UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH - DEPARTMENT OF MATHEMATICS - MARCH 24, 2020
We are doing everything we can to maintain the continuity of our educational activities in this unprecedented situation. We ask for your patience as we work to determine the best ways to move forward. Please don't hesitate to ask us if you have questions or need help navigating issues that arise; as a starting point, we are happy to provide the following information, and we encourage you to check back here for updates as things evolve.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding departmental operations with COVID-19
1. Where can I find information about the COVID-19 response from the University of Pittsburgh?
ANSWER: The University’s definitive source of information on Pitt’s response is at: https://www.emergency.pitt.edu/covid19.
2. What is the plan for classes for the remainder of the semester?
ANSWER: Classes will resume on Monday, March 23rd. So far, the plan is that they will end as originally scheduled (so one week will be lost). If there is a change, then notification will be sent and this document will be updated. They will be entirely online; in-person class meetings are suspended for the rest of the term.
3. What is the plan for other events and activities for the remainder of the semester?
ANSWER: (a) Following university guidelines, all events will be moved online, cancelled, or postponed. (b) Unfortunately, we will not be able to hold an in-person departmental graduation ceremony this semester. We are working on an online tribute to graduates. (c) Also following university guidelines, department faculty meetings will continue but will be held via an online tool such as zoom. (e) Doctoral milestones and other graduate student committee meetings will also be held online. Links must be shared within the department so that any interested parties can view the event. (f) We are not hosting visitors from other universities and university-related funds cannot be used for travel, until further notice.
4. What should I do if I am confirmed COVID-19 positive?
Also, if your duties will be compromised, note that the university guidelines to request to utilize sick leave and/or file a claim or report off under FMLA still apply. Employees that are returning from FMLA-approved leave will need to provide the department with a Medical Release to Full Duty.
5. Where can I pick up my mail and packages delivered to campus?
All mail including packages will be delivered to:
University of Pittsburgh
Mailing Services, Suite 151
7500 Thomas Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15208
To schedule a pick-up of your mail, please contact the Campus Mail office at 412-624-6500 or email email@example.com. More information can be found here:
1. Are any classes cancelled?
ANSWER: No. All classes will resume online on Monday, March 23rd. Your course instructor will provide you with the details as soon as possible. Please check your pitt.edu email regularly for further instruction.
2. I was planning to graduate at the end of the spring term. Has anything changed?
ANSWER: No. Normal administrative tasks will continue as usual. The procedures for certifying graduation for students will not change and you will receive your diploma in the mail as per the dates indicated on the Registrar’s graduation calendar. If you have questions relating to graduation, you can communicate them to us by email.
3. I am a math major. What should I do about scheduling my courses for the fall term?
ANSWER: You should receive an email message from your advisor and plan to have a remote advising appointment. You need to communicate your academic plan for the fall term and have your advisor lift your academic hold as is normal practice. If you do not receive such a message, please reach out to your advisor directly or contact Kelly Runco (firstname.lastname@example.org). Graduate students should contact Miranda Buckwald (email@example.com).
Online enrollment for the fall term will proceed as scheduled beginning for most students on Monday, March 23rdand will continue on a rolling basis. Please check your student service center for your enrollment date/time and proceed accordingly. For more information on the advising and enrollment process, see the departmental webpage:
4. What will happen with the MAC?
ANSWER: The MAC will reopen as soon as possible as an online resource, using Microsoft Teams, for students in courses ranging from Math 0031-Math 0413. UTAs will be able to hold virtual help sessions with students. Detailed information will be available starting Monday, March 23rd, at:
5. How will the graduation ceremonies be affected?
ANSWER: Sadly, both the university ceremony and the Department of Mathematics Graduation Breakfast have been cancelled. The university is working on plans for some future alternatives, so stay tuned for updates as they become available, but we have no additional information at this time.
6. Will summer courses be affected?
ANSWER: Currently, the plan is to move forward with summer term courses as scheduled. It is possible that instruction will continue online, however this decision will be made at the University level, not by the Department of Mathematics. Registration for the summer term is open and you can proceed with registration as you normally would. Please monitor the COVID-19 FAQ page for updates.
1. What should I do about my TA duties for the remainder of the semester?
ANSWER: We are exploring options for TAs to hold office hours remotely and to provide notes and other assistance to students in their recitation sections. Please connect with the instructor you assist and stay tuned for further instruction.
2. How does this affect my thesis defense?
ANSWER: All graduate student milestone committee meetings and dissertation defenses should be held fully remotely, as stated by Dean Holger Hoock on March 17, 2020. If you are planning to hold your overview or dissertation defense soon, please reach out to Miranda for the appropriate paperwork.
3. How does this affect my upcoming comprehensive exam?
ANSWER: Comprehensive exams should take place as usual, but please check with your exam committee members to arrange for the specifics of how their exams will be administered.
** In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are urging all International graduate students who were planning to go home for the summer consult with OIS before committing to any plans.**
1. Where can I find resources for delivering my course and assessments online?
ANSWER: The first place to go is the University Center for Teaching and Learning website:
This page has step-by- step instructions for on-line course delivery options and educational technologies, including those for course grading/assessment. CTL will answer questions and provide help via phone: 412-624-3335 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For instructions on how to use Zoom with a PC + iPad + Apple Pencil, as well as on how to use Gradescope, here is a guide written by Dr. Schikorra:
2. Should I still come to the office?
ANSWER: No. There will be no faculty access to Thackeray Hall until further notice. Note that information on IT resources to support remote work can be found at:
Questions on IT should be directed to the 24/7 IT Help Desk (4-HELP, email@example.com).
3. What is happening with departmentally coordinated courses and finals?
ANSWER: Course coordinators will be contacting the instructors involved in their courses about how to proceed with course content and assessments.
4. How can I communicate with students online?
ANSWER: The officially supported method is to start a Zoom meeting through Blackboard or Canvas.
First, install the Zoom client, plugins and extensions on all the devices, software and browsers that you use:
You can start the client from the System Tray on Windows, or you can click any link of the form https://pitt.zoom.us/... and the client will start automatically.
Starting a Zoom meeting through Courseweb (Blackboard):
Starting a Zoom meeting through Canvas:
More information on Zoom:
It is important to familiarize yourself with other methods of communicating with students. There have been recent reports from users at other institutions of session errors during Zoom meetings, no doubt due to the enormous demand on their servers. Make sure that you can also use Teams, Skype for Business or Blackboard Collaborate:
Information on Skype for Business appears here:
Skype for Business is appropriate for communicating via voice calls and videoconferencing with small groups. Microsoft Teams is appropriate for large groups and provides all the features of Skype for Business as well as many other features for collaboration. More information can be found here:
Blackboard Collaborate is a web conferencing component of Blackboard. More information is here:
5. How can I conduct an online or phone-based advising session?
ANSWER: Some valuable suggestions can be found within this document: