Oregon State University is planning to resume traditional on-site and in-person activities at OSU locations for academic year 2021-22.
We make these plans with a careful eye on current, comprehensive public health and mitigation strategies and continuation of the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) vaccine distribution plan for all Oregonians.
OSU’s plans will require ongoing commitment and support from all members of the OSU community, a continued decline in COVID-19 infection rates, and adherence to federal, state, and other applicable guidance and requirements that permit increased on-site and in-person activities.
While subject to change, we are currently planning for fall to include:
OSU will operate in alignment with Oregon Governor’s Executive Order 20-28 and associated Oregon Health Authority and Higher Education Coordinating Commission Guidance for the Conduct of In-Person Instructional, Residential, and Research Activities at Oregon Colleges and Universities. Additional local public health requirements may apply depending on the type of OSU activity, a county’s COVID-19 risk level, and the location of activities planned.
We remain optimistic that public health conditions will allow OSU to provide primarily in-person teaching on our campuses and on-site research, engagement, extracurricular programs and activities. The return process will be gradual and flexible. We know the transition requires patience and compassion, as much as clarity and structure. Pathway to Fall complies with state and local health guidelines and is informed by public health experts from a joint taskforce from Oregon State University and the University of Oregon. While we expect vaccination to drive dramatic improvements in public health conditions well before fall term, we anticipate continuing to employ an appropriate mix of public health measures, such as wearing face coverings, engaging in physical distancing, and utilizing COVID-19 testing.
The following principles serve as the foundation of OSU’s resumption plan.
Subject to change based on executive order or other legal requirements and local conditions.
OSU expects to transition to higher-density, on-site and in-person activity in phased and gradual steps over the next several months, helping employees to develop comfort and confidence as we re-establish on-site workplace norms. This transition can be altered quickly if local conditions or legal requirements warrant.
Employees should continue to review the OHA Sector Guidance ― General Guidance for Employers and Organizations to ensure requirements are met for non-instructional or research workspaces; OHA/HECC Guidance for workspaces that support in-person instruction; residential and research activities; and the OSHA Temporary Rules for COVID-19 workplace safety.
Spring term operations are expected to be consistent with fall 2020 and winter 2021 terms. There may be minimal increases in on-site and in-person activity, though offices that have been fully remote may continue to operate remotely for the remainder of spring term. Deans, vice presidents and vice provosts may provide gradual allowance for return to offices and workspaces, while continuing to provide remote services for students, faculty, staff, and community members for the remainder of the term.
In the mid- to late spring, employees who are preparing for the delivery of on-site and in-person activity beginning summer term may be on-site.
Central operations (e.g., Office of Admissions, Business Office, and Office of the Registrar) are expected to be open in summer - and may do so with reduced staff density. On-site flexibility options include modified in-person service hours, with remote service provided during standard business hours. The plan is to increase on-site and in-person activity associated with all summer programming, as allowable given public health conditions, OHA requirements and other applicable requirements and guidelines. Remote work for employees whose functions can be fully performed remotely may continue if their working remotely does not negatively impact program/service delivery or place undue burden on other personnel, units or resources.
In the mid- to late summer, employees who are preparing for the delivery of on-site and in-person activity beginning fall term should plan to begin to transition back on-site.
The pathway to fall 2021 gradually transitions OSU back to traditional on-site and in-person activity to the greatest extent possible. All university operations and offices are expected to be open during traditional business hours with reduced density only where necessary. It is assumed that employees traditionally working on-site before the pandemic are expected to work on-site in the fall unless they are working remotely as part of reduced density rotation or staffing strategy. Some employees may wish to continue to work either fully or partly remotely even as much of our on-site operations resume. These arrangements may be possible, and they will require a remote working agreement.
