Important COVID-19 update from the Health Center — April 5

TO: All residential students still on campus as of April 5
FROM: Student Life

Please read this brief communication from Dr. Elizabeth Hopper, Director of the Health Center, which contains two important messages:

1. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or are diagnosed, are exposed to, or develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you must notify the PLU Health Center immediately. The Health Center will provide you with consistent guidance and protocols for self-quarantine or self-isolation. We will also notify Campus Restaurants and Residential Life staff for on-campus students, so that they can determine meal delivery and appropriate housing for you during the period of self-quarantine or self-isolation.

2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated recommendations for the use of face coverings by the general public. While it is critical to emphasize that maintaining six-feet social distancing remains one of the most effective measures for preventing the spread of the virus overall, we are following the voluntary public-health recommendation. Therefore, we are advising the use of simple cloth face coverings as another important means to slow the spread of the virus and to keep people who may have the virus and not know it from transmitting it to others.

This is an expectation for situations where six-feet distancing is difficult to maintain, such as in grocery stores, pharmacies, medical-clinic waiting rooms, and food-service pick-up locations. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made in residence halls from common materials at low cost — e.g., scarves or bandanas — can serve this purpose. The CDC recommends that face coverings be laundered on a daily basis and that they can be washed with other items in a regular washer.

Again, remember to model the active bystander behavior you learned during orientation and in your leadership roles. As a PLU community member, you have the responsibility to say something when community well-being and public health are threatened by people not practicing physical distancing or gathering in groups. Note: Be sure to react to an individual’s actions rather than to what you think “might” happen to avoid biased-based profiling. Also, because communities of color have been historically discriminated against and criminalized in the United States, wearing a cloth face covering can be an uncomfortable experience for some, apart from the physical aspect. It is important to remember how race, class, gender, and other identities impact how we exist within the world and how that may show up during this global pandemic.

Wearing cloth face coverings can’t replace social distancing and good hygiene — wash your hands! Don’t touch your face! Staying in your own space is BY FAR the best thing you can do to slow the spread of the virus. Do not assume it’s safe to participate in non-essential activities because you are wearing a face covering. Stay home.

Let’s take care of each other, Lutes!

If you have questions about either of these messages, please contact the Health Center at or 253-535-7337. You can access additional updates and new FAQs, recommendations, and communications at

PLU Commencement 2020 – April 3

TO: All students, faculty and staff
FROM: Office of the President

Dear PLU community,

Earlier this week, we made the heart-wrenching announcement to graduating students that we would be unable to host our planned Commencement event at the Tacoma Dome on May 23rd. We invited graduating students to vote for their preferred alternative: an online ceremony on May 23rd, or an in-person, on-campus event in September, during the Labor Day weekend. Our students expressed an overwhelming preference for the in-person option on the PLU campus.

We know relationships matter at PLU, that it’s the people who make our institution special, and that there is a profound desire among our community members to celebrate together. This is especially true for a class that has accomplished, struggled through, learned, and realized so much to get here.

Commencement 2020 will be held on Saturday, September 5th, at 2 p.m. (PDT) at PLU to honor the accomplishments of graduating students that have brought them to this moment, and also to honor their transition into their Lute alumni community. The event will be livestreamed for those unable to attend.

As our graduates were informed when selecting between the two options, please note that space constraints require us to limit the number of guests included in an on-campus commencement ceremony. We’ll soon be asking graduates via their PLU email to let us know whether they’ll be joining us in September; once this headcount is determined, we’ll announce how many guests each participant may invite.

Given the extraordinary events of this Spring, a special celebration for graduates of 2020 will be held on PLU’s campus during Homecoming on October 10, 2020. In addition, our May 2021 Commencement in the Tacoma Dome will be open to this graduating class and all of their guests, if the timing or larger venue is a better fit. Given the uncertainty of the global health pandemic, we note that this option will also serve as a contingency plan for an in-person commencement, should PLU be required to postpone the September 5th event.

Along with commencement, the spring semester brings with it a host of activities and events designed to honor our graduates. Updated details about commencement-related events hosted by various programs and departments on-campus will be posted at as they become available.

We are grieving the loss of the community rituals that these decisions represent, but we are committed to celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2020 fully in the fall. We are so proud of you, Lutes!

In community,

Allan Belton

Joanna Gregson

Dan Lee
Vice President for University Relations

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

IMPORTANT: Additional financial resources in response to COVID19 outbreak – March 30

TO: PLU Students
FROM: Office of Student Financial Services

Dear Student,

On March 19th, the Office of Student Financial Services sent an email outlining a variety of financial resources available to students who may be experiencing a financial hardship due to the impact of COVID-19, including PLU emergency funding.  Be aware that the deadline to apply for PLU emergency funding is this Friday, April 3rd. The application to apply can be found here.  Since funding is limited, applications will be prioritized based on a set of criteria, including factors such as job loss due to COVID-19, family income, unmet need, and remaining loan eligibility. The maximum award is $750. These funds will be disbursed in the form of a scholarship and will not be applied against any owing balances on your student account. We will make every effort to disburse these funds and notify recipients by April 9th. Please contact us with any questions.

We hope you find these resources helpful during this challenging time.

Best Regards,

Office of Student Financial Services

Gov. Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” executive order — March 24

To: The PLU Community
From: Office of the President

Dear PLU community,

I’d like to start by thanking all of you for being a part of PLU’s collective effort to keep each other safe and do our part to help slow the spread of the coronavirus in our community and in Washington state. We’ve heeded the recommendations of the CDC, local and state health-department experts, and Governor Jay Inslee every step of the way, and will continue to do so until this pandemic is behind us.

Washington issues statewide “stay at home” executive order

Last night, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued a statewide executive “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order requiring all Washington residents to stay home or at their place of residence for at least the next two weeks, to further limit gatherings, and to limit the number of people in any given space. The PLU community has already transitioned to remote learning and shifted to only essential functions on-campus while other services continue remotely. Governor Inslee’s order extends the more restrictive measures to businesses throughout the state. We are in compliance with the new order and exceptions for essential workers.

