Dear OSU Community,
We are just days away from the start of Fall term, and due to our extensive planning and a shared OSU commitment to public health strategies, we are ready.
This fall – and likely the entire academic year – will require your ongoing diligence and flexibility, as we live, learn, discover, and engage in the presence of COVID-19. We had hoped to be on the other side of this pandemic by now. Instead, we must confront the reality that COVID-19 is endemic. Although stress and uncertainty may remain high, if we continue to support one another, we will not let this virus break our spirits and we will be brought closer together as a community.
Below are highlights of our plan for fall, including new guidance. This update contains important details you will need this fall, so please take the time to become fully informed.
Positive cases will happen:
While we do not want any virus transmission or disease, we know it is likely we will have positive cases. Be confident that we have university protocols and expectations to quickly isolate, notify, and minimize spread. These protocols have been in place for over a year, and they have proven effective. Please be familiar and fully utilize OSU’s positive case notification protocols.
If you test positive, or learn that you have been exposed to COVID-19, following isolation and quarantine requirements is essential to stopping virus spread. Employees and students are required to follow notification, isolation and quarantine protocols and should be familiar with the latest guidance and requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
To assist employees, including student workers, in observing isolation and quarantine requirements, OSU will provide additional hours of COVID leave, to be used if you are required to isolate, quarantine, or care for a family member who is required to isolate or quarantine. All full-time employees will receive 80 hours of additional paid leave and those holding part-time appointments will receive a prorated amount of leave. Hourly student employees will receive 20 hours of additional paid leave. This leave may be utilized beginning Sept 16, 2021 through June 30, 2022. For more information, please visit the University Human Resources website.
Vaccination and return to full capacity:
In alignment with the CDC’s Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education, OSU’s vaccination program is the current primary measure that supports our return to full capacity in-person learning, work, research and outreach programming. The CDC guidance allows universities to return to full capacity where all students, faculty, and staff have completed their vaccination series to protect against COVID-19 prior to returning to campus, or who request exemption for medical or other reasons, while also complying with state and local requirements and guidelines.
OSU has employed many additional public health measures aimed at promoting community health and wellness, including mask wearing as mandated by Oregon’s Governor and when conditions warrant their use; enhanced touchpoint cleaning, ventilation system optimization; wastewater surveillance and testing; public health messaging; and encouraging adherence to personal hygiene practices.
We are pleased that vaccination compliance and vaccination rates among OSU employees and students are high and increase daily. If you have not yet met your compliance requirements, please do so now. Employees who elect to take a course as a student, and graduate employees, are required to complete the student-version of the compliance process. Compliance is required by September 15, 2021. Failure to comply with OSU’s vaccination program may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination for employees and suspension for students. More guidance for supervisors on managing employee compliance will be provided by University Human Resources in the coming week.
If you have not been vaccinated, please get the vaccine now. Local pharmacies and health care providers administer vaccination, and students on the Corvallis campus can obtain a vaccine from Student Health Services.
As vaccine boosters become recommended and available, OSU will work with local public health authorities and health care providers to help facilitate easy access. We will announce opportunities to receive boosters as they are available.
Testing for COVID-19 within the OSU community remains an important tool for reducing the risk and spread of the virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated and are located on the higher-density OSU campuses in Corvallis and Bend. In response to the impact that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases is having on health care systems in Benton and Deschutes Counties, employees and students who have claimed an exemption to OSU’s vaccination program and who remain unvaccinated will be required to test weekly for COVID-19. Campus-based testing locations may be utilized by individuals not required to test, as capacity allows.
Compliance with testing requirements:
Unvaccinated employees and students on the Corvallis and OSU-Cascades campuses are required to obtain their weekly tests by utilizing a campus-based testing site. Test results will be sent confidentially from the processing lab to Student Health Services. Results will be available by logging onto the secure Student Health Services Portal with ONID credentials. Notifications of results and messages will be communicated via text to the mobile phone number listed or emailed from the address “OSU Health.” SHS will notify University Human Resources only of an employee’s compliance status – not their test results. For students, compliance status will be sent to the Office of the Dean of Students.
For information on testing, visit OSU’s Safety and Success website, under the “Testing” text box.
The Pathway to Fall Guide has been updated, providing updated information such as building ventilation as well as more guidance in Section IV related to academic programming, research & student services. Information is provided on what academic faculty should do when they learn of exposure involving students in their class, as well as guidance on maintaining continuity of course delivery. Information is also provided on addressing compliance within the classroom and other environments. Research may proceed in accordance with OSU’s policies and related guidelines. For OSU Extension specific guidance, refer to COVID-19 resources for OSU Extension.
I hope this information is helpful in facilitating a successful start to the academic year. Again, thank you for your continued diligence and flexibility as we return to a more fully in-person experience in the coming days. As always, we will inform you of any necessary measures or adjustments that need to be made as we continue to live with this virus.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
OSU Coronavirus Coordinator