Academic Council, Senate Pres, Provost on Academic Continuity Plan for coronavirus

Dear University of Oregon Faculty,

As you are probably aware, the coronavirus situation is changing quickly as COVID-19 spreads and there is a lot of concern about how it may potentially disrupt our campus. The UO has fully activated the Incident Management Team (IMT), which is reviewing and updating the UO’s pandemic plan and developing strategies to ensure that our university community remains as safe and prepared as possible. To assist this process, the UO took the step over the last few days of formally declaring an emergency, which activates the Academic Council who, in coordination with the Office of the Provost, determines an appropriate academic continuity plan to manage any disruption in academic activities.

Before we address academic continuity planning, we want to remind everyone that information about the UO’s response to COVID-19 is available at a new coronavirus website that was launched this week. In addition, anyone with questions, concerns, or recommendations related to the UO’s response and preparation should use this web form. The queries will go to the IMT, which will ensure they are routed to the appropriate people on campus, and the responses may be used to update the FAQs on the coronavirus website. IMT staff try to respond as quickly as they can, and the team is doing its best to get the latest information out quickly to those who need it.

All UO facilities – including the Eugene and Portland campuses – are currently open and operating normally. A formal campus closure and interruption of academic activity would come at the direction of the Oregon Health Authority, working in conjunction with local health authorities and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a message sent by the provost earlier this week, it was mentioned that it remains important for us all to work with faculty and students who are worried about missing classes due to concerns about the coronavirus. We want to provide every opportunity for coursework to be completed in a fair and reasonable way.

To that end, the UO’s Academic Council met on Wednesday, March 4, and approved a series of expectations and guidelines to help faculty prepare for issues that might arise in the event of an emergency that causes instructors or students to miss classes. The council approved the following specific expectations for instructors.

During any term, including the current winter term, the Academic Council:

  • Reminds instructors to work with their department head or supervisor as they normally would if they will need to miss class.
  • Reminds instructors to communicate to students in advance if class meetings are cancelled and let them know what work they should complete. The goal should be to continue instruction even if that has to be done by a replacement instructor and/or remotely.
  • Directs instructors that they cannot cancel courses. At present, campus is continuing courses as scheduled. Any decision to cancel courses will be made centrally.
  • Reminds instructors that they shall not ask students for doctor’s notes or other documentation to verify absences. Instructors shall have clear communication and make-up protocols in place for students to follow if they are going to be or have been absent. If a student is missing enough class that make-ups will be difficult and they are at risk of not passing, they should communicate with those students, and enlist advisors for help.
  • Requires instructors with attendance or participation polices to modify those such that attendance is not counted in grades and participation points could be made up or waived.
  • Informs instructors that they may modify course expectations such that required work is reduced or grading schemes are adjusted provided they can still meet course learning objectives.
  • Requires that instructors shall have make-ups or alternatives to exams. If instructors will need support to manage an increased volume of make-ups, they should work with their department head, who will take guidance from the school/college Academic Continuity Team. In some cases, a grade of Incomplete may be used for make-ups that will take place after grades are due.
  • Requires instructors to provide clear, consistent, and specific communication to students about any modifications to the course and changes to assignments and deadlines. Instructors, as a matter of good practice, should provide clear and consistent expectations of course graders for timely grading and assessment of materials and recording of grades to the Canvas gradebook for students to see. The Academic Council requires the use of the course Canvas site for all of this communication.

In preparation for spring and potentially summer terms, the Academic Council:

  • Requires use of Canvas for courses starting in Spring term and for the duration of the academic disruption, as it will make adjusting for absences/campus closures easier. Instructors shall publish their Canvas sites and use them to post materials, collect assignments, provide alternatives to lectures/discussions for students who are absent from class, and post grades. This has been an expectation and best practice so faculty are likely already doing this.
  • Asks instructors to explore options and tools to deliver their course content for an extended period on Canvas with either synchronous and/or asynchronous options. The Office of the Provost has created a resource page to help instructors ( This page will be continually updated.

