UO leaders offer update on plans for fall term return to classes

Fall campus scene

Dear University of Oregon faculty and staff,

We are writing to provide you with an update on the University of Oregon’s plans for fall term.

First, we would like to thank everyone for their resilience over the last year and a half as we navigated the pandemic and continued to meet our mission. We are deeply grateful for the incredible efforts of our entire campus. As we look to coming back together in fall and we resume something closer to normal, we will continue to rely on our collective sense of purpose and care for our community.

Our planning for fall will continue to be guided by science and best practices. It presumes that the majority of our community will be fully vaccinated this fall under our vaccination requirement, and we will maintain appropriate public health safety measures. This will allow those who have been working and studying off-site to return, and for the university to return to pre-pandemic levels of in-person instruction, research, and activities.

As we navigate the path ahead, we are keenly focused on the following areas of operation most impacted by the university’s response to the pandemic. The information below provides additional details, updates, and timelines leading to fall 2021:

Public Health Measures

  • Vaccination requirement – As we announced in May, all faculty, staff, and students will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or request an exemption before fall term. We plan to provide instructions no later than July 26 for submitting proof of vaccination, requesting an exemption, and other implementation details. For your planning purposes, the deadlines to submit proof of vaccinated status or request an exemption will be:
    • August 13 - law school students, faculty, and staff
    • Upon move-in and no earlier than September 14 - residence hall students
    • September 17 - all employees, except law
    • September 27 - all students, except law and residence hall

In the meantime, we strongly encourage everyone to be vaccinated as soon as possible as the best form of personal protection against COVID-19.

  • Face coverings, distancing, and density – As vaccination rates increase and conditions improve, we expect federal, state, and local public health guidance about COVID-19 prevention measures will continue to become less restrictive. Even with most community members fully vaccinated, we anticipate there will still be the need for public health measures in particular contexts. We will continue to evaluate health conditions and guidance, make appropriate adjustments, and communicate health and safety measures in place.
  • Testing and case management – We will continue to offer free testing for members of the UO community through MAP (Monitoring and Assessment Program) and work with public health partners to manage on-campus cases and provide contact tracing, including support for isolation and quarantine. These will continue to be important measures for minimizing the impact of COVID-19 into the fall and beyond.


  • Instruction – Widespread vaccinations within our community will allow for a return to in-person academic instruction, without the strict limitations on spacing and capacity we employed this year. We expect that most classes will be offered in-person only, without a concurrent virtual option. We will also offer select sections of online courses as we did pre-pandemic. We recognize that some students or instructors with disabilities or certain medical needs may require accommodations, which should be sought through Human Resources for employees and the Accessible Education Center for students. Otherwise, faculty and GEs should expect to teach in the format listed on the class schedule.

In-Person Work

  • On-site work – The majority of employees are expected to be working on campus by September 13 in preparation for the start of the fall term. For faculty, the expectation of on-site work will begin at the start of their fall contract. School, college, and divisional leadership are evaluating operational needs and developing unit-specific plans to achieve this transition.
  • Flexible work agreements As provided by UO policy, flexible work agreements will remain an option for many employees and supervisors. Guidance has been provided to units as part of the materials sent for fall term planning.
  • Employee support – As we make plans for operating mostly in-person this fall, changes and adjustments lay ahead for everyone. The anticipation of returning to close to normal operations may create feelings of excitement mixed with some level of apprehension. Human Resources provides resources to help make this next adjustment a bit easier. Supervisors can also find support resources on the HR website.

Student Life and Success

  • Housing and dining – We expect to return to the residential academic experiences that are so central to life at the UO. First-year students will be expected to live on campus with the opportunity to seek exceptions for unique circumstances. On-campus students who receive an exemption from vaccination can expect to be tested regularly. Information about any additional protocols related to residential life will be provided directly to students.
  • Academic advising – Advising, tutoring, faculty engagement, career services, and other student success support will be available and continue to offer in-person and virtual options for the benefit and convenience of students.
  • EMU, recreation, and extracurricular activities – We expect all activities, clubs, organizations, performing acts, intramural sports, and other elements of the student experience to resume and become more prevalent over fall term and in alignment with all public health expectations.
  • Student support – We anticipate student support services to be available and offer both in-person and virtual options. This includes, but is not limited to, Dean of Students office, University Health Services, and University Counseling Services.

Travel, Events, and Athletics

  • Faculty and staff travel – Vice presidents/deans and their designees have the authority to approve essential university-related travel. It is likely that non-essential domestic travel will be permitted later this summer, with international travel still subject to restrictions based on CDC guidelines. More information is available on the travel website.
  • Study abroad – We are planning to resume many fall study abroad programs. These programs will proceed as planned unless any unforeseen circumstances, travel restrictions, insufficient enrollment, or local conditions impede program operation and require program cancellation. Additional information is available on the Global Education Oregon website.
  • Events and guests – Units and departments have the authority to approve events and to hosts guests following current university and public health guidance. While units no longer need Incident Management Team approval when planning these activities, they may consult with staff in Safety and Risk Services as needed by emailing uoem@uoregon.edu.
  • Athletics UO Athletics is resuming competition for student-athletes and will welcome fans back to the stands for the fall sports season. Athletic events and competition will continue to follow local and state heath requirements as well NCAA and Pac-12 Conference guidelines.

Summer operations will be much as they were for spring with some anticipated modest changes as we approach fall. Any changes will be communicated in the weekly COVID-19 Update email and on the COVID-19 website.

As we look ahead to the future, we will draw from all that we have learned as we work toward a new and better normal. The availability and effectiveness of the vaccine will allow us to live, learn, and work together again in ways much closer to pre-pandemic times.

Thank you again for your extraordinary efforts of the last year. We wish you a safe and restful summer.

Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President

André Le Duc
Chief Resilience Officer and Associate Vice President

Mark Schmelz
Chief Human Resources Officer and Associate Vice President