Confirmed case — PLU community member

We received notification that a PLU employee has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. We are in contact with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD). This employee was last on the PLU campus on March 16. We are also in direct communication with three community members who were the only people identified as being in contact with the person; they are currently in self-quarantine at home under the guidance of medical and public-health officials. PLU’s Health Center is working under the direction and with the assistance of the TPCHD to notify any additional close contacts and provide them with the necessary quarantine instructions. Please note that if you have not been notified by the PLU Health Center, no action is needed from you at this time.

If you are healthy, without any respiratory illness symptoms, then you are at very low risk. Current CDC guidelines are clear that monitoring, quarantining and testing or any other special management is not required for asymptomatic contacts of people who had possible contact with individuals who were presumed or confirmed to have COVID-19.

We intend to honor the Washington State law that obligates us to protect this individual’s privacy, and as a result we will not release their name. We wish our Lute family member a speedy and uncomplicated recovery.

For residential students

Community care, health, and safety remain the highest priorities of the PLU response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Campus will continue to operate the essential functions needed to support remaining residential students. For many students, PLU still is the best and safest home address for participating in remote learning, and it is imperative that we continue to serve those students. To allow for allocation of resources for the Lutes who need it the most, we request that those remaining in on-campus housing who are able to return to their permanent home addresses to please do so for the rest of spring term or until public health directives indicate otherwise.

Residential students received an email earlier yesterday with a link to a final Residential Life Census Survey and a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) regarding community standards and expectations for all students continuing to reside on campus. If you have not yet completed the Census Survey, please do so immediately.

As a reminder, most people with the COVID-19 infection develop mild to moderate illness, without the need for medical care. However, healthy young people who carry the virus without any symptoms can spread it to others who may be at significant risk of severe COVID-19 illness due to age or underlying health conditions.

For staff and faculty

PLU will continue to practice the measures announced last week surrounding remote work wherever possible. Each division on campus has identified personnel that serve essential functions necessary for the continuity of care for students, education and business. These personnel should also be working remotely when possible.

All Lutes, everywhere

This isn’t easy. It’s a challenge for all of us. Your sacrifices are not going unnoticed, and we deeply believe they are making a difference to our shared community. In the coming weeks, all PLU students, faculty, and staff are advised to stay at home and practice the proven methods of prevention to help stop the spread of the virus and to flatten the curve so that people who require related healthcare are able to receive it. To each of you, thank you for your caring, your flexibility, your grace, and your patience. Together we will meet this challenge.

As a reminder, you can access updates and new FAQs, recommendations, and communications at

In community,

Allan Belton

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Essential Information: PLU COVID-19 Community Standards & Final Census Survey – March 23

Dear Student

This email is being sent to all PLU students who have not formally checked-out of their on-campus residence according to Department of Residential Life records.

PLU intends to continue to provide a safe place for our students for whom their residence hall currently is the best or only place that they are able to live, learn, and to be in community during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Toward that end, we have information to share and requests of you. It is critical that you take a few minutes now to complete the Final Census Survey and read the MOU.

  • Open and read the MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) for Residential Students. This MOU is particularly timely given the possibility of travel during Spring Break; however, the expectations outlined in it are applicable at all times.

  • Complete the attached Final Census Survey form. In order to provide the highest level of care and service for our residents who remain on campus, an accurate accounting is essential. We know that individual circumstances may continue to change and, if so, we expect that you will continue to update your CD regarding changes to your situation. We are also committing to this being our last Census Survey unless campus circumstances evolve significantly.

  • In order to assist in providing a safe living environment, Card Access to our residence halls will be adjusted to nighttime levels beginning on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. In other words, residents of a hall will continue to have full access, but other visiting students will need to be met at the door and small group and physical distancing restrictions will need to be met fully.

Thank you for your attention and assistance as we continue to navigate these uncertain times together.

Residential Life

A special message from President Belton – March 20

To: The PLU Community
From: PLU President Allan Belton

To say it has been an unusual spring semester at PLU would be an understatement. Thank you to all of the alumni and friends who have shared encouragement and offered support during this unprecedented season of COVID-19.

As we’ve worked together these past few weeks to ensure the well-being of our community, I’ve been inspired by the fortitude, empathy, and resolute spirit of our students, faculty, staff and friends. Our global Lute community has united in a remarkable way to support each other emotionally, implement a wide variety of health and safety measures, and continue our teaching and learning.

This won’t be the spring anyone imagined. Earlier this week, we made the difficult decision to extend remote learning through the end of the term. Many students have left campus, and many still remain. PLU truly is home for many of our students, and so residence halls, dining services, campus health center, and other essential student services will remain open. Upcoming concerts, athletic competitions, guest lectures and on-campus gatherings have been canceled or postponed.

We must all find new ways in this new reality to connect and care. 

Despite the many unexpected realities of this spring, PLU remains PLU. Our faculty members and students are leaning into remote learning. Our staff, though largely working from their homes, continue to serve. And many friends like you have reached out to see how you might best help.

In response to this question, “How best can we help?” I would say, simply, “By being a Lute.”

You know that care is at the center of all Lutes do. As we are forced to distance physically, now is the time to extend the helping hand of our Lute community. Care as only the PLU community does.

Spring semester has been upended for students and faculty. Now, more than ever, your positive words of encouragement are needed. If you know a PLU student, please reach out. If there is a professor who made a particular impact on you, please send a simple note of gratitude.

Thank you again for extending your care during this time. Through all of life’s challenges, Lutes remain steadfast in our commitment to caring for each other and our world. I am grateful for that and for you.

Best wishes for you and your loved ones,

Allan Belton,

We got you. Student CARE Network signing on. – March 20

All Students
From: Student Life

Dear students,

I’m writing to you on the eve of Spring Break because we have been thinking of you and all that you are experiencing during this massive wave of transitions.

I know that this is a challenging time, and I also recognize that this time offers opportunities for significant learning — about our individual and collective strengths, about ways that we can continue to be connected to each other in community, and about the resources and support that need to be reinvented to allow us to continue to care for your well-being and the well-being of our community.

