UO leaders prep for mostly on-campus operations by Sept. 13

Fall campus scene

The University of Oregon is ramping up preparations for fall term, when campus will return to mostly in-person instruction and activities.

Working with the offices of Human Resources and Safety and Risk Services, deans, vice presidents and other leaders have begun evaluating their operational needs to develop plans to return to more typical operations.

“While the situation remains dynamic due to changing health conditions and protocols, we must continue working on our plans now in order to be ready by fall,” said Mark Schmelz, chief human resources officer. “The university expects that a majority of employees will be working to support an in-person campus community by Sept. 13 for the start of the fall term.

Academic and administrative leaders have received a guide from HR that provides important considerations and information to assist units in planning employee work assignments and arrangements. The plans will be based on operational needs and will consider ongoing flexible work arrangements. Units will also plan to provide employees who are currently working remotely with time to prepare for the transition to onsite work.

The HR guidance will be used in conjunction with other operational guidance that addresses shared responsibilities, workspace layouts and cleaning protocols.

“The safety of our campus community remains a top priority,” said André Le Duc, chief resilience officer. “With safety regulations, increasing vaccination rates and ongoing testing and case management, we are confident that we can resume a mostly in-person presence this fall while preventing the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible.”

UO President Michael H. Schill recently announced that faculty, staff and students will be required to be vaccinated or receive an exemption prior to the start of fall term. Procedural details for reporting vaccination status and obtaining an exemption are in development and instructions will be provided in the near future as fall term approaches.

“Requiring vaccinations is critical for public health,” Schill said. “It will help us to reach the highest level of protection possible, reduce infections, limit many of the disruptions of COVID-19 and safeguard the community we live in. It will also allow our campus community to return to the in-person and on-campus experience that is the cornerstone of academic success, student experience and research innovation.”

Schmelz said he knows the transition will bring excitement and some anxiety for many people, so the university is working to provide resources, time and support for employees, supervisors and unit leaders. 

“We should continue to offer each other the support and encouragement which has been a key strength during the pandemic,” he said. 

“With transitions ahead as we make our way to fall, employees are encouraged to actively plan and prepare for their unique needs,” Schmelz said. “‘Path to Fall’ support resources assembled by HR provide supervisors and employees a place to start.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation in our communities and adhere to guidance from federal, state and local authorities as we adjust accordingly while remaining flexible yet steadfast in our planning and preparation for the next academic year,” Le Duc added.

The UO coronavirus website remains a primary source of information on the university’s response to the pandemic, and biweekly COVID updates will continue for the foreseeable future to keep the campus community informed.