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Recent Updates

  • February 26, 2021: Vaccination Update

    Dear Willamette community,

    We write to provide you the latest information we have about the COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Oregon. Earlier today, Gov. Kate Brown and officials from the Oregon Health Authority announced further information about the state’s vaccination sequencing. University employees are referenced as part of Group 7 of Phase 1b which includes “frontline workers as defined by CDC” who will be eligible to be vaccinated no later than May 1.

    No later than June 1, Phase 2 of vaccinations will begin for all adults aged 45 to 64. All Oregonians 16 and over will be eligible to receive a vaccine no later than July 1.

    The state has a site where people can determine if they are eligible to receive a vaccine. Please visit Get Vaccinated Oregon for more information.

    We will continue to provide updates as we get them.

    Sincerely,
    ROC

  • February 26, 2021: Weekly COVID-19 Recap

    Reopening Operations Committee update

    Topics ROC discussed in the past week:

    • Housing accommodations as a result of the ice storm
    • Resumption of athletics and feedback from community members
    • Changing restrictions in Marion County and campus implications
    • Planning for Fall FITS classes

    Regional and statewide public health update

    The most current Oregon Health Authority weekly update can be found here .

    Marion County’s COVID-19 website can be found here .

    Oregon is fortunately experiencing the same declines in COVID case counts, hospitalizations and deaths as the rest of the country, and currently has the third-lowest infection rate in the U.S. In response to these gains, Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority have moved Marion County from “Extreme Risk” to “High Risk” effective today. While this is encouraging, we still have a long way to go in this pandemic. However, we do expect to regularly reassess the restrictions we have had in place in response to the changing COVID landscape. More information about the county risk levels and allowable activities by category can be found here . Briefly, however, this means:

    • Indoor dining will be allowed in Goudy and The Bistro so long as indoor capacity does not exceed 25% maximum occupancy or 50 people, whichever is smaller, with a six-people per party and per table maximum.
    • Indoor entertainment (which includes Hallie Ford Museum and Theater productions) will be allowed so long as capacity is does not exceed 25% occupancy or 50 people total, whichever is smaller.
    • Sparks Fitness Center will increase capacity to a maximum 25% occupancy or 50 people total, whichever is smaller.

    Mid-Semester Break

    As a reminder, we have adapted our spring semester schedule to omit the traditional weeklong spring break at the end of March. The intent of this mitigation strategy is to de-incentivize students’ travel to other areas, then back to campus for the remaining month and half of the semester. We also recognize that students need a break from their studies so we have built in a two-day mid-semester break on March 25-26. Importantly, we are asking that students not travel during this time, but rather find a way to relax without leaving the Salem area.

    Cases

    We reported no new cases in the past week.

    Bishop continues its surveillance testing program, as well as diagnostic testing for symptomatic students and those with known exposure. All tests given this week were negative. However, it is important to remember that all COVID tests are just a snapshot in time, and a negative test result should not change our adherence to mitigation strategies outlined in the WU Well U Agreement . If selected for surveillance testing, please do your part by scheduling an appointment.

    Please note that the confirmed case dashboard was created to keep the community apprised of possible transmission on campus. As such, we do not report cases when individuals are not physically present on campus this semester (for example, students studying remotely and living out of the area).

    As a reminder, we require any community member who is ever on campus, however briefly, who tests positive for COVID-19 to report that to the university. As was stated in the Aug. 28 Today@Willamette , students should self-report their positive COVID-19 status to Tori Ruiz in Student Affairs at Truiz@willamette.edu , 503-370-6447, or by submitting a COVID-19 CARE Report form . Faculty and staff should report their positive case status to Human Resources at 503-370-6210 or by submitting this Employee COVID-19 Report form.

  • February 19, 2021: Weekly COVID-19 Recap

    In an ongoing effort to keep the community informed, the Reopening Operations Committee is committed to offering statewide, regional and campus public health updates to our community every Friday.

    Reopening Operations Committee update

    Topics ROC discussed in the past week

    • Housing & other resources for off campus students without power
    • Declining case counts in Marion County

    Regional and statewide public health update

    The most current Oregon Health Authority weekly update can be found here.

    Marion County’s COVID-19 website can be found here.

    Resources for students affected by the power outage

    In response to the aftermath of the recent ice storm in the area, including significant power outages that have yet to be resolved, housing and food options were made available to students living off campus. A Google form was sent out on Tuesday evening to all students to assess the housing needs. Along with the option for temporary housing, affected students are able to receive free dinner service from Bon Appetit through Friday, February 19th. This free service will be re-evaluated as we learn more about the restoration of power in the area. As of Thursday morning, there have been 9 students requesting temporary housing and 33 students who received a free dinner on Wednesday night.

    We will continue to monitor the situation in the area and provide options for students as long as they are needed.

    Cases

    We reported no new cases in the past week.