The Student CARE Network, under the leadership of Jen Rude, University Pastor, and Matt Nelson, Assistant Dean of Students, have stepped up to reimagine how we directly support you during our shared remote learning and living experiences. Jen and Matt, along with an amazing team of university partners and student leaders, are exploring how — despite our distance from one another we can stay connected and work together to meet our many current individual physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Among our immediate goals is a plan to build a new spring-semester engagement calendar that will provide you with regular ways to participate remotely in PLU community events with other Lutes. We look forward to inviting you to participate in a number of related new opportunities after the spring break, staying connected with you and helping you stay connected with each other. Keep an eye out for a specific new way to do that when we ask you to Check 5 in the days ahead!

This link leads to a brief survey. We want to hear what you need! Once you’ve completed it, someone from the CARE team will reach out to you with relevant support and resources. The CARE network is more committed than ever before to supporting PLU students over the distances we now find ourselves displaced to; if you’ve reached out to connect with someone and discovered that they need support, you also can continue to uplift them here. The CARE team that was here for you in person when we were together on campus continues to be here for you now. We got you.

In community,

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Important: Additional financial resources in response to covid19 outbreak – March 19

To: Students
From: Student Financial Services

Dear Students,

PLU recognizes that the impact of COVID-19 may have resulted in financial hardship for some students, including students who are no longer able to work due to their employer closing or transitioning to remote work.

As a result, we want to make you aware of a variety of resources that are available to those who are facing financial hardship due to adverse changes in employment status.

Washington State Unemployment. Unemployment is a State/Federal insurance program designed to provide partial wage replacement to eligible workers who become unemployed for a variety of reasons. The recently adopted emergency rules have expanded eligibility for this benefit. You will need to apply and be approved for this directly through the Washington Employment Security Division. 

Unused Federal Student Loan Eligibility. See Banner Self Service or contact Student Financial Services at to determine if you have undisbursed student loan funds available.

SAGE Emergency Funds. One of PLU’s scholarship partners, SAGE Scholars, has allocated $100,000 specifically for PLU students experiencing financial hardship. The maximum amount of funding is $250 per student. The application should be sent directly to SAGE Scholars and can be found here. SAGE Emergency Fund applications that are sent to PLU will not be processed or reviewed. If you are eligible for SAGE emergency funds, you will be notified as soon as possible about next steps for receiving the funds.

PLU Emergency Funds. PLU is contributing additional funds for students facing financial hardship. Students who have already applied for emergency aid through SAGE Scholars and need more than $250 can apply for additional emergency funds directly from PLU using this form.
We hope you find these resources helpful during this challenging time.

Best Regards,
Office of Student Financial Services

A Message from Provost Gregson – March 19

To: PLU Students
From: Office of the Provost

Dear Lutes,

As we’ve necessarily shifted our instruction from face-to-face to remote learning, I know you’ve experienced some hiccups, some brief respites of levity (if not hilarity), and no small amount of frustration, anxiety, and concern.

I know I speak on behalf of your faculty when I say they’ve experienced these varying emotions, too. Like you, your faculty are concerned about their own health and the health of loved ones, they’re anxious about what this means for our communities and our world, and yes, they’re adjusting to teaching remotely (how to keep pets and children from showing up in “class” when they’re not welcome and how to use Zoom, among other logistics).

Some members of our community have questioned why we decided to continue with remote learning rather than simply end the semester and just have students start their courses over again in Fall 2020. It’s difficult enough to learn college-level material; it’s even harder to learn to navigate new technology and new modes of learning along with the actual course material. The answer to that question is simple. It’s our mission.

We make much of our mission at PLU and its emphasis on care. I believe that continuing to teach is an essential element of how we show care in this moment. A balance exists between stopping everything in the face of crisis and continuing as though nothing has changed; we are striving to exist within this balance. Establishing a schedule and some kind of routine are key to sustaining and healing within a crisis. We are committed to providing you with a port in the storm, a sense of certainty, security, and some semblance of normalcy when virtually everything else has turned upside down. Our decision to continue teaching during this crisis honors the effort and dedication you’ve put into your courses thus far–not only this semester, but in your entire PLU career. It acknowledges stressful late nights, group projects, papers, experiments, recitals, clinicals, and exams, and the effort these activities required of you. Concluding the semester early would be disruptive to all students and their degree progression, but for our seniors, it would be an erasure of that hard work, a denial of the opportunity to complete the capstones they’ve started, a dismissal of their need to complete requirements for certification, licensure, and ultimately, a delay in their time to graduation.

Of course, we’ve heard the comment, “This is not the education I signed up for.” We hear you. No one signed up for any of this! And no one who is at an institution that provides world renowned in-person instruction is currently being educated or teaching in the way that they signed up for. If you’re going to be taught remotely, though, the very best people to be teaching you are people who are trained to teach and teach well, who live out the adage from our Faculty Handbook that “PLU values as its highest priority excellence in teaching.” Yes, it’s going to take them a few days to learn Zoom, figure out where to put their meowing cat, and guage the appropriate level of homework for a remote course. And it’s going to take some time to rethink how to make capstone meaningful for seniors. But if anyone will do this well, it’s PLU’s faculty–the very faculty who wow you so much that you want to be back in their classrooms. They want that, too. And until that can happen, these are the people who will teach you well from a distance. Faculty are working hard with many resources at their fingertips to find a way to deliver a meaningful education despite the crisis.

This period between March 10 and Spring Break has been a sprint for all of us, quickly patching together solutions for teaching/learning, for living, and for simply being during this most unprecedented of times. With our extended Spring Break, we can catch our collective breath and recalibrate our expectations for a period of time that is looking less like a sprint and more like a marathon. And just as the pace changes for runners in those two events, so too does the pace change for teachers and learners. It should, and it must.

