COVID-19: CHRO email to faculty, OAs, and classified employees on March 18, 2021

Subject: Looking forward to fall 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Through the last year of challenges you—our faculty, staff, and graduate employees—have demonstrated remarkable resiliency and ingenuity. This determination will serve us well as we look to the future. The University of Oregon is working toward bringing our community back together for mostly in-person instruction, research, and activities in fall 2021 as announced by President Michael H. Schill. It is with hope and cautious optimism that we work to achieve this goal of nearly normal campus life.

We understand that planning and preparing to increase our in-person presence is being met with a range of emotions, including excitement, anxiety, and reservation. We know you have many questions, and we do not have all the answers now. However, we want to share the key concepts that will drive the process and decision making:

  • Vaccinations will be a powerful tool, but not the only strategy in our safety tool box.
    The health and safety of our employees and students remains a top priority, and we will continue to rely on a collection of safety strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

    With more people becoming eligible for vaccines, and news of dates being moved up and supply increasing, we are confident that a very large majority of faculty and staff will have access to vaccines by late spring. We expect to share more details about vaccination clinics and instructions for getting a vaccine in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, refer to the UO Coronavirus website for the latest information.

    As fall approaches, we will continue to work closely with public health partners and will continue to implement university-lead actions to lower the risk of COVID-19 as we get back together on our campuses. We will continue to need your help as face coverings, testing, case management, and other public health measures will remain a part of your in-person experience for the foreseeable future regardless of whether or not individuals, or even work groups, are vaccinated.
  • The UO planning and preparation process will continue to be informed by university stakeholders.
    We will continue to leverage input from committees and taskforces to inform the university’s planning process, such as the Employee Safety Reopening Committee, which includes representation from all employee groups and was convened to support our COVID-19 planning efforts. Additionally, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University recently convened a joint-institution taskforce of relevant experts charged with evaluating and advising on public health measures to inform the universities’ efforts to resume more in-person instruction, research, and extracurricular activities.

    The Office of Human Resources will remain actively engaged with employee groups and unit leadership and partners to keep a pulse on the impact decision making has on the faculty and staff experience.
  • Increasing our in-person campus presence will be progressive as we aim for primarily in-person instruction this fall.
    Unlike last year when we shifted quickly to remote teaching and working due to the pandemic, our return to more normal campus operations will be measured and progressive. On-campus activities will increase and more staff will return to in-person work as we make our way to fall term when instruction will be primarily in-person. Increasing our in-person presence won’t happen all at once.

    Many employees have been safely working on campus and will continue to do so. There is no specific date for everyone to be back working on our campuses. The UO Incident Management Team will be providing guidance to each unit so they can evaluate their operational needs, resources, and facilities through the lens of safety regulations and health authority guidelines as they plan for a more on-campus work. Further communications on the move toward more on-campus work will come in the months ahead. Please connect with your supervisor and unit leadership for more information about unit-based planning and expectations.

    Getting back together on UO campuses will continue to be guided by information from federal, state, and county public health partners. State and Oregon Health Authority public health guidance is rapidly evolving, and we will work diligently to keep pace and adjust as needed. Your continued patience and understanding with the many transitions that may occur in the months ahead is greatly appreciated. 

We are committed to keeping the campus community informed along the way. We encourage you to continue to read the COVID-19 updates and check the coronavirus website to stay informed, take advantage of support resources listed below to prepare for the changes ahead, and engage with your supervisors and co-workers to support one another along the way. The diligent and measured work over the months ahead will pave a path to our new normal in fall 2021 and a bright future beyond. It is our resiliency, ingenuity, and collective dedication as a community that sets us up for a successful journey. 


André Le Duc
Chief Resilience Officer
Associate Vice President for Safety and Risk Services

Mark Schmelz
Chief Human Resources Officer
Associate Vice President

Faculty and Staff Resources

The University of Oregon continues to produce guidance, information, and resources to support faculty and staff as they continue to navigate this unusual time and find our way forward to a sustainable future. Please use these resources to address concerns or challenges you may be having and to stay informed and connected: