Spring 2021 and COVID-19 Information: Recent Communications

Recent Updates

Fall 2021 Plans

Dear students:

The last few weeks have seen some very promising developments in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases continue to decline while vaccination rates climb, with President Biden predicting that the United States will have enough doses to vaccinate every adult by the end of May.

At Robert Morris University, we have continued to follow all public health guidelines, as well as the requirements of the RMU Ready Plan, which has allowed us to avoid widespread outbreaks on campus.

Therefore, we are pleased to announce that, assuming continued progress in controlling the virus, we plan on returning to normal in-person instruction and activities for Fall 2021, including athletics with fans in attendance and other major campus events. Naturally, we will continue to follow any and all public health guidelines, including any requirements imposed by local, state, and federal governments. We also recognize that the situation with the virus can change rapidly, and the past year has taught us that we must be prepared for any contingency. As we move closer to the fall semester, we will be able to fill in more details.

We also plan to be open for in-person instruction this summer, and we anticipate that every student who wishes to live on campus during the summer term will be able to do so. We will of course, continue to offer many online courses and fully online degree programs, during the summer and beyond. To learn more details about tuition discounts available during the summer term, go to www.rmu.edu/summer.

It is important to note that all current public health guidelines and restrictions on in-person activities remain in force on campus. As limitations on in-person activities are relaxed, we will adjust our policies accordingly, but we must remain vigilant in order to prevent the spread of the virus on campus. We will continue to post updates at www.rmu.edu/coronavirus.

Thank you for all your hard work and perseverance, which has allowed us to have a successful and vibrant academic year in spite of the pandemic. Congratulations, and good luck as we enter the final half of the spring semester!

Regards,

Christopher Howard, President

Commencement 2021 Announcement

Dear students,
 
We know that you have been eagerly awaiting news about this year’s commencement ceremonies in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While we are still working through the details, we are happy to announce that we plan to hold in-person commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021.

We still must comply with all public health guidelines and, for the sake of planning, assume that current restrictions on public gatherings will still be in place by the time of Commencement weekend. To accommodate these limitations, we plan to hold eight commencement ceremonies as follows:

  • Four ceremonies for undergraduate students, one for each academic school, on Saturday, May 8, on a schedule to be determined.
  • A ceremony for all master’s students, at 4 p.m. Friday, May 7.
  • Three doctoral ceremonies, one for each doctoral program, on Thursday, May 6, on a schedule to be determined. These ceremonies will also include doctoral graduates of the Class of 2020.

All ceremonies will take place in the UPMC Events Center. Please be advised that due to restrictions on attendance, we may not be able to accommodate any guests. We will make that determination as soon as possible, and we may be able to provide opportunities elsewhere on campus for guests to watch the ceremonies via live stream.
 
In addition, we plan to host an in-person commencement ceremony for bachelor’s and master’s graduates from the Class of 2020 at a date to be determined. This event also will take place in the UPMC Events Center, and will likely occur in June.
 
We appreciate your patience as we continue to plan this year’s Commencement Ceremonies. We also want to give a special thanks to the Student Government Association and to all students who provided feedback regarding this year’s Commencement. Stay tuned for more details, coming soon.
 
Sincerely,

Dr. Christopher Howard, President

February 2: Important Welcome Back to RMU Message

Dear Students,

As we begin the spring 2021 semester, we are proud to see how our community embraced the health and safety protocols that were implemented during fall 2020. The number of students and employees infected with COVID-19 remained low during the fall term, we had a very successful spring term reentry testing program, and, as a community, we are to be commended for the efforts everyone displayed to ensure campus is safe.  We are writing to provide you with important COVID-19 mitigation efforts for the spring semester.

COVID-19 Surveillance Testing. Robert Morris University will continue to conduct surveillance testing during the spring 2021 semester. As stated in the RMU Code During COVID-19, students are required to participate in any COVID-19 surveillance testing that may be required by the university.  As we did during the fall term, the university will be continually testing randomized cross-sections of student cohorts from across the campus community, including those who may have no symptoms. The goal is to help detect infected individuals and to keep them from infecting others.  Click this link to access FAQs about RMU’s COVID-19 Testing Program and please watch your RMU email for additional information and instructions.

Health and Safety Measures. Now that in-person spring classes have begun, we are reminding our community of several important health and safety protocols that will help keep the campus community safe. 