With that in mind, you’ll notice some changes when we return to learning after Spring Break:

  • Faculty will assess students’ current needs and what their experiences have been over the past two weeks. As a result of that reflection, you can expect to see updates in their practices and expectations.
  • We think continued learning is important during times of crisis, but we know the grades students earn this semester may not reflect their learning, their effort, or their capacity. With that in mind, we’re extending deadlines and significantly expanding opportunities for students to earn course grades of Pass/Fail rather than a traditional A-E grade. Details will be shared on April 1, and you can make those decisions up until April 17.
  • We’re extending the timelines for Fall 2020 advising and registration, recognizing that as appealing as it may be to start dreaming of Fall 2020 and a return to normalcy, there are too many urgent needs to address first. Details will be shared on April 1. You’ll have plenty of time to choose courses, and we’ll work closely with you as you do so.
  • We’ll be providing guidance to students for remote learning–how you can mentally and logistically prepare yourself for a successful learning experience. Just as your faculty were essentially building the plane while flying it these past two weeks, we know you’ve been doing the same. We’re working on strategies to better support you, which we’ll roll out soon (after you take some time off for Spring Break!).
  • We’ll be adding a note to each student’s transcript, indicating that Spring 2020 courses were taken during a period of global pandemic. This note will exist on your transcript in perpetuity, alerting future employers, graduate schools, or other officials to the context in which your grades were earned.

Looking ahead, your faculty recognize that courses that include prerequisites or assumptions of foundational knowledge from previous courses will need to be revised to include knowledge refreshment opportunities, given the tremendous stress we are all under right now. This will be the case whether the knowledge is immediately applied in Fall 2020, or if it’s something that comes up later in your academic career at PLU. We know this semester’s learning is atypical, and we won’t forget it.

I know you are grieving and confused. You are worried about your health and the health of those you love; you are anxious about completing your degrees and courses; you’re nervous about being able to pay for school; and you’re mourning the semester you’re not having. We are mourning with you.

But you’re still showing up. You’re showing up to virtual labs and Zoom discussions. You’re helping each other navigate not only technology, but also this incredibly difficult time. I have been so impressed by and proud of how so many of you are facing these challenging and unprecedented times with courage, commitment, and compassion.

I’ve worked at PLU for 22 years. When I’m asked the question of why I stay, my answer is unwavering: I stay for the people. And that means students like you, who inspire me and my colleagues in the academic division every single day. We care about you, and we’re rooting for you.

With gratitude,

Joanna Gregson
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Updated campus facility closures – March 19

To: PLU Students, Faculty and Staff
From: Office of the President

Sent on behalf of Teri Phillips, Chief Operating Officer in the Division of Administrative Services

Effective Friday, March 20 at 6 p.m., the only campus buildings that will remain open will be those that serve essential functions. This decision remains active until further notice.

  •  Buildings and offices considered necessary for serving essential functions are:
  • Residence halls
  • Old Main Market/The Commons for take-out dining options only as per the governor’s executive order, consuming food purchased on premises is prohibited.
  • Campus Safety
  • Health Center, with limited hours
  • Infrastructure support: Information & Technology Services, Mail Services, Facilities Management, Human Resources, and Business Office

(Please note: In addition to following best practices for hand washing, physical distancing of 6 feet is required in all campus buildings/offices that remain open.)

All academic spaces, including academic buildings and the Mortvedt Library, will be closed.

208 Garfield will be closed for an undetermined length of time beginning at 6 p.m., Friday, March 20. A reopening date will be determined in alignment with the governor’s directives for restaurants.

Campus Safety will not provide building access to closed buildings.

Teri Phillips
Chief Operating Officer

More information on room-and-board refunds – March 18

To: Students living on campus and students with meal plans
From: President Allan Belton and Vice President for Student Life Joanna Royce-Davis

Dear campus community,

As mentioned in my March 16th communication, PLU has made the deliberate decision to continue operating on-campus housing and dining halls for our students, through the end of the semester. We chose this path knowing that for many students, continuing to live in campus residence is the safest, most feasible, and sometimes only option.

Students will continue to have access to their assigned rooms and belongings, meal plans, and other valuable on-campus resources such as the Library, Food Pantry, Health and Counseling Centers, and Student and Alumni Connections services. Students also can expect that the Student Care Network will support them in new, more proactive ways, and that a new calendar of online engagement and community connection opportunities, including recreational opportunities, will begin to be made available to them after the spring break.

In coming to a reasonable solution to provide for your ongoing needs during this period of time, we also recognize that the University must continue to provide for the costs of maintaining dining and housing facilities, as well as for the staff who work hard to care for our students during this crisis. Based on these considerations, and the financial uncertainty that many of you are facing, we are offering the following relief:

  • A meal plan credit of up to $500.00 — based on meal plan selection — that can be applied to your student account for refund.
  • A $500.00 housing credit to all current residents, whether you choose to depart or remain on campus.
  • A one-time carry-forward of unused dining dollars into the 2020-2021 academic year.

Please review the updated Housing and Meal Plans section of the University Coronavirus FAQ page for further details on how to access your credit.

In community,

Allan Belton

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Transition to remote work for staff – March 18

To: PLU Faculty and Staff
From: President Allan Belton and Chief Operating Officer Teri Phillips

Dear colleagues,

These last few weeks have put our community to the test as we work together to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We are fortunate and grateful that with your help we have already moved to teach our courses remotely, limit campus activities, implement working remotely for many, cancel or postpone events, and intensify cleaning practices. Social distancing and increased hygiene continue to be the best ways to reduce viral exposure and spread.

The University will transition to essential personnel only staffing, effective Wednesday, March 18, at 11:59 p.m.

Essential personnel are defined by each organizational unit according to their Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). Generally, essential personnel during the pandemic include those supporting the safety, well-being, and care of our residential students, and those supporting the core business functions and infrastructure of the university. We are extremely grateful to those who fulfill these roles during this time.

The following measures highlight our expectations and guidelines as they relate to our transition.

Remote work guidance

  • Supervisors and employees must explore the feasibility of remote work. Our goal is for only essential employees to work from campus, starting at midnight on March 18; any exceptions should be approved by the appropriate division’s vice president.

