Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science
March 18, 2021

Updates to CMU Policies for Outdoor Gatherings, Travel, Quarantine & Vaccines

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon University Community:

I write today with updates to CMU’s policies related to travel, quarantine and outdoor gatherings. With growing optimism due, in part, to increasing vaccine supply and coverage, we are now able to revisit and modify our virus mitigation protocols.

Outdoor Gatherings

With studies showing that transmission of the COVID-19 virus in outdoor settings is significantly lower than in indoor environments, effective March 20, the university is expanding access to outdoor opportunities for our community and approved visitors. Outdoor gatherings will be permitted up to 10% of a venue’s capacity in spaces that will allow proper physical distancing. We will continue to evaluate this cap as circumstances and public health guidance evolves.

To expand opportunities for outdoor activities, the Student Leadership, Involvement, and Civic Engagement (SLICE) Office has proposed an outdoor stage venue for the College of Fine Arts lawn. That proposal has been approved, and installation will move forward this coming weekend. Further details will be featured in next week’s Piper.


On March 1, Pennsylvania lifted out-of-Commonwealth travel restrictions and updated its travel guidelines. As a result, the university is no longer requiring a quarantine if you leave the Commonwealth and return or if you’re traveling to campus from another state.

When traveling, we continue to encourage students, faculty and staff to wear a facial covering and avoid events or crowded spaces as ways to limit your risk of exposure to COVID-19. High-risk travel is strongly discouraged.

Following travel, faculty/staff/students/vendors should be tested and have a negative result before attending on-campus classes, work or activities. Asymptomatic individuals may come to campus for a Tartan Testing appointment. Those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should access care through their health care providers. View the full details of our travel protocols.

Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Persons

On March 5, the CDC issued new guidance for activities that fully vaccinated people can resume. The new guidelines indicate that someone “is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of the vaccine.” The new guidance now permits a fully vaccinated person to “refrain from quarantine if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 after contact with someone who has COVID-19.” CMU has modified its requirements for contact tracing and quarantine accordingly.


The university is still awaiting news of whether we will be approved as a vaccine distributor. The FDA has authorized a third vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) for emergency use, and we all remain eager for information about the availability of this and other vaccines for our community. Pennsylvania is still in phase 1A of its distribution plan, which includes frontline health workers, people over 65 and those with high-risk conditions. Members of our community who qualify for phase 1A can currently seek a vaccine using this tool managed by the Commonwealth. We encourage you to learn more about the vaccines and will continue to keep you apprised as more information becomes available.

While the modification of certain guidelines is a mark of progress, we are not out of the crisis. It is crucial to continue with the mitigation measures that have served our community well: wear facial coverings any time you are outside your home or in the presence of someone from outside your household, wash your hands frequently, maintain physical distance of 6 feet from others, and complete your daily self-assessment.

We look toward the future with hopefulness and optimism. The days are getting longer, flowers are in bloom, and spring is upon us. We hope you are able to find time to go outside and safely enjoy these simple pleasures.


Daryl Weinert
Chief of Staff and Vice President for Strategic Initiatives
CMU COVID-19 Coordinator