UPDATE: reopening plans (June 5)

Southern Oregon University , Public Updates

  • Sent 06/09/2020 11:46 PST via
  • web

Dear SOU campus community,

We are nearing the end of spring term, and much of our campus community will soon slow down and take a deep collective breath – in relief and in celebration of what we have accomplished together. But much of our work continues, including our thinking and planning for fall term 2020. I am writing today to provide an update on this work. 

Southern Oregon University has been engaged with local, regional, state and national partners as we prepare to resume full operations this fall. Planning the resumption of activities is a complex endeavor and has been highlighted by collaboration, dedication and commitment to the safety and health of our Raider family. These overarching principles have guided our planning.

SOU is in a reasonably good position to follow Jackson County in resuming in-person university activities for fall term, given the relatively low incidence of COVID-19 in the county. We will continue to coordinate with health and government authorities, and align with county readiness standards and guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, as activities resume. Our plan aligns with Gov. Brown's “Reopening Oregon Framework,” including “Prerequisites for Phased Reopening of Oregon.”

SOU’s Resumption Plan includes a number of protocols to both prevent and limit the spread of the virus while moving ahead to a modified in-person experience for fall 2020. SOU will design and maintain classrooms, labs, workspaces, activities and events that prioritize public health and safety, using the following design principles:

  • Maximize the physical distancing of participants following current CDC and OHA guidelines
  • Staggered and modified schedules

Reduced density of room usage

-   Enhanced cleaning

-   Continued use of technology for meetings

-   Close cooperation with local health authorities for prevalence testing and contact tracing

-   Continued public health messaging

-   Personal responsibility and public decency 

Fall 2020

The following campus working groups have developed guidelines and standards for our reopening, with representation from nearly 50 staff, faculty members and students:

  • Instruction and research
  • Workforce, public health and travel
  • Student services
  • Athletics, events and camps

These working groups are finalizing the details of SOU’s Resumption Plan, and I would like to highlight some important elements that have emerged:

  1. To comply with social distancing guidelines, fall term in-person courses may be taught in modified formats, which could include a combination of in-person time in the classroom, video conferencing and online learning.
  2. After Thanksgiving, fall courses will transition to distance learning, so students will not be required to return to campus for the remainder of the term.
  3. SOU’s workforce will gradually return over the summer, with special considerations extended to those who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
  4. Face coverings will be required in shared or common spaces and at all campus activities until there is a reliable treatment or vaccine. More details will follow, including how SOU will provide face coverings for students, faculty members and staff. 

I recognize that you may have additional questions, and we will continue to provide updates to campus as our fall term plans are solidified. The Reopening Working Group will also host a live webinar on June 11, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The webinar, which includes captioning, will be on Zoom at https://sou.zoom.us/j/99996875684. You will need to authenticate with SOU login credentials, and will be able to submit questions as information is presented. Watch for a calendar invitation soon.

Remember that the best virus prevention methods have not changed:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Maintain physical distancing.
  • Cover your face when you are around others.
  • Stay at home if you do not feel well.

I look forward to presenting SOU’s plan and answering any questions you may have at the live webinar, which will include the chairs of each working group along with Vice Presidents Janet Fratella and Dr. Neil Woolf, who have been leading our planning. The plan will be posted on the SOU website following the webinar.

Thank you for your continued efforts to keep our campus community safe.



Linda Schott
President, Southern Oregon University

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