Please visit this link to see the full text of expectations and guidelines approved by the Academic Council.

Admittedly, this is a time of concern for all of us, and the situation worldwide around the coronavirus is dynamic and fast-changing. It is important for us all to work together and do our best to take care of ourselves, each other, and our students.

Again, please visit the UO’s coronavirus website for the latest on the university’s response and other helpful information. Thank you for all you do to make the University of Oregon a strong, caring, and compassionate institution for our students, faculty, staff, and the entire community.


Frances White
Professor and Department Head, Anthropology, and Chair of Academic Council

Elizabeth Skowron
Professor, Psychology, and Senate President

Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President

UO distributes hand sanitizer to all instructional faculty

In 2009. The response of former SVP Russ Tomlin to the 2009 swine flu is below. I don’t know why our Chief Resiliency Officer has not done this yet for the coronavirus. You’d think he’d have buckets of basics like this stashed away, along with crowbars for extricating faculty from the ruins of PLC after the big one. But maybe the Ducks spent all the Resiliency money insuring against football concussion lawsuits.

Subject: uotenured: H1N1 Pandemic Preparations
Date: September 14, 2009 at 11:08:32 AM PDT

September 14, 2009

TO: All instructional faculty
FROM: Russ Tomlin, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
SUBJECT: The H1N1 Flu Pandemic


At the beginning of the school year most of us have much more to do than worry about H1N1 (the so-called “swine flu”), but alas we need to prepare for it. Please read and engage with the following important information, presented in two sections: (1) the nature of the H1N1 pandemic and its likely impact on Oregon, Eugene, and the UO, and (2) the importance and practice of influenza prevention behaviors, including social distancing and attendance policies, as critical tools to minimize the impact of H1N1 on our students, our colleagues, and our families. As members of the faculty, you play an important role in reducing the extent of infection and illness here and, for that matter, at home. More can be found on the general UO H1N1 site:

(1) H1N1: Brief summary of what we expect for Oregon, Eugene, and the UO.
The UO has a more detailed discussion of the H1N1 virus, its behavior, and its likely effect on Oregon, Eugene-Springfield, and the UO here: Still, there are five points to emphasize:

    1. Even though in most cases, the H1N1 flu is similar in symptoms and severity to more common seasonal flu, its impact, if no measures are taken, will be extensive and disruptive to the instructional and research mission of the UO. The easiest way for our community to ensure H1N1 results in a disruptive impact on us is to do nothing and to assume or conclude it is just another seasonal flu.

    2. Overall rates of illness, hospitalization, and death due to H1N1 influenza will exceed those occurring during seasonal influenza outbreaks. Young adults (ages 18-24) will continue to be at high risk of infection with novel H1N1 influenza and will likely experience higher rates of complications if illness is widespread. This means that our students living in University residence halls and other large group living situations will be at risk for infection rates exceeding those in the general community.

    3. With the start of the K-12 school year in early September pandemic influenza activity will increase and expand rapidly within the Eugene/Springfield community over a period of several weeks. Infection rates will likely reach 20% in the Eugene/Springfield community and may exceed 30% in K-12 schools. Influenza-related absences among UO students and staff may approach 40% at the peak of the pandemic wave. A second wave will likely last for 8-10 weeks in the Eugene/Springfield community. Other waves may follow separated by weeks or months.

    4. The novel H1N1 vaccine will not be available at the start of the UO academic year. Novel H1N1 vaccine will be available in limited amounts by mid-October and likely available to all by late December. Priority vaccine recipients based on Center for Disease Control recommendations include: pregnant women, household contacts and caregivers for children under 6 months of age, everyone 6 months through 24 years old, persons 25 through 64 years old with health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza. Because we cannot rely on vaccination, we must take other kinds of preventative and mitigating actions.

    5. The incubation period for the H1N1 flu will average 2-4 days. Infected persons can transmit the infection to others one day prior to the onset of symptoms and for up to 7 days after symptom onset. Our plans and actions as responsible colleagues must take this into account. If you have flu or flu-like illness, you should stay home for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit) or signs of fever (chills, feeling very warm, flushed appearance or sweating).

