “works as of yesterday.” It is unclear whether the system was operational before then, meaning that it is possible that students who tested positive or failed to submit their weekly test could have been swiping green and attending classes up until Oct. 12.

The first persona non grata (PNG) notification letters were sent to noncompliant students last week. Students who are placed on PNG status cannot be on campus for any reason, including to attend classes. This means that noncompliant students will have to complete all of their coursework remotely until they are deemed compliant again.

Some faculty and students have also shared concerns regarding their IDs swiping red even though they are vaccinated. As of now, it is unclear when this issue will be resolved or what is causing it.

Vaccinated students or unvaccinated students who submitted their tests but are still swiping red should contact Student Services by calling 724-836-9917 as soon as possible. Faculty who are experiencing this issue should reach out to Mary Anne Koleny, the director of Human Resources, at 724-836-9902. 

Read more about this semester’s updated COVID-19 policies here

Pitt-Greensburg relies on the integrity of students to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on campus as these issues are being worked out. However, Dr. Gregerson said he believes students have the integrity to self-report their COVID-19 diagnoses and follow building protocols. 

“I believe so, because I think they want to keep everyone healthy,” Dr. Gregerson said. “You’ve got friends. You wouldn’t want them to get sick.”

According to both Dr. Gregerson and the COVID-19 Medical Response Office, 87% of faculty and staff and 74% of students at the Greensburg campus are vaccinated. Dr. Gregerson said these vaccinations are what has prevented an outbreak among employees.

“We haven’t had any faculty or staff members test positive,” he said.

There has also been some confusion among faculty about the protocol for quarantining and isolation. Some students told The Insider that a professor said they can still go to class even if they test positive for COVID-19, as long as they are vaccinated and do not show symptoms. 

Dr. Gregerson said that this is not true, and any student who tests positive for COVID-19 must quarantine regardless of the severity of their symptoms.

“If you have a positive test, you must isolate. And that can be done,” Dr. Gregerson said. ”We have the isolation rooms on campus. … Most of the students who have tested positive have chosen to go home. [Either way,] that isolation period is required.” 

He said he is committed to passing on updates through emails and will continue to communicate via meetings with faculty and staff. 

“You can never communicate too much,” Dr. Gregerson said.

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  1. Editorial: Check on Your Friends and Classmates – The Insider

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