  • Monitoring Symptoms. Download the CampusClear App and use it daily to monitor health symptoms. Access to the app: https://www.campusclear.com/.  Contact the UPMC MyHealth@School center if you are experiencing any virus-related symptoms.
  • Handwashing. To mitigate exposure following contact with potentially contaminated surfaces, all students are encouraged to wash their hands, often, with soap and water. You should lather with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time you wash your hands. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Coughing/Sneezing Etiquette. Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze – even if you are in a private setting and are not wearing your mask or face covering.
  • Face Masks. All students are required to wear a face mask or face covering when: outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet from other individuals; indoors where members of the public are generally permitted; in the presence of others; or in public settings where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Effective use of face masks or coverings is critical in minimizing risks to those around you. Please remember that COVID-19 can be spread even by individuals who do not have symptoms. Masks with graphics or images must also conform to our community decency standards. Masks may be obtained by contacting studentlife@rmu.edu or reslife@rmu.edu.
  • Physical Distancing. Physical distancing is one of the simplest yet most effective ways of avoiding exposure to COVID-19 and slowing the spread of the virus. Since the virus can be spread by people who are not aware they are sick, it is important to keep your distance from others when possible, even if you do not feel ill. Physical distancing is important for everyone, but especially to help protect those at higher risk of becoming very ill if infected. Thus, students are asked to maintain a minimum distance of six feet from other people at all times while respecting occupancy limits.

Our first priority as a university is to ensure the health and safety of all our students, faculty, and staff, while still providing you a high-quality academic experience. All of the university's COVID-19 practices and policies have been established with that end in mind and we want to afford you the opportunity to pursue your education while keeping all of us safe and healthy. We are all in this together.

Please remember that there are many resources available to help to answer your questions and guide you through this unique semester, including The RMU Ready Plan at rmu.edu/ready, as well our COVID-19 web site at rmu.edu/coronavirus. And please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and assistance in helping to keep the RMU community safe.

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Rafoth, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs

John Michalenko, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students

 

January 17: Important Spring 2021 Club Sports Update

Dear Club Sport Coaches and Team Officers,

After a great deal of deliberation, and upon the directive of RMU's UPMC medical directors, RMU is maintaining the suspension of in-person club sport team competitions until further notice. 

We understand that this is disappointing to our club sport student-athletes. I have discussed this decision with several of you in recent days as we are trying to determine how we can move forward with our competitions. After working through the various options and consulting health experts, it is clear to us that the safety and well-being of our students must be at the forefront of this decision.

In the meantime, we are still referring to this as a suspension. Should there be significant improvements in the pandemic and restrictions are lifted, we will review the reinstatement of intercollegiate club sport competition. Teams may practice once all members are cleared with the department for compliance and coaches provide me with their safety protocols. All club sports teams are required to adhere to the published Health and Safety Expectations and Commitments.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Armand Buzzelli, Ph.D.
Director of Campus Recreation and Club Sports

January 11: Additional Testing Dates: Return to RMU Mandatory COVID-19

Dear Student,

This is a reminder that all RMU students attending in-person classes or living in the residence halls during Spring 2021 are required to participate in the COVID-19 testing program.

We are writing to provide you with additional reentry testing dates and instructions to participate.

Additional Dates:

Saturday, January 16, Sunday, January 17 & Monday, January 18, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday, January 19, Wednesday, January 20 & Thursday, January 21, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

  • If you already registered to be tested at the UPMC Events Center this week (January 12, 13, 14, or 15) DO NOT re-register for the dates above. You will not be permitted to change your testing date.
  • You are required to be in modified quarantine in your residence hall room or off campus housing facility until you receive the test results. Results are typically available within 48 hours after being received in the laboratory. Students will still be permitted to leave their residence hall room to get their meals as carry out.
  • If you test positive, you will be required to relocate to RMU's designated residence hall or return home during the isolation period. We will conduct contract tracing and any students identified as close contacts of a positive student would be required to quarantine in RMU's designated residence hall or return home during the quarantine period.
  • Students avoiding the mandatory reentry testing are subject to University discipline and sanctions that include being removed from housing and being barred from coming to campus to take in-person classes on January 25, 2021.
  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 using a SARS-Cov-2 PCR test in the last 90 days, you will not have to test.  However, you must submit documentation of a dated PCR test result before January 25, 2021 by replying to this email.

Please follow these steps to register for your COVID-19 test:

Step 1https://allegheny.curativeinc.com/walkup/10074. When entering your information, it is important to complete all sections and to provide your local/university mailing address and your RMU email address.

Step 2: Contact the MyHealth@School Center at 412-397-6220 to schedule a testing day and time.  You must schedule a time during the dates listed above (January 16 - January 21).

Step 3: Watch the instructional video, https://youtu.be/ye_WC-g2plY. This video provides you with easy-to-follow detailed instructions on how to self-administer the test.