(2) We must take influenza prevention behaviors and social distancing actions together.

We already “know” that flu prevention steps include hand washing and cough covering. That’s fine, but it’s really not enough. This pandemic requires a level of attention and deliberate action that is unusual and exceptional, not part of our usual academic cultural practice of work, work, work, without regard for our own health or, worse, the health of colleagues and others near us. If we behave as usual, we will ensure optimum success for H1N1 at our own expense. We must practice deliberate efforts at social distancing, separating ourselves from others, especially where we have encountered risk or likelihood of infection. The one pattern of behavior each of us can control is our own, and the steps and practices listed below are the ones I will follow and encourage my colleagues in Academic Affairs to follow.

    1. Avoid infection by avoiding or killing H1N1. H1N1 survives for several hours on surfaces. Touching that surface and then one’s eyes, mouth, or nose transmits the virus to its favored destination.
      a. Use hand sanitizer liberally and frequently to kill the H1N1 you pick up (or might deposit). A sample has been provided; we hope you’ll put it on your desk and use it.
      b. Set up an office or lavatory hand sanitizer station. Ours is operational as you read this.
      c. Allow doors to stand ajar during the day – office doors, etc. (though not fire doors).

    2. Avoid bringing the infection to others. This one is difficult because we may not know we’re infected and the pervasive cultural sense of responsibility to our students and our colleagues makes it very difficult to stay away.
      a. If you get the flu, do not return to work for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medication.
      b. If someone in your household gets the flu, please practice unusual vigilance and social distancing courtesy while you come to work.
      c. Do not bring a sick child to campus. Stay home to take care of your child. The rest of us will back you up, and your sick leave benefit supports you as well.
      d. If you feel symptoms develop, stay home until you know you are not ill.
      e. If one person in the department becomes ill, take greater care to create distance among the remainder. Delay or cancel less essential meetings. Sit at least six feet apart when they cannot be avoided.
      f. Roommates, household members, or those caring for an ill person should follow guidance developed for caring for sick persons at home. (See Interim Guidance for H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu): Taking Care of a Sick Person in Your Home).

    3. Reduce infection risks in classroom settings. [Remember, we’re talking about the fall term only].
      a. Consider suspending or modifying mandatory attendance policies so that students can practice self-care with less risk of penalty and less pressure on what will be an already stressed Health Center. Please note that the University Health Center will not be issuing excuses for students who miss class this fall due to illness.
      b. Encourage use of distance (six feet is the standard) between students in classes, studios, labs, and other collaborative activities.
      c. Consider foregoing projects and activities that require sitting or working together in close proximity. Don’t penalize students who choose to opt out of such proximate activities.

Check the Office of Emergency Management website frequently for novel H1N1 influenza information ( and related informational links.

UO Senate’s Academic Council to meet on coronavirus & Academic Continuity Plans

No panic yet, (although see the petition from students here) and the university has processes in place for an orderly response, at least in terms of classes and grades, and it’s under the control of the faculty and Senate.

The Academic Continuity Policy was passed by the Senate and adopted by the University Administration last year, and is designed to cover situations like this. The gist is that, after the University President declares an Emergency, the Senate’s Academic Council can declare a “Significant Academic Disruption” and authorize an “Academic Continuity Plan” which could authorize emergency grades, etc:

  • The Academic Continuity Plan shall include provisions for continuation of academic activities and awarding of grades. Because a Significant Academic Disruption will affect academic activities differently across campus, the academic continuity plan shall provide a range of options which maintain academic integrity, transparency for students, and fairness for students as described above. These might include alternative instructional times and methods, use of online technology for instruction and assignments, modified assignments, extended deadlines, exceptions to prerequisites and grade requirements, etc.
  • Department heads, under the direction of their Dean, will coordinate implementation of the academic continuity plan with instructors in their unit.

It’s at and the full text is below, followed by a message from the Provost.

Continue reading