3 June 2020

Dear OSU faculty and staff,

Resuming gradual and phased onsite and in-person activity within OSU’s campuses and facilities for faculty, staff, students and the communities we serve is critical to serving the university’s land grant research mission and supporting student success.

Doing so, will require a commitment from our entire community to embrace OSU’s comprehensive public health strategy as we continue to address risks presented by the pandemic. Taking steps to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infections (or any other spread of disease) at OSU is a shared responsibility.  Every member of our community must do their part.  This means adhering to national, state, and local health guidelines and requirements, and adhering to those measures OSU deems appropriate for its locations.

From our initial response to the pandemic in February to OSU’s ongoing resumption planning, we are emphasizing a Culture of Care approach to respond to – and acknowledge – the many impacts that the pandemic is having on the lives of our students, faculty and staff.  Our families working from home without child or eldercare are balancing tremendous essential priorities. Moreover, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted those who are most at risk, including those with underlying medical conditions or other risk factors. Due to historic and systemic health disparities, our communities of color are facing even greater impacts from the pandemic locally and across the nation. Our community needs continued flexibility, added support, compassion and understanding. 

At times such as these, it is critical that we continue our institutional efforts to create safer, healthier and supportive living, learning and working environments, while individually committing to the respect, care and protection of those around us.

OSU's Resumption Plan (PDF) provides guidance on how onsite and in-person functions and activities will be phased beginning June 14, 2020, once Gov. Kate Brown’s Executive Order 20-09 regarding the operation of higher education institutions expires.  Based on guidance from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, OSU anticipates that soon the Governor will set ongoing standards for universities to meet in order to resume onsite activity during the pandemic. With that guidance and guidance from state health authorities, as well as feedback from the OSU community, stakeholders and community partners, OSU will continue to update its Resumption Plan and determine when and how to resume onsite activities. In many cases, OSU’s standards may exceed statewide guidelines for colleges and universities.

Below are several highlights of the university’s plan, which can be found on the OSU COVID-19 Resumption website. 

Reminders as we resume onsite activities:

  1. The health and safety of the university community, the communities in which we operate and those we serve remain our top priority. With your participation, we will collectively use a variety of measures to help protect our community.
  2. We must remain flexible and adaptive.  Our path to resume onsite and in-person activity will be contingent on changes in local public health conditions and continued guidance from the Governor’s office, as well as state and local health officials.
  3. Until there is a vaccine or reliable treatment, OSU will utilize low-density and mixed modality approaches within our campus environments.  This means OSU will provide in-person instruction, activities and engagement where it has highest impact, and use technology as a complement and/or alternative.

OSU’s Resumption Plan: 

The plan has three major areas:

  1. An overview of OSU’s guiding principles, readiness measures, a checklist confirming readiness components, and a comprehensive public health strategy;
  2. Guidance on our phased and gradual return to onsite and in-person activity; and
  3. Specific operational guidance by area. 

Plan Highlights:

OSU’s Comprehensive Public Health Strategy

  1. Multiple public health measures will be utilized in order to enhance the prevention of the spread of the virus; to monitor, test and track exposure; and to provide support and care for those affected. More information on OSU’s strategies can be found on our OSU Resumption website.  Your familiarity with these strategies, as well as your participation, will be a critical factor in our return to onsite operations.
  2. A central component of OSU’s comprehensive public health strategy will be ongoing surveillance of the prevalence of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the university community.  We will work with OSU’s TRACE-COVID-19 team to conduct voluntary sampling of OSU community members to measure the prevalence of the virus. We will conduct environmental surveillance sampling from campus wastewater lines to measure the presence of the virus. Wastewater surveillance will be an extra level of monitoring for on-campus congregate living locations. This work will enable us to monitor and evaluate local public health conditions as we resume onsite activity, and respond if conditions require.
  3. Beginning June 14, OSU’s policy on face coverings in public and common settings will be in effect. This policy requires faculty, staff, students and visitors across all OSU locations to use masks or cloth face coverings, or an appropriate alternative, when in enclosed OSU public and common areas, unless an exception is met. Please review and familiarize yourself with this policy and supplemental guidance (PDF). Face coverings will be provided to the OSU community as a supplement to each individual’s personal supply. Information on where to obtain OSU-provided face coverings will be announced in the coming days. Along with other prevention measures, the use of face coverings will be central to our Culture of Care commitments.