  • We expect that any employee who can work remotely will continue to do so. However, we understand that working remotely may not be possible for some positions, due to the nature of their work and scarcity of remote work opportunities. For benefited staff members who are available but unable to work remotely or onsite during this time due to a reduction in work opportunities, PLU will continue to compensate you based on your normal work schedule through April 15. You will not be required to use accrued sick or vacation leave to cover time shortages created by lack of work. We will reassess this as we clarify the availability of pandemic-related aid from state and federal agencies, and as we learn more about staffing needs and financial plans going forward.

  • Hourly employees will continue to complete time sheets and account for unworked hours using the “UCL” code. This code is for employees to use to record unworked time. Employees should continue to use sick leave (e.g. for doctor’s appointments) or vacation leave when appropriate.

  • Essential employees will be expected to work when scheduled. Employees may be assigned duties that are different than those for which they were hired, in order to meet essential needs. If supervisors have a personnel need or surplus personnel resources, please email Human Resources at with details.

  • Staff will be able to use accrued sick or vacation leave if their child’s school or place of care has been closed for COVID-19 precaution and they are unavailable to work while providing childcare.

  • In many cases, we are new to staff working remotely, and good communication will be key to making it work for all involved. Specific job performance and communication expectations should be established for all staff working remotely.

  • These guidelines do not apply to student employees. A separate communication will be going out to student employees and supervisors.

Administrative considerations

  • All nonessential work travel is prohibited until further notice. Essential travel must be approved by the appropriate vice president.

  • Laptops for remote work are available. Instructions for requesting a PLU laptop may be found here.

  • Mail delivery may be scheduled for a certain time each day or a particular day of the week, or held for pickup. Each office will need to determine a schedule based on workflow. Please contact Marketing & Communications at 253-535-7436 for details.

Campus operations

  • At this time, the Welcome Center remains open to prospective students and small tours. (Following the CDC guidance to postpone large group gatherings, LuteOvernights are being reimagined as a new digital VideOverKnight experience.)

  • In Administrative Services: Facilities and custodial staff are continuing to assist in cleaning, sanitizing, and maintaining spaces to protect the health and safety of the PLU community. The Business Office is open from 10 a.m. to noon each day, with the cashier open only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

  • Mail service continues, and will be flexible given the status of offices.

  • The Library is open, with modified hours.

  • In Student Life: Residence halls remain open, as do the take-out options in 208 Garfield , Old Main Market and The Commons. The Health Center is also open for in-person appointments. (The Counseling Center is accepting new and continuing appointments online and over the phone, along with a host of after-hours resources.)

  • All other support offices are closed while employees work remotely.

Even with our nearly daily emails, much remains to be done, and we will continue to update you. Our goal is to find a path through this unexpected time and get into a strong position to move forward when it has passed.

With much gratitude,

Allan Belton

Teri Phillips
Chief Operating Officer
Division of Administrative Services

Important update from President Belton — March 16

Dear PLU community,

Allow me to start with a note of personal gratitude. I am thankful for your incredible patience and resilience during these extraordinary times. The support and kindness you have shown one another — all during this time of stress and uncertainty — demonstrates the level of care our PLU community is known for.

Continuation of remote learning
The situation facing us all seems to change minute by minute. After much deliberation, and at the recommendation of the academic deans, we have made the difficult decision to extend remote learning through the end of the current semester.

This is a particularly disappointing decision because we all value the importance of face-to-face teaching and mentoring to a PLU education. We had been hopeful that we would be able to return to in-person learning after the state-mandated date of April 24th. The rapidly changing recommendations from federal, state, and county officials have made it clear that it’s better to provide you with some certainty now, rather than wait until further directives make it impossible to welcome students and faculty back to the classroom.

Campus dining and residence halls
PLU, however, remains a uniquely caring place. We will not require our students to leave campus. All students who want to remain on campus are welcome to do so. We have demonstrated our ability to collaboratively care for the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff during this crisis. Though the experience will be different, we are dedicated to doing all we can to maintain our tight-knit learning and living environment and continue to provide essential services to the best of our ability — all within the current and emerging directives set forth for controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Our residence halls and dining services will continue to function through the end of the semester. Additionally, we have developed an equitable plan to refund a portion of the costs of room and board to students’ accounts.

Graduating students and their families are understandably concerned about the status of our commencement events and ceremony. At this time, we have not made a determination about commencement events scheduled for May 22nd and 23rd. We understand that this makes decisions about travel arrangements difficult. Once we are able to determine clearly whether to proceed, cancel, or postpone, we will communicate that decision immediately.

Some other anticipated communications this week:

  • A message to faculty and staff with updated guidance on remote work.
  • Residential and commuter students will be able to find more information on room-and-board refunds in the Coronavirus Update FAQs on or before Wednesday, March 18.
  • All students will receive an email with registration updates and student support resources.

We will continue to keep you informed and we appreciate your continued patience as we respond to this extraordinary situation in real time. In the meantime, you can access updates, FAQs, recommendations, and communications at

In community,

Allan Belton

PLU Campus Services Operational — Coronavirus Update – March 13

To: PLU Community: Students, Faculty, Staff, Parents and Families
From: President Allan Belton, Provost Joanna Gregson, Vice President for Student Life Joanna Royce-Davis, and Director Elizabeth Hopper

Dear PLU Community,

Governor Inslee gave a press conference at 1:30 p.m. today with specific guidance for colleges and universities in Washington.

The governor issued a state-ordered continuation of remote learning for colleges and universities across the state — we already transitioned to remote learning last weekend. PLU is not closing. All PLU services, including residence halls, counseling and health services (including after-hours care), and dining halls, will remain open. Students are welcome to remain in their residence halls a.k.a. your campus home.

Important dates

  • Spring Break was originally scheduled for March 23-27. We are extending Spring Break by canceling classes on March 30-31.
  • Remote learning will resume on Wednesday, April 1.
  • Second-half term courses will start remotely on Wednesday, April 1.
  • Easter Break is on Friday, April 10 (No classes, PLU offices closed).
  • Per the governor’s directive, we will return to in-person classes on Monday, April 27.

Nursing clinicals will proceed in person during this period of university-wide remote learning, as allowed in the governor’s executive order. Supplemental information will be forthcoming to School of Nursing students, faculty and staff from the Dean of the School of Nursing, Dr. Barbara Habermann.

