Portland State University campus. Sofie Brandt/PSU Vanguard

As COVID-19 cases surge in Oregon, PSU announces remote winter term

Classes will, once again, be held almost entirely online for another term. 


Portland State President Stephen Percy stated in an email to the campus community last week, “Since the pandemic outbreak last spring, more than 37,000 cases have been reported in Oregon, and we are approaching 8 million cases nationwide. As a result, remote instruction is key to curb the spread of the disease and help protect the health of students, faculty, staff and visitors.” 


To cope with the coronavirus pandemic and help students and staff plan, Percy announced last week that the upcoming winter term will continue to be remote starting Jan. 4, 2021. 


“We will continue virtual courses because COVID-19 continues to pose a risk to our campus community,” Percy said. “Coronavirus cases have been steadily rising since September, with an average of 356 daily cases reported statewide last week alone.” 


With PSU remaining open, restrictions and precautions will still be in place. “Mask requirements, physical distancing guidelines both inside and outside buildings, size limits on meetings and events, enhanced cleaning and other safeguards recommended by local and state health officials will still be required,” Percy said. 


What will winter term look like?


Since last spring, PSU has moved most classes and services online. PSU’s campus will remain open on a limited basis in the coming term, as it was this fall term.


PSU’s Director of Media & Public Relations, Christina Williams, answered some defining questions about fall and winter term. According to Williams, this term the library, residential buildings, the dining hall, childcare, Student Health Services, and Campus Rec have been opened on limited hours. Everyone who accesses these services are always required to wear a mask and keep six feet apart. Along with those essentials, several of the buildings are accessible with a PSU ID card. 


“You can expect roughly the same building access we’re seeing for fall term to continue into winter term, barring any restrictions required by state or county officials for public health reasons,” WIlliams said. “No changes expected for in person resources either.” 


Looking to the rest of the school year


Due to COVID-19, the Board of Trustees announced reduced fees for this term. Many people are wondering if this reduction will be for winter, as well. “The Student Fee Committee will be reviewing fees for winter term,” Williams said. “Any changes will have to be approved by the PSU Board of Trustees as they were for fall.” 


With the recent decision for winter term, the next question is whether remote classes will continue into the spring. 


“At this time, PSU has not made any decisions on instruction during spring term,” Williams said. “Any decision will be made collectively with the Office of Academic Affairs and be communicated to the campus community with as much advance notice as possible.”


With winter term months away, the decision for a remote winter term comes just before the class schedule is available to view on Oct. 26, 2020. Classes will continue to be remote with some hybrid courses and some in person classes. This structural information is available on the course schedule on banweb and when students register for classes. 


Winter term will also be keeping the pass/no pass policy that was adopted for fall term, as well. After winter break, if students continue to live on campus, Housing and Residence Life’s particular restrictions will continue for the time being.


Despite things continuing to be remote, there are still many ways to connect with others in the campus community. Student organizations, Greek life, volunteer opportunities, meetings and housing events are being held through the Zoom platform and others like it. There will still be socially-distanced study spots available on campus and open to students, such as Cramer Hall, the library and park blocks.


As planning for winter continues, a survey will be sent out to students on how support services can be improved during remote learning. “Your health and wellbeing are our top priority,” Percy said, ending his announcement. “Thank you for your commitment to [PSU], and I look forward to working together for a successful winter term.”