Dear OSU faculty, staff and students,

I know we are all proud of the progress we have made in recent years to create a more just, inclusive and supportive university community. The COVID-19 pandemic represents a serious and real-time test for each of us regarding our commitment to collaborative community progress and support for each other.

While many in our state, nation and world are at serious health risk, I recognize that each of us is being inconvenienced in multiple ways.

As community members and as a university, I ask that each of us do our part to limit the spread and impact of COVID-19. On Wednesday, the university announced significant social distancing measures to substantially reduce interactions among people that might result in the spread of the virus. We are not closing our university at this time. It remains open. At the same time, we ask that our students and employees remain within their university community and not travel over spring break to decrease community spread of the virus locally, in our state or nationwide.

Limits on non-essential travel, work-related travel, elimination of athletic events, competitions, musical and theater productions, receptions and celebratory gatherings and even possible self-quarantines are turning our lives upside down. Yet, we must remember that by each of us committing to these actions, we can actually relieve suffering and the risk of death among the most vulnerable members of our community, who are more susceptible to COVID-19. This includes individuals who are older and those with health issues.

Unfortunately, we have no credible data at this time on the rapid spread of COVID-19, and there have been limited test kits available to date to confirm whether or not someone has the coronavirus. Therefore, at this time, we do not know accurately the extent or the rate of growth of infections. We do know that there are approximately 1 million hospital beds in the United States and the majority are being used every day. Lacking critical information, we do not know if access to healthcare facilities and to healthcare personnel will be overwhelmed by this pandemic. If that happens, extremely ill patients will not get the immediate attention they need.

Each of us can do our part by following personal healthcare instructions, following OSU’s guidelines and observing restrictions on social interactions to help flatten out the growth curve of infected members of our community. Flattening out the COVID-19 infection growth curve will reduce the risk that a growth in the number of infections among us will overwhelm the healthcare system

This is a real time opportunity for each of us to show that we are willing to be inconvenienced, disappointed and self-quarantined, if necessary, for that sake of those in our community who are most susceptible to this virus. Please join me in demonstrating how much we care about their health and safety. Please do all that you can to ensure that we do not fail this test.

Please take note of OSU communications on how OSU will continue to maintain operations by making adjustments in how classes, research, Extension and other programs and services are made available. I urge you to check the OSU COVID-19 website regularly for the latest updates.

I deeply believe in each of you and the power of all of us to make a positive difference in this difficult time.

Sincerely,                                                        

Edward J. Ray
President       

Oregon State University is committed to state, national and global efforts to reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19, while appropriately continuing the essential activities of teaching, research, OSU Extension and engagement. While at this time, the public health risk in Oregon from the coronavirus is lower than it is in other states, we became aware today of a presumptive COVID-19 case in Deschutes County and testing for a possible case in Benton County is underway.

Effective Saturday, March 14, OSU will move to a higher level of response that continues the essential operations of the university, but seeks to reduce the frequency of interactions among students, faculty, staff and visitors throughout all university campuses, centers, facilities and operations. Our focus is on continued university operations and social distancing.

In taking these steps, we remain mindful and informed by the public health guidance of our local county health departments, the Oregon Health Authority and the CDC.

Effective March 14, 2020:

§  Campuses and OSU facilities and operations statewide will remain open.

§  Winter term finals week exams and activities will be delivered remotely where possible. Where remote teaching, coursework and testing is not possible, maximum social distancing measures will be utilized.

  • University academic and remote meeting tools, including Canvas and Zoom, will be used to minimize in-person meetings.
  • All non-essential OSU-sponsored travel will be suspended.
  • All OSU employees will be encouraged to work remotely where work responsibilities and duties allow.
  • All OSU students, faculty and staff are encouraged to avoid personal travel over spring break. Students should instead consider remaining at our campuses in Corvallis and Bend.

We are taking these immediate steps while OSU employees and students prepare to take expanded public health measures at the start of spring term.

Effective March 30, 2020:

§  All of the above actions are maintained.

§  All spring term courses, labs and exams will be delivered remotely, where possible. Where remote teaching, coursework and testing is not possible, maximum social distancing measures will be utilized.

§  Until at least April 30, no non-essential OSU-sponsored events of more than 50 attendees will be permitted. All events with fewer than 50 attendees will be held with maximum social distancing.

The status of these measures will be evaluated every two weeks.

We recognize such steps will prompt many questions and cause disruption. We ask for everyone to accommodate these changes, engage in and support appropriate support personal health measures, support as able other OSU community members, and frequently check the university’s COVID-19 website for updated information.

Given that OSU plans that all university operations will remain in effect, we anticipate the continued employment and benefits for all employees. During this time, the university will seek to continue the employment of its student workers.

The following provides additional information regarding important aspects of OSU’s COVID-19 response.

SOCIAL DISTANCING: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define social distancing as avoiding crowds and mass public gatherings, and when possible, maintaining a distance of approximately six feet from others. Social distancing also means staying at home when ill, avoiding contact with people who have symptoms of illness, and not shaking hands.