    Bishop continues it’s surveillance testing program, as well as diagnostic testing for symptomatic students and those with known exposure. All tests given this week were negative. However, it is important to remember that all COVID tests are just a snapshot in time, and a negative test result should not change our adherence to mitigation strategies outlined in the WU Well U Agreement. If selected for surveillance testing, please do your part by scheduling an appointment.

    Please note that the confirmed case dashboard was created to keep the community apprised of possible transmission on campus. As such, we do not report cases when individuals are not physically present on campus this semester (for example, students studying remotely and living out of the area).

    As a reminder, we require any community member who is ever on campus, however briefly, who tests positive for COVID-19 to report that to the university. As was stated in the Aug. 28 Today@Willamette, students should self-report their positive COVID-19 status to Tori Ruiz in Student Affairs at Truiz@willamette.edu, 503-370-6447, or by submitting a COVID-19 CARE Report form. Faculty and staff should report their positive case status to Human Resources at 503-370-6210 or by submitting this Employee COVID-19 Report form.

  • February 14, 2021: Ice Storm Follow up

    Willamette Community,

    We understand that many of you remain without power and know how uncomfortable and difficult these conditions can be. Although power has been restored to some areas, many may be without power for a few more days. Even with power, some may still be without internet access.

    During this time COVID-19 continues to be a major concern and we continue to prioritize strategies that reduce the possibility of its spread. With this concern at the forefront, we are unable to provide beds on campus for those without power. First, we do not have the capacity to offer housing to everyone who lives off campus or even for those who would desire it during this time. Second, we have to preserve a number of the spaces we do have for students who may need to be isolated or quarantined if they should acquire the virus, as this circumstance can very quickly escalate without notice. Third, we have a no-guest policy in the residence halls this year for a reason—introducing off-campus guests into the residence halls (even other Willamette students)—increases the risk of virus transmission not only to residential students but to the students who would come from a variety of off-campus residences.

    If you are a student who is in a home where there has been damage that is exposing you to the elements, have experienced injury because of the storm, or you have a medical circumstance that is putting your health at risk, please contact Campus Safety and they can connect you to the on-call staff to discuss what support options may be available. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate students for reasons other than the exceptions noted above.

    Power is on throughout campus and the UC and academic buildings are accessible for studying. Goudy is open to all students for grab-and-go meals and the University will be open tomorrow. Classes will go on as scheduled unless you are otherwise notified. If you are unsure whether it is prudent to travel to campus, you should use your personal judgment and make the right decision for yourself regarding coming to work or attending classes. If employees are unable to report to work because of the weather and related circumstances, they should contact their supervisor and students should notify their faculty. Please remember that faculty, staff, and administrators are also experiencing power and internet connectivity issues and so there may be delays in response.

    Be safe,
    The ROC

     

  • February 12, 2021: Weekly COVID-19 Recap

    In an ongoing effort to keep the community informed, the Reopening Operations Committee is committed to offering statewide, regional and campus public health updates to our community every Friday.

    Reopening Operations Committee update

    Topics ROC discussed in the past week

    • Surveillance testing updates
    • CDC recommendations on double masks
    • Admissions tours proposal
    • County risk level assessment

    Regional and statewide public health update

    The most current Oregon Health Authority weekly update can be found here.

    Marion County’s COVID-19 website can be found here.

    Double mask recommendation

    As we shared last week, Oregon public health experts are recommending that individuals upgrade or reinforce the cloth masks that have become popular. This week, the CDC has recently shared a study and information also affirming this approach. 2/10/21 CDC study confirms two masks are better than one. As a reminder, you can double your cloth mask with a surgical mask or acquire a 2.5 micron filter to use along with your cloth mask.

    Spaces to eat on campus

    Marion County currently remains in the “Extreme Risk” category, which means indoor dining at Goudy is not permitted. We understand the challenges this creates for students, particularly those who live off campus, who want to eat somewhere on campus.

    Below are a few locations and reminders regarding spaces that are available for students to eat.

    Areas where food can be consumed

    • Cat Cavern — This space is available each day from 7 a.m.–4 p.m. as an option for students to use for meals, primarily for those students who do not live on campus.
      • Students using the space should maintain six feet or more of distance from others while they are eating.
      • This space is not to be used for hanging out or socializing during the day.
    • University Center — Use the third floor lobby area.
    • Residence hall room
    • Outdoors

    Areas where food should not be consumed

    • Classrooms
    • Common areas in buildings, such as University Center first and second floor lobbies, academic building hearths and residence hall lounges

    Cases

    We reported no new cases in the past week.

    Bishop continues it’s surveillance testing program, as well as diagnostic testing for symptomatic students and those with known exposure. All tests given this week were negative. However, it is important to remember that all COVID tests are just a snapshot in time, and a negative test result should not change our adherence to mitigation strategies outlined in the WU Well U Agreement. Additionally, Bishop has started surveillance testing a randomized sample of the student community. If selected for testing, please do your part by scheduling an appointment.