We encourage those who are with us on campus to wear their black-and-gold and casual attire. Stay comfortable, Lutes!

Quick facts

  • At this time, we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus.
  • Students, staff, and faculty will need to keep practicing physical distancing. Where physical distancing is not possible, PLU services may need to be adjusted.
  • Information & Technology Services has a very limited number of laptops available for check out to faculty, staff and students during the remote learning period.
  • For campus employees, previous instructions regarding remote work remain in place.
  • For student counseling and health services:
    • PLU Counseling Center has moved to phone-based counseling for existing and new appointments.
    • Urgent mental health support after-hours (including weekends and holidays), contact the Counseling Center Crisis Line at 253-535-7075.
    • Urgent medical advice after business hours, contact the MultiCare Consulting Nurse Line at 253-792-6410.
    • Lute Telehealth:  24/7/365 medical and mental health services.

We hope this information helps with your travel, work, and life plans in this next period of time. We look forward to the time when we are all together on campus and in the classroom again.

For FAQs, previous campus updates, suggested resources, and more, visit:

In community,

Allan Belton

Joanna Gregson

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Elizabeth Hopper
Director, Health Center
Counseling, Health & Wellness Services

Coronavirus Update – March 12

To: PLU Community: Students, Faculty, Staff, Parents and Families
From: President Allan Belton, Provost Joanna Gregson, Vice President for Student Life Joanna Royce-Davis, and Director Elizabeth Hopper

Dear PLU Community,

First, we write to share our gratitude for your creativity, kindness, and continued compassion for one another as we move through the uncharted events and decisions connected to the evolving COVID-19 situation. Throughout the past two weeks, our faculty, students, and staff have exemplified the resilience and care that makes PLU a wonderful place to live, work, and learn. We hope that you all will continue to find purposeful ways to check in with one another and stay connected in meaningful ways using technology, large spaces, and the outdoors, and that you will continue to care for one another intentionally.

At this time, we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus. This message contains updates on when the university will make a decision about returning to in-person learning, new information on the cancellation of events, athletic competitions, and recreation events, and guidance about telecommuting for staff and student employees.

When can we expect an announcement to return to campus?
On Monday, March 23, we will provide the campus community with an update on when we expect to return to in-person learning. We know that having more lead time is important for faculty, staff, and students who are traveling and transitioning between learning modalities. Our intention remains to return to in-person learning. While that is true, the decision on when to return to in-person learning will be based on the best information from standard resources, community impacts, and current directives available from public-health officials.

Mitigation strategies for gatherings
Yesterday, Governor Inslee announced a prohibition, effective through at least March 31, on all gatherings of more than 250 people in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties. This ban includes, but is not limited to, conferences, sporting events, concerts, fundraisers, spiritual services, and recreational events. Today, Governor Inslee also announced the closure of K–12 schools in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties until at least April 24.

As a response to the governor’s directive, PLU will continue to reschedule or postpone campus-hosted events in March, and to assess postponement of events scheduled in April and May. This guidance currently does not apply to classes at PLU. Our average class size is 16, with only three offerings of 65+ students this semester.

As of this afternoon, the NCAA and Northwest Conference (NWC) schools made the painful decision to cancel the remainder of the winter and spring seasons for all varsity sports. This means that any competitions scheduled from this date on have been canceled. All PLU club sports and campus recreation events are also cancelled until further notice.

Decisions have not yet been made regarding Commencement. Eligible students will graduate. Although it is early to make decisions about the Commencement ceremony, we hope that it can take place and will keep you informed.

Remote work and telecommuting
Another mitigation strategy Governor Inslee referenced was remote work or telecommuting. Employees are encouraged to consult with their supervisor to explore the feasibility of remote work. If a temporary remote-work option is deemed feasible, employees must establish specific job performance and communication expectations with their supervisor for this time. Student workers are advised to speak with their immediate supervisors to determine how they can continue in their jobs during this time.

Given the tremendous variability in the responsibilities of PLU employees (student and professional staff alike) and our need to provide ongoing student care and support, guidance about opportunities to transition to remote work will be facilitated by individual supervisors, in coordination with the vice presidents from their respective divisions.

Boosted cleaning efforts
A word of deep gratitude to PLU custodial staff! They often begin the day at 5 a.m., continuing to increase sanitization of touchpoints following (and most times exceeding) recommended standards and best practices. Reminder: Please continue to use handwashing stations in the restrooms, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Health authorities still maintain that this is the most effective prevention practice for blocking in-person transmission.

These cautionary measures are crucial to our steadfast commitment to the health and safety of our students and community members, particularly those who are most vulnerable right now.

For more FAQs, previous campus updates, suggested resources, and more, visit:

In community,

Allan Belton

Joanna Gregson

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Elizabeth Hopper
Director, Health Center
Counseling, Health & Wellness Services

Update for Lute Families: Classes Transitioning to Distance Learning — March 8

To: PLU students and families
From: Student Life and President Belton

Lutes and Lute families,

Yesterday we made the precautionary decision to transition all regular classes to a distance-learning format, effective this Tuesday, March 10, until the end of spring break on March 30. Classes will also be cancelled Monday, to allow faculty to finish developing materials appropriate for remote learning. 

As of this message, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at PLU. We continue to receive guidance from local, state, and national health organizations that the risk of contracting the virus remains low for healthy individuals.

The full distance-learning announcement that was sent yesterday to students, staff, and faculty members has been published online, and we wanted to provide you with some additional information that addresses questions we have received directly from parents and families.

Is campus open?
Campus is open during this period — including campus restaurants in the Anderson University Center (The Commons and Old Main Market), residence halls, the library, health and counseling centers, and campus offices. That said, until classes resume on March 30, students are welcome to complete their learning wherever they are most comfortable, which may include working from home. As we noted in the campus announcement, we want students to be advised of challenges the evolving situation may present, including the potential for travel disruption that might complicate a return to campus.

