Update: Pacific has conducted COVID tests on all residence in Walter Hall on Monday, November 16th. We will update with any positive results or changes in COVID numbers when they become available.
On Friday, Nov. 13, Oregon governor Kate Brown announced a two week shutdown for the state following a dangerous spike in COVID-19 cases. This “freeze” will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and will last at least until Dec. 2.
Following the governor’s announcement, Pacific issued a statement about the changes being made to university protocol and standards. All in-person social activities are to be canceled, and Stoller Center will close. The University Center will shift to takeout meals only, and all undergraduate classes will be moved online by Wednesday, Nov. 18.
“We all want students to be in person, but we only want to do that as long as we feel confident that we’re keeping everybody safe,” said Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Sarah Phillips. “And right now, it’s hard to feel that confidence. So, it’s just the safest, most conservative thing we can do.”
“I think that for being in the middle of a pandemic, Pacific is handling everything well,” said sophomore Loudyn Reese. “As for me, I’m pretty sad that there’s no football, but I understand that they are looking out for all of the students’ safety.”
As of Sunday, Nov. 15, there are two positive COVID cases on campus, and three off campus. An additional 62 students are being monitored through the COVID response team via contact tracing due to their connection to positive cases.
This latest freeze order comes seven months after the first “stay home, save lives” order was issued in March. Since then, both students and staff alike have experienced an increase in Zoom fatigue as the semester has continued under COVID restrictions.
“It is difficult for the students to develop a sense of community on campus,” said Japanese professor Yasutaka Maruki. “I hope by even making small efforts, such as turning on the Zoom camera during class or meetings, we will be able to feel more connected with one another.”
At the moment, faculty and staff are planning to be back to hybrid in the spring. There is a possibility that spring term will shift online only, but it’s not likely. Remote learning for the spring is lower than this fall term, so more students are looking to return after the holiday season.
“We will have a testing system set up so that folks will get tested when they’re coming back to campus again,” said Phillips. “We will have people let us know the date they’re coming in so we make sure we don’t have 100 people show up on one day.”
Any students who were not on campus in the fall and plan to live on campus in the spring should email Housing as soon as possible to get the housing process started for their return to campus. More information on spring term protocol will be sent to students as it becomes available.
As students return home for Thanksgiving, they are encouraged to listen to Kate Brown’s orders and make sure they’re keeping their families safe.
“Even if they’re feeling fine, when they go home, they should act like they’re still at school,” said Phillips. “Keep their mask on, and stay distant for at least 14 days until they make sure they’re not gonna make anybody sick at home. I know that’s a pain and everybody wants to be home and done with that, but when you’re mixing households, people need to be careful.” — Ella Cutter, Bren Swogger, & Chandler Fleming
Photo: Pacific’s Forest Grove campus has been looking empty following Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s “freeze” order, which led Pacific to cancel all in-person social activities as well as close Stoller Center (Ella Cutter)