    Please note that the confirmed case dashboard was created to keep the community apprised of possible transmission on campus. As such, we do not report cases when individuals are not physically present on campus this semester (for example, students studying remotely and living out of the area).

    As a reminder, we require any community member who is ever on campus, however briefly, who tests positive for COVID-19 to report that to the university. As was stated in the Aug. 28 Today@Willamette, students should self-report their positive COVID-19 status to Tori Ruiz in Student Affairs at Truiz@willamette.edu, 503-370-6447, or by submitting a COVID-19 CARE Report form. Faculty and staff should report their positive case status to Human Resources at 503-370-6210 or by submitting this Employee COVID-19 Report form.

  • February 5, 2021: Weekly COVID-19 Recap

    In an ongoing effort to keep the community informed, the Reopening Operations Committee is committed to offering statewide, regional and campus public health updates to our community every Friday.

    Reopening Operations Committee update

    Topics ROC discussed in the past week

    Regional and statewide public health update

    The most current Oregon Health Authority weekly update can be found here.

    Marion County’s COVID-19 website can be found here.

    Double mask recommendation

    With the discovery of new and highly transmissible coronavirus variants within the United States, Oregon public health experts are recommending that individuals upgrade or reinforce the cloth masks that have become popular. Double masking has not yet become a requirement by federal and local health authorities but it is highly recommended as the new COVID-19 variants travel throughout the state and country. You can double your cloth mask with a surgical mask or acquire a 2.5 micron filter to use along with your cloth mask.

    Indoor recreational facility use

    Earlier this week we communicated state-mandated changes to our recreational facilities and museum. These changes allow some limited use and activity within these facilities while Marion County is still in the extreme risk category. We wanted to provide some additional information around what these changes are and how and when the spaces can be used.

    Fitness center and workout space

    • Each contained workout space can accommodate six people at a time based on the guidelines. Gym users will be required to stay within their designated gym space for the duration of their workout.
    • Students in the fitness area need to stay 25 feet apart from one another.
    • Gym and fitness center use is limited to 45-minute sessions for each group.
    • To maximize student payroll and the six-person accommodation, the Fitness Center’s hours will be:
      • Monday–Thursday: 6:30–9:30 a.m. and 4–9 p.m.
      • Friday: 6:30–9:30 a.m. and 3–7 p.m.
      • Saturday: 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
      • Sundays: 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
    • There will be a system in place to sign up for specific one-hour time blocks to allow for entry and exit of the groups. That information will be coming out soon. Due to limited times available with only 6 users at a time, students may be limited to three to four workout slots per week in order to accommodate everyone who wishes to use the space.
    • Students will be required to sign into the space they are assigned in order to manage capacity and support contact tracing efforts should a person test positive who used the gym.

    Athletic teams’ gym and practice guidelines

    • Athletic teams will be permitted to practice indoors with up to 25 participants based on the guidelines for credit bearing instructional activities mandated by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
    • Athletes and coaches must maintain six feet of distance as much as possible. Exceptions to this distance rule for practices are limited and must be preapproved.
    • Cone Field House will be designated for athletic teams to use Monday through Friday with occasional use on the weekends based on the competition schedule.
    • The pool will be open for swim team practice initially, with hopes of opening it to the general student population in the coming weeks.

    Superspreader Super Bowl Sunday

    Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have surged after almost every major holiday this past year. This weekend brings on another unofficial one: Super Bowl Sunday. Because Super Bowl parties are usually indoors and can involve more households and shared food, these gatherings may be more dangerous than most holidays. This year’s game is also happening when contagious new variants of the virus have begun to spread. Our advice: Don’t organize a party. Don’t go to a Super Bowl party. And don’t root for Tom Brady.

    Cases

    We reported no new cases in the past week.

    Bishop completed COVID testing of nearly 250 student athletes in the first two weeks of the semester. All tests were negative. However, it is important to remember that all COVID tests are just a snapshot in time, and a negative test result should not change our adherence to mitigation strategies outlined in the WU Well U Agreement. Additionally, Bishop has started surveillance testing a randomized sample of the student community. If selected for testing, please do your part by scheduling an appointment.

    Please note that the confirmed case dashboard was created to keep the community apprised of possible transmission on campus. As such, we do not report cases when individuals are not physically present on campus this semester (for example, students studying remotely and living out of the area).

    As a reminder, we require any community member who is ever on campus, however briefly, who tests positive for COVID-19 to report that to the university. As was stated in the Aug. 28 Today@Willamette, students should self-report their positive COVID-19 status to Tori Ruiz in Student Affairs at Truiz@willamette.edu, 503-370-6447, or by submitting a COVID-19 CARE Report form. Faculty and staff should report their positive case status to Human Resources at 503-370-6210 or by submitting this Employee COVID-19 Report form.