Can my student stay at PLU?/Can my student come home?
Your student may return home, if that is your and their preference. The residence halls (housing two people per room) are still in line with public-health recommendations regarding social distancing; it’s classrooms and performance halls, where learning communities sit indoors in direct proximity to one another, that present a challenge.

What is “distance learning?”
Distance learning and remote learning are broad terms used to describe learning that happens when teachers and students are not in the classroom together. Online learning is the most commonly used example for both, but it is not the only method. It is likely most classes will be completed using the internet in some way, but that method of delivery doesn’t make sense for all disciplines or all classes.

To give just a few examples of distance and remote learning that would not be considered online teaching:

  • Faculty may assign papers for students to complete independently, to be submitted in hard copy by mail or electronically.
  • Faculty may reconfigure their course calendar, using the next two-week period as a time to complete readings and class time after spring break to apply that information together.
  • Students/classes may use group texts (e.g., a WhatsApp group) to discuss readings.
  • Students may participate in phone calls to practice communication (e.g., in the case of language classes).
  • Faculty may record video lectures to share with students via email. 
  • Information & Technology Services has a limited number of laptops being made available for check out to students, faculty and staff for use during the temporary distance learning period. 

Are co-curricular activities cancelled?
With regret, the School of Arts and Communication has decided to cancel their performances, forensic competitions, and other arts-based events and activities scheduled between March 8 and March 29. It was a heart-wrenching decision for our faculty, and surely disappointing for our students who have invested so much time in preparation. Unfortunately, public-health social distancing recommendations (according to which “higher risk” populations include groups of 10 or more people) make it difficult to proceed in any other way. Our hope, of course, is that most of these performances can be rescheduled when we resume normal campus operations.

Our clubs and organizations also will be postponing or rescheduling larger events that they are hosting, and limiting their on-campus meetings to smaller groups.

We are currently scheduled to continue with athletic practices and competitions, and are seeking additional guidance from relevant health and athletics governing sources regarding limiting the number of spectators at any home event and the continuation of our published game schedules. Student athletes will receive communication about any changes from their coaches.

We will continue to make similar assessments regarding club sports and recreation events. Students should consult with club coaches regarding schedule changes and will receive updates from Campus Recreation regarding related schedule changes.

Again, our expectation is that classes will resume in person after spring break, but we encourage you and your student to check PLU’s coronavirus information and update page for the latest updates.

The health and well-being of our students is — and will always be — our highest priority. Thank you for your support and partnership during this unprecedented season of teaching and learning. 


Allan Belton

Joanna Gregson

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Elizabeth Hopper
Director, Health Center
Counseling, Health & Wellness Services

March 8: Additional guidance regarding campus operations

To: PLU Staff and Faculty
From: Provost’s Office

PLU staff and faculty,

Thank you for caring for each other, and for rising to meet the many challenges that are presenting during this time. As previously communicated, campus remains open, and most operations go on as usual as we continue to serve our students.

There are a few notable changes that will affect you and your work:

  • All classroom teaching has shifted to a distance format.
  • Some co-curricular activities — directly related to teaching or co-curricular events where social distancing may be difficult to implement — have been cancelled or postponed.
  • A majority of university-business travel has also been canceled or postponed. (Individual professional travel [e.g., to conferences] should continue to follow personal risk assessment and the advice of the sponsoring agency, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control.)

In addition to the information found in previous emails, here are three FAQs-section resources to assist you as our work changes over the coming days:

What are we going to do about completing work normally completed on campus?
This FAQs section of the coronavirus information and updates page covers: 

  • Why we are switching to distance learning and physical distancing
  • Suggestions for facilitating work normally achieved through in-person meetings
  • Logistical considerations for facilitating meetings in adverse conditions

What are my resources as a supervisor?
This initial guidance covers:

  • When to encourage employees to stay home
  • How to support employees who are in the higher risk categories identified by the Centers for Disease Control and the Washington State Department of Health
  • Vacation and sick leave
  • Student employees
  • Alternative work assignments
  • Flexibility and communication

Distance-learning resources
For teaching and non-teaching work:

  • Laptop Request Form
  • Virtual Meetings 
  • Screencast Videos 
  • Online Lessons 
  • Consultations
  • Additional Resources

For more FAQs, previous campus updates, suggested resources, and more, visit:


Joanna Gregson

Teri Phillips
Chief Operating Officer

Laptop Request Form — March 8

Posted on the Information & Technology Services webpage at 6 p.m. on March 8, 2020.

Information & Technology Services has a very limited number of laptops being made available for check out to faculty, staff and students for use during the temporary distance learning period.

Anyone needing to request a laptop is asked to submit a Help Desk ticket with a Request Type of Equipment Reservation Request.  Priority will be given based on factors such as (but not limited to) health concerns, mission critical processes, and type of instruction.

Please submit your request as soon as possible.  Those approved will be able to pick up a laptop at the Help Desk in Mortvedt library anytime after 2:00pm on Monday, March 9th.

Coronavirus Supervisor Guidance for Staff and Student Employees — March 8

Posted on the Human Resources webpage at 10 a.m. on March 8, 2020.

Thank you for caring for each other and for rising to meet the many challenges that are presented during this time. As previously communicated, campus remains open and most operations continue as usual. This initial guidance is provided to help us all navigate this very fluid situation in a way that is measured and that prioritizes care for individuals and community. Please visit the Human Resources page and click on the link, “Coronavirus Supervisor Guidance for Staff and Student Employees.” This guidance will be updated as needed.

Transitioning to Distance Learning | Coronavirus Update -- March 7

To: PLU Faculty
From: Provost Joanna Gregson

Dear Faculty,

This letter comes in follow-up to the campus announcement regarding our transition to distance learning. As that communication described, we are shifting to distance learning for all regular, on-campus classes effective Tuesday, March 10. (The continuation of experiential classes such as internships, student teaching, and clinical placements will be determined in consultation with the dean or chair of your program). No classes will be held on Monday, March 9 to give faculty the day to continue preparation for the shift.

By March 10, faculty should be in communication with their students to let them know how class will proceed. If you want to tell your students you’ll share your plans with them one week at a time, that’s both fine and reasonable. In order to minimize student anxiety, clear, transparent communication with your students is a priority, as is continued flexibility as the situation continues to evolve.

