March 1, 2021
Dear University of Oregon community,
I am writing today with some very good news. Last Friday, Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority released a vaccine sequencing list that included higher education in Phase 1B. This means that our faculty and staff who are needed to teach or work on campus to support our students and our research will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination no later than May 1, 2021. This is in addition to the hundreds of employees who have already been vaccinated due to their inclusion in Phase 1A. With this assurance, we are able to confirm that the university will return to predominantly in-person education in fall 2021.
I am under no illusion that life on campus will be what it was before COVID-19. The virus is not going away. But now, we can be ready. With access to vaccinations for faculty and staff coming by early summer and our continued partnership and collaboration between local health authorities, the UO Incident Management Team, and the UO Employee Safety Reopening Committee, we are well positioned for fall. Over the past 12 months we have implemented protective strategies such as reconfiguring classrooms, offices, and common spaces for physical distancing; making enhanced cleaning a daily routine; and adjusting our air handling systems to reduce contaminants in many of our buildings. We have also created a culture of supporting each other by wearing masks, washing hands, keeping our distance, and taking advantage of our free COVID-19 testing opportunities through the UO’s Monitoring and Assessment Program (MAP). These will all continue in the fall and, with the addition of vaccines, will allow for the safe in-person experiences that the university prides itself on. We will be ready to welcome you back.
I know you have many questions and that, as we continue our return to campus, many of you will have mixed feelings ranging from excitement to nervousness and apprehension. We will be providing additional information in the coming weeks about the vaccination sequencing, the logistics of our return, and what this means to each of you. This has been a stressful year for everyone in our university community, and we will continue to support each other as we return.
I am proud of how the university continues to respond to the pandemic and appreciate how hard you have all been working, despite a year of uncertainty.
I hope you’ll join me in my excitement about the governor’s announcement and the increased certainty it provides. I look forward to a physical campus environment that is once again humming with energy. As always, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also ask questions or share feedback using our COVID-19 web form. Please continue to refer to the UO’s coronavirus website for the latest information about the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law