Step 4: Arrive at the testing center at your scheduled test time.  The testing center is located in the outdoor facility adjacent to the UPMC MyHealth@School Center. Click here for directions to the Center.  Bring your RMU ID Card with you, wear a mask, and follow the directional signs posted at the Center.  

Step 5: Conduct the easy and fast self-administered saliva-based test.  The test is observed by trained personnel to ensure proper administration and will take less than three minutes to complete.  

Step 6: Depart and wait for your results.  You will receive your results by email directly from Curative, Inc.  A UPMC MyHealth@School Center staff member will contact you if you receive a positive test result to provide medical advice, protocol instructions, and to answer your questions.  

We appreciate your patience and cooperation, which we are confident will allow for a safer return to campus. Please continue to pay close attention to your email messages. As always, we will publish updates to rmu.edu/coronavirus

Mary Ann Rafoth, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs

John Michalenko, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students

January 11: Rec Center to Reopen January 18th

Students and Members,  

Happy new year! We've missed our Student Recreation and Fitness Center community so much, and we can't wait to welcome everyone back soon! The SRFC will reopen on Monday, January 18th. Our hours of operation are available here.

As we reopen for the spring, please keep in mind that we will maintain the changes made during the fall semester to operations, guidelines, and procedures to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission within Campus Recreation facilities. This includes a pre-registration process that can be completed at rmu.edu/fitness. All changes have been developed using CDC, state and local authorities, and "RMU Ready" Guidelines. Due to the nature of infectious diseases like COVID-19, no physical environment is free of risk of transmission. Our precautions are designed to mitigate, but cannot eliminate, this risk. 

Masks are MANDATORY. All members and visitors will be required to wear a mask in the center and to wear it properly at all times.  This means your mask must cover your mouth and nose.  Failure to abide by the mask guidelines will result in the team member being removed from the facility. Please comply for your safety and the safety of your fellow students and staff members, and so we can continue to use the rec center moving forward.  This link provides useful mask guidance from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-fa….

We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the rec center soon!

January 6: Return to RMU Mandatory COVID-19 Testing

Dear Student,

In our message on December 22, 2020, we announced RMU's spring 2021 semester plans that will allow for a safer return to campus.  In addition, we mentioned that RMU has been able to expand its COVID-19 testing capacity, so that we can now administer tests to all students when they return to in-person, on-campus instruction or the residence halls. 

Arrival and mandatory COVID-19 testing

  • You are strongly encouraged to quarantine yourself for 14 days prior to arrival on campus for in-person classes or to live in the residence halls. This will increase your chance of having a negative test when you arrive at RMU.
  • All students, undergraduate and graduate, who expect to be taking classes in-person, on-campus and/or living in the residence halls this spring are required to participate in the COVID-19 testing program. The mandatory reentry testing dates are January 12 - 15. Additional testing options will be made available for students who plan to arrive after January 15. Please follow the instructions below to register for your test.
  • Approximately 500 students (including residential students, undergraduate and graduate students commuting to campus) will complete the testing process each day. 
  • You will be required to be in modified quarantine in your residence hall room or off campus housing facility until you receive the test results.  Results are typically available within 48 hours after being received in the laboratory.  Students will still be permitted to leave their residence hall room to get their meals as carry out. 
  • If you test positive, you will be required to relocate to RMU's designated residence hall or return home during the isolation period.
  • Students avoiding the mandatory reentry testing are subject to University discipline and sanctions that include being removed from housing and being barred from coming to campus to take in-person classes on January 25, 2021.   If you have tested positive for COVID-19 using a SARS-Cov-2 PCR test in the last 90 days, you will not have to test.  However, you must submit documentation of a dated PCR test result before January 15, 2021 by replying to this email.

Reminder about the academic schedule

  • The start of 15-week classes, both on-ground and online, has been delayed until Tuesday, January 19. As a result, Spring Break has now been canceled. All other university holidays remain in place.
  • Instruction for all students and courses will be remote through Friday, January 22. In-person and virtual rotation classes will begin Monday, January 25, for all students and courses.
  • ISCM Doctoral courses began on Monday, January 4, but will be remote as noted above through January 22.
  • Eight-week classes, both on-ground and online, will begin as previously announced on Monday, January 11, but will be remote as noted above through January 22. 

Registering for your COVID-19 test

The COVID-19 testing program is being provided by the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), Curative, Inc., and RMU and will be held on campus January 12 - 15, 2021.  The procedure is a self-administered saliva-based test that will take less than three minutes to complete.  The test is observed by trained personnel provided by ACHD and Curative, Inc.  

