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Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
With gratitude for the incredible work of so many colleagues, I write to update you on Eastern Oregon University’s path forward for Fall Term 2020 in the midst of the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic. As previously communicated, we are actively preparing for a student-engaging academic year, consistent with our institutional mission and state public health guidelines for Oregon Higher Education.
Recognizing we are continuously learning more about COVID-19 and given the dynamic nature of its impact on our state and communities, the guiding themes of the EOU campus resumption plan are safety, wellness, equity, collaboration, flexibility and innovation. Ultimately, our mission calls us back to campus. But, no single path or solution will meet the needs of all, so our guiding themes provide the necessary balance for effective resumption.
This year will be like no other for the EOU community as we work to adapt and respond to the dynamic environment created by COVID-19. Society teaches us to individually control our world and our destinies. But, this pandemic reminds us how interdependent we really are—our wellness and educational achievement are inextricably linked to our shared behaviors and collective ability to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. I believe the resiliency of our faculty, staff, and students will be magnified by our success in navigating this year together.
Today I share an update on EOU’s campus resumption plans. The resumption planning theme of flexibility is evident in some of the updates provided herein. I am grateful to the EOU community for your patience, commitment, and trust as we have worked through this planning process and as we embark upon this unprecedented year.
FALL TERM DATES
As a reminder, the first day of classes for fall term is still Sept. 23. In order to facilitate COVID-19 testing for all students, classes will be held remotely for the first week of the Fall Term, and Week of Welcome events will be held virtually. In-person classes and Week of Welcome events will return to modified operations after test results have been evaluated. Read more about COVID-19 Testing plans below.
In-person classes will be held on campus until Thanksgiving and then students will complete the last week of classes and finals week remotely. Residence Halls will remain open during Winter Break, and students living on campus are encouraged to stay.
MODALITY-SPECIFIC COURSE PLANS
Main La Grande Campus: EOU plans to hold classes on campus and in flexible formats this fall. Classes are categorized as in-person, hybrid or remote. Please note, the modality for some courses has been changed to accommodate faculty wellness needs while also reducing the necessity for some students to attend courses on campus.
In-person classes will meet on campus with the instructor at the scheduled time.
Hybrid courses will include both in-person and remote-access components, largely at the scheduled time. Details will be provided by the course instructor.
Remote courses will be delivered online, sometimes meeting at the scheduled time. Details will be provided by the course instructor.
At this time, approximately 48% of courses will be held in-person, 17% will be hybrid, and 35% will be remote. College deans and faculty have worked to ensure educational quality while mitigating risk when making modality determinations. Some students may not have any in-person or hybrid courses, allowing them to consider not relocating to La Grande for Fall Term.
On-site courses and Regional Centers: The pandemic situation and county reopening phase differ in each location. On-site courses and Regional Centers will follow the plans and guidelines laid out by their host sites or community colleges.
Online: Online courses will continue as normal. EOU has decades of experience delivering high-quality education from a distance, and online instructors and advisors are experts at providing support remotely. A wide range of courses and degrees continue to be available fully online.
Access, equity and affordability are at the core of EOU’s mission. Many of our students are facing added financial hardship and dealing with the challenges of inequitable healthcare. Support services like tutoring, career and internship help, financial aid, and the library are prepared to provide resources remotely and in-person with safety measures. Student clubs, cultural events and campus life will look different this fall, but they are very present as part of the EOU experience. Visit eou.edu/coronavirus/returning-to-campus for details about student services, Residence Life and community expectations.
Students whose classes are impacted by a change in modality will be contacted directly via email and should check the Mountie Hub for additional information about housing and course modalities. Log into Canvas and check out the new shell for learning support. Visit the course schedule page to look up your up-to-date schedule.
Contact Student Affairs (email@example.com) if you have questions or concerns and check out more Frequently Asked Questions at eou.edu/coronavirus/faq/#fall.
EOU remains committed to providing a safe work environment for employees. Numerous campus modifications have already been communicated and implemented to mitigate risk. While risk cannot be eliminated, EOU will endeavor to accommodate needs as they arise. Also, to reduce the potential for service interruptions, division leadership is working to identify job functions that will continue to work remotely. Supervisors will communicate work expectations once determined.
All staff and partners are invited to mandatory training on September 9, hosted by Human Resources, for a review of what to expect as we resume on-campus activities. The HR Office will host the same training for faculty next week.
The HR training will cover protocol for daily self-checks, face coverings and face masks, physical distancing, reporting safety concerns, requirements for employees to report Covid-19 illness and exposures, and special accommodation requests. Check your EOU email for a link to join, and contact your supervisor if you are unable to attend.
HEALTHY MOUNTIES 2020
We’ve established several new social norms that will help mitigate the spread of disease.