  • February 1, 2021: Beyond the Quiet Period

    Today marks the end of the university’s quiet period for those students who returned to campus on or before Saturday, Jan. 23. Thank you for your commitment to this quiet period as we transitioned members back to the in-person community.

    The end of the quiet period means that classes scheduled to take place in person will be held in person unless otherwise indicated by your instructor. On weekdays, the Bistro is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Rick’s Cafe is open from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students are now free to engage with others and enter buildings more freely.

    These guidelines remain in place:

    • Wear masks (preferably two, or one with a filter per trending recommendations) and maintain 6 feet of physical distance in public campus spaces and when visiting friends in residence hall rooms.
    • Abide by posted room occupancy limitations. Current state guidelines allow for only six people for event gatherings and no more than two occupants in a residence hall room.
    • Follow the residence hall guest policy that restricts visitation only for residents within an assigned residence hall.
    • Currently state guidelines will not allow us to provide seating in Goudy, so meals will continue to be grab-and-go until further notice.
    • Many offices will continue to provide service and support remotely.
    • Any student interested in planning in-person events should contact student-activities@willamette.edu for guidance in advance and to determine if a proposal needs to be submitted to the ROC.

    State guidance can change rapidly. We will continue to update the community with these changes as we all remain eager to increase opportunities for us to engage with one another in person.

    Any student who may have arrived or is planning to arrive on campus after Jan. 23 from out-of-state must institute their own 10-day quiet period before returning to in-person activities.

  • February 1, 2021: Updated state guidance for indoor recreational facility use and select indoor venues

    Dear Community,

    We hope you are settling back into classes and campus life for the spring semester. We write with an update about the use of some of our campus spaces. As you may recall, in December, Governor Brown implemented a new risk categorization system that determines which activities are allowed within a county based on a set of risk criteria. Based on the extreme risk categorization of Marion County, we were required to close the indoor fitness center and end athletic practices.

    On Friday, the guidelines for indoor gyms spaces and guidance for museums were updated for extreme risk counties allowing some limited use of these spaces going forward. Museum, Fitness Center, and athletics staff are implementing these new guidelines so that the museum, workout, and practice spaces can be functional for students soon. All users of these spaces will be required to wear masks during visits, practices, and workouts. However, the guidelines allow for some differences for activities that are deemed “instructional” (i.e., fitness classes, athletic practices) and general use.

    Hallie Ford Museum guidelines

    • We are working on determining how to apply these new guidelines to the layout and square footage of the museum. More detailed information will be provided in the coming days.

    Fitness Center & workout space guidelines

    • The Sparks building will be organized to provide contained workout spaces that can be used simultaneously to accommodate the different needs of those utilizing the space.
    • Each of these spaces can accommodate 6 people at a time based on the guidelines. Gym users will be required to stay within their designated gym space for the duration of their workout.
    • Students in the fitness area need to stay 25’ apart from one another.
    • Stationary equipment will be arranged to ensure that individuals do not face each other regardless of the distance between equipment
    • Gym and fitness center use is limited to 45 minute sessions for each group.
    • The fitness center and recreational areas will continue to be limited to student use only. Staff and Faculty will not be allowed to use the facilities in order to prioritize student health and wellness options.

    Athletic Teams gym & practice guidelines

    • Athletic teams will be permitted to practice indoors with up to 25 participants based on Higher Education Coordinating Commission guidelines for credit bearing instructional activities.
    • Athletes and coaches must maintain 6’ of distance as much as possible. Exceptions to this distance for practice purposes are limited and must be pre-approved.
      The pool will be open for swim team practices initially, with hopes of opening to the general student population in the coming weeks.

    More information will be provided soon with details around the available spaces & equipment, use protocols and best practices for navigating the facilities with these changes in place.
    We are excited that these new guidelines allow us to bring back some recreational activities and options for students to explore during the spring semester.

    Sincerely,
    ROC

  • January 28, 2021: Weekly COVID-19 Recap

    In an ongoing effort to keep the community informed, the Reopening Operations Committee is committed to offering statewide, regional and campus public health updates to our community every Friday.

    Reopening Operations Committee update

    Here are some of the topics ROC discussed in the past week.

    • Guidance for forming pods
    • Updated state guidance on gym use
    • Guidance for athletic teams

    Regional and statewide public health update

    The most current Oregon Health Authority weekly update can be found here.

    Marion County’s COVID-19 website can be found here.

    Events and gatherings

    Willamette University is subject to the guidelines and mandates issued by the Governor and Oregon Health Authority — this directly affects how social gatherings and events can occur on campus for the foreseeable future. Post quiet period events or social gatherings must be limited to no more than 6 people for both indoor and outdoor gatherings, this includes any recurring club or department meetings. Virtual options are highly encouraged and allow for larger event attendance. If you are hosting in-person gatherings, we recommend setting up a mechanism for registration or time slots in order to manage the attendance limitations.

