Update: University announces plans, accommodations for fall term on campus

Drone photograph of the Memorial Union Quad.

Max Hatala, News Contributor

Update: Classes of more than 50 people will be held remotely, which will be about half of all OSU classes fall term. Remote delivery accommodations will be made when needed, and all on-site courses will maintain physical distancing guidelines and will implement increased sanitation throughout the term.

Oregon State University campuses will be reopening for late-summer, and for the entirety of fall term, with public health measures put in place. 

In an all-student email sent out on May 11, Edward Feser, provost and executive vice president, released a framework for reopening campus.

OSU is planning to begin in-person instruction for sessions four and five of the summer term, in preparation for the entirety of fall term classes to be conducted on campus. Physical distancing regulations will be recognized as the university attempts to transition back to a traditional learning format. 

“In the case of large classes or even those in smaller rooms, we anticipate that the configurations of classrooms would be far different than ever before to allow for appropriate distancing. In that case, classes would be divided into several sessions to allow for students and faculty to engage in a safe manner,” said Vice President of University Relations and Marketing Steve Clark. 

Courses will predominantly take place on campus, but some classes will use remote teaching in conjunction with in-person instruction. The net effect is that about half of all class sessions will be held remotely. Fall term classes with over 50 students are scheduled to be delivered remotely, while classes of less than 50 students will be held in-person. Each academic college will have discretion in how courses will be best delivered. 

The 50-student cutoff is an estimate and will remain fluid, according to Noah Buckley, director of the Office of Admissions. Each class with in-person instruction will accommodate students who need remote delivery, Buckley said.

All on-site courses will maintain physical distancing guidelines and will implement increased sanitation throughout the term.

Contact tracing and student testing are key components in ensuring a safe re-opening of the campus. Any students that display symptoms of COVID-19 will be able to get tested at the Student Health Center. The TRACE-COVID-19 project will also persist in order to continually monitor the spread of the virus within the community. These programs will extend to OSU’s Newport and Bend campuses in the fall. 

Any students or faculty that test positive for COVID-19 will be expected to self-isolate. Some residence halls will have rooms dedicated to self-isolation for on-campus students, but isolation plans for students that live off-campus are still in development. 

Reopening plans are fluid and contingent on the successful mitigation of COVID-19. If local conditions worsen, remote learning methods may have to be readopted to ensure student and faculty safety. 

“If COVID-19 flares in the summer and in the fall, then we will recalibrate this plan and it could be that everything we’ve been discussing could be modified and delayed until the virus is in decline,” Clark said.

Student life activities like clubs and recreational sports are scheduled to return in the fall as well. Plans to modify these programs in the wake of COVID-19 are in the works, but still need to be developed in the coming months. It may be especially difficult to facilitate the return of activities that require students to be in close proximity, like intramural football and basketball. 

A majority of OSU’s buildings have been locked down since Governor Kate Brown’s March 27 “Stay Home, Save Lives” Executive Order, which mandated the closure of all non-essential buildings. Buildings that support critical on-site functions have remained open throughout the widespread closures, including select residence and dining halls on campus. The state recently extended these measures to last through June 13, keeping most university buildings closed for the time being.

“I know that everyone is likely ready to get back at it and start experiencing some normalcy, I totally get it, but we are going to take this really slow,” Dan Larson, COVID-19 response coordinator and vice provost, said in an online statement.

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