Spring classes, stay-at-home order, more updates on COVID-19

Illustration of people wearing face masks

The University of Oregon will deliver all its spring term classes using remote education tools as it continues to adopt measures aimed at protecting its students, faculty members and staff, as well as the broader community, during a national health emergency.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has issued an executive order instructing most Oregonians to stay at home except for critical needs, such as groceries and medical care.

The governor’s order is the most stringent step to try to “flatten the curve” of new coronavirus infections. It effectively closes all parks, playgrounds and many businesses not providing critical needs. Read the order online. Check out the UO’s coronavirus information page for details on how the university is responding.

UO President Michael H. Schill made the spring term announcement as the university stepped up efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Schill’s announcement followed Brown’s executive order instructing all of the state’s public universities to offer remote classes at least through April 28.

“The UO is electing—like many public universities in Oregon and our national peer institutions—to deliver the entire term remotely,” Schill wrote. “We will return to normal campus operations and face-to-face instruction as quickly as is feasible, but making the decision now to deliver the spring term remotely is designed to provide certainty to our campus as faculty structure their courses for the term, and enable our students to more effectively manage their lives and plan during uncertain times.”

Although many students may take classes from home, which the university supports, UO residence halls and residential dining centers will remain open during spring term for students who do not have other safe housing options.

Schill said the university’s top priorities are protecting the health and safety of everyone on campus and doing everything possible to educate students and make it possible to graduate on time. He said that means it may not be possible to operate as usual and asked for patience as campus adapts to the new reality.

“We know things may be a bit bumpy as we start out the term,” he said. “Stick with us though; I promise we will work through any challenges and we will get through this together.”

Also, the UO has decided not to hold an in-person commencement ceremony at the end of the term but is working on other ways to offer a meaningful experience.

Additional details on alternative commencement celebration plans will be released in the coming weeks and updated on the commencement website. Regalia and other commencement essentials for photos will be available through The Duck Store at a future date.

As part of the change in operations, students will not be charged for housing and dining if they are not living in the residence halls. They also will be able to cancel UO residence hall contracts without penalty, and the university also is examining the feasibility of reducing administratively controlled fees for services that it cannot provide.

But Schill noted that the university cannot discount tuition. He said the cost of providing remote education to students is just as high, if not higher, than traditional, in-person classes.

“We will continue to employ faculty, graduate students, advisors and other staff on the payroll to teach and support our students,” he wrote. “… We remain committed to delivering the same education without missing a beat, which is incredibly important to keep students on track for timely graduation.”

The change to spring term classes is just one of many steps the UO is taking to deal with the health emergency. Others include cancelling all events, offering only critical services and requiring all employees to work from home, except those who perform a critical on-campus function. In those cases, social distancing and other CDC prevention measures design will be employed.

Among the steps previously announced, the university has cancelled all admissions events for the next month, suspended all nonessential travel and limited dining centers to grab-and-go options. The Pac-12 has also cancelled all spring sports.

The UO continues to work in close coordination with the Oregon Health Authority and its companion institutions and agencies to protect students and employees while continuing with its mission.

For a complete list of all measures being taken, see the university’s coronavirus information page.

Questions, concerns or suggestions should continue to be directed to the web form or to the coronavirus information line at 541-346-7007. The line will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.