    New variant COVID-19 virus strain

    On Jan. 15, Oregon Health Authority announced that they had been informed that an Oregon resident tested positive with the variant COVID-19 virus strain originally detected in the United Kingdom. This strain has been detected in several states, including California. It is important to note that viruses constantly mutate, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Most of these variants do not change how the virus behaves, and many disappear.

    We are continuing to monitor these new strains and will update the community as more information becomes available.

    Our current mitigation strategies are still very important in combating the virus. As a reminder, this includes: maintaining six feet of physical distance, wearing a face covering, practicing good hand hygiene and limiting social gatherings.

    Cases

    We reported one new case in the past week.

    Please note that the confirmed case dashboard was created to keep the community apprised of possible transmission on campus. As such, we do not report cases when individuals are not physically present on campus this semester (for example, students studying remotely and living out of the area).

    As a reminder, we require any community member who is ever on campus, however briefly, who tests positive for COVID-19 to report that to the university. As was stated in the Aug. 28 Today@Willamette, students should self-report their positive COVID-19 status to Tori Ruiz in Student Affairs at Truiz@willamette.edu, 503-370-6447, or by submitting a COVID-19 CARE Report form. Faculty and staff should report their positive case status to Human Resources at 503-370-6210 or by submitting this Employee COVID-19 Report form.

    To date, all COVID-19 tests administered in Bishop Wellness Center have been negative.

    Community compliance updates

    As we resume classes, please remember that we signed the WU Well U Agreement and agreed to affirm its commitments as a member of a caring campus community.

    As a reminder, we are in a quiet period and will be for the beginning of the semester. During this time, campus remains closed to visitors, classes are remote and all employees are asked to work remotely unless otherwise approved by their supervisor.

  • January 22, 2021: Weekly COVID-19 Recap

    In an ongoing effort to keep the community informed, the Reopening Operations Committee is committed to offering statewide, regional and campus public health updates to our community every Friday.

    Reopening Operations Committee update

    Here are some of the topics ROC discussed in the past week.

    • New COVID-19 strain
    • Admissions tours
    • Physical activity and wellness solutions

    Regional and statewide public health update

    The most current Oregon Health Authority weekly update can be found here.

    Marion County’s COVID-19 website can be found here.

    New variant COVID-19 virus strain

    On Jan. 15, Oregon Health Authority announced that they had been informed that an Oregon resident tested positive with the variant COVID-19 virus strain originally detected in the United Kingdom. This strain has been detected in several states, including California. It is important to note that viruses constantly mutate, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Most of these variants do not change how the virus behaves, and many disappear.

    We are continuing to monitor these new strains and will update the community as more information becomes available.

    Our current mitigation strategies are still very important in combating the virus. As a reminder, this includes: maintaining six feet of physical distance, wearing a face covering, practicing good hand hygiene, and limiting social gatherings.

    Vaccination rollout in Oregon

    Although we had previously believed that higher education would be included in Phase 1b of the vaccination rollout program, we have since learned that higher education employees are not included with the K–12 employees in 1b. This confirmation came from our most recent communication with the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission. We are in continued conversation with HECC and other partners to determine where higher education employees will be included in the vaccination plan.

    Additionally, last week the federal government indicated that it would be sending out the stockpile of vaccinations it had in the federal reserve to increase distribution in every state. We have since learned from the governor’s office that “states will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week, because there is no federal reserve of doses.” This abrupt change in the expected supply will push back the distribution timeline that Gov. Brown and the Oregon Health Authority had shared earlier last week.

    It will continue to take time for the vaccines to be widely available and meet the demand of the groups eligible for vaccinating. We will continue to share information as we receive it.

    Surveillance testing in the spring semester

    As a reminder, in response to changing guidance and test availability in Oregon, Bishop Wellness Center will begin surveillance testing of undergraduate, law and graduate students in February. Each week, a random sample of students currently attending in-person classes will be selected to take a COVID-19 diagnostic nasal swab test. If selected, students will receive an email with the subject line “COVID-19 Testing: You have been selected.” The tests are the rapid antigen tests with results available the day of collection. There will be no direct costs to students asked to participate in surveillance testing. Bishop will also be able to offer limited testing of asymptomatic people by request for a $50 fee as supplies are available.

    Some additional details

    • Students selected for testing will receive an email asking them to schedule an appointment with Bishop Wellness Center.
    • Appointments for these randomly selected students will be available from 10 a.m.–noon, Monday–Friday.
    • Students who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or are a known close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 should call Bishop Wellness Center for a separate appointment time and not participate in this surveillance testing program.

    We are pleased that we are able to add testing to our ongoing mitigation strategies. However, it is important to remember that the most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID is to wear face masks, to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others, to practice good hand washing hygiene and to follow all university and state guidelines. With the vaccination process beginning, there is hope for a return to some sense of normalcy on the horizon. By continuing to commit to our care for one another, we can get through these next few months an even stronger community.

    More FAQs on surveillance testing can be found here.

