Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Dear OSU-Cascades faculty and staff,

We write to announce important decisions regarding instruction for the fall term at OSU-Cascades.

Based on careful monitoring of the status of the COVID-19 locally, throughout Oregon and nationally, OSU-Cascades will deliver fall instruction so that it is possible for students to live and study from home if that is the best option for them. About half of all classes will be offered in blended or in-person formats, and on-site courses will be coupled with remote learning options that give students the choice of whether to return to Bend to live and study. This approach will limit the density of activity on-campus and help minimize the possible spread of COVID-19 among students and employees. Because of OSU-Cascades’ small class sizes, there will be no more than 220 students in on-campus classes during peak hours.

Given the much larger size of OSU’s Corvallis campus, over 90% of courses sections there will be delivered remotely in the fall. A separate communication that provides information on fall instruction at OSU in Corvallis is available here. The additional details we offer below apply to OSU-Cascades unless noted otherwise.

This decision to create extensive remote learning options is fully consistent with the principles we established in our resumption plan, which the Board of Trustees will review on Friday for consistency with guidelines issued by local and state health authorities and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. While current conditions at OSU-Cascades remain at Level 2 of the university’s four public health levels, conditions are trending toward Level 3. Although the path of the virus remains uncertain, students, faculty and staff need clarity regarding fall teaching and operations in order to prepare for the term.

The OSU-Cascades’ COVID-19 Resources and Updates website and this video offer details on what OSU-Cascades will look like this fall. The following provides an outline, with a focus on instruction and student life. We will provide additional information on other operations in coming days.

Choice: To the greatest extent practicable, we are providing OSU-Cascades students with the ability to decide the location that works best for them to pursue their studies. If a student feels safest living at home or off-campus and taking courses remotely and online, almost all of our instruction will support that choice. If they choose to live on campus while they pursue their studies, they are welcome to do so.

About half of all classes will be offered in blended or in-person formats. In addition, almost all courses offered on-site will include a remote learning option. However, some courses that have a heavy experiential learning component, such as labs and field courses, will require in-person learning. Therefore, some students—especially advanced undergraduates—may need to be in Bend in order to take those courses and continue progressing in their degree programs. The OSU Schedule of Classes lists the instructional modality or format for each course: on-site/in-person, remote, a blend of on-site/in-person and remote, and online through Ecampus. Regardless of instructional modality, courses will be compelling and engaging, supporting students in achieving their academic goals.

Living on campus: The residence hall will be open to students who decide that living on campus is their best and safest option. Students will live in single occupancy rooms. The Fitness Center, Beaver Dam and Study Grounds will be open as long as public health conditions permit; co-curricular and extra-curricular programs will be offered in controlled, reduced density environments; transactional offices (cashier, transportation, front desk, etc.) will offer reduced in-person hours; and remote services, including advising, will be provided as in spring and summer.

Living near campus. We know that the majority of OSU-Cascades students live in and around Bend while others will return to the area in order to utilize the university’s facilities, information technology infrastructure, and support programs, or to take in-person classes. Therefore, the campus will be open under modified conditions to support those students and we will have public health measures and access to telemedicine through OSU Student Health Services. We ask all students, faculty and staff accessing the campus and living in the Bend community to be vigilant in adhering to OSU, local and state public health guidelines, and to participate in voluntary virus testing.

Public health measures: The multiple public health measures we have implemented include physical distancing and face covering requirements; enhanced cleaning protocols within university buildings; HVAC filtration that meets CDC recommendations; expanded availability of hand sanitizer; and other public health measures recommended by local and state health officials. These measures are working well and have helped OSU-Cascades to offer selected programs and services on-site and in-person over the summer.

On campus testing: OSU will test continuously for the prevalence of the virus that causes COVID-19 on the Corvallis and OSU-Cascades campuses and at the Hatfield Marine Science Center with the expert guidance of OSU researchers leading the TRACE-COVID-19 project. In addition to prevalence testing, we will monitor wastewater on our campuses and at HMSC for the presence of the virus.

Financial assistance and student fees: The OSU Board of Trustees froze tuition rates for the 2020-21 academic year for continuing undergraduates enrolled in Corvallis, Bend, Portland and at Eastern Oregon University; we are increasing need-based financial aid assistance for eligible students; and we are preserving scholarship offers for students who elect to study elsewhere in the fall and return to OSU-Cascades in a subsequent term. As well, fees associated with Student Fee-funded programs are now under review by student leaders. Information on any student fee reductions will be provided after the student fee committees complete their review.

Research and Extension. Campus-based research activities and fieldwork will follow existing resumption guidelines and on-site OSU Extension activities around the state will take place as local conditions permit.

We certainly had hoped that we would be at a different place in the national battle with COVID-19 by this point in the summer, such that we would be able to return to more traditional on-site and in-person instruction for fall term. However, we believe that by shifting to an instructional model that reduces on-site teaching and facilitates student choice, we will maintain a low density of activity on the OSU-Cascades campus and help minimize the spread of COVID-19. Of course, we are prepared to pivot to fully remote operations if public health considerations dictate such a decision.

We sincerely appreciate the patience and understanding of all members of the OSU-Cascades community as we adjust to ever-changing pandemic conditions and public health circumstances. Thank you in advance for remaining flexible and adaptable as we continue to prioritize your health and success.

As resilient members of Beaver Nation, we will continue to respond, adapt and recover from these challenging times and become an even stronger community and better university for all we serve.

Sincerely,

F. King Alexander
President 

Edward Feser
Provost & Executive Vice President

Becky Johnson
Vice President, OSU-Cascades