For fall 2021, university spaces may require some amount of physical distancing, based on Oregon Health Authority, OSHA and other applicable requirements. OHA guidance on physical distancing requirements and/or total capacities on the number of people in one room will be followed. Resources such as the following provide information for units to determine the appropriate capacity for their areas:
Many OSU employees were encouraged to take furniture, technology, equipment and supplies home when OSU transitioned into a remote teaching and working mode in spring 2020. As we plan for resuming on-site activities and operation, we have devised a program for assuring a safe return to work environment. Brief information provided below and details will be available on the Operations Move-in Guide website the week of April 26, 2021.
To support the successful and deliberate moving of employees back on-site, facilities management, with assistance from building managers, is planning to provide a move-in assistance program over the summer. An anticipated schedule of building-by-building assistance will be will be available on the Operations Move-in Guide website the week of April 26, 2021.
As employees return on-site, support for reconnecting technology and equipment will be provided by the central IT Team assigned to your college, department or unit. Updated cyber tools will be loaded to ensure protection of OSU resources. Guidelines for bringing equipment back within OSU locations, provided by OSU University Information and Technology, will be available on the Operations Move-in Guide website the week of April 26, 2021.
OSU IT also will assist in reviewing and updating technologies and equipment that have been unused or minimally used during primarily remote work, such as printers, copiers, conference room technology and phones.
Service Desks and other support units are planning to continue to offer a hybrid level of services with remote as well as on-site support to guide and assist transitions for those returning to campus.
OSU expects to update travel restrictions as public health conditions and guidance from public health authorities change. For the latest travel guidance and restrictions review the travel related Frequently Asked Questions on the COVID-19 Safety & Success website.
All on-site events and activities will be conducted in alignment with:
OSU recognizes that as on-site learning, research, and extension and outreach activity increases, there may be increased interest in holding in-person events. OSU has designed an approval request form for planners hosting in-person, on-site events in Corvallis. Approval request forms for events held at OSU-Cascades, OSU Extension & Engagement locations, the OSU Portland Center and the Hatfield Marine Science Center are available on their respective web pages. Submissions are not approved until a final confirmation email is received. If there are any questions about the submission, the reviewers will reach out to the event planner(s). This review process supports OSU's compliance efforts with local, state, and federal guidelines and requirements, as well as OSU policy. Note that this approval process is not required for unit-based, college or departmental meetings in the interest of university business.
Recreational Spaces: Campus recreation and outdoor common areas will follow all applicable CDC, OSHA, Oregon Health Authority, and industry specific requirements and carefully consider best practices guidelines.
Oregon State University intends to implement a COVID-19 vaccination requirement beginning fall term 2021 for those students who learn, work or engage in-person in OSU activities and for those employees who, as part of their OSU work, engage in-person with individuals outside of their household. OSU will engage in additional conversation with employees, the Faculty Senate, unions and others as it finalizes the policy, specific exemptions and compliance/enforcement.
The best way to prevent infection from COVID-19 is to be vaccinated as soon as possible and continue to follow recommended or required public health measures (e.g., face coverings).
Some OSU community members may not have had access to the vaccine (e.g., youths) prior to the resumption of university on-site and in-person activity. In addition, some individuals may have medical or religious reasons that preclude them from being vaccinated. OSU will provide a pathway for exemptions legally required by state or federal law. Employees, volunteers and students should understand that any individual they come in to contact with may or may not be vaccinated. Therefore, everyone must follow the current requirements provided by the Oregon Health Authority and university’s COVID-19 health and safety policies.
Employees, volunteers and students are discouraged from discussing who has or has not been vaccinated. Because it is private medical information, supervisors are directed not to ask employees whether they have been or plan to be vaccinated. OSU employees may not ask students whether they have been or plan to be vaccinated. We anticipate that there will be a central process to determine compliance with the vaccination requirement, such that supervisors and others need not determine vaccination status on their own.
OSU community members are expected to take personal responsibility to contribute to public health and safety for themselves and others by reducing the risk of spread of COVID-19.
