University president Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C., wrote the following message for all UP community members on Friday, July 17. The message can also be found on the Back to The Bluff webpage using this link.
Dear University of Portland Faculty and Staff,
I hope that this email finds you and your loved ones safe and well. My purpose for writing to you today is simple: to check in and provide several updates as we prepare for the Fall Semester.
Earlier today, I sent a comprehensive email to all UP students and their families. I am now sending that very same email to you, with some additional information that pertains specifically to our faculty and staff.
I acknowledge that much of the information below relates only to the student experience at UP and may not appear immediately useful to employees. However, because we are a community with a mission to serve students, I feel it necessary for all faculty and staff to receive this email, review its contents, and be made aware of our plans to support students during the Fall Semester. I recognize that this message is lengthy. However, as you know, our present circumstances are complex and there is so much information that we must share with you.
First, I wish to acknowledge the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in hotspots throughout the country. This upward trend is deeply concerning. We pray for all who continue to be impacted by this pandemic and we extend our immeasurable gratitude to the health care professionals and essential workers who are on the front lines.
The University is closely monitoring developments and continues to review guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, the Multnomah County Health Department, and others. Know that as we move forward we will continue to be guided by data and the advice we receive from public health authorities. As our understanding of COVID-19 continues to evolve, so too will our plans for the Fall Semester.
Second, I once again express my gratitude to all members of our University community for your dedication to our institution, for the compassion and care you have shown for one another, and for the continuing flexibility you have exhibited. This pandemic has upended our personal and professional lives. It has caused heartache, stress, and pain. Despite these challenges, you continually rise to meet the headwinds we face. Your creativity, determination, and patience inspire me and give me confidence that we will eventually emerge from this pandemic stronger than before. To our faculty and staff, I offer my deepest appreciation.
Below, I share an overview of where our plans stand as of now. In the spirit of transparency, I stress that these plans are subject to change. We are evaluating conditions and trends, both locally and nationally, on a daily basis. The University will keep you updated in the event that major modifications to these plans are necessary. Further announcements will be provided in the weeks ahead as the Fall Semester approaches. We thank you in advance for your flexibility and understanding.
We plan to deliver courses in the fall via a hybrid format. This means that most classes will be offered both in-person (in de-densified classrooms optimized for physical distancing) and online. Certain classes with high enrollment will be subdivided into smaller sections with cohorts of students attending in-person instruction on certain days and attending virtually on other days. Students are advised of the possibility that some of their courses may be taught fully online with no in-person instruction. Some members of the faculty have requested to teach all of their courses fully online, and the University is working to accommodate those requests. More information about each student’s courses and their modes of instruction will be provided as we approach the new semester.
In the event that a student feels unwell or is subject to quarantine or isolation, they will not attend classes in-person and will, instead, attend virtually if they are able. We further understand that some students may have underlying health conditions or other reasons for seeking to take all of their courses online. Such students should follow the instructions below:
Undergraduate students who have underlying health conditions that prevent them from attending in-person classes may apply for a COVID-19 accommodation by contacting Accessible Education Services at email@example.com.
Currently, we plan to reopen residence halls in the fall. All residential students have received information about housing assignments and move-in procedures from the Office of Residence Life. Additional information regarding life in our residence halls has recently been posted to the Residence Life page on our Back to The Bluff website.
Students will have access to our dining facilities for their meals. While seating will be limited, all meals will be packaged in a way that permits students to make their selections and take food to go. The University will coordinate outdoor seating areas for dining and for other social programs and activities.
The on-campus experience will feel very different once our semester begins. Per state mandates, both large-scale events and even smaller gatherings may be canceled or modified. All community members will be expected to abide by our face mask/covering requirements, physical distancing rules, and more. However, individuals across campus will work tirelessly to give students the best experience possible under the circumstances.
We know that all members of our community—including faculty and staff—are keenly interested in how we will keep our campus environment safe when the semester begins. We have already developed most of our plans on matters such as face masks/coverings, de-densification, and cleaning, and we are nearing the completion of plans relating to symptom monitoring and other matters.
The University of Portland will conduct COVID-19 testing of students when medically indicated. Tests will be administered by Health & Counseling Center staff at a designated on-campus COVID-19 clinic. The tests will then be sent to a third-party laboratory for interpretation. Currently, UP does not plan to conduct asymptomatic baseline testing of all community members prior to the start of the Fall 2020 semester. At this time, such testing is not recommended by public health authorities.
COVID-19 testing for students is covered at 100% by insurance companies due to the CARES Act. Visits to the Health & Counseling Center remain free of cost. Additional point of care tests (e.g., tests for strep throat, flu, etc.) and medications will be offered at an out-of-pocket cost. Lab work, imaging, prescriptions, and off-campus evaluation costs are subject to insurance coverage.
