(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has informed students and employees that all spring term courses will be delivered remotely and most on-campus operations will be limited to help slow the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
SOU’s decisions came in response to an executive order today by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown for all public colleges and universities in the state to halt in-class coursework through at least April 28. University leaders made the decision to offer all classes remotely throughout spring term to give students, faculty and others a greater degree of certainty.
The university’s main campus in Ashland will be open only to SOU faculty, staff and students beginning Saturday.
President Linda Schott informed students of the developments today, and offered some details about how SOU’s COVID-19 responses will affect winter and spring term grades, financial aid, spring courses, academic support programs, student employment, residence hall occupants and other campus programs or operations. The university will waive interest on all student accounts, late payment fees and revolving charge fees for all of spring term.
SOU’s tuition rate is set for the entire academic year, but the university’s Board of Trustees will discuss modifications to a variety of student fees – including those for the Student Recreation Center, Student Health & Wellness Center, Student Life activities and remote delivery of courses – during an emergency meeting tonight.
SOU employees were notified this afternoon that most will be encouraged work remotely until further notice, and those who remain on campus will be required to follow social distancing guidelines. Exceptions to the telecommuting arrangement include those whose work is designated as “essential,” whose work cannot be performed away from campus, whose presence on campus is required for operational purposes or who need technical or other resources that are not available at their remote locations.
Academic counseling and guidance will continue throughout the term – largely online – and faculty members will be told whether their presence on campus is needed.
SOU’s new measures are consistent with those adopted by most of Oregon’s six other public universities in response to the governor’s executive order.
The order prohibits colleges and universities “from conducting in-person classroom laboratory and other instruction” from this Saturday through April 28, with the possibility that the period will be extended. Gov. Brown also ordered higher education institutions to “limit on-campus operations only to critical functions and … employ strict social distancing measures for all on-campus employees and residents.”
The governor specifically allowed the continued operation of programs including student housing and dining services. SOU’s residence halls will remain open for spring break throughout spring term, and food service will continue to be available at the Hawk dining commons – but only by takeout.