A New Way Forward for Faculty & Staff

Faculty & Staff

A New Way Forward

Darrell Grant

To say that we are experiencing an extraordinarily challenging time has become an understatement. Among the global pandemic, the weight of social injustice, ongoing protests against the wrongs of the world, and historic wildfires, the factors shaping our home and work life have added much uncertainty. Portland State shares many of the same struggles, even while our individual challenges may differ.

But PSU is nothing if not resilient. We are grateful for the grace and adaptability of our employees and their commitment to the success of our students. As we continue to step up as a partner in public health safety, most of us will be operating in a virtual fashion for months to come.

While we’ve all had some time to get used to this “new normal,” these times call on all of us to work and support our families and communities in new ways. We know it’s been difficult and that new challenges will continue to emerge.

Our guiding principles

  • PSU will be guided by a commitment to the health, safety and wellbeing of all faculty, instructors, academic professionals, staff, students and visitors, as well as our role in advancing the overall public health.
  • Decisions about health, safety and wellbeing made by the university in the context of COVID-19 will be evidence-based and data-driven to the extent possible.
  • PSU is committed to maintaining instruction, scholarship, research, creative activities, service and community learning and engagement to minimize disruption of our mission-driven work to support scholarship and to ensure student academic progress and success.

Campus formats

Term Format
Spring 2021 Mostly remote
Summer 2021 Mostly remote
Fall 2021 In person


Limiting the spread of COVID-19

If you have symptoms

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms while on campus, you should immediately return home or isolate at The Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) until you can return home or be transported to a healthcare facility.

Any PSU students, instructors of all types and staff may consult the COVID-19 advice nurse for free guidance on symptoms and for testing at 503-725-2800.

If you suspect you may have COVID-19, are awaiting test results or have been diagnosed, don’t come to campus. Complete the ​COVID-19 Reporting Form​ and a representative from SHAC Health Services will be in contact with you to initiate any campus-based contact tracing.

Working on campus

All PSU buildings are closed to the general public and only accessible to those with PSU ID cards. Learn more on the Building Access webpage.

All work that can be successfully performed remotely should remain remote work. Any questions about work on campus should be directed to the employee’s supervisor. Learn more on the Guidance for Supervisors and Departments on Determining Employee Return to Campus webpage.

Any staff planning to work on campus should view the PSU COVID-19 Training to learn about critically important health and safety steps. 

Only come to campus if you are healthy. The Oregon Health Authority recommends that everyone conducts a quick Personal Health Checklist daily, before leaving home. While on campus, face to face meetings are discouraged. Employees should limit where they go on campus, visiting only places that are absolutely necessary to complete tasks. When collaborating with colleagues, use remote tools like the phone, Google Hangout or Zoom to meet, even if you are all on campus.

Students in classroom wearing masks

Teaching in a PSU classroom

If you are teaching in a on-campus PSU classroom, you’ll want to follow these key guidelines:

  • Classroom usage
    • It’s important to not move the furniture which has been arranged to facilitate physical distancing. Report classroom physical environment concerns to the Facilities Work Control Center.
    • Report concerns to the Facilities Work Control Center.
  • Attendance
  • Masks
    • As required in the PSU Face Covering Policy, masks are required to be worn on campus, including in classrooms. If a student arrives for class without a mask instructors should: 
      • Remind them that masks are required
      • Inform them of locations they can go on campus to pick up a mask, at no cost. 
      • If they refuse to wear a mask, the instructor can ask the student to leave. 
      • If the student refuses to leave, the instructor can suspend or cancel the in-person activity. 
      • Instructors can make a report to the Dean of Student Life regarding violations of the mask policy. 
    • Learn some approaches faculty can use if a student shows up to class without a mask or takes off their mask in class.
  • Off-campus activities
    • Class-related off-campus activities must follow all PSU COVID-related policies or the rules posted at the off-campus location, whichever is more protective of the health and safety of students and employees. 
United States map



Effective April 22, 2021, Portland State University is resuming essential domestic and international PSU-sponsored travel, subject to the approval and reimbursement process outlined in the University Travel Guide. In accordance with the Travel Guide, departments and supervisors continue to be responsible for determining the necessity and justification for essential travel.

During the current pandemic, travel may be deemed “essential” when it significantly advances one or more of the following:

  • Maintenance of critical business functions;
  • Continuity of grant funding or completion of grant-required activities and deadlines;
  • Ability to meet contract deliverable requirements that may not be canceled or postponed under the terms of those agreements;
  • Timely and critical research and scholarship opportunities;
  • Continuity in academic progress, degree completion or graduation; and
  • Field work-related travel with seasonal or other particular constraints

Employees and departments should consult the current guidance on domestic and international travel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Employees and departments should weigh the relative risks of travel against the potential serious disruption to research or university programs. Factors considered in determining whether to approve a request for essential travel include:

  • Whether the travel may be reasonably postponed;
  • Whether alternative methods of accomplishing the above functions exist that may alleviate the need to travel (e.g. Zoom or other virtual alternatives);
  • Legal requirements or guidance at departure and destination points (e.g. entry restrictions, entry testing, stay at home mandates from WHO, CDC, State Dept. or local public health authority equivalents);
  • Availability of healthcare systems at travel location;
  • Ability to return to destination point

Please note that, due to the volatile and unpredictable nature of the current pandemic, public health guidance and the above factors may fluctuate, and it is possible the University may require a previously approved trip to be canceled or postponed should the risk level for the destination increase between request and departure.

Student on laptop

Work and life during a global pandemic

In an effort to make things easier for employees, Human Resources assembled a central hub of curated resources to support your work and wellbeing.

Student up in a tree doing research

Research and creative activities

Learn how to conduct research and creative activities in campus spaces like labs, archives, museums and studios, as well as off-campus field work.

Portland skyline with Mt. Hood

Coronavirus response

Learn how the Portland State University community is standing together against the global COVID-19 pandemic. Check out a dashboard that tracks cases of COVID-19 on campus and an archive of pandemic-related policies and communication.

Staff member in her office

We want to hear from you

How can PSU better support our employees? What gaps are you seeing in the resources available? Please give us feedback on how we can help you succeed!