Please follow these steps to register for your COVID-19 test:

Step 1: Click this link to register and create an appointment for testing: https://curative.com/sites/22567.  Do not select Thursday, January 14 between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm.  This testing period is reserved for RMU employees.  All other days and times are available for students.  

Step 2: Answer the questions and complete the registration process. 

Step 3: Watch the Curative instructional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pS-dPpy7J8. This video provides you with easy-to-follow detailed instructions on how to self-administer the test.   

Step 4: Arrive at the testing site at your scheduled date and time. The testing center is located at the UPMC Events Center, upper parking lot #2 near the UPMC Gate entrance (see the attached map). Please bring the appointment confirmation, insurance card, and photo identification with you to your appointment. Please wear a mask and follow the directional signs posted.

Step 5: Conduct the easy and fast self-administered saliva-based test.  The test is observed by trained personnel to ensure proper administration. 

Step 6: Depart and wait for your results.  You will receive your results by email directly from Curative, Inc.  A UPMC MyHealth@School Center staff member will contact you if you receive a positive test result to provide medical advice, protocol instructions, and to answer your questions.  

We appreciate your patience and cooperation, which we are confident will allow for a safer return to campus. Please continue to pay close attention to your email messages. As always, we will publish updates to rmu.edu/coronavirus. 

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Rafoth, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

John Michalenko, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students

January 5: Important January Move-In Information

Happy New Year! Residence Life is looking forward to welcoming you back on campus later this month! In preparation, RMU Residence Life has been working diligently to create the best possible living environment during these extraordinary times. This semester, you will play a very important role in keeping the University community safe and healthy. Please read the following information carefully.

If you are new to housing this semester, please sign the Housing Contract Addendum and Acknowledgement of Risk and the Safety Plan no later than January 7, 2021. If you are returning to housing, please review these documents.

Important information to remember;

  • Students can move in between January 11 and 19th. Please sign up for a move-in time through this form. Students moving onto campus outside of this window of time, need to get approval by the Residence Life Office - reslife@rmu.edu.
  • All residents are required to be COVID-19 tested on campus between January 12 - January 19th. You will be sent an additional email to sign up for COVID-19 testing. 
  • In-season athletes are asked to return based on their coaches' assigned date and time.
  • The attached RMU Move-in Guide provides extensive information about the move-in process. You may bring two persons with you to help carry items into your room.
  • To provide physical distancing, students may move onto campus only at their assigned date and time.

If you have any questions regarding the attached information, contact the Office of Residence Life at 412-397-5252.

December 22: IMPORTANT - Change to Spring Semester Start Date

Dear students, faculty, and staff:

Out of abundance of caution given recent developments with the COVID-19 pandemic, Robert Morris University has decided to make the following changes to the Spring 2021 semester:

  • The start of 15-week classes, both on-ground and online, has been delayed until Tuesday, January 19. As a result, Spring Break has now been canceled. All other university holidays remain in place. 
  • Instruction for all students and courses will be remote through Friday, January 22. In-person and virtual rotation classes will begin Monday, January 25, for all students and courses.
  • ISCM Doctoral courses will begin on Monday, January 4, but will be remote as noted above through January 22.
  • Eight-week classes, both on-ground and online, will begin as previously announced on Monday, January 11, but will be remote as noted above through January 22. 

In addition, the university has been able to expand its COVID-19 testing capacity, so that we can now administer tests to all students when they return to campus. We still ask all students to self-quarantine for 14 days before their return to campus. Details will be forthcoming to students regarding the testing schedule as well as any changes to their move-in date. RMU also will have more tests available in the spring semester for faculty and staff, and we will provide further information when we return from the winter break.

We appreciate your patience and cooperation with these changes, which we are confident will allow for a safer return to campus. Plans can change at any time based on changing conditions, or recommendations or decisions by public health officials or other authorities. Please continue to pay close attention to your email messages. As always, we will publish updates to rmu.edu/coronavirus

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Rafoth, Ph.D.Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

John Michalenko, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students

December 16: Return to Campus for the Spring Semester

Dear Students,

As the semester draws to a close, and with the holidays upon us, it is not too soon to prepare for a safe return to campus when the spring semester begins in January.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus, we strongly encourage you to self-quarantine before your return. This would begin 14 days before your first in-person class or, in the case of resident students, 14 days before the day you move into your residence hall.

