Dear OSU faculty and staff,
We write to announce important decisions regarding instruction for the fall term.
Based on careful monitoring of the status of the COVID-19 locally, throughout Oregon and nationally, we have decided that OSU’s Corvallis campus will deliver most courses remotely in the fall, making it possible for students to live and study from home if that is the best option for them. This approach will limit the density of activity on-campus and help minimize the possible spread of COVID-19 among students and employees.
Given OSU-Cascades’ smaller size, the Bend campus will offer a higher complement of fall courses on-site, while also creating remote learning options so that OSU-Cascades students also have a choice of where to live and study. A separate communication that provides information on fall instruction at OSU-Cascades is available here. The additional details we offer below apply to the Corvallis campus unless noted otherwise.
The decision to deliver instruction primarily virtually on our Corvallis campus was difficult. However, it is fully consistent with the principles we established in our resumption plan, which the Board of Trustees will review on Friday for consistency with guidelines issued by local and state health authorities and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. While current conditions on our Corvallis campus remain at Level 2 of the university’s four public health levels, conditions are trending toward Level 3. Although the path of the virus remains uncertain, students, faculty and staff need clarity regarding fall teaching and operations in order to prepare for the term.
The university’s COVID-19 Safety and Success website and this video offer details on what OSU will look like this fall. The following provides an outline, with a focus on instruction and student life. We will provide additional information on other operations in coming days.
Choice: To the greatest extent practicable, we are providing students with the ability to decide the location that works best for them to pursue their OSU studies. If a student feels safest living at home or off-campus and taking OSU courses remotely, almost all of our instruction will support that choice. If they choose to live on campus while they pursue their studies (mostly remotely and online), they are welcome at OSU.
Over 90 percent of OSU Corvallis course sections will be offered remotely. Courses offered on-site will primarily be those that have a heavy experiential learning component, such as labs and field courses. Therefore, some students—especially advanced undergraduates and graduate students—may need to be in Corvallis in order to take those courses and continue progressing in their degree programs. The OSU Schedule of Classes lists the instructional modality or format for each course: on-site/in-person, remote, a blend of on-site/in-person and remote, and online through Ecampus. Regardless of instructional modality, courses will be compelling and engaging, supporting students in achieving their academic goals.
Living on campus: Residence halls will be open to students who decide that living on campus is their best and safest option. Capacity will be reduced to offer only single and double occupancy rooms and to create space for use in isolating and quarantining, should it be needed. We have adjusted our First Year Experience Live-on policy so that all first-year students otherwise subject to this policy may make the choice to remain at home. If students elect to stay at home and attend OSU remotely, no exemption request is required. Students with a current UHDS contract who decide to stay home must cancel their contract by emailing email@example.com.
Buildings with classrooms and teaching laboratories for in-person instruction and applied learning will be open during fall term, along with the Memorial Union, Dixon Recreation Center, buildings that provide students with student services and study spaces, child care, health and wellness, food services and emergency assistance. Advising services will be mostly provided remotely.
Living near campus. We know that many students remain in and around Corvallis during the summer months while others will return to the area in order to utilize the university’s facilities, information technology infrastructure, and support programs while taking remote or online courses. Therefore, the campus will be open under modified conditions to support those students, and we will have public health measures and COVID-19 testing protocols in place. We ask all students, faculty and staff accessing the campus and living in the Corvallis community to be vigilant in adhering to OSU, local and state public health guidelines, and to participate in voluntary virus testing.
Public health measures: The multiple public health measures we have implemented include physical distancing and face covering requirements; enhanced cleaning protocols within university buildings; isolation and quarantine rooms in residence halls; improved HVAC filtration, where possible; expanded availability of hand sanitizer; and other public health measures recommended by local and state health officials. These measures are working well and have helped OSU to offer selected programs and services on-site and in-person over the summer.
On campus testing: We will test continuously for the prevalence of the virus that causes COVID-19 on the Corvallis and OSU-Cascades campuses and at the Hatfield Marine Science Center with the expert guidance of OSU researchers leading the TRACE-COVID-19 project. In addition to prevalence testing, we will monitor wastewater on our campuses and at HMSC for the presence of the virus. We are also exploring providing an initial test to students who choose to live on campus in Corvallis and students arriving from out-of-state hotspot communities.
Financial assistance and student fees: The OSU Board of Trustees froze tuition rates for the 2020-21 academic year for continuing OSU undergraduates enrolled in Corvallis, Bend, Portland and at Eastern Oregon University; we are increasing need-based financial aid assistance for eligible students; and we are preserving scholarship offers for students who elect to study elsewhere in the fall and return to OSU in a subsequent term. As well, fees associated with Student Fee-funded programs are now under review by student leaders. Information on any student fee reductions will be provided after the student fee committees complete their review.
Research and Extension. Campus-based research activities and fieldwork will follow existing resumption guidelines and on-site OSU Extension activities around the state will take place as local conditions permit.
We certainly had hoped that we would be at a different place in the national battle with COVID-19 by this point in the summer, such that we would be able to return to a significant complement of on-site and in-person instruction for fall term. However, we believe that by shifting to a primarily virtual instructional format, while also offering a limited mix of on-site teaching that facilitates students’ continued progress toward their degree, we will maintain a low density of activity on the Corvallis campus and help minimize the spread of COVID-19. Of course, we are prepared to pivot to fully remote operations if public health considerations dictate such a decision.
We sincerely appreciate the patience and understanding of all members of the OSU community as we adjust to ever-changing pandemic conditions and public health circumstances. Thank you in advance for remaining flexible and adaptable as we continue to prioritize your health and success.
As resilient members of Beaver Nation, we will continue to respond, adapt and recover from these challenging times and become an even stronger community and better university for all we serve.
F. King Alexander
Provost and Executive Vice President