    Cases

    We reported no new cases in the past week.

    Please note that the confirmed case dashboard was created to keep the community apprised of possible transmission on campus. As such, we do not report cases when individuals are not physically present on campus this semester (for example, students studying remotely and living out of the area).

    As a reminder, we require any community member who is ever on campus, however briefly, who tests positive for COVID-19 to report that to the university. As was stated in the Aug. 28 Today@Willamette, students should self-report their positive COVID-19 status to Tori Ruiz in Student Affairs at Truiz@willamette.edu, 503-370-6447, or by submitting a COVID-19 CARE Report form. Faculty and staff should report their positive case status to Human Resources at 503-370-6210 or by submitting this Employee COVID-19 Report form.

    To date, all COVID-19 tests administered in Bishop Wellness Center have been negative.

    Community compliance updates

    As we resume classes, please remember that we signed the WU Well U Agreement and agreed to affirm its commitments as a member of a caring campus community.

    As a reminder, we are in a quiet period and will be for the beginning of the semester. During this time, campus remains closed to visitors, classes are remote and all employees are asked to work remotely unless otherwise approved by their supervisor.

  • January 15, 2021: Important updates around vaccine distribution and sequencing

    Dear Colleagues,

    We write with an update regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and its distribution within the state of Oregon, specifically for higher education. We shared with you information from Gov. Brown’s press conference last week, in which the Governor stated that higher education faculty and staff would be included with K-12 employees in Phase 1b of the vaccine sequencing. Since that time, Oregon Health Authority has not included higher education in their communications about Phase 1b which has led to some confusion. We have reached out to try to confirm higher education’s inclusion in Phase 1b per the Governor’s statement. Our most recent communication with the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission indicates that higher education employees are not currently included with K-12 employees in Phase 1b.

    Additionally, this week the Federal Government indicated that it would be sending out the stockpile of vaccinations it had in the federal reserve to increase distribution in every state. We have since learned from the Governor’s office that, “States will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week, because there is no federal reserve of doses.” This abrupt change in the expected supply will push back the distribution timeline that Gov. Brown and the Oregon Health Authority had shared earlier in the week.

    It will continue to take time for the vaccines to be widely available and meet the demand of the groups eligible for vaccinating.

    It is important to remember that the vaccine is one of many tools we have to control the spread of the virus. Hand washing, wearing masks, physical distancing, contact tracing, and other public health measures continue to be critical to our mitigation efforts. Although we may feel relief that vaccines are here, this is not the time to relax these measures.

    We will continue to share information as we get it.

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

    Sincerely,
    Reopening Operations Committee

  • January 15, 2021: Weekly COVID-19 Recap

    In an ongoing effort to keep the community informed, the Reopening Operations Committee is committed to offering statewide, regional and campus public health updates to our community every Friday.

    Reopening Operations Committee update

    Here are some of the topics ROC discussed in the past week.

    • Vaccination distribution
    • Testing protocols
    • Return to campus plans and classes
    • Updates to COVID website

    Regional and statewide public health update

    The most current Oregon Health Authority weekly update can be found here.

    Marion County’s COVID-19 website can be found here.

    Surveillance testing in the spring semester

    In response to changing guidance and test availability in Oregon, Bishop Wellness Center will begin surveillance testing of undergraduate, law, and graduate students in February. Each week, a random sample of students currently attending in-person classes will be selected to take a COVID-19 diagnostic nasal swab test. If selected, students will receive an email with the subject line “COVID-19 Testing: You have been selected.” The tests are the rapid antigen tests with results available the day of collection. There will be no direct costs to students asked to participate in surveillance testing. Bishop will also be able to offer limited testing of asymptomatic people by request for a $50 fee as supplies are available.

    Some additional details

    • Students selected for testing will receive an email asking them to schedule an appointment with Bishop Wellness Center.
    • Appointments for these randomly selected students will be available from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday–Friday.
    • Students who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or are a known close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 should call Bishop Wellness Center for a separate appointment time and not participate in this surveillance testing program.

    We are pleased that we are able to add testing to our on-going mitigation strategies. However, it is important to remember that the most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID is to wear face masks, maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others, practice good hand washing hygiene, and to follow all university and state guidelines. With the vaccination process beginning, there is hope for a return to some sense of normalcy on the horizon. By continuing to commit to our care for one another we can get through these next few months an even stronger community.

    Return to campus for undergraduate students

    Earlier this week, President Thorsett sent out important information around return to campus plans amid the concerns of protests occurring at the capitol between Jan. 16 and Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. To address these concerns, residential students who’d prefer not to travel before Inauguration Day have the option of starting classes from home and returning between Jan. 21–23 instead. The later return date is encouraged, but students are still welcome to return on Jan. 19 if they wish to do so.