Individuals are expected to:
Face Coverings: University Policy: 04-041, Face Covering in Public and Common Settings During Response to COVID-19 Pandemic is anticipated to remain in effect for fall term 2021 and applies regardless of whether someone has been vaccinated. Updates will be communicated to the OSU community as the policy is revised and/or terminated.
Physical Distancing: University Policy: 04-040, Physical Distancing During COVID-19 Pandemic is anticipated to be updated for fall 2021. Updates will be communicated to the OSU community as the policy is revised and/or terminated.
Policy Violations: Each member of the OSU community is responsible for holding themselves accountable to OSU policies and standards. Supervisors are expected to hold their direct reports accountable. As always, faculty are responsible for classroom management and may refer students to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards for further discipline if warranted. View guidance for preventing and responding to disruptive behavior related to these and other policies.
Communicable Disease Management Plan: In compliance with Executive Order 20-28 and guidance from the OHA and HECC, all Oregon colleges and universities shall have a written communicable disease management plan. OSU’s Communicable Disease Management Plan remains in effect until further notice.
OSHA Workplace Risk Exposure and Risk Assessment and Infection Control Plan: Oregon OSHA Temporary Rule Addressing COVID-19 Workplace Risks Exposure Risk Assessment and the OSU Infection Control Plan remain in effect until further notice.
Positive Case Exposure Response Guide: OSU’s COVID-19 Notification Plan remains in effect until further notice.
High-Frequency Asymptomatic Screen Testing
The university intends to conduct High Frequency Asymptomatic Screen Testing (HFAST) to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 if it is determined that such testing will improve public health conditions at OSU sites. OSU intends to provide testing for students, faculty and staff who are regularly accessing on-site university space in Corvallis, Bend and at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. OSU is likely going to include offering testing to on-site individuals one time per week as part of effective mitigation efforts. We will be encouraging those who have been vaccinated to participate to inform OSU’s public health response.
If OSU determines that public health conditions can be improved via testing, OSU intends to continue to perform wastewater surveillance to determine the existence and level of the virus that causes COVID-19 in Corvallis, Bend and at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.
Symptomatic Testing for Students
Student Health Services is planning to continue to provide COVID-19 on-site testing to Corvallis campus students who are symptomatic or have been determined to be in recent close contact, as defined by public health authorities, with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
OSU-Cascades students who are symptomatic or have been determined to be in recent close contact will have access to COVID-19 testing on campus. The OSU-Cascades Student Health Coordinator is an available resource for referrals and general navigation of regional health care options.
Symptomatic Testing for Employees
OSU employees should continue seek symptomatic testing services from their primary health care provider.
Rapid Response/On-Demand Testing
There may be circumstances where the university determines it necessary to test a specific group to quickly assess level of exposure to a positive case. This determination will be made by OSU Coronavirus Response Coordinator, in consultation with the Executive Director of Student Health Services and the local public health authority.
Use of Test Results
The university will not use COVID-19 test results to determine access to university spaces or programs, unless approved by the OSU Coronavirus Response Coordinator. There may be circumstances where the university determines it is necessary to require proof of test results in certain situations or environments. This decision will be made by the OSU Coronavirus Response Coordinator, in consultation with appropriate offices and authorities.
Requirements: Students, faculty and staff are required to isolate or quarantine per protocols specified in the Physical Distancing Policy, as updated from time-to-time.
Notifications: Per the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) Temporary Rule Addressing COVID-19 Workplace Risks, employee notifications must be initiated in the event an employee has been exposed to, or affected by, COVID-19 while working at an OSU location. Protocols for this requirement can be found in the OSU COVID-19 Notification Plan. As these requirements change, OSU will comply with any updated or removed requirements.
For the purpose of this section, “employee” means all academic and professional faculty, classified staff, graduate assistants, temporary and academic wage employees, and student employees. See the resources and pathway to fall 2021 page on the HR site for more details.
All employees who previously worked at an OSU location prior to the pandemic should be preparing for a return to on-site work as OSU transitions to fall term, depending on their position and the plans of their work unit. Most employees are expected to return to on-site work with the fall term.
