SOU shifts for fall term to combat COVID variant

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SOU President Linda Schott announced in a webinar with employees last week and in subsequent messages to students and employees that the university has changed course due to an ongoing surge of the COVID-19 delta variant and most classes will now be conducted remotely for at least the first few weeks of fall term.

“We will begin fall term with primarily remote classes and plan to return to a largely in-person experience on Oct. 11 or soon thereafter,” the president said in her message to employees. 

“This change in direction was made after consulting with local and state health officials, and an epidemiologist at OHSU. They all asked us to avoid the potential for further strain on our area’s healthcare systems, which may happen if we brought students and employees back to classrooms and buildings without strict controls in place.”

The delta variant has pushed regional hospitals to their limits – their combined ICU load was at 94 percent of capacity as of last week, and the surge of COVID patients was interfering with their ability to provide more routine medical care.

COVID-19 vaccination will be required for employees who must work on campus to fulfill their job responsibilities or who wish to participate in in-person activities. 

Students who are vaccinated will be eligible for in-person classes after SOU shifts back to in-person operations; those who are unvaccinated but have exemptions or accommodations approved through the Dean of Students Office may also attend in-person, but with restrictions that could include testing, social distancing or face coverings.

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