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The University of Pittsburgh's shelter-in-place order was originally scheduled to begin on Nov. 12 in anticipation of Thanksgiving break, but was moved to start earlier due to the rise in COVID-19 cases. (Photo by Yisong Yue | CC BY-SA 2.0)

The University of Pittsburgh's Oakland campus has issued a two-week shelter-in-place order for students due to growing numbers of COVID-19 cases. 

Beginning 12:01 a.m. this past Monday, students were required to remain in their dorms as much as possible and may leave only for class, exercise, work, and to shop for essential items.

Pitt implemented the order due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the last week. On Thursday, Pitt announced that 32 students had tested positive within a 48-hour period, and the five-day moving average of positive cases per day jumped from 3.2 to 8.2 cases.

According to the official statement from Pitt, places of gathering in dorms such as lounges, kitchens, and recreation rooms are closed. On-campus dining facilities are only open for takeout. 

While the shelter-in-place order was originally scheduled to begin on Nov. 12 in anticipation of Thanksgiving break, officials moved its start date earlier due to the rise in cases. Pitt students will still be able to go home for Thanksgiving, where they will complete the rest of the semester virtually.

A statement issued by Pitt's medical response office said that many of the cases have been linked to Halloween parties where social distancing and mask rules were not followed. 

Pitt's Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner acknowledged the news would be disappointing in a message to the student body. He said, however, that the measures were “necessary” to respond to the pandemic. 

“It’s imperative that you limit your close contacts and stay vigilant about wearing your face covering and physical distancing,” said Bonner. “The next two weeks will test our resolve as a community.”

At Penn, there have been 506 positive COVID-19 cases since the start of the semester. In the week of Oct. 31, Penn had 107 cases — its highest weekly case count yet. 

On Oct. 30, Penn announced plans to reopen on-campus housing for the spring semester. Most courses will still be taught online, and students will be expected to quarantine in their residences for the first two weeks. 

Despite Penn’s plans to reopen, some students remain skeptical due to the growing number of cases. Many are still looking to rent off-campus apartments out of fear that the University will reverse its decision last minute, as it did in August.