Phased Resumption:

OSU is planning to resume onsite activity over three phases, with phase one called “Restricted Return.”  The subsequent phases are called “Modified Operations” (July 14 to August 31) and “Fall Operations” (beginning September 1). During Restricted Return, the following guidelines apply:

  1. Service units whose operations require on-site administration – such as Dixon Recreation Center, childcare centers and extension offices – may begin to resume onsite delivery of services in alignment with the OSU Resumption Plan. Visit respective program websites for information on expected date of resumption.
  2. Most university facilities and offices will remain closed during the ‘Restricted Return’ phase, except where onsite and in-person services have resumed.
  3. Onsite extension and statewide activities may resume in accordance with previously communicated Extension re-opening framework with appropriate modifications.
  4. Generally, if you are working remotely you will continue to do so unless your supervisor has requested that you return.
  5. If you have been requested to return work onsite during this phase, and you have need to continue working remotely (i.e. children at home, care for family member, health or other reasons) please work with your supervisor and let them know you would like to find a way to continue to work from home. Supervisors are encouraged to be flexible and find ways to allow employees to continue to work remotely during this phase. Supervisors should not ask employees their age, whether they have an underlying health condition or what that condition may be.
  6. Voluntary self-screening will be an important component to our public health strategy. Resources will be provided in the coming days on ways you can perform a personal check to ensure returning to work is appropriate.
  7. More information on returning to work can be found in OSU’s Resumption Plan. 

Summer Activities:

  1. Planning continues for summer activities, youth camps and conferences. OSU anticipates that limited in-person and small group youth activities may begin with the resumption of onsite and in-person instruction of OSU students starting in OSU’s second phase of resumption (Modified Operations). As before, this will be in accordance with state requirements for school-aged summer day camps.
  2. At this time, overnight camps involving youth cannot be held according to state guidelines. Per this guidance, OSU will not offer overnight youth camps.
  3. We ask that departments await guidance from OSU in interpreting any new state guidelines prior to planning future camps.

Planning for Late Summer and Fall:

  1. Remote delivery of summer term courses will be in effect until sessions 4 and 5.
  2. As planning proceeds for summer programs at the university and statewide services (Extension and Agricultural Experiment Stations) and services in the fall and the next academic year, please plan to limit in-person interaction and engagement to where it is necessary. Units should continue to utilize remote delivery of programming and services where feasible, to allow for lower density environments. Staff meetings should also continue to be held remotely, whenever possible.
  3. On the Corvallis campus, we are currently planning that fall term face-to-face teaching will end on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. Week 10 and fall term final exams and activities will be delivered remotely. Corvallis students will not need to return to campus after the Thanksgiving break to complete the fall term. While this requires additional flexibility and preparation by faculty and staff, it will provide an additional important measure of public health protection for students, faculty, staff and the Corvallis community. Residence halls will remain open for students who need a place to stay throughout winter break.

In closing, resuming onsite and in-person activity will require an institutional and personal commitment to protecting our own health and respecting the health and safety of those around us.

In keeping with OSU’s Culture of Care commitment, I encourage that all members of the university community see their behaviors and commitment to public health in the context of the greater good. We recognize that resuming on-campus learning and engagement will bring some risk, just as will the reopening of the communities in which we live and work. We have the tools, knowledge and ability to mitigate risk if we do so together -- as has always been our way.

I want to thank the many who contributed in developing OSU’s resumption plan, including valued partners at Benton County Health Department, Deschutes County Public Health Services and our other county partners, as well as faculty, staff and students, and the ongoing guidance from Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority.

Sincerely,

 

Dan Larson
Coronavirus Response Coordinator
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

 

 

Date: 
June 3, 2020