Updated guidance for return to on-site work will be available in May for both employees and for supervisors. This updated guidance will include:
Supervisors are responsible for understanding the pathway to fall 2021 as it relates to the university, their work unit and to the individual employees under their supervision. Organizing for a return to a full residential student experience requires flexibility, clarity of purpose and a commitment to OSU’s culture of care at all stages of the process. Specific guidance will be provided to supervisors to inform decisions regarding when employees will return to on-site work, including decision support tools on how to effectively and equitably assess and arrange continuing remote work arrangements.
OSU understands that the ongoing environment of uncertainty and change presents challenges to our community. A Culture of Care website describes support available to the university community during the pathway to fall 2021.
OSU is committed to supporting work-life balance for employees and provides general guidance on requesting flexible work as outlined in the Guide to Flexible Work Arrangements at OSU on the Work Life website. Flexible work arrangements are assessed and approved by an employee’s supervisor and unit leadership based on suitability for remote work, unit on-site operations and service goals, and equity of opportunity across the team or like positions.
In addition to these general flexible working parameters, continuation of some COVID-19 remote work arrangements may be appropriate in some cases into the fall term.
Employees should expect that any remote work arrangements approved for fall term will be:
Supervisors should make information on OSU’s accommodation process accessible and work with the Office of Equal Employment and Access (EOA) in instances where individual disability or medical accommodations for remote work are requested. The EOA form provides more information.
As we resume primarily in-person instruction, OSU remains committed to do so by following all applicable health authority guidelines and university policies that increase public health and safety for all.
Standards, Options and Approaches:
OSU class sections (other than those offered through Ecampus) are expected to be offered primarily in-person beginning in fall. Except in cases where individual faculty members request an accommodation (through HR/EOA) to teach remotely, selecting course modalities should fall to unit leadership, guided by the criteria listed below, rather than individual faculty.
Classrooms in fall 2021 may require some amount of physical distancing, based on Oregon Health Authority guidelines, OSHA or other applicable requirements and guidelines. Applicable health authority requirements and guidance on physical distancing requirements or total capacities on the number of people in one room will be followed. If necessary, OSU classroom inventory can accommodate a reduction by using alternative approaches to scheduling and offering classes during non-peak times of the week including the evening or weekends.
OSU’s research facilities will follow all applicable Oregon Health Authority and other health authority requirements. Refer to the COVID-19 Safety & Success website for updates.
START Orientation and Campus Visitation:
Housing and Dining Considerations
Student Support Offices and Services
Revenue losses and additional costs for OSU’s response to the pandemic have been felt throughout all university colleges, divisions and units. Funding these costs and losses will require use of federal relief funding, expense savings and fund balances at every level of the university. The specific requirements of the second and third federal relief packages are still being interpreted. However, those funds will be used to address losses in the current year (FY21) that impact the university broadly, affect long-term affordability for students and limit the ability of faculty to pursue work in scholarship and engagement. At this time:
Campus-wide testing (e.g., residential students), outbreak scenarios
Courses, student activities, research teams as requested by unit
Child care centers, customer service desks, classroom density modifications, teaching technology
Services and supplies
One PPE set per department, cleaning supplies
Personnel microphones for teaching, computers or equipment for remote working, telecommunications allowance, incremental PPE and cleaning supplies
Personnel required to support university-wide response to COVID-19
Personnel or adjusted work assignments required to implement unit level
Statewide extension service activities are generally determined by county risk levels and state sector guidance. The following links provide a description of the nature of the programming at each of the risk levels for general and 4-H youth activities. These are subject to change when state sector guidance is updated or as pandemic conditions or other applicable requirements change.
Student activities and gatherings will be permitted in accordance with OSU, federal, state and county guidelines and requirements. Tracking participation at events will take place to the greatest extent possible.
