(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University President Linda Schott announced Wednesday that SOU will return to primarily in-person classes and student activities for the start of fall term in September.
The announcement came two days short of a year after President Schott informed students and employees last March that the campus would shift to remote operations due to the spreading COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have wanted to tell you for almost a year now that we are preparing to fully reopen our campus, and finally I feel confident that I can do so,” she said in a message to campus. “We are in position to begin a return to normalcy as the availability of vaccines expands to include all adults by summer.”
SOU’s plan for reopening in the fall will feature flexibility, with remote or hybrid alternatives available as needed for both academic and student support programs. The university will tailor its plans to account for the restrictions on gathering sizes and public events that are expected to remain in place statewide and for southern Oregon over the next several months.
President Schott said SOU will work closely with Jackson County Public Health and the Oregon Health Authority throughout the reopening process, and will ask students and employees to help prevent a recurrence of the pandemic.
“We also recommend that all employees and students receive COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as they are eligible, in accordance with CDC guidelines,” she said. “Vaccination is just one step in our larger effort to keep our community safe, so please be mindful of your personal safety and respect for those around you by wearing masks and avoiding close contact.”
The president told students and employees a month ago that there would be increased opportunities during this year’s spring and summer terms for hybrid classes – those with options for remote and in-person learning. She said Wednesday that the university should reach a tipping point by fall term, with most classes by then leaning toward on-campus experiences.
“We have all seen how the virus has changed course during the last year, so my optimism for what lies ahead remains cautious,” President Schott said. However, with careful actions and continued support from the state and federal governments, we are planning for the time when we will see each other, interact as normally as possible, and get back to the business of living and learning together.”