Dear OSU Employees,
Thank you for your steadiness, flexibility, and care for students and colleagues as we begin winter term navigating the continued impacts of the pandemic. We know this surge in the virus has been especially challenging from a daily disruption standpoint, given how fast the Omicron variant is spreading and isolation requirements that come with positive cases.

Since the pandemic began, OSU has been deliberate in building a general framework that provides guidance to units and employees while also being flexible enough to allow for adjustments appropriate for diverse conditions and needs across the university. We’ve tried to recognize that centralized alone-size-fits-all approaches, while perhaps more efficient to implement, are blunt instruments that overshadow unit leader, faculty, and staff experience on the ground. Thus far during this current surge, we are observing that unit-level discretion within the COVID response guidelines is working well in adjusting approaches to delivering effective learning, research, and extension and engagement programs. Yet, “working” doesn’t mean it has been easy. We thank you for all you’re doing in this difficult period.

Recent predictions from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington show that positive cases of COVID-19 are expected to peak in Oregon next week. This is good news, yet we still expect that a rising number of OSU community members will need to isolate and/or support family members in isolation. We anticipate that this will require continued temporary operational and course delivery adjustments over the next several weeks. However, given public health measures in place, we do not anticipate circumstances where it will be necessary—or improve public health conditions—to move all university operations to remote delivery.

Below are updates on mitigating exposure and transmission in OSU environments.

Positive Case Notification:
Per Oregon OSHA and OSU requirements, employees are required to notify their supervisor if they have tested positive for COVID-19. In turn, supervisors must notify employees who worked in the same workspaces as a coworker who has tested positive. See our notification quick reference guide for more details. Additionally, students are required to notify OSU if they test positive. Notification is then provided to employees who may have had exposure to the individual who tested positive while in their work environment.

In efforts to help clarify and streamline positive case notification, we have updated our protocol to help minimize duplication of notification. It remains the urgent responsibility of the individual who tests positive to complete OSU’s Positive Case Notification. As of Jan 18, 2022, OSU will provide a daily list of buildings where employees may have been exposed to someone, who in the past 24 hours has notified OSU of their positive test results in the building in which they may work. This information will be provided on OSU’s COVID-19 Dashboard. Additionally, as of Jan. 18, 2022, and until further notice, we will add daily (rather than weekly) updates on testing and positive case counts to OSU’s COVID-19 Dashboard.

Masks and Face Coverings:
OSU employees and students should choose the type of mask that provides the highest level of protection and meets their personal needs. To improve the efficacy of the face covering you may choose, please visit the CDC’s guidance on how to increase your protection levels. For your protection, please consider using masks that provide higher levels of filtration, including surgical, KF94, KN95 or N95 masks. Until further notice and while supplies last, OSU will be providing N95 or KN95 masks at no cost to employees and students. To learn more about how your unit can order N95 or KN95 masks and locations where you can pick up masks for your personal use, please visit the OSU Face Covering Guidance, Supplies, and Public Health Policy page.

Recent updates to recommended isolation and quarantine guidelines are taking time to get used to, as they are quite different from previous guidance. Please familiarize yourself with the full guidance, but in simple terms, if you test positive or are symptomatic: isolate. If you have been exposed and are up-to-date on your vaccinations against COVID-19, watch for symptoms and wear your mask around others; You do not need to quarantine or isolate, unless you test positive or develop symptoms. However, if you have been exposed and are not vaccinated, or are not up-to-date on your vaccinations, you need to quarantine.

As we move toward the expected peak of this wave of positive cases in the coming days, we will continue to provide updates, resources and guidance. Again, thank you for your flexibility and dedication to delivering OSU’s mission during this challenging time. We will get through this together.


Dan Larson
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
OSU Coronavirus Response Coordinator

January 14, 2022