All faculty, staff, and students will be required to complete a daily health screening questionnaire prior to leaving their home/residence hall for the day or coming to work. Students will begin these symptom screenings two weeks prior to their arrival on campus, and will have their symptoms screened once they arrive. Based upon the results of these daily health screenings, students will be referred to the Health & Counseling Center, their primary care provider, or urgent care/emergency department. Students that report symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will be advised to quarantine until they receive evaluation from a health care provider. If a student who lives on-campus tests positive, they will be moved to a residence hall isolation wing on-campus.
Faculty and staff who report symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will be instructed to remain home and seek appropriate medical care. Any individual who feels ill or reports symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should stay away from campus.
Quarantine and Isolation for Students
The University is prepared to support students who are directed to quarantine and isolate.
Students in quarantine will complete daily symptom check-ins for review by Health & Counseling Center staff. Academic accommodations and support (e.g., meals, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc.) will be provided to all students in quarantine by the University’s COVID Case Management Team. Students will be removed from quarantine based on the recommendations of the Health & Counseling Center and Multnomah County Health Department.
On-campus students who are required to isolate will be moved to an on-campus residence hall isolation wing. They will receive services and support from the COVID-19 Case Management Team, including meals, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and other essentials. They will be removed from isolation based on the recommendations of the Health & Counseling Center and Multnomah County Health Authority.
Off-campus students will be advised to quarantine or isolate in their own homes. These students will also receive support from the COVID-19 Case Management Team. Housing may be provided to students who are unable to safely quarantine or isolate within their home.
The Multnomah County Health Department is primarily responsible for COVID-19 contact tracing in all of Multnomah County, including the UP campus. The University’s COVID-19 Case Management Team and Health & Counseling Center will assist the Health Department in their contact tracing efforts by providing information and support.
Faculty and Staff
The University’s policy regarding remote work is still in effect. This means that most employees must continue to work remotely unless they are instructed otherwise. Any employee who must work on-campus must adhere to all health and safety practices, including the proper use of a face mask/covering and compliance with physical distancing guidelines.
Any employee who feels unwell, who tests positive for COVID-19, or who believes they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should stay away from campus until directed otherwise. If employees are in any doubt about whether they should come to campus, they should stay where they are and seek further guidance from either the Office of Human Resources (staff) or the Office of the Provost (faculty).
Staff with additional questions and/or requests for COVID-19 work accommodations should contact their supervisor as well as the Office of Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org. Faculty with additional questions and/or requests for COVID-19 work accommodations should contact Kathleen Staten in the Office of the Provost at email@example.com.
During Orientation, each student (including both First-Year students and returning students will participate in “academic walk-throughs” of their class schedule. This will prepare them for their academic experience and mode of instruction for the coming semester. While we are deeply disappointed that we cannot host families for our Orientation activities, the processes that we have adopted are designed to promote the health and safety of all community members.
UP remains committed to providing a quality education informed by our Holy Cross tradition, whether delivered in-person, via a hybrid format, or online. Even in ordinary years, tuition does not cover the full cost of education at UP, and the University’s costs will not diminish even if instruction is delivered in an alternate format. Thus, UP will continue to charge its published rates for tuition and fees during the Fall Semester.
In the event that the University directs students to return to their homes from the residence halls, prorated reimbursements of room and board costs will be provided.
The COVID-19 pandemic may be impacting some families in unexpected ways. If your family is experiencing financial hardship, please email the Office of Financial Aid at firstname.lastname@example.org. While we cannot guarantee changes in students’ financial aid packages, there may be other ways in which we can assist.
The course of the pandemic could change at any time and public health mandates could be modified with little notice. As such, flexibility will be key. We cannot rule out the possibility that UP will need to pivot rapidly to all-online instruction and direct students to vacate residence halls in the Fall Semester. Should such an event occur, we will work to assist students as they return home and make arrangements for students who have compelling reasons to remain in on-campus residence halls.
Many teams across campus are developing various contingency plans. As always, we will endeavor to communicate with you as quickly and transparently as possible if our plans must change. We also understand that uncertainty and rapid changes in plans may result in stress and hardship for many of our students, faculty, staff, and their families. UP will aim to be as flexible and accommodating as possible in the event that our plans must change.
In conclusion, I want to offer a brief reflection on the principles that have guided UP thus far and the principles that we will continue to adhere to as we move forward. At UP, we take this pandemic seriously. The inconveniences that are caused by wearing face masks, modifying our professional and social lives, and making sacrifices pale in comparison to the importance of fighting this pandemic and protecting the most vulnerable among us. If we are to ever beat COVID-19, we must act as one. We must recognize that the efforts we undertake now are not just for our own health and safety, but indeed for the health and safety of our fellow community members.
UP has always been a place characterized by care, concern, and compassion. Now more than ever, we must deploy these trademark UP values as we prepare for our Fall Semester and hope for brighter days ahead.
Along with members of the Holy Cross community here at UP, I am praying for you and your loved ones. May God continue to bless you and all who call UP home.