FINAL EXAMS: Because OSU will administer final exams using a social distancing model, for those exams that must be held in-person, the university will seek to relocate final exams to locations where room capacity is three times the number of people registered to take that test. Faculty will notify students of changes in finals week logistics.

REMOTE TEACHING: Remote teaching delivery is when a faculty member facilitates the delivery of their in-person course instruction from a different location by using tools such as Canvas and Zoom.With the suspension of face-to-face meetings and the requirement for remote teaching, OSU will provide key resources available to faculty, staff and students. These include the following web pages: Keep TeachingKeep Learning and Keep Working. If you have any questions or require any technology assistance, please contact the Service Desk. Additionally, there will be online and telephone resources readily available to help students navigate all aspects of online delivery, including Zoom.

Additional information on remote teaching is available for all students, faculty and staff within the university’s COVID-19 web page “Hot Topics” under remote teaching.

SPRING BREAK: We ask that OSU students, faculty and staff carefully evaluate Spring Break travel plans. If you are a student, please consider staying on campus or simply going home instead of traveling elsewhere during the break. OSU’s residence halls will remain open during spring break. If you are an employee, please consider remaining within your home community. We realize this may disrupt your plans, but broader travel within the U.S. and abroad brings additional risk of exposure to COVID-19, which includes the possibility of self-isolation upon return.

EVENTS: OSU’s future requirements regarding events is based upon the university’s interest in reducing the opportunity for COVID-19 to spread among people who gather in large public settings.

OSU recognizes that other universities, colleges, K-12 school districts, the state of Oregon and employers may at some time institute other requirements regarding the number of people in attendance at event. We also recognize that CDC guidance on crowd sizes may be different. In OSU’s case, university leaders believe that the facilities throughout the university can best accommodate our social distancing goals at a maximum of 50 people within OSU-sponsored events.

Information about the university’s COVID-19 response involving OSU Athletics events will be updated on Thursday, March 12.

Because COVID-19 remains a rapidly developing situation, it is important to check OSU’s page regularly, as well as advisories and warnings from the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prior to finalizing personal travel plans and undertaking travel.

Please utilize OSU’s dedicated non-emergency COVID-19 information line, which is available to assist faculty, staff and students with questions at 541-737-7211. You can also seek information through the questions and non-emergency contact form on the COVID-19 website. In the case of a medical emergency, call 911 or a nearby emergency medical facility.

The best preventive measures for COVID-19 and any communicable disease continue to be the practices you undertake as part of your daily routine, especially during flu season:

§  Engage in social distancing;

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with warm soapy water or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol;
  • Avoid sharing anything that has come in contact with another person’s saliva, whether in your own living or social environments;
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue; then discard the tissue;
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to support a healthy immune system;
  • If you are not well, remain at home and contact your primary care physician, Student Health Services or a local emergency medical care provider.

During this time of public health concern and changes in OSU’s operations, please remain mindful and supportive of members of the OSU community who may be more directly affected by the coronavirus situation. Also, it is important that we remain a united community. If you witness any acts of bias or discrimination related to COVID-19, please report them to the OSU Bias Incident Response team.

Thank you for your understanding and your continued work to keep the OSU community safe and healthy.

Sincerely,

 

Edward Feser
Provost and Executive Vice President

Some universities nationally and globally have announced changes to teaching and other activities in response to high risk health conditions within their immediate communities.

At this time, the public health risk in Oregon from the coronavirus is lower than it is in Washington and other states and nations where colleges and universities have curtailed holding classes, labs or exams in person.

Throughout all of Oregon State University, we are advised locally on levels of public risk and response by county health departments and the Oregon Health Authority. Our current level of public health risk remains low. However, OSU is preparing for the possibility of a localized outbreak.

If a localized outbreak occurs, it may become necessary to suspend face-to-face meetings and instruction for a period of time. In preparation, all OSU faculty and graduate teaching assistants should review how to deliver all courses remotely using Canvas, OSU’s learning management system, as well as Zoom, OSU’s web-conferencing tool. These tools already are available to all faculty and students.

A faculty guide to remote teaching will be available very shortly, and will include additional information about requirements, resources and support. Also, a faculty help center will be available in real time during any suspension of face-to-face classes. Please note that fully-online classes provided through Ecampus should continue as planned and that Ecampus student support services will continue to be available.

Wellness Measures: OSU locations are taking steps to reduce the potential spread of infection by increasing touch-point cleaning within university buildings by using disinfectants advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be effective on coronavirus. Touch points include doorknobs and handles, faucet handles, soap dispenser levers, paper towel dispenser controls, elevator button panels and light switches.

Events: OSU has no plans at this time to cancel any university activities, including classes or events. The university will make decisions about the implementation of closures and all community measures in close collaboration with health departments in Benton, Deschutes, Lincoln and other counties, and the Oregon Health Authority.

