SOU addresses COVID-19 outbreaks on campus

ASHLAND, Ore. – President of Southern Oregon University Rick Bailey is addressing the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

He sent out the following statement on Monday, May 16:

Dear Raiders,

We have all sacrificed and done our sensible best as COVID-19 has left its mark on our lives over the past two years, and we were encouraged when conditions warranted a shift in footing from pandemic to endemic heading into spring term at SOU. However, a recent increase in cases on our campus should serve as a reminder to all of us that the virus is unpredictable, and we must respond quickly and responsibly when outbreaks occur – particularly in clusters, as has been the case on our campus in the past week.

Our first and most effective line of defense is vaccination, and I strongly urge anyone who has not received all shots for which they are eligible – including boosters – to do so immediately. SOU’s vaccine policy requires students and employees to meet the definition provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for full vaccination. A booster clinic for students will be offered by the Student Health & Wellness Center on Friday, May 20; please RSVP at (541) 552-6136 to ensure that an appropriate number of vaccine doses is ordered. Employees should contact their doctors’ offices or preferred pharmacies to schedule vaccinations.

Jackson County Public Health has offered its recommendations for addressing classroom outbreaks such as those we recently experienced, and it is our intention to use those as our roadmap through this and any future COVID outbreaks. We will cancel the affected class or classes until every student can be tested, then resume class but require masking until the number of active cases has been reduced. Any events directly related to the class will also be canceled.

As has been the case in our recent outbreak, our Facilities Management and Planning staff will clean and sanitize all classrooms and other spaces in which the affected class has met.

Our ability to detect outbreaks on our campus in a timely manner is highly dependent on your cooperation. Please, if you experience any symptoms of COVID-19, get yourself tested or administer a self-test, and immediately notify the SHWC (students) or Human Resources (employees) of a positive test result. You may need to observe isolation or quarantine requirements if you contract or are exposed to the virus – a flowchart spelling out the responsibilities of those who test positive or are exposed is available on our COVID-19 website.

I want to emphasize that face masks – while no longer required campus-wide – are welcome in any setting at SOU, whether indoors or outdoors. We continue to have N95 masks available in most campus buildings.

Our North Star will always be the health and safety of our students, employees and community members, and I urge each of you to take the precautions you feel are necessary – and to respect the choices of those around you.

In good health,

Rick Bailey
President, Southern Oregon University

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