Dear Willamette students,
I hope this letter finds you safe and well. My name is Lisa Landreman. I use she/her/hers pronouns, and I am thrilled to introduce myself as the new vice president for student affairs and dean of students. Over the last few weeks, I have truly enjoyed learning about this beloved community and I hope to meet you in the coming months.
As we approach the final weeks of summer, we are excited to welcome you to a new academic year — whether you choose in-person or remote learning. University leaders continue to meet frequently on the evolving pandemic and its implications for our fall semester. We are prepared to offer students the best experience possible, either in person or remotely, but we can’t do it without your support. I want to share some expectations for our community that are designed to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on campus and ask for your assistance in protecting our community.
Before you arrive on campus
Enhanced physical distancing
As a reminder, all Willamette students who do decide to return to campus are strongly encouraged to engage in a 14-day period of quarantine (i.e. enhanced physical distancing) at home before arriving on campus, if you are able. It is an important part of our strategy to minimize risk and keep COVID-19 out of our community.
Required training video and WU Well U Agreement
Soon you will be provided information to view an online video that serves as an overview of COVID-19: what it is, its symptoms, and best practices for staying safe. We have also created a WU Well U Agreement that requires all community members to indicate their understanding of the importance of and expectations for caring for ourselves, supporting one another, and engaging in behaviors that take the well-being of our community seriously in this current health crisis.
Elements of the agreement include:
- Monitoring for cough, trouble breathing, fever, or additional COVID-19 symptoms daily
- Maintaining a physical distance from others (at least 6 feet)
- Wearing a face covering when in public spaces on campus, indoors or outdoors; or while interacting with others outside of the home
- Avoiding crowds and large gatherings
- Following room occupancy limits and the no guest policy
- Seeking medical attention if you develop a fever, other symptoms, and/or test positive for COVID-19.
More details on how to access the video and the agreement will be available soon.
If you are coming to campus
Willamette culture of care
The first weeks of the semester are high-risk for spreading COVID-19 in our community. It is important to take this risk seriously by following the guidelines outlined in the WU Well U Agreement. Each behavior in the agreement serves as an important part of our approach to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting everyone in the Willamette community. We encourage students attending classes in-person, especially those residing on campus, to limit your travel outside the Willamette Valley. Each person will need to make a personal, informed choice about how they will move about in this COVID world, understanding that your choices have implications for those around you, in addition to yourself.
Importance of wearing a mask
You have likely heard that COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice (e.g., while shouting, chanting, or singing). These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Unfortunately, studies show that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms (are “asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (are “pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.
Masks help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Wearing a mask will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people. For these reasons, the protection of all members of our community, we require everyone to wear masks in any public spaces on campus, indoors or outdoors.
The CDC recommended masks for daily use are not surgical masks or respirators. Currently, those are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. Cloth face coverings are sufficient to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people. The World Health Organization has created some videos about recommended fabric mask materials and composition that we encourage you to review. Please bring a supply of masks to ensure that you will always have access to a clean one. CDC guidelines for wearing a mask include:
- Wash your hands before putting on your mask
- Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
- Fit it snugly against the sides of your face
- Make sure you can breathe easily
- Remove and discard your mask if soiled, damaged, or hard to breathe through.
Masks with exhalation valves or vents
The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control. Masks with one-way valves or vents allow exhaled air to be expelled out through holes in the material. This can allow exhaled respiratory droplets to reach others and potentially spread the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, the CDC does not recommend using masks if they have an exhalation valve or vent and we ask that you NOT use masks with valves or vents on campus.
Daily symptoms check
In accordance with CDC guidance, the WU Well U Agreement includes daily monitoring for possible COVID-19 symptoms. We have partnered with the CampusClear App (available for download for iOS or Android or via their web interface) to make this tracking easier. The CampusClear app is an optional tool designed to assist with daily self-screening. Users of the app are directed to appropriate resources if needed. Your personal information is protected and not shared with Willamette University.
Testing, quarantine and isolation
To respond to the presence of COVID-19 in our community, we are building a plan to evaluate students with suspected symptoms of COVID-19, including testing when indicated, through the Bishop Health and Wellness Center. Though the broad testing of asymptomatic people is not currently recommended by the CDC or the Oregon Health Authority, we understand that some students may still desire to be tested. For those interested in asymptomatic COVID testing, Oregon Health Authority's testing site finder provides an up to date inventory of commercial testing locations close to campus.
Willamette will continue to work closely with local public health officials in their contact tracing efforts for all infected students, as has occurred throughout the pandemic. We also will have support and space on campus available for any student who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, who develop symptoms, or who themselves have tested positive, and need to quarantine or isolate safely. This includes meal delivery. Any student who has tested positive for COVID-19 should contact Tori Ruiz in the Office of Student Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org, 503- 370-6447) or the Bishop Health and Wellness Center so that we can ensure all the needed supports can be put in place.
Throughout the semester
These are some of the many efforts underway to help you have a healthy and productive semester. With all this in mind, I ask that you give yourself, your fellow students, and all members of our community a bit of grace this fall. Be patient with one another. This is a difficult time for everyone. We are all doing the best we can to provide a safe and rewarding experience, but we can’t do it without you. We are counting on you to follow the guidelines and care for yourself and your community members. We will rely on your passion for learning, your flexibility, your compassion, and our collective ability to do difficult things in extraordinary times. Together I believe we can make this a meaningful and memorable year.
Take care and travel safely,
Return to Campus Plan