May 14, 2020
Dear University of Oregon community,
As many of you are no doubt aware, Gov. Kate Brown this morning approved Lane County’s plan to allow some local businesses to start operating as early as tomorrow through a controlled and phased reopening strategy. The county moving into a Phase 1 reopening stance is certainly good news, because it means that Lane County has not seen a significant growth in COVID-19 cases and that the local testing and contact-tracing infrastructure is beginning to take shape.
While a Phase 1 opening in Lane County will allow restaurants, some retailers, and certain service providers to reopen, it does not change the University of Oregon’s operational status. There are two reasons for this:
- Oregon’s universities are subject to an executive order from Gov. Kate Brown that suspends in-person instructional activities and limits campus operations through June 13. We cannot make changes until it is lifted.
- We are awaiting guidance specific to higher education from the Oregon Health Authority. That guidance, which we expect to be delivered in the next few weeks, will be the foundation for helping us develop plans for a safe and responsible reopening at the UO.
In the meantime, the university is taking proactive steps to prepare for a methodical and phased return to in-person work over the course of the summer and into the beginning of fall term. We have teams across campus that are currently developing mitigation strategies that will be needed for reopening, such as physical distancing protocols, a robust campus testing and contact-tracing program, recommendations for the use of face coverings, and more. We have already started and will continue to engage subject-matter experts from across campus. And we will seek input on these and other potential mitigation strategies from employee groups and various campus stakeholders through direct conversations, online surveys, and other feedback opportunities.
Next week, we’ll add a detailed reopening section to UO’s COVID-19 website, and we will continue to update FAQs with specifics about reopening plans and guidance as they become available. We will also continue to communicate the latest news and information about next steps and campus impacts as quickly and transparently as possible. Your input is always welcome. Diverse perspectives are vital when tackling complicated issues. If you have questions, ideas, or potential solutions related to our resumption plans, we want to hear from you. Please use the COVID-19 web form to submit your thoughts using the “Resumption Planning” category.
Finally, let’s remember that, even though it won’t be easy, we’re all in this together. Each new phase will require all of us to learn new habits and attempt different ways of doing things, which I appreciate can be unsettling and uncomfortable. I have great faith in the thoughtfulness and ingenuity of the UO community. In the last few months we’ve seen many examples of creative problem solving, and that flexibility, compassion, and can-do attitude are what will carry us through the upcoming phases of this collective challenge.
André Le Duc
Chief Resilience Officer and Associate Vice President
Safety and Risk Services