COVID-19 Update March 16: OSU Limits meeting Attendance to Groups of 25

To: OSU faculty and staff

From: Dan Larson, Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Date: March 16, 2020

Updated Restriction: 25-person attendance limit on all OSU events applied immediately

Informed by March 15 guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for large events and mass gatherings, and informed by a directive issued Monday, March 16, by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, OSU has established immediately a prohibition on university-sponsored or sanctioned events of more than 25 people. The prohibition applies for an indefinite period. OSU’s previously announced prohibition was for no OSU events attended by 50 or more people beginning March 30 and extending through at least until April 30.

Meanwhile, OSU encourages that all events hosting 25 or fewer people be postponed or at least held in a location that allows for maximum social distancing, such as using a space that is twice the capacity of the number of those in attendance.

In-person final examinations:

Beginning Tuesday, March 17, all in-person winter term final exams will be scheduled in locations ensuring that no more than 25 students taking the exam are gathered. Students with in-person exams will receive guidance from their instructors regarding the location and time and date of their exam.

Remote Work and Delivery

OSU remains open at this time and continues to maintain essential university functions for education, research, Extension and outreach, and operations. The university will be open, and many offices, services and programs will be delivered remotely. To maximize the public health care benefits of social distancing and remote conferencing tools, faculty and staff should work remotely, where possible, and not engage in university-sponsored travel. Concerns with remote work should be discussed with your supervisor, who can work with the appropriate dean, vice president and vice provost to consider appropriate alternatives. In these cases, maximum social distancing measures must be employed. Employees are asked to utilize the guidance offered below if their job functions require on-site presence. Transition to remote work should begin immediately.

  1. Cancel or limit in-person meetings, and instead use teleconference and video conference technologies, such as Zoom.
  2. Maintain a distance of at least six (6) feet between employees in offices and at worksites.
  3. Implement staggered work schedules.

For all employees, especially those whose work cannot be done remotely -- or for employees whose work is deemed essential for operational continuity (including hourly, represented and student workers) – managers, employee supervisors and employees should develop plans to complete special assignments to enable the progress and services of respective OSU units.

We recognize that modifying and/or curtailing operations has implications for employment, and it is OSU’s hope and intent that all employees, including students, will remain employed. OSU employees engage in many different jobs and responsibilities. The work modifications we must make -- to advance public and personal health at this this time -- will vary. Employees must engage in ongoing communication with their managers and, if they work on campus or at an OSU facility, ensure their workspace is set up for maximum social distancing measures to reduce exposure. Subject to the needs of the university, managers should consider flexible work arrangements such as having employees work on-site with alternating or variable shifts, including fewer hours or fewer days to be worked. This can be coupled with remote work assignments, when possible, for the time not spent on-site. We also recognize that employees working remotely may also need to care for children who are not in school due to closures. As such, employees should work with their supervisor on how to best balance their duties while working remotely.

Buildings and Services Remaining Open
Most campus buildings will remain open during OSU’s COVID-19 response to support education, research, student services and operations.

As of March 16, 2020, on the Corvallis campus, this includes student housing and dining centers, health services, the Memorial Union, Valley Library, Dixon Recreation Center -- with restrictions, Transportation Services, and the Student Accounts and Payroll office, although some services and hours of operation may be modified. At OSU-Cascades, this includes the campus residence hall, Obsidian Hall, as well as Tykeson Hall, and services and hours of operation will be limited. Additional precautions are being taken for each facility that remains open, including precautions to limit viral and bacterial exposure. Users are also encouraged to follow CDC guidelines at all times when visiting any OSU facility.

Until further notice, most programs and services will utilize remote methods for teaching, testing and meetings. All OSU units are directed to update their individual websites to communicate how students, faculty/staff and community members are to access their services.

No Increases or Decreases in Tuition and Fees Anticipated for Spring Term

OSU’s provisions for remote delivery of teaching and education services for students during the COVID-19 outbreak are not the same as the educational services offered through Ecampus. While the “remote delivery” of instruction uses a similar platform and technology (video) as online instruction, remote delivery is a short-term and largely synchronous means of offering OSU’s 200 undergraduate degree programs and 100 graduate degree programs. There are significant added expenses associated with shifting to remote delivery of courses, especially on very short notice, as well as additional costs for necessary information technology. OSU’s current on-campus tuition and fee rates will not fully cover those expenses. At the same, we recognize that remote delivery does not offer the same student experience as in-class instruction, and we have received requests for tuition discounts.

While understanding the change in student experience, the rising costs facing the university are very real. Therefore, OSU does not anticipate decreasing spring term tuition and fees, nor will it increase them. Instead, the university will work with Oregon’s elected leaders and agencies to seek assistance to accommodate the increased costs of this temporary shift to remote delivery so that our current and future students are not unduly impacted.

Additionally, at the present time, we anticipate no major sustained changes in programs and services that are funded through student fees. While there will be a temporary reduction in some programs and services, the costs associated with these programs are largely personnel, and OSU remains committed to assuring our students are well-served and our employees remain employed as much as possible. Employees who are not serving in their normal capacities may be assigned to perform other duties within their units.

Why Students are Encouraged to Remain on Campus and in Corvallis and Bend

The university believes that traveling home is not a good practice for students, as returning to their home communities may mean students become exposed to the virus as they come into greater contact with more vulnerable groups, and then travel back to our campuses in Corvallis and Bend. Therefore, we continue to encourage students to remain on campus (or in the community, if living off campus) for the spring break, as well as spring term. University Housing & Dining Services is taking numerous efforts to help maintain a healthy living and dining environment. More information can be found here.

We encourage students and their families to make the best decision for their personal circumstances and the academic degrees students seek.

Dan Larson
OSU COVID-19 Response Coordinator