Official notice of moving from Guarded to Elevated

To:                   Social Work Faculty, Staff, Students and Community Partners

From:               Betsy Farmer, Dean

Date:               November 9, 2020

RE:                   Movement of Oakland campus from “Guarded” to “Elevated” Risk Posture

The University of Pittsburgh’s Pittsburgh campus transitioned from the Guarded Risk Posture to the Elevated Risk Posture on Mon., November 9th. This communication will briefly outline how this change in posture will impact the School’s functions and services. For more information, please refer to the School’s Area Activity Plan for a full description of operating procedures by risk posture. If you have any questions regarding the plan or guidance, please reach out to Megan M. Soltesz at

Requirements and Guidance that Remain in Place

  • Wearing face coverings, indoors and out.
  • Maintaining a proper distance of 6 feet or more from others.
  • Washing and sanitizing hands frequently.
  • Completing the Daily COVID-19 health check through the Pitt portal any day you will be on campus.

Space and Office Occupancy.

The School of Social Work Faculty and Staff will continue to work remotely for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because we are located on upper levels of the Cathedral, the mantra “if you can work at home, you should work at home” is required to reduce crowding in elevators, create additional cleaning/sanitizing work for facilities staff, etc. In the Elevated Risk Posture, the following occupancy changes will occur.

  1.  The Office of the Dean physical office suite will be not be open during elevated risk posture.  All staff will work remotely. 
  2. The Student Services suite will not be open during elevated posture.  All faculty and staff will work remotely.
  3. Faculty may access their offices to retrieve items, but occupancy should be limited to an “as-needed” basis only. 
  4. Student work-spaces are not available for occupation.
  5. Conference room 2017 is not available for use.
  6. The faculty and staff workspace on floor 22 is not available at this time. 

Course Instruction

Flex@Pitt is still in place. Moving back to the Elevated Risk Posture means that, if an instructor wants to teach in person, prior approval is required by the Dean.  The internal protocol and approval form is available on the faculty and staff SharePoint site.  Each instructor will communicate any course instruction change directly to their class.

Student Academic and Field Advising

It is recommended that all student advising appointments should be conducted remotely through Zoom or other teleconferencing platform. If student advising is conducted in-person, only one student at a time should be scheduled. Meetings must be held in spaces that allow for proper distancing (6 feet) and are equipped with required hygiene and cleaning products. All surfaces must be wiped down at the conclusion of the meeting and face coverings should be worn. Vulnerable faculty and students must be accommodated when in-person advising is not possible or recommended.

Field Education

There are no changes related to field education when moving from “elevated” to “guarded” risk posture. If any student or field supervisor has a question regarding their field placement, please contact your assigned field liaison, if you don’t know who this is, please email Please visit the following website for field education updates and FAQ: 

Academic and Student Support Services

All academic program and student service staff will conduct operations and manage inquiries remotely. The Student Service Center will not offer on-site, in-person support when the campus is in an Elevated Risk posture.   

Student and Faculty Group Meetings and Events

No in-person meetings or gatherings will be coordinated or hosted by the School of Social Work when the campus is in Elevated Risk posture.  All events will be organized for remote participation only. 


Clinical research is conducted in collaboration with WPIC within School of Medicine locations; all clinical based research will follow the protocols set forth by the School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.

Community based research often includes engagement with participants and collaboration with external partners.   Internal guidance strongly encourages remote based engagement only during elevated risk posture. All in-person engagement must be reviewed and approved by the Associate Dean for Research and/or Dean.  Health and Safety guidance of community partners must meet or exceed university standards.  If partner guidelines are less restrictive than the University standard, approval by the Dean is required before any in-person engagement can continue.  The principal investigator will be responsible for distributing and ensuring compliance with all health, safety, mobility and cleaning protocols. Accommodation for vulnerable research employees will be made, per university guidelines.

 Faculty scholarship and analysis that does not engage participants will be conducted remotely.  Building access required for restricted data that is not available through cloud-based file storage or VPN log-in will be considered. Access will be reviewed and approved by the Director of Administration or Associate Dean for Research. 

Additional Questions

The School of Social Work will adhere to all University’s guidelines for operations and student engagement. The following guidelines are specifically applicable to the School of Social Work activities, please review the policies below before in-person engagement or events are conducted.

  1. Healthcare Standards and Guidelines
  2. Cleaning, Disinfection and Hygiene
  3. Personnel: Accommodations, Shared Space, and Daily Protocol
  4. Academic Student Support
  5. Instruction
  6. Off Campus Academic Experiences

If you have additional questions about the effects in the School of Social Work of moving to Guarded Risk Posture, please contact Megan Soltesz ( Learn more about the University’s response and health and safety rules at