Daily self-evaluation: Check your temperature before you come to campus each day and complete the EOU Daily Self Health Check on the Mountie Hub. Stay home if you are unwell. Even minor symptoms like a sore throat, a runny nose or a cough are reason enough to stay away from others until you feel better. Employees are required to contact their supervisor and students need to contact Student Affairs and let them know you’re sick.
Mask-up, Mounties: Wear a required face-covering inside all buildings and whenever you cannot maintain six feet of distance outdoors. Both your nose and mouth must be covered at all times. Wash reusable face coverings every day, and don’t reuse disposable masks.
Physical distance, social solidarity: Stay six feet away from others, whether you’re indoors or outside. Take care of your mental and emotional health, too. If you’re feeling isolated or down, reach out to someone for help.
To promote daily self-checks, EOU has established an online self-check portal in Mountie Hub. As of Sept. 8, all employees will be required to complete a daily self-check using the online form. Employees will be notified by 11 a.m. each day if they haven’t filled out the form. Supervisors will be notified at 4 p.m. if their employees haven’t filled out the online self-check form.
All students should take enhanced precautions or self-isolate for 14 days prior to arriving on campus. Students will be required to complete the EOU Daily Self Health Check form in the Mountie Hub daily during the week and on the weekend if they will be coming to campus.
Two EOU cloth face masks will be provided to each on-campus employee and student. The bulk of these are expected to arrive on campus by Sept. Sept. 18, but a number of plain masks are already available. If you need a cloth mask immediately, please contact Bill Benson. Otherwise, watch your email for instructions about when and where to pick up an EOU cloth mask next week.
To enhance physical distancing and discourage groups of people from congregating, common spaces on campus are being reorganized. Some tables and chairs have been removed from areas such as the Hoke Lounge dining area and in the Residence Halls. Other buildings will also have reduced seating in hallways and classrooms. These modifications have been implemented with everyone’s safety in mind, so please do not rearrange the furniture.
These new norms will help us maintain a healthy environment on campus this fall. You can also find guidelines for public health at govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19.
It’s important that every member of our university community feels supported and comfortable in the decision to stay home if they are unwell. Whether you have a cough, a slight fever, a sore throat or other symptoms (even minor ones), it is a good idea to stay on the side of caution. Employees should contact their supervisor, and students should contact Student Affairs and the Student Health Center.
EOU will conduct COVID-19 screenings for all incoming residential students, student-athletes and students intending to be on campus. These tests are self-administered gentle lower nasal swabs (RT-PCR based tests) and will be used to screen students prior to the start of the term. We will begin conducting mass testing starting the week of September 14. Residential students will be tested starting on Friday, Sept. 18.
In order to facilitate this level of testing all classes will be held remotely for the first week of the Fall Term, and Week of Welcome events will be held virtually. In-person classes and Week of Welcome events will return to modified operations after test results have been evaluated.
Test results will be returned within 24-72 hours (not counting the weekend). All students who have been tested will be quarantined until test results are returned. Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be immediately moved to an isolation room if on-campus or asked to isolate at their off-campus location. Students who test negative will be allowed to leave quarantine.
Residential students will be provided with meal delivery while in quarantine. Off-campus students should prepare to quarantine (food prep, delivery, etc) until results are received (up to five days depending on when they took the test). There will be a series of virtual events and activities for all students while in quarantine.
Details about testing will be provided to students by Friday, Sept. 11. If you have questions or concerns about testing, please contact Student Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-962-3635.
Housing and Residence Life is open for fall term 2020 and is ready to welcome students to on-campus housing. If you already have a housing assignment, you can check your status and roommate assignment in Mountie Hub. If you have not applied for campus housing for the 2020-2021 academic year, space is still available. Visit eou.edu/reslife for more information and submit your application in Mountie Hub.
As noted in the Healthy Mounties section, all students are strongly encouraged to self-isolate for 14 days prior to arriving on campus. Visit eou.edu/coronavirus/returning-to-campus for more details about Week of Welcome, Move-in Day, Residence Life, and community expectations. Contact Residence Life at email@example.com or 541-962-3553 for more information about our plans for opening, physical distancing, quarantine and more.
FUTURE UPDATES TO OUR PLANS
EOU’s Resumption Planning website will continue to provide up-to-date information. Please also read the weekly Infoline messages about resumption planning and details for this fall.
We continue to seek input from all members of the university community. You can submit questions and concerns via this online form.
Virtual Chat Rooms are being held to provide more information and answer questions:
Students: 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 10
Use this link to register: https://eou.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mXr7zLj2S2qVM570YHXICw
I appreciate your understanding and support in recognizing that these course modality changes and preventive measures are made in an effort to do everything that we can for the collective well-being of EOU’s students, faculty, and staff, for both the short- and the long-term.
I look forward to seeing you in-person and virtually very soon. Meanwhile, I wish you a great rest of the summer.
Tom Insko, ’94President, Eastern Oregon University
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