PORTLAND, Ore. — Despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and statewide restrictions on mass gatherings, several Oregon universities say they are planning to hold in-person classes this fall.
Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, University of Portland and George Fox University have all announced their intentions to be ready for students to come back for the next school year. At the same time, they all said student safety and preventing the spread of the coronavirus will be prioritized.
Here’s what the universities had to say in their announcements:
Oregon State University
Oregon State University is getting ready to resume in-person classes later this summer and in time for fall term at its Corvallis and Bend campuses, pending approval by the state.
“We are aiming to resume university activities gradually and with flexibility to adjust to guidance from public health authorities, COVID-19 conditions and the availability of medical services in the communities in which we operate,” said OSU provost Edward Feser.
Under a best-case scenario released by the university, OSU campuses and facilities would be open and most employees would be back at work by Sept. 1.
Fall classes are scheduled to begin Sept. 23 and most in-person classes and other activities would resume with modifications for physical distancing.
University of Oregon
President Michael Schill said plans to hold in-person classes will be coordinated with local, state and national leaders, in addition to other universities on the West Coast.
“Given the realities of the COVID-19 crisis and the fact that there are numerous variables outside of our control, it is unlikely that our fall quarter will look just like last fall,” Schill said. “But I am committed to doing everything in my power to enable us to return to the type of residential university that is so special for all of us.”
Schill said the university will explore reducing density in offices, dorms and dining halls, along with testing and contact tracing for students and employees in an effort to safeguard the community.
Schill said national experts have estimated a 15% decline in enrollment for the coming school year. The UO is planning for the possibility of a 17% reduction in state appropriations. Read the president’s letter to the UO community
University of Portland
University President Rev. Mark Poorman said the UP is planning for an in-person start to the fall term.
“As of today, our energies are focused on a return to in-person instruction this fall,” he said. “Face-to-face interaction is critical to our mission at UP, and we’re going to do everything we can to safely bring our students, faculty and staff back onto campus. Doing so will require adaptability on the part of all community members.”
“I think we're not only going to endure, I think we're going to see a day where we are thriving once again. This has been a huge challenge, but I must say people have responded well.”
George Fox University
In a post entitled “Our promise to students” on the university’s website, George Fox University said the school will be open this fall to “to any student who wants to be transformed.”
The university is making personal protective equipment (PPE) and is working on plans for physical distancing in residence halls.
The post noted that the university will always follow mandates from the governor’s office. Read more