Travel: During the coronavirus situation, the university will follow recommended CDC, World Health Organization and U.S. State Department travel guidance, and university processes and policies for OSU-sponsored travel, while attempting to respect the individual judgment of faculty, staff and students engaged in domestic and international travel.

Until further notice, as a result of the coronavirus situation, OSU employees are entitled to personally determine if they will participate in university-required, but non-essential travel. We ask that employees work with their supervisors to address individual travel safety concerns while also supporting OSU academic, research, outreach and business continuity.

Until further notice, the university prohibits OSU-sponsored travel by undergraduate and graduate students to high-risk destinations designated by OSU’s international travel policy Presently, China, Iran, Italy, Mongolia, and South Korea are designated as high-risk destinations for coronavirus.

At this time, OSU-sponsored study abroad programs within high-risk destinations have been either postponed or canceled.

Administrators and staff are implementing long-standing university response protocols to support public health within the OSU community, while having plans that maintain the continuity of education, research, outreach, student services, and operations throughout the university.

Oregon State University continues to actively monitor the coronavirus COVID-19 global health situation, and we also are developing university contingency plans should a global pandemic or a widespread outbreak occur in the U.S. Our aim is to ensure the well-being of the university community and to enable the continuation of OSU teaching, research, outreach, student services and other activities.

We share this news not to create concern – there are still no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Oregon – but to indicate that prudent and significant university-wide planning is underway. We will share more information on this contingency planning effort over the next week.

To facilitate the on-going sharing of information about the virus, we have added a link on the OSU home page to a new page that provides detailed and up-to-date coronavirus information; links to OSU, local, state and federal resources; updates on the latest federal travel restrictions; and previous university communications about the virus and other information.

At the present time, restrictions apply for travel to China, Italy, Iran and South Korea. However, because this is a rapidly developing situation – and because U.S. officials believe the potential public health threat posed by the coronavirus is high – it is important to check OSU’s page regularly, as well as advisories and warnings from the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prior to finalizing travel plans and undertaking travel.

OSU also has established a dedicated non-emergency information line within Student Health Services to assist faculty, staff and students engaged in international and domestic travel and who may have coronavirus health concerns related to their returning to Oregon. In non-emergency cases, please e-mail: coronavirus.health@oregonstate.edu or call 541-737-9931 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time, to receive support from a trained staff member. In the case of a medical emergency, call 911 or a nearby emergency medical facility.

While U.S. officials continue to believe that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak represents a low risk to the U.S. public, the university is monitoring the global health situation closely and working with local public health care experts to provide prevention response, information and resources.

We also acknowledge that this situation can be unsettling for members of our community who have family and friends living in China or elsewhere.

As members of the OSU community, I ask you to join me in sharing support for our students and colleagues who are experiencing concern about the virus and the well-being of their friends, families and home communities affected by this illness. For example, many at OSU and INTO OSU have engaged personally and utilized social media and video messages to share our support.

A university response working group continues to monitor on a daily basis developments related to the virus and advise OSU leaders. The working group’s efforts are informed by an additional four sub-groups addressing associated issues of health care, communications, federal policy developments and international enrollment activities.

As you likely know, the U.S. government implemented on Sunday night more stringent travel restrictions for individuals entering the United States from China due to the coronavirus.

Even with such measures, U.S. officials state that this novel coronavirus represents a low risk to the public in the U.S.

I am writing to share what the university is doing to monitor matters associated with the coronavirus, as well as support wellness among community members, and provide valuable information.

OSU has formed a steering committee that is responsible for monitoring relevant coronavirus developments locally, within the U.S. and globally. The steering committee is made up of representatives from our Corvallis and OSU-Cascades campuses, will be in close coordination with the Benton County Health Department, and will involve others working in student health services, student affairs, international affairs, INTO OSU and other departments. This group will be assisted by OSU committees related to health care, communications, and federal policy and developments. These committees will meet daily – or as required – to recommend any OSU procedures, services and communications related to the coronavirus.

You likely are aware of increased media reports about a new coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. We are closely monitoring this evolving situation and want to assure you that currently risk to the OSU community is considered low.

We are writing to provide you information so you are aware of coronavirus symptoms and how to seek medical attention if needed.

The coronavirus now appears to be spreading from person to person, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but the level of contagiousness has not yet been determined. It can take up to two weeks to develop symptoms of the virus, which include fever with a cough and/or shortness of breath. If you have concerns about your health due to possible exposure to the virus or following recent travel to China, please call the Student Health Services Nurse Advice Line at 541-737-2724. It is best to call in advance of visiting the student health center or external care providers, so precautions can be taken to minimize exposure to others.

The best preventative steps for any communicable disease include simple but important practices as part of your daily routine, especially during flu season:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soapy water.
  • Avoid sharing anything that has come in contact with another person’s saliva, whether in your own living or social environments.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to support a healthy immune system.