    Classes for CAS students will start as scheduled Jan. 20, with all classes remote. To ensure a safe restart to the semester we will begin with a quiet period, as previously communicated. With the expansion of return dates for residential students we are extending this quiet period through Monday, Feb. 1, with in-person classes starting on Tuesday, Feb. 2. This means that if you are taking any in-person classes, you must return to Salem or move into your residence no later than Jan. 23.

    Cases

    We reported two new confirmed cases in the past week.

    Please note that the confirmed case dashboard was created to keep the community apprised of possible transmission on campus. As such, we do not report cases when individuals are not physically present on campus this semester (for example, students studying remotely and living out of the area).

    As a reminder, we require any community member who is ever on campus, however briefly, who tests positive for COVID-19 to report that to the university. As was stated in the Aug. 28 Today@Willamette, students should self-report their positive COVID-19 status to Tori Ruiz in Student Affairs at Truiz@willamette.edu, 503-370-6447, or by submitting a COVID-19 CARE Report form. Faculty and staff should report their positive case status to Human Resources at 503-370-6210 or by submitting this Employee COVID-19 Report form.

    To date, all COVID-19 tests administered in Bishop Wellness Center have been negative.

    Community compliance updates

    As we resume classes, please remember that we signed the WU Well U Agreement and agreed to affirm its commitments as a member of a caring campus community.

    As a reminder, we are in a quiet period and will be for the beginning of the semester. During this time, campus remains closed to visitors, classes are remote and all employees are asked to work remotely unless otherwise approved by their supervisor.

  • January 8, 2021: COVID-19 Vaccination updates

    Dear Colleagues,

    We write to you with promising news around the COVID-19 vaccine and it’s distribution within the state of Oregon, specifically for Higher Education. Today, during a press conference hosted by Gov. Kate Brown, it was confirmed that higher education educators and staff will be included in group 1b of the phased distribution for vaccinations in the state.

    While the inclusion of higher education faculty and staff is welcome news, it is important to remember that it will take some time for the vaccines to be widely available and distributed as the county and state work to complete vaccinations for individuals in group 1a. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has organized a phased distribution approach, in line with CDC guidance, to ensure vaccination distribution is done in a fair and equitable way.

    We met recently with representatives from our health insurance provider, Kaiser Permanente, to better understand the vaccine distribution plan and process.

    Things you need to know:

    • Current vaccination groups include frontline health care workers and long-term care residents and employees. This includes doctors, nurses, janitorial staff, and others who have the potential for direct or indirect contact with COVID-19 patients or infectious materials. Willamette has identified employees that qualify for this group and provided information on vaccination sites for them.
    • OHA is working on identifying the groups that will be next in line for the vaccine after our frontline health care workers have received their vaccination. As mentioned above, Gov. Brown confirmed today that educators and staff for K-12 as well as higher education will be included in the 1b group for vaccination. More information around this group will be released toward the end of the month.
    • Willamette will not be a vaccination dispensing site. Individuals seeking the vaccine (once they are eligible) will have the ability to schedule an appointment through Kaiser Permanente or visit one of the county-organized vaccination clinics.
    • There are no out-of-pocket costs to receive the vaccine, no matter which location you visit to receive the vaccination.
    • Oregon is receiving vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna, both of which require two doses to be administered for full immune response. The Pfizer vaccine requires 21 days in between each dose whereas the Moderna vaccine requires 28 days and each dose an individual receives should be from the same manufacturer.
    • The vaccine assists in keeping individuals from getting sick, but it still may be possible to get, carry and transmit the virus even after you are vaccinated.

    It is important to remember that the vaccine is one many tools we have to control the spread of the virus. Hand washing, wearing masks, social distancing, contact tracing, and other public health measures continue to be critical to our mitigation efforts. Although we may feel relief that vaccines are here, this is not the time to relax these measures.

    We will continue to share information as we get it.

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

    Sincerely,
    Reopening Operations Committee

  • January 4, 2021: Update on Returning to Campus from Winter Break

    Welcome back and Happy New Year!

    We hope you all had a restful winter break. We want to provide some important health and safety reminders as we start the new term and prepare for our students’ return.

    Important Guidelines

    Employees who are able to perform their duties remotely must continue to do so and not come to campus unless absolutely necessary. Employees must check with their supervisor if there are questions or concerns about whether to work on campus or remotely. If you believe you need to work on campus for any reason your division leader or dean must provide prior approval.

    Based on the metrics released by Gov. Kate Brown in December, Marion County is still identified as an “Extreme Risk” county which means a number of restrictions continue to be in place, including limitations on the size of gatherings and restrictions against indoor dining and recreation. 


    Things to Remember

    • Hallie Ford Museum and Sparks Fitness Center remain closed until further notice.
    • Campus offices will operate remotely in all cases where the work can be done virtually.
    • Bon Appetit locations will reopen over the course of January.
      • Rick’s Cafe will reopen with limited days and hours on Jan. 11.
      • Goudy reopens Jan. 19.
      • Blitz Market reopens on Jan. 20.
      • No indoor, in-person dining is allowed at this time due to state guidelines. Goudy seating will be closed. We can provide an option for those who may not be in residence or have office space on campus to eat.
    • All residence halls will reopen on Jan. 19 with an exception for students who have been preapproved for an early arrival (e.g. new students, RAs).