Currently, only day youth programs are permitted in Oregon and no overnight programs are allowed. As such, any day programs involving youth must comply with applicable OSU, federal, state, county and local guidelines and requirements for summer 2021.
Intercollegiate Athletics will follow all protocols as outlined by the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee and related OHA Guidance.
Medical and operational practice and competition activities will follow the minimum standards outlined by the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group as well as enhanced protocols outlined by the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee. All such activities can only commence with approval from OHA pursuant to the Sector Guidance on the Statewide Reopening Guidance for Professional and Collegiate Sports.
Teams visiting campus for competition must follow protocols established by the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee.
Provost Edward Feser and Provost Patrick Phillips convened the Oregon State University & University of Oregon Joint Advisory task force to “advise both universities on the factors and considerations that will inform onsite/in-person resumption decisions for the 2021 (FY22) academic year.”
The task force received their charge from the Provosts at their first meeting, March 18, 2021. Their work commenced at that time, with the committee meeting via Zoom on April 1 and April 8 and working via Teams on the draft report in between meetings. We used a consensus approach to generate a set of recommendations that each member of the task force concurred was acceptable.
Classroom Configuration and University Operations:
Surveillance and Testing
3.1: Conduct a series of surveys to determine the overall rate of vaccine uptake, intent to vaccinate (among those not vaccinated), and variation in uptake across different university subpopulations. A scientifically sound, census-based survey that preserves confidentiality and is voluntary should be performed at multiple time points prior to the start of fall term. Surveys should include faculty, staff, and students at each university, including regional locations such as OSU Cascades, OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, OIMB, and UO Portland.
3.2: Develop effective operations, education, and communications to the campus community to encourage vaccination, within a framework of testing and other mitigation strategies as harm reduction alternatives to mandatory vaccination. This should include efforts to incentivize vaccinations, increase access to vaccines, and reduce barriers to access.
3.3: Establish a working group that includes faculty experts in public health, prevention, ethics, and science communication to provide guidance if the universities decide to mandate vaccination for some subgroups (e.g., students in university congregate living; student athletes).
3.4: The task force is agnostic at this time as to whether vaccines should be mandated for the entire university community, and recommends that leadership seek additional legal counsel regarding the legal and ethical consequences of mandating vaccines. Blanket vaccine mandates may have unintended consequences that may work counter to goals. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is expected to release recommendations in the coming weeks and months, that should serve as a guide for any vaccine mandates. Recommendation 3.5: Use survey data (see Recommendation3.1) to consider scenarios in which university community immunity cannot be achieved (e.g., due to resource limitations, access issues, or vaccine hesitancy) to determine the optimal differential allocation of vaccine resources to specific constituencies to maximally achieve the goal of reducing negative health impacts on individuals and communities.
3.6: Develop a set of best practices about the acquisition, storage, use, and limits of vaccination information to achieve goals such as protecting privacy and anonymity, or because such information may lead to or perpetuate inequities. Because of the sensitivity of medical data, we recommend that the university use data-gathering systems that ensure privacy that exceed minimal liability and protected health information standards.
The task force reiterates that we remain available for additional ad hoc consultation in the coming weeks and months, as new information, policies, and guidance from OHA, CDC, and other sources is announced. It is likely that new science and policy related to current and projected COVID-19 rates, variants, and vaccine uptake rates will inform and modify the recommendations we provide today. In addition, we recommend interface with other institutional task forces, including the vaccine task force, student services education task force, and the continuity planning task force, as each group has relevant and related expertise. Finally, the task force would welcome a Zoom meeting to discuss these recommendations, address questions, and discuss next steps with the Provosts, should that be useful for institutional planning purposes. We thank the Provosts for seeking the expert opinions of members of this task force on the critical public health questions posed in the charge.
In compliance with Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) 437-001-0744 Temporary Rule Addressing COVID-19 Workplace Risks, all employers with 10 or more employees must have an Exposure Risk Assessment and Infection Control Plan.