University Communication to Students
Distributed: December 3, 2020
Posted: December 7, 2020

Dear Students,

Finishing the final week of classes, next week is finals week and brings to a close an unprecedented semester. You persist within the backdrop of a COVID-19 pandemic surge and contributing to collective efforts to reduce community spread. We must continue, perhaps with heightened resolve, given news this week that a vaccine approval and initial release is imminent. Important information for you to be aware this week is as follows:

Stay-at-Home Advisory

Allegheny County Health Department Executive Director Dr. Debra Bogen reported November to be the worst month since the pandemic began. Cases have continued to rise and Dr. Bogen reports concerns about hospital beds reaching capacity soon. Therefore, all are asked to stay-at-home unless impossible and to act for the common good: wear masks, social distance, wash hands regularly, and clean public spaces before and after use.

Testing Strategy and Outcomes

With a strong pattern of self-monitoring in place, the University has enhanced and implemented testing protocols to align with CDC, state, and county guidance. The week of November 14, random surveillance testing was conducted among residential students. Of the 62 students tested, all received negative results. Additionally, all residential students returning to campus after the break are being tested. Of 113 students thus far, 3 received positive test results and properly shifted to isolation off campus. The results confirm our community is not immune yet and is demonstrating collective action to reduce exposure and spread.

Spring 21 Semester Will Begin Remotely

In order to support Governor Wolf’s telework mandate and Pennsylvania’s new measures to mitigate the surge within the surge, the first three weeks of the 2021 Spring semester (January 11 – January 29) will be offered fully online – with the exception of essential clinicals, labs, and practicums. We will resume our published schedule on Monday, February 1. Students should directly contact their instructor if they have any questions. We continue to monitor the CDC, state, and county guidelines and will keep you informed of any changes.

Fall Semester Book Rentals and Spring Textbook Purchases

The return date for Fall textbook rentals is December 11. Do not put your rentals in the book return at the front of the building. That is for library book returns only. Without your information, we are unable to check in your rentals and you will be charged a replacement fee. If you would like to return your books via UPS,please go to and using the information you provided at the time of the rental, you will be able to purchase and print a UPS return label. Check the website for store hours if you will be bringing your rentals to the store for check-in.

You may also begin to order your Spring textbooks online at**


Remote AND Open

While most classes are meeting virtually, the University is not closed, and all offices are responsive. You can find most student service offices and the best means of contact on the “Videos and Resources” page on our website. If students need access to the computer labs and other similar services, access to campus is permitted after self-screening completion.

Self-Screening Expectations

The University has shifted to self-screening. All students are asked to create an account and complete Checkpoint for COVID-19 daily, a self-screen web-based application. Those physically on campus or coming to campus are required to create an account, using the link below, and to complete the self-screen daily. To register, use the following link:  

Being able to show a GREEN screen will be confirmation to faculty you are healthy and appropriate to be in class. When coming to campus, wear a mask, socially distance, wash your hands frequently, and clean common surfaces before and after use.

Caring for your physical and mental health has never been more important.

Counseling and Health Services remain available as we move into the toughest part of the semester. The hours are:

Health Services – Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Counseling Services – Monday, Thursday, Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.; Sunday 12:00-4:00 p.m.

To schedule an appointment, students can email with their full name and contact information to request a phone call to schedule or can call 412-578-6474 (leave a message if no one is available to take their call).

Medical and mental health emergencies should be directed to Campus Police at 412-578-6007 if on-campus, 911 if off-campus, or Resolve Crisis Services (Allegheny County) 1-888-796-8226.

Disabilities Services Registration

As registration for the spring semester proceeds, continuing DSO students with current accommodations should request accommodations for their new semester courses. Students can use the following link to log in to the Accommodate system and complete a Semester Request:

Continuing students do NOT have to complete another Confidential Request for Accommodations form.

Take Care of Each Other

Please take care to look out for each other. High stress, long hours, and the holidays can take a toll on mental health any year, let alone in this year of the pandemic. If you become concerned about yourself or others,please submit a reportand let the Care team know about needs, questions, or concerns. We will make contact with you to extend help.

I hope the final week of classes goes well, your finals reflect your effort, and that you continue to stay well.


Timothy P. Phillips, Ph.D.
Vice President of Student Affairs & Dean of Students

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