    Quiet period

    As we welcome AGSM and Law students back for classes next week, we will begin the semester with a quiet period to protect both Willamette and the larger community.

    The quiet period for the graduate schools will take place Jan. 11–20.

    Undergraduate students’ quiet period will be Jan. 20–30.

    This means:

    • Attending classes remotely during the quiet period.
    • Reducing the number of people with whom you’re in contact.
    • Limiting traffic in campus buildings.
    • Avoiding social gatherings.

    Continued diligence

    While the distribution of effective COVID-19 vaccines has us hopeful that the end of the pandemic is on the horizon, we are still in the midst of it and must continue to be diligent with the public health measures established last semester.

    • Wear a mask at all times both indoors and outdoors.
    • Maintain 6 feet of distance from others at all times.
    • Wash your hands frequently.
    • Avoid large gatherings or events.

    Thank you for supporting the health and safety of our campus and greater community and for your flexibility during these ever-changing and uncertain times.

    Sincerely,
    Reopening Operations Committee

  • December 7, 2020: Update on Spring 2021 Semester

    We write with an update on Willamette’s planning for the Spring semester.  As you well know, the course of this pandemic is dynamic, with regional and local guidance changing frequently as the number of cases continues to rise.  We are closely monitoring the public health landscape and are in frequent contact with local health officials as we plan for the Spring.

    As has been communicated previously, we fully intend to welcome students back to campus for an in-person experience in January for students who choose this option. The first day of classes for the law school and graduate programs will be January 11th. The first day of classes for the College of Arts and Sciences will be January 20th.

    Here is what you need to know now so that you can plan accordingly for your return in January.

    1. We strongly recommend students quarantine for 10 days prior to traveling back to campus. [Note this is informed by the updated CDC guidelines around quarantine for positive cases and close contacts]. We recognize that a quarantine of this nature may be complicated for many.  However, whatever you can do to reduce your social interactions 10 days prior to coming back to campus is helpful in mitigating the spread of the virus - this includes avoiding large gatherings and events, maintaining six-feet of distance between yourself and others, and practicing vigilant handwashing
    2. To minimize the chances of spreading the virus during travel, we recommend that students who are traveling back to Salem and/or intend to engage in on-campus activities acquire a diagnostic COVID PCR test (not antigen) 72 hours prior to traveling back to campus for students. If the test result is positive, the student must not travel or come to campus and should isolate according to their physician’s medical advice. Since many students will be traveling from a variety of places, the available testing options will vary. We recommend contacting your local health provider for testing options in your area. Oregon testing options can be found using OHA’s Oregon testing side finderAs a reminder, testing is not a replacement for our proven virus mitigation strategies (e.g., wearing masks, maintaining six-foot distance, staying home when feeling ill, frequent handwashing, etc.).
    3. Upon the start of January return to classes, we will again implement an enhanced “quiet period” for all community members for 10 days. A quiet period for graduate schools and law will take place January 11th- January 20th. The undergraduate student's quiet period will be January 20th - 30th. This means:
      • Attend classes remotely during the quiet period.
      • In-person class size will be capped at 24 students and 1 instructor
      • Reduce the number of people with whom you’re in contact
      • Limit traffic in campus buildings
      • Avoid social gatherings
      • Grab & go food will be provided at Goudy - no in-person seating

      If you return to campus at a later date than the scheduled start of classes, we expect that you will initiate your own quiet period for the 10 days following the time you return to campus or the Salem area. Note that all undergraduate students who have registered for an in-person class need to be back in the area by January 19th so that they can attend in-person classes when they resume on February 1st.

    4. Any student traveling to campus from outside Oregon will need to follow all relevant travel restrictions in place at the time.

    Important reminders for Spring Semester

    In order to minimize mid-semester travel this Spring and to support a later start date for classes, we have had to eliminate our traditional week-long spring break. Instead, we have a two-day break scheduled for March 25-26th in addition to adding a day to Student Scholarship Recognition Day (SSRD) April 20-21st, making it a two-day event. We strongly urge students and the community to limit or avoid any unnecessary travel outside of the Salem area during these break times and throughout the semester, and to follow any travel restrictions set by local or federal authorities.

    We are also asking that all members of the community continue to report positive COVID-19 test results to the university as we head into the winter break and our regular campus closure. In response to evolving guidance, we will only be messaging positive cases that have intersected with the campus while the person was potentially contagious per CDC definitions. This approach will continue as we transition into the spring semester.

    We will continue to monitor the guidance from the state and update you as information changes or becomes available.

Willamette University

COVID-19 Task Force

Phone
503-370-6584