The University of Oregon (UO) fully activated its Incident Management Team (IMT) on February 28, 2020, to monitor and respond to an outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus.
The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
Incident Management Team
The UO's All-Hazard Incident Management Team (IMT) provides the command and control infrastructure required to manage the logistical, fiscal, planning, operational, safety, and campus issues related to any and all incidents/emergencies.
The IMT is a group of trained individuals from across campus who are tasked with managing the logistical, fiscal, planning, operational, safety, and campus issues related to any and all incidents/emergencies, including infections disease outbreaks and pandemics. In addition, the IMT manages all phases of an incident (e.g., response, mitigation, continuity, and recovery).
The UO follows the requirements set forth by the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS). NIMS and ICS provide a nationwide template enabling federal, state, local, and tribal governments and private sector nongovernmental organizations to work together effectively and efficiently to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents regardless of cause, size or complexity.
Using ICS at the UO allows the members of the IMT to coordinate across both academic and administrative units and departments, all schools and colleges, and the Eugene campus and satellite campuses through a common organizational structure. The hierarchical ICS system and chains of communication adapt to rapidly evolving incidents like COVID-19.
Part of the ICS protocol is to establish objectives for managing a particular situation or incident. For COVID-19, some of the UO IMT objectives included:
- Implement and maintain public health strategies known to reduce the impacts of COVID-19 illness and allow the university to conduct in-person instruction, research operations, and campus residential/student life activities as safely as possible. These include:
- Requiring vaccination status reporting among the university community and establishing systems for members of the university community to maintain their vaccinated status.
- Maintaining comprehensive testing and contact tracing programs for the university, to the extent possible during Omicron surge and in partnership with Lane County Public Health and Oregon Health Authority for the duration of the public health emergency.
- Implementing safety and health regulations based on the latest developments and guidance from the local public health authority, Oregon Health Authority, and CDC.
- Continue to encourage personal responsibility to help reduce risk and protect the self and others.
- Keep the campus informed of new developments, local public health authority, Oregon Health Authority, and CDC guidance.
- Document the financial impacts of COVID-19 illness on the university's operations and protect its long-term financial stability.
Key Activation Dates for the UO IMT
January 28, 2020: The IMT was partially activated for COVID-19 response. That team focused on issues around international travel and situational monitoring.
February 27, 2020: The full IMT was activated and expanded beyond our normal structure to include over 150 people, some of whom are standing members of the IMT and others who have been added to lend their operational expertise to this particular response. This expanded team worked around the clock on preparedness, mitigation and response to the outbreak. [Link to organizational chart for this operational period].
March 27, 2020: The IMT added two new sections within the architecture to address ongoing continuity and recovery issues. [Link to organizational chart for this operational period].
June 10, 2020: The IMT revised the objectives to meet the new planning needs of the evolving situation. [Link to organizational chart for this operationa period].
September 25, 2020: The IMT revised the objectives to meet the new planning needs and response to wildfires and a weeklong period of unhealthy air quality. [Link to organizational chart for this operational period].
January 15, 2021: The IMT revised the objectives to meet the new planning needs of the evolving situation. [Link to organizational chart for this operational period].
June 1, 2021: The IMT revised the objectives to meet the new planning needs of the evolving situation and IMT demobilization efforts.
June 18, 2021: The IMT temporarily demobilized from its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
August 25, 2021: The IMT re-activated in preparation for Fall Term and Omicron surge that surfaced during Winter Term. [Link to organizational chart for this operational period].
March 18, 2022: The IMT fully demobilized from its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. After action to-do items from the response will go to individual departments or to the UO’s ERM program for review and recommendation to senior leadership.
COVID-19 IMT Structure as of January 24, 2021
President’s Policy Group
- Chaired by the University of Oregon President
The policy group consists of the president, provost, several vice presidents and senior staff. This group provides direction and makes strategic policy decisions for the university. In conjunction with the incident commanders, the policy group sets the objectives for the IMT.
- Agency Administrator, VP for Finance and Administration
The official responsible for the management of a campus(s) or functional area. The senior administrative officer of the university having responsibility for incident mitigation and management. The agency administrator is part of the policy group and has the authority to make emergency response decisions on behalf of the policy group.
