Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science

SCS COVID Guidance and FAQs

Effective for the transitional posture, As of august 30, 2021

Check back regularly for updated Q&A!

On July 1, CMU moved to “Transitional Posture” with departments in SCS taking more responsibility for facilitating our return and some relaxing of COVID guidelines.  University Minimum Requirements, which have been updated, will continue to apply.

We expect guidance to continue to evolve as we continue to learn. You may email the SCS Resilience Team with comments, which are most welcome.

Departments are working with faculty, staff, and students on their planning to be on to campus, following CMU and SCS guidelines.

In asking members to return to campus, departments are emphasizing activities that we believe will most benefit from on campus presence, including some research, student-facing activities, and work that benefits from in-person interaction.This fall, in general, staff will be on campus between one and four days per week (determined also by role- based needs and activities). Departments and supervisors are responsible for assessing physical spaces; communicating and coordinating specifics about return in their departments, including schedules, as/if needed; and ensuring supplies of PPE.

Here are some example cases, subject to further department guidelines:

  • Research staff (including post docs) may already be working on campus under a Return Plan. Additional research staff who participate in work with equipment located on campus or better utilized onsite are encouraged to begin returning to campus. Faculty and staff supervisors will communicate with people in their labs about specifics.
  • Staff whose responsibilities include safety, cleanliness, and maintenance of research equipment should be fully present on campus (or as often as necessary to maintain health and safety for research).
  • Administrative staff and other staff not conducting research or teaching should plan to be present on campus between one and four days per week beginning July 1. Departments will provide specific guidance, depending on the nature of the work, tasks to be performed, and the needs of other staff, students, and faculty.
  • Faculty are welcome on campus at any time. Faculty involved in teaching should be on campus for classroom instruction and office hours in the fall. Advising activities should be done on campus and in person as often as can be done safely.
  • Teaching assistants and other instructional staff are required, beginning in July, to deliver instruction, hold office hours, and generally be available on campus in a way consistent with faculty plans for course management.
  • PhD students and Master’s students in research-based programs are welcome to return to campus for research activities in consultation with their advisors and departments about arrangements and requirements. (Those students with existing permission may continue.) Students involved in instruction during fall should begin transitioning during August to increased activity on campus, consistent with faculty and staff that are also involved in fall instruction.

Yes, for example fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to participate in Daily Self Assessment, or Tartan Testing although they are welcome to do so if they wish. (Tartan Testing remains available for those who desire it.) Distancing is no longer required.

As of August 15, facial coverings are required for everyone at all times indoors (except when in private spaces or eating or drinking) and outdoors within 6 feet of others.

These requirements--facial coverings, Tartan Testing, Daily Self Assessment--remain in place for those not yet fully vaccinated. Anyone not yet fully vaccinated may not eat within 10 feet of others. Everyone should continue to practice good hygiene, including hand washing or hand sanitizer.

Every 24 hours, FMCS will conduct enhanced sanitation and disinfection in high-traffic and common areas, following CDC guidelines. In case of a suspected case of COVID, contact tracing and other measures will continue.

Formal, CMU-approved Research Return Plans and Administrative/Operational Return Plans will be “sunset” (with the exception of Research Return Plans involving Human Subject Research).

Revised guidance for human subject research (HSR) has been posted. HSR researchers must advise study participants and those who accompany them of their obligations under the Minimum Requirements. HSR researchers should follow the guidance in the revised COVID-19 Screening Process and Questions.  Note in particular that the revised HSR guidance clarifies that, in the absence of a university-wide requirement, studies MAY NOT ask about or require vaccination of participants unless those requirements are written into an approved IRB protocol.  All human subject researchers should review these requirements carefully and may get in touch with Philip Lehman with any questions.

Staff supporting Human Subject Research (e.g. business office staff and faculty support staff) should be on campus at least as often as necessary to support experiments (as well as additional time for other roles, as needed).

No one’s vaccination status should be solicited and/or recorded by anyone except a central university authority.

However, the university announced on August 20 a vaccination requirement for all faculty and staff (with certain exemptions), following the May announcement for students.

Yes.  For the fall semester, exterior doors will be open weekdays (as they were before COVID).

In person events aligned with safety protocols may take place without pre- approval (see below concerning visitors).

Indoor meetings and university-sponsored events of up to 50 persons are permitted. However, recognizing that many colleagues may still be operating remotely during this transition period, virtual alternatives are encouraged and may be necessary to ensure adequate participation.

Outdoor meetings and university-sponsored events are permitted up to 50% of outdoor facility capacity.

Requests for additional exceptions to this limit may be directed to Philip Lehman.  Through August and September, the university is discouraging non-curricular exceptions. Exceptions apply for classes and for Orientation events at the start of the academic year.

Through September (other than student campus dining), food/beverages should be consumed outdoors or provided on a takeaway basis to be consumed in a private workspace.  In cases where food is eaten indoors with others, there should be ample physical distancing between participants.

Because of the recent reinstitution of the face covering mandate, through September, we strongly recommend that food not be served at indoor events, regardless of size.

Food (including take-out and catered) should be individually wrapped and sealed, e.g. if stored in shared appliances.

Please note that food should never be consumed in classrooms.  Alcohol is currently prohibited.

SCS is bringing kitchens (refrigerators and microwaves) back online.

Please contact Philip Lehman with questions.

Beginning July 1, visitors to the Pittsburgh campus for one-time visits and/or recurring meetings are permitted, subject to approval. See the Visitor Protocol page for more information.

SCS visitor pre-approval will be required only under the following circumstances: for international visitors, for visitors in a large group (20 or more people), or for minors (under the age of 18). Please send questions (or requests at least 3 days in advance) to Philip Lehman.

However, through September, we are discouraging visits that can be postponed.

Non-COVID-related visitor protocols and policies also continue to apply.

Effective July 1, university-sponsored domestic travel for all CMU community members is permitted subject to approval from your department/manager.

You do not have to quarantine following domestic travel. However, per the CDC's guidance on travel, we continue to encourage students, faculty, staff, vendors, and visitors to wear a facial covering and avoid large events or crowded spaces during travel.  Following travel, all faculty, staff, and students who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must participate weekly in Tartan Testing if they are planning to be on campus.

 International travel for university business remains suspended until further notice and the university is working on a revised international travel policy. In the event there is a critical university business need that requires international travel, please contact Philip Lehman.

You may do so without requesting further permission.

Facial coverings are required for everyone at all times indoors (except in private spaces or when eating and drinking) and outdoors within 6 feet of others.

 Fully vaccinated community members no longer need to complete the Daily Self- Assessment or participate in Tartan Testing before coming to campus. “Fully vaccinated” means that someone has completed an approved vaccine protocol and at least two weeks have passed since the final vaccine dose.

Those who are not fully vaccinated must still participate in Tartan Testing, wear face coverings, and do the Daily Self-Assessment before coming to campus.

Note that Tartan Testing will also be available for fully vaccinated CMU community members who desire a weekly test. (Note that the check-in location has moved to the East Campus Garage.)

Open Enrollment for Carnegie Mellon University on-campus parking permits for 2021- 2022 is closed. See the parking website for more information. After Open Enrollment, CMU Parking may consider additional arrangements.

For facial coverings, please contact:

For questions or further guidance, please contact your department business manager or Philip LehmanCPSAs and PSOs–as well as liaisons–continue as a source of expertise.