To comply with this request, we ask you to do the following:

  • Monitor your health daily for symptoms such as fever or chills, persistent cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Please use the CampusClear app (download here if you are an iPhone user or here for Android users).
  • Modify your exercise routines by maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet, when possible, and by wearing a face mask.     
  • Wear a mask and maintain a safe physical distance around any household member who is not self-quarantining.
  • Avoid high-risk behaviors such as patronizing bars and restaurants; attending indoor events with people outside of your household; and attending outdoor events of more than 50 people.
  • If possible, get tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours before your return to campus. We ask all students to do this, and it is required for anyone traveling to Pennsylvania from out of state under current Pennsylvania guidelines. Should you test positive, please contact the MyHealth@School Center at (412) 397-6220 for further instructions.

Resident students will soon be receiving more detailed information regarding move-in, including a schedule for their return to campus. Two important dates to keep in mind:

  • Monday, January 11: The first on-ground eight-week session begins.
  • Thursday, January 14: The 15-week semester begins.

Our safety protocols and student expectations during COVID-19 will remain in place for the spring semester. I need to emphasize that our plans for the spring semester are based on current situations on campus, in Allegheny County, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Plans can change at any time based on changing conditions, or recommendations or decisions by public health or other authorities. Please continue to pay close attention to your email messages throughout the winter break period. As always, we will post news, updates, and guidelines at rmu.edu/coronavirus.

Our best wishes to you this holiday season, and have a safe and happy New Year.

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Rafoth, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs

John Michalenko, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students

December 11: Rec Center Update

Good morning,

Effective December 12, 2020, the RMU Student Recreation and Fitness Center will be closing until January 9, 2021.  This action comes as a result of the mitigation efforts announced by the state yesterday. We will continue to make sure that cleanliness is kept to a high standard even during this time. The safety of our students and their families remain our top concern. We thank you for maintaining a safe and vibrant atmosphere in our fitness center this semester and we appreciate your understanding during this time. We’d also like to offer you some options for at home and virtual resources while you are at home during winter break.

Wellbeats - If you've ever used our Virtual On Demand workout platform Wellbeats in our group exercise studio, you'll be happy to learn that Wellbeats has offered our RMU community free at-home access to their library of workouts through April 30. Please be sure to use a valid RMU email address and register using the code in the attached flyer. The app can be streamed from a variety of devices including a smart television.

RMU Websites with Resources - www.rmu.edu/fitness

This site will continue to be updated with additional resources. Our colleagues at NIRSA have provided us with many of these options and we will continue to add as new sources and opportunities become available. One exciting opportunity is the 2020 Rec Movement, which is a network of universities across the nation providing free virtual content for students. Some of our instructors will be posting workouts as well. Here is a sample yoga workout: Yoga with Cara. Check our social media for other updates including a Youtube channel with a library of workouts from our team. We will also be hosting some live workouts on social media in the coming days and weeks including Friday morning yoga sessions weekly at 10 a.m.! 

We wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season. 

November 30: Updated Statement On RMU Winter Sports

The RMU Department of Athletics announced Monday that its pause on fan attendance at competitive events, which includes non-conference and conference competitions for men's and women's hockey and men's and women's basketball, has been extended through December 31, 2020. 

"Our fans have been fervent in their support of RMU Athletics since the day I was chosen to lead the department, and that has never been more apparent as we steer the global pandemic," RMU Vice President and Director of Athletics Chris King '94 said. "The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and supporters both near and far continues to guide everything we do during this difficult time. We can't wait for the opportunity to welcome fans and supporters to RMU Athletics events again, but we will do so when it is safe for everyone."

Allegheny County announced Nov. 18, 2020, an advisory to stop social gatherings and stay at home to stem the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in the county.

The Horizon League Board of Directors is overseeing league-wide safety protocols focused on consistency and clarity for all league competition. As part of these protocols, the board of directors determined that due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, all Horizon League basketball games in the month of December will be played without fans.

A determination regarding home games in January will be made at a later date. RMU season ticket packages purchased for the 2020-21 season will be prorated to reflect the scheduling adjustments. More information regarding ticket information can be found on the Ticket FAQ page or by contacting Jake Sullivan at (4120 397-4934 or via email at sullivanja@rmu.edu.

RMU fans can stream action all season long through the official RMU Athletics Gameday App. To download the app use this link and stay up-to-date with RMU Athletics.

RMU will continue to adhere to the evolving recommendations and requirements of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), local and state health guidelines, the RMU Ready Plan, RMU Athletics Return to Campus Policy and Procedures, UPMC Sports Medicine guidelines, the NCAA Resocialization of College Sports guidelines and the Horizon League COVID-19 Advisory Panels for practice and workout activities. RMU will continue to be guided by its top priority, which is the health, safety and well-being of student-athletes, coaches and staff.