- Incident Commander, Chief Resilience Officer-AVP for Safety and Risk Services
- Deputy Incident Commander, Associate Vice President Campus Services
The incident commander oversees the operations of the IMT. The incident commander brief the policy group on the status of all operations and advise the policy group when strategic decisions need to be made for the university. The incident commander hold briefings with local, state, and national agency administrators, e.g. Lane County Public Health and Oregon Health Authority.
IMT/UO Communication Lead
- Interim Vice President for Communications
The communications lead oversees all university communications related to the incident/emergency including internal and external facing communications. The communications lead serves as the liaison with local and state public information officers.
- Chief of Staff to President
- Chief of Staff to Provost
This group includes the chiefs of staff for the president and provost. This group is charged with serves as liaisons between the IMT and senior leadership, including reviewing requests from faculty and staff for resumption activities e.g. facility access requests and event resumption requests.
Government relations staff covering local, state, and federal serve as the external liaison officers serve as the primary point of contact for local, state and federal government agencies.
- Occupational Health and Safety Manager
The safety officer is responsible for ensuring that safety regulations are adhered to, and for assessing unsafe situations or hazards. The safety officer also serves as a liaison to campus to assist with adherence to state guidance on resumption of operations. This includes guidance on physical distancing, cleaning protocols and face coverings.
Planning Section Chief
- Executive Assistant & IMT Planning Chief, Safety and Risk Services
The planning section chief is responsible for collecting, evaluating, and disseminating information as the situation develops. The planning section chief facilitates all IMT briefings, works with the operations section on resumption planning, and documents actions through situation reports.
Finance Section Chief
- University Controller
The finance section chief oversees all financial and cost analysis of the incident/emergency. This includes management of external state and federal funding requests.
Operations Section Chief
- Safety and Risk Services Chief of Staff & Senior Director of Operations
The operation section chief ensures operations are consistent with the IMT objectives. This operations structure is where issues are reviewed, assessed, and recommendations are developed.
Below are the branches under the operations section:
Monitors and Maintains COVID-19 mitigation strategies to evaluate current campus operations.
Case Management Branch
Develop support resources for students, faculty, and staff who contract or have been exposed to COVID-19. This includes the isolation and quarantine plans for non-vaccinated residence hall students, and contact tracing efforts in support of the county. Branch membership is represented by the following units:
- University Health Services
- Environmental Health and Safety
- Human Resources
- General Counsel
Testing and Vaccination Requirement Branch
Develops and manages required testing program that affects non-vaccinated or exempted students, faculty and staff. Develops and implements plans for faculty, staff, and students to report their vaccination status in accordance with current UO COVID-19 regulations and requirements. Branch membership is represented by the following units:
- MAP Program
- Information Services
- Human Resources
- University Health Services
- General Counsel
- Student Life
- Safety and Risk Services
- Monitoring and Assessment Program (MAP)
The COVID-19 Monitoring and Assessment Program (MAP) was created in spring 2020 to develop and expand the university's testing capacity for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. MAP leverages the research strengths of the UO, including experts in genomics, data science, prevention science, and other areas.
The MAP team has expanded testing capacity to approximately 4,000 tests per week. All residents of Lane County are invited to participate in testing. We particularly encourage students living off campus in group or apartment living settings, faculty and employees whose work requires them to be on campus, and underserved communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 to sign up for testing.
The IMT holds bi-monthly briefings where incident commander, section chiefs, officers, branch directors and work group leads provide updates to the entire IMT. This prevents duplication of efforts, ensures each group is working toward the operational objectives set by the policy group, and can identify issues that necessitate strategic guidance from the Policy Group.
To evaluate the university's preparedness to address COVID-19 and the overall risk level, UO is participating in the OpenSmartEdu COVID-19 Planning and Self-Assessment Tool, developed by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and Tuscany Strategy Consulting. Based on this self-assessment, UO is determined to be very prepared to address COVID-19 impacts and has a "very low" risk of spreading COVID-19.