January 4, 2022 - Update on Pandemic Precautions

The following message was sent to the University of Portland community on January 4, 2022.

Dear University of Portland Community Members,

I hope that you enjoyed a restful and rejuvenating Christmas and Holiday Season and that, like me, you are excited for the start of our spring 2022 semester.

As we look ahead with hope for our new academic term, we are mindful that even though we are a highly-vaccinated community, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 presents us with challenges that will impact our arrival process for the new semester. With this email, I will share information on a series of steps we will take to help make our return to campus safe and successful. As we navigate pandemic-related challenges, we will continue to keep two guiding principles in mind: first, promoting the health and safety of all in our campus community and, second, living out our mission as a primarily face-to-face, residential, academic community. The measures I share in this message are intended to help us achieve both goals.

I kindly ask that you please read this message in its entirety as it contains very important information.

COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters Required for Students, Staff, and Faculty: Public health data support the fact that COVID-19 vaccine boosters help to prevent infection and, for those who do become infected, boosters decrease the severity of illness. Thus, all students, staff, and faculty will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster within two weeks of becoming eligible to receive the booster and to upload proof thereof. We anticipate that all community members will be able to comply with this requirement by February 1. Information on how students should upload proof of receiving a booster may be found on the Vaccinations page of the Pilots Prevent website.

The Health & Counseling Center is working to secure COVID-19 vaccine boosters for students. However, we encourage students to receive a booster at their first opportunity and not to wait until boosters become available at the Health & Counseling Center.

Pre- and Post-Arrival Testing for Students: The University strongly recommends that all students receive a negative COVID-19 test result prior to returning to Portland for the spring semester. The sample for the test should be taken no more than 48 hours prior to the student’s planned return. Students who test positive for COVID-19 should not travel to Portland and should follow all relevant guidance from the CDC and their healthcare provider.

We understand that COVID-19 testing supplies are extraordinarily limited and that some students may face difficulty accessing a test. While we still strongly recommend that all students receive a negative test result, if you face significant hardship obtaining a test, you may still return to Portland if:

  • You have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 or tested positive for COVID-19 in the ten days preceding your arrival in Portland;
  • You are not exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms (i.e., fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea); AND,
  • You have not been knowingly exposed to COVID-19 in the past ten days.

Within four to six days after returning to Portland, all students, whether living on- or off-campus, will undergo a COVID-19 test on campus provided by the University. Students will receive further details on post-arrival testing soon.

In the interim period (i.e., after a pre-arrival test but before the post-arrival test), students experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms (i.e., fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea) should isolate and contact the Health & Counseling Center for guidance.

Temporary Online Instruction: Our experience from last semester indicates that COVID-19 transmission is unlikely to occur in the classroom, especially within our highly-vaccinated community. However, out of an abundance of caution and in order to optimize our approach to student testing, all instruction for the first week of classes (i.e., from January 10 through January 14) will be held online. Despite this temporary change in instructional delivery, we ask all students to return to Portland as they had initially planned and to take their courses from their residence halls or off-campus homes in Portland. Doing so will enable our testing plans to function properly. We expect to return to in-person instruction during the second week of the term. Students with specific questions about course delivery should contact their professors directly. Near the conclusion of the first week of instruction, further details will be announced regarding the timeline for our return to in-person classes.

Note that some students (e.g., Nursing students in simulation or clinical settings) may be required to be in-person or on campus during the first week. If this is the case, you will be notified by your instructor/dean. 

Dining, Events and Student Activities, Study Spaces, and Recreation: Bauccio Commons and the Pilot House will open as planned for the spring semester. During the first week of classes, meals will be provided in to-go containers and indoor seating will be temporarily reduced and de-densified. Events, student activities, and club/organization meetings should pivot to an online format for the next two weeks (i.e., until January 14). De-densified study space will be available to students in the “Quiet Side” of Bauccio Commons as well as Clark Library. Plans for the continued operation of the Beauchamp Recreation & Wellness Center are still being developed and will be made available on the Beauchamp Center website soon.

Face Coverings: The University’s policies on face coverings and masks remain in effect. Face coverings/masks are required in virtually all indoor settings and in most outdoor settings where physical distancing is not possible. These requirements apply regardless of vaccination status. Further details on UP’s approach to face coverings/masks may be found on the Pilots Prevent website. Increasingly, public health officials are advocating the use of N95/KN95 respirators and surgical masks instead of cloth masks. We encourage community members to educate themselves on which face covering/mask is appropriate for them. 

Campus Bookstore: The University bookstore is requesting that all students place their book orders online for in-store pickup. Orders may be placed on the bookstore website. If you encounter any difficulties as you place your order, we encourage you to clear your cache and cookies. Please visit the bookstore website to learn more about hours of operation, and please feel free to call 503.943.7125 with any questions related to ordering books.

We know that you may have questions concerning these announcements. We encourage you to visit the FAQs page on our Pilots Prevent website to learn more.

As we embark on this new semester together, know that we have the tools and experience necessary to be safe and successful. We are a highly-vaccinated community and, very soon, we will be highly-boosted as well. We will continue to wear our masks, monitor our symptoms, and take care of those in our community who test positive. These tactics made us successful during the fall semester, and I am confident that they will make us successful in the semester to come.

Please know that in the coming days and weeks, our COVID-19 Steering Committee and University leadership will continue to closely monitor Omicron and other pandemic developments. We pledge to remain in-touch should any of the measures announced here require modification.

Thank you for your attention to this message, for your compliance with the measures we are implementing, and for your continued vigilance in helping to keep our UP community safe.

Looking forward to a successful spring 2022 semester,
Herbert A. Medina, Ph.D.
Acting President