IMPORTANT DETAILS for employees about SOU operations (emailed March 19)

Southern Oregon University , Public Updates

  • Sent 03/22/2020 15:35 PDT via
  • web


SOU continues to collaborate with Oregon’s other public universities, state institutions and leaders, and the Oregon Health Authority on the coronavirus situation. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order today, prohibiting colleges and universities “from conducting in-person classroom, laboratory, and other instruction” from this Saturday through April 28, with the possibility that the period will be extended. The executive order also directed the state’s higher education institutions to “limit on-campus operations only to critical functions and ... employ strict social distancing measures for all on-campus employees and residents.” It specified that the operation of residence halls, dining services, general administrative services and public safety programs should be included among the institutions’ critical functions.

To ensure continuity of instruction, SOU will provide remote delivery of instruction to students for the entire spring term. To protect our employees to the greatest extent possible, SOU will shift to modified operational status on Saturday, March 21. 

Delivery of Instruction
The Provost's Office will work with each academic program to assist with the conversion of face-to-face courses to some form of remote delivery. The redesign of course content will require the student affairs and business affairs communities to creatively support students and faculty.  The provost will continue to offer guidance to faculty members.

We remain committed to ensuring all students who are on target to complete their requirements to graduate at the end of spring term 2020 will do so.

Modified operational status
The main campus in Ashland will be open only for students, faculty, staff and those with official business on campus (because of the need to coordinate with RCC, final decisions regarding the HEC in Medford have not yet been reached). In addition:

  • Effective March 21, university buildings and facilities are closed to the general public.
  • All members of the SOU community who remain on campus must follow social distancing guidelines provided by the CDC. 
  • Plans are being developed to address access for those with official business, including deliveries and vendors. At a minimum, signage will be placed on doors with the phone number to contact CPS for assistance with access. 

Essential employees
Some employees have been, or will be, designated “essential” by their directors, and those employees will report to campus to support SOU’s mission. Confirm with your manager whether your position is considered “essential” to on-campus operations (i.e., CPS, custodians, plant operations, select administrative support, etc.). Faculty members are essential employees and will receive specific instruction regarding whether their presence on campus is necessary.

SOU strongly urges staff and student employees to work remotely because it limits movement and improves social distancing. The university will approve requests to telecommute, except for positions or job functions that: 

  1. Are designated essential by their director; 
  2. Cannot be performed away from the worksite; 
  3. Require the employee’s presence on campus to fulfill the university’s operational needs; or 
  4. Require resources that are unavailable at the employee’s remote location.  

A supervisor assessing remote work options should begin by discussing operational needs with the employee and reviewing position requirements. SOU employees have a variety of jobs and responsibilities, and modifications to their work will vary based on those differences. For jobs that cannot easily be done remotely, managers and employees should work together to develop a remote work plan for special assignments, projects, job-related reading, training and certifications. There will not be one solution that works, or is appropriate, for all employees – some will be asked to continue reporting for work on campus. In cases where remote work does align with university operations, a formal COVID-19 Temporary Telecommuting Agreement is required.

As a reminder, the university is in “modified operational status” (remains open, with limits) and individual units need to maintain operations with minimal levels of staff coverage.  Supervisors should prioritize telecommuting requests for employees with underlying health issues and those in workspaces where social distancing measures cannot be observed.

Use of leave
SOU employees will be affected by remote working measures, job assignment changes, hours worked and family considerations, such as the closure of k-12 schools and childcare centers. It is our intent to retain our employees and student workers, but employment will be determined by the university’s continued and required level of operations. Employees who are not able to work due to the university’s COVID-19 response or their own personal or wellness circumstances may use the following, if eligible:

  • protected family medical leaves (FMLA/OLFA);
  • all accrued personal sick leave; and
  • all hours of personal leave and accrued vacation.

For more information about leaves, workplace/remote work options and benefits, please visit the Human Resources COVID-19 FAQs and check the university’s COVID-19 website daily for updated information

These steps will likely prompt many questions and cause disruption for all. We ask that everyone do their best to accommodate and support one another as we negotiate these difficult times together.

We will update our procedures as guidance is received from state or federal authorities.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for our response to COVID-19.



Greg Perkinson
Vice President for Finance and Administration

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