COVID-19 response to require remote final exams, remote teaching

11 March 2020

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 Teaching, Keep 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.


Edward Feser
Provost and Executive Vice President