Frequently Asked Questions




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:


2.     What is the plan for classes for the Fall 2020 semester?

ANSWER:  Classes will be held online until September 12th. After that they will be a hybrid model with classes being held both in person and online if Pitt's risk posture changes to "Guarded Risk." There will be at least one weeks notice before any such change occur.


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) Also following university guidelines, department faculty meetings will continue but will be held via an online tool such as zoom. (c) 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.  (d) 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?

ANSWER:  Faculty and staff should alert Jon Rubin ( as well as MyHealth@Work at 412-647-4949, as described at:

Also, if your duties will be compromised, note that the university guidelines to request to utilize sick leave and/or file a claim 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 More information can be found here:


6. Where is the updated Academic Calendar?

ANSWER: The updated calendar is available at Classes meet on Labor Day, September 7, 2020. Students do not return to campus after Thanksgiving break.


7. What is the Pitt community compact?

ANSWER: It is a voluntary pledge that students have drafted concerning COVID-19.


Undergraduate Students


1.     Are any classes cancelled?

ANSWER:  No. All classes are online until September 12th. After that they will be held in person and online as a hybrid model if Pitt's risk posture changes to "Guarded Risk." There will be at least one weeks notice before any such change occurs. If you have any questions about how your class will be taught please contact your instructor.


2.     I was planning to graduate at the end of the fall 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 spring term?

ANSWER:  Online enrollment for the spring term is proceeding as scheduled.  For more information on the advising and enrollment process, see the departmental webpage:


4.     What is happening with the MAC?

ANSWER:  The MAC is open 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 is available at:


5. When will final exams take place?

ANSWER: There will be an extended final exam period for the fall semester that includes the possibility of holding in-person exams on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving and holding remote exams the week after Thanksgiving.


Graduate Students


1.     What should I do about my TA duties for the remainder of the semester?

ANSWER:  You should be holding office hours remotely and providing assistance to students in your recitation sections.  Please stay connected 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. If you are planning to hold your overview or dissertation defense soon, please reach out to Miranda for the appropriate paperwork. For an outline of thesis defense visit the following website:


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:

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:

Using Zoom with PC + Ipad + Pen


2.     Should I still come to the office?

ANSWER:  Staff/Faculty who are returning to campus are required to take COVID-19 training. The training will be available on at

Faculty should submit paperwork if they would like to request access to Thackeray.  Details depend on whether recurrent or one-time access is requested.  For one-time access, see No one who is scheduled to teach this term (or in the Spring) needs to do ATO requests for teaching, now or in the future.  ATO approval is required for other on-site academic labor (research, class prep, service work, etc.), but all faculty have “implicit access” to academic classroom buildings for the purposes of teaching.  That should keep folks coming in to teach off of any “naughty lists” of ATO avoiders (which just started rolling out to the DSAS last week) – so again, folks don’t need to do anything if they are only coming in to teach their scheduled classes.As far as room access: classrooms are in principle unlocked during building open hours (7:30AM-10PM for academic buildings) now, and that should continue through the end of the term.  We have run in to at least one issue where a faculty member could not access a space that was pressed into classroom service (342 Craig Hall), and we ultimately had to get her a key to the room.  These types of cases should be extremely rare, and anyone finding themselves locked out should call Pitt Police to be let in, and then contact Jeremiah McKain ( so we can resolve the underlying condition.

Prior to coming to campus every day, employees are required to attest to their health using the Daily COVID-19 Health Check app, which is available on the Pitt Mobile App and Simply log in using your Pitt credentials, look for the thermometer icon, and answer two questions about how you are feeling and whether you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. It is an essential part of how we work together to keep you and other members of our community safe.

All students, faculty, and staff are required to wear face coverings at all times on campus, unless you are in a private space or eating.

All campus buildings have been readied for your return, including HVAC system review, deep cleaning and sanitizing, space de-densification, building and elevator capacity restrictions, and signage.

All students, faculty, and staff will be required to swipe or tap their Pitt ID to enter buildings on campus. Supervisors or department heads will activate building access for those employees who are returning to campus to work. Supervisors can also work to provide one-time access to those employees who need one-time access to their office.

Each Pitt unit (e.g. a lab, work team, department, residence hall area) will have a designated Pandemic Safety Ambassador. Ambassadors are resources for you and will assist with questions and the execution of our operational plans.


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 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 and the client will start automatically.

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 or Skype for Business:


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:


5. What do I do if I have technical difficulties in my Zoom room?

ANSWER: General instructions are posted in each classroom. Students can activate when the professor is not present. The second video shows how to set up a regular Zoom meeting that automatically launches in the Zoom room at the sheduled time at the beginning of class.

Zoom scheduled class meetings:

Contact the 24/7 IT Help Desk:


6.     How can I conduct an online or phone-based advising session?

ANSWER:  Some valuable suggestions can be found within this document: