November 17, 2020 message

New restrictions to save lives from Covid 19

November 17, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Last week Oregonians heard new public health guidance from Gov. Kate Brown that is intended to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19 through our state. In most counties, a statewide freeze for most social gatherings will apply through Dec. 2. In Multnomah County, the freeze will last at least through Dec. 16. In addition, a travel advisory urges Oregonians to avoid non-essential, out-of-state travel and to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country. 

We take the governor’s guidance seriously at PSU. More than half of all Oregonians recently infected with coronavirus live in the Portland area, and we must do our part as public health partners to slow the spread of COVID-19. Below you will find information about how the new guidelines impact operations at PSU.

Instructional Operations

PSU meets or exceeds strict COVID guidelines from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, and with instructional activities exempt from the freeze, the new guidelines do not require changes to our academic operations. While very few classes currently meet in person at PSU, those that do can continue.

Non-instructional Operations

Most of PSU’s employees are already working from home, and the vast majority of our students are learning remotely. While our instructional operations remain unchanged, we are moving forward with some non-instructional operational changes that are intended to reduce the presence of non-essential employees on campus. These changes take effect now until further notice.

  • Research operations will remain at Level 2 with the following alterations:
    • We will freeze review of new requests for return to research until further notice.
    • We will delay the initiation of new research projects until after the freeze lifts.
    • We have asked researchers conducting face-to-face human subjects research to pause their work for four weeks. 
  • The Campus Rec Center will close Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. 
  • The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU is closed.
  • Childcare operations are exempt from the governor’s freeze. Please check with your childcare center to learn more about their days and hours of operation. 
  • New construction projects will be delayed until after the freeze lifts. Ongoing construction projects will continue.

Travel Advisory

We are continuing our current travel policy for employees, which prohibits air travel and limits domestic travel to essential activities that require a supervisor’s approval. Additionally, we strongly urge you to follow Oregon’s new travel advisory by avoiding travel out-of-state or out of the country whenever possible and, when it does occur, engaging in a 14-day quarantine upon your return. 

  • Employees who must travel for any reason during the advisory period should consult with their supervisor to discuss any impact travel may have on their upcoming work schedule, including any potential quarantine period that may begin upon their return and whether remote work might be an option during that time. 
  • Students who travel out-of-state or out of the country during the advisory period will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return. Students will not be penalized academically for in-person classes missed due to quarantine. 

Employees or students who must travel out of the state or out of the country for any reason during the advisory period should contact the Center for Student Health & Counseling for quarantine guidance and support. 

Personal Behavior

Our personal behavior has enormous consequences for our entire community. As individuals, we can help safeguard public health, especially as we enter the winter break and holiday season. Public health officials tell us that this spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has been fueled partly by an increase in indoor social gatherings. While we yearn to see our family and friends, especially during the holiday season, we cannot afford to drop our guard. We must remain vigilant. By following the governor’s guidance we can save lives:

  • Limit indoor and outdoor social gatherings to your household or no more than six people from two different households                                                                                                                                 
  • Reduce the frequency of social gatherings
  • Wear a mask
  • Stay home when sick
  • Observe the West Coast travel advisory by avoiding non-essential out-of-state travel 

Colleagues and students, it pains me to ask you to make additional sacrifices, but we are at an inflection point in our community, and every sacrifice truly does add up to lives saved. A vaccine is on the horizon and could be widely available by this spring. Between now and then, we must all take personal responsibility and do our part to help prevent the spread of this virus. The sooner we put this virus behind us, the sooner we can all reunite on campus.


Stephen Percy 

PSU President