This message is being sent to all faculty and their supervisors to provide an update on our continued efforts to address the ongoing Covid pandemic.
The Oregon Health Administration update on Friday revealed a stark increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, particularly as the Omicron variant spreads. Notably:
- Each day this week set new case-rate highs
- Daily test positivity rates are averaging > 20%
- Hospitalizations are increasing, but patients are experiencing milder symptoms and require fewer hospital care days
- Omicron-related hospitalization rates are currently greater than those from Delta
- The current wave is expected to crest in late January
These bullets highlight the importance of continuing the approaches our campus community has relied on to address this pandemic: wearing approved masks, following physical distancing protocols and vaccination recommendations (including boosters), reporting symptoms of illness, and isolating/quarantining when indicated to protect others.
In response to this steep expansion in case counts, we are likely to see continued disruptions to our campus environment, including increases in infected employees and students, and employees and students who need to quarantine. Concerning our approach to teaching and learning, such disruptions can be mitigated through remote instructional options.
To keep our campus and community safe and facilitate continuity in the learning environment, if a faculty member believes, in consultation with their dean, that it is in the best interest of the class to do so, we are providing the opportunity to temporarily shift campus-based classes to remote instruction. While this list isn’t exhaustive, reasons to move to remote learning might include:
- Students who are absent due to covid (infection, isolation, or quarantine);
- Faculty member who tests positive, or needs to isolate or quarantine;
- Faculty members who are temporarily unable to come to campus for other reasons (e.g., caring for an ill family member).
If a faculty member believes they should temporarily move their face-to-face course to remote instruction:
- Please discuss and confirm this decision with your academic dean.
- Please provide at least a 24-hour notice of the shift in modality to your students through as many avenues as you are able (Canvas/LMS announcements, email, etc.).
- Update your syllabus appropriately to reflect this temporary change.
- Please plan on returning to in-person instruction no later than February 7, 2022.
If you are teaching a course that does not lend itself to remote delivery and your current instructional space does not provide optimal physical distancing, please consult with your Dean/Director/Coordinator to explore the possibility of moving to a new and larger classroom or lab, or another creative option that promotes physical distancing.
As noted, this predicted surge in Omicron transmission is expected to peak at the end of January and dissipate by early February, so it is hopeful that this disruption to the winter term will be relatively brief. While COVID positivity rates have increased, symptoms appear to be relatively mild among people who are vaccinated and have received their boosters. As always, please keep your focus on the needs of our campus community, and maintain the constructive, diligent, and flexible approach that keeps the needs of our students at the forefront.
If you have any questions about this guidance, please do not hesitate to reach out for clarification and additional information.
Be careful, stay safe, and thank you for all you do for our students and this community.
The Executive Team
COVD-19 Resources and Information
* Protocols: As always, perform a daily wellness check, do not come to campus if you may be ill, wear a mask, keep six feet of physical distance from others if at all possible, engage in regular hand hygiene, and report any illness you or others may be experiencing through our college protocols. Protocols for reporting illness, whether from students or employees, are contained on the dashboard here. We also have three shifts of custodial staff cleaning our spaces regularly.
** An essential component of the process is reporting any illness or suspected exposure to COVID (of yourself or others, including students) through the COVID Questionnaire; please report as soon as possible – time is of the essence. This action initiates the college’s robust contact tracing and notification process.