‘Stop playing around’: Bonner, CMRO urge students to get COVID-19 tested after large weekend parties

By Martha Layne, Assistant News Editor

Kenyon Bonner, vice provost and dean of students, posted a video on Monday through Pitt’s Student Affairs Instagram account about the “deeply concerning behavior” he observed as he walked around Central Oakland Saturday afternoon.

Bonner said as he was handing out masks to students, he saw many students at large gatherings without physically distancing or wearing masks. Bonner also said he saw Pitt police break up two gatherings.

Bonner said the benefits of the recent move to the Guarded Risk position are all in “limbo” due to students’ actions last weekend. These benefits include student organizations’ in-person events, open spaces in residence halls as well as in-person dining. If cases “surge,” according to Bonner, the University may have to move risk positions or impose a shelter-in-place as the impact of “this kind of behavior is unknown at this time.” Bonner said he “appreciated” students who are being safe, but spoke strongly to students who aren’t.

“To the thousands of students who continue to do your part in helping the Pitt community thrive during this pandemic, I appreciate you. You are the reason we have made it this far without dramatic changes to our operations,” Bonner said. “To students who continue to jeopardize in-person activities and commencement exercises for our graduating students, stop playing around and get serious.”

Pitt’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office said it encourages students who attended these large and unsafe gatherings over the weekend to get tested on Wednesday or Thursday.

Posvar Hall will serve as a testing space for students who may be infected from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday. Students who get tested will not face any disciplinary action and can schedule their test with Pitt Swab Scheduler. This testing is the same as Pitt’s ongoing surveillance testing, and the CMRO said students should watch a video to familiarize themselves with the self-collection process.

Bonner said while many students are following health and safety precautions, many students are not, which creates an issue for the Pitt community.

“Many of you are following Pitt’s health and safety guidelines, but too many people are behaving recklessly and irresponsibly. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic. What I saw on Saturday looked more like year 2019 than 2021,” Bonner said. “To all of us, don’t lose sight of the end goal. Our goal is to keep our community safe.”