University of Pittsburgh students under shelter-in-place order after returning to campus

PITTSBURGH — It’s a quiet start to the semester in Oakland.

Students are back on campus, but they’re not heading to the classroom just yet.

“Oakland is pretty much dead,” said graduate student Thomas Walko.

Students are to remain inside their dorms and apartments as much as possible over the next 16 days as part of the university’s “shelter-in-place” order.

>>PREVIOUS STORY: Pitt to begin spring semester online in response to omicron variant

“It’s definitely quieter,” said Pitt freshman Hannah Wilson. “Definitely the dorms are quieter, but it’s nice to be back in the city.”

Pitt’s decision to start the semester online aims to prevent a possible surge in COVID-19 cases on campus as students return from all over the country.

“I think it makes sense,” said Wilson. “I think with everything going on with omicron it just makes sense to start virtually, and hopefully by February we’ll be able to get back in person and in-person things will start, like clubs and sports, again.”

Colleges and universities across the region are taking action against omicron.

“There seems to be a lot of uncertainty, and I think that that’s the thing that people are really uncomfortable with,” said Walko.

Penn State resumed in-person classes Monday, but students had to be tested for COVID-19 upon their return to campus.

Robert Morris University is also back in person, requiring negative COVID-19 tests.

Duquesne University’s spring semester begins Wednesday, and students are required to have a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to returning.

Meanwhile, Carnegie Mellon’s spring semester does not start until next week. That will begin virtually.

>>PREVIOUS STORY: Carnegie Mellon University to begin spring semester remote

Pitt’s students, barring an exemption, are all subject to a campus-wide vaccine mandate that was put into place last month. They also have to take COVID-19 tests upon returning to school.

“I did have to take one when I got here and return it by today,” said Wilson.

Currently, almost all Pitt classes will take place remotely, but with a Dean’s permission, some classes will be able to meet in person for vaccinated students or those with an approved exemption.

All classes are expected to resume fully in person on Jan. 27.