The campus announcement indicated the timeframe of this shift as “through March 30”, the day we return from spring break. Should public health officials advise otherwise, we will extend the timeline.

Likewise, unless directed otherwise by public health authorities, the university will remain open, with accommodations available for employees who fall into higher risk categories. There are no changes to university activity or event schedules at this time. Decisions about events sponsored by academic programs will be made by the respective area dean, in consultation with the department chair and relevant faculty.

This situation is evolving rapidly, and our first consideration is continuation of student learning. By Monday morning, and after consultation with faculty leadership, I’ll issue more guidance with respect to the other aspects of faculty work (e.g., Is committee work still happening? What about faculty assembly?).

As you think through how to approach your teaching in this most unusual of circumstances, I remind you again of the opportunity for scheduled consultations or drop-in office hours (posted on the PLUTO website) with the PLU Teaching Online (PLUTO) team, the Resources for Instructional Continuity page, and opportunity for conversation with PLUTO-trained colleagues.

An additional resource you may find useful is this compilation of “remote teaching resources for business continuity” with contributions from faculty colleagues all over the country.

Your deans and chairs will be in touch separately if there are unit-specific decisions to be made regarding shared expectations, continuation of planned events, or other details with particular salience to your program.

I imagine the timing of today’s announcement may have come as a surprise, and that many of you are probably feeling at least some level of overwhelm when considering the task ahead. Please include me, Associate Provosts Jan Lewis and Geoff Foy, and Dean for Inclusive Excellence Jen Smith in your list of resources if you need assistance in thinking through how to navigate this uncharted territory.

With our shared value of excellence in teaching, I am fully confident in the ability of each and every faculty member to continue to provide meaningful learning opportunities and care for students during this unusual and challenging time.


Joanna Gregson, PhD
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Classes transitioning to distance learning | Coronavirus Update -- March 7

To: PLU Community
President Allan Belton, Provost Joanna Gregson, Vice President for Student Life Joanna Royce-Davis, and Director Elizabeth Hopper


Dear PLU Community,

PLU leaders have spent the last few weeks learning about the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and preparing for how it might affect our campus. As of this writing, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at PLU. We continue to receive guidance from local, state and national health organizations that the risks of contracting the virus for healthy individuals remains low.

Campus will remain open. However, out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to transition all regular classes to a distance-learning format, effective Tuesday, March 10, until the end of spring break on March 30. (The continuation of experiential classes such as internships, student teaching, and clinical placements will be determined in consultation with the dean or chair of the program.) Classes will be cancelled on Monday, March 9, to allow faculty to finish developing materials appropriate for remote learning. Should we receive guidance from public-health officials to extend distance learning beyond March 30, we will make announcements accordingly. 

As of this message, students should plan to resume their in-class learning on Monday, March 30. Prior to the resumption of in-person classes, all teaching and learning spaces will undergo deep cleaning according to emerging public health recommendations. 

Our dedicated faculty members have been preparing for the possibility of a transition to remote learning, and will soon be in touch with their students to share plans for continuing their courses at a distance. To give faculty an additional day to prepare for this transition, classes will officially launch in their distance format on Tuesday, March 10. Students should expect to hear from their faculty by that date, with a plan for how learning will proceed during this time. The remote format for each class will depend on the course’s learning objectives.

One of the questions we’ve received in the days leading up to this announcement is about how we might be able to provide students, faculty, and staff with access to technology (such as laptops) that may be needed during this time. We’re developing a strategy to equitably deploy available resources, and will have a plan solidified soon on the Coronavirus webpage.

Our campus, including our health and counseling centers, dining services, and residence halls, will remain open to serve all those who rely on our services. Additionally, all athletic, music concerts, admission tours and other activities will continue as scheduled, and their continuation will rely on ongoing directives from public-health officials. We will also continue to evaluate events where we are hosting off-campus guests, and will confer with organizers about options, as has been our practice.


Our expectation at this time is for in-person class meetings to resume on Monday, March 30. As you consider participating in your classes from an off-campus location and starting spring break travel, please consider that your travel may be extended or restricted by upgraded advisories and/or possible quarantine orders. For students who may choose to leave campus, please know that
Lute Telehealth (US only) and the Multicare Nurse Advice Line (253-792-6410) remain available to you for consultation. Student employees should check in with supervisors.


Faculty will receive separate communication from the Provost and their respective deans regarding next steps and the resources available to support this transition.


If there are any changes to staff roles, responsibilities, or work location, supervisors will send separate communication to campus employees. (Guidance for supervisors will be posted on the Human Resources webpage this Sunday, March 8, at 10 a.m.) Employees, including those who fall into the higher risk categories identified by the Centers for Disease Control and the Washington State Department of Health, should communicate with their supervisors about specific situations that may influence their ability to be present on campus.

While this is a decision we hoped we would not have to make, we are confident that quality teaching and learning will continue remotely while university officials monitor the spread of COVID-19 and its risk to our campus. Please continue to monitor your PLU email for updates and other information that may be helpful to you during this period of time.

For FAQs, previous campus updates, suggested resources, and more visit:

We want to thank you for caring for each other and rising to meet the challenges during this time. Thank you for your commitment to the well-being of our Lute community and our neighbors. 

Allan Belton

Joanna Gregson

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Elizabeth Hopper
Director, Health Center
Counseling, Health & Wellness Services

Coronavirus Update: March 6 — Afternoon

To: PLU Community
From: Student Life

Dear PLU Community,

We continue to work with local and state public-health officials to closely monitor the spread of COVID-19. Robust efforts are underway throughout campus to support the academic, physical, and emotional needs of our community.

Where we’re at right now

As of this afternoon, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at PLU or that originated in Pierce County, and there are no special protective actions or orders currently in place for the county or the Tacoma/Parkland area. As such, there are no special restrictions or requirements for members of the Pacific Lutheran University community related to work or class schedules.

PLU remains in close contact with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, state officials, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The county health department in particular is a key partner for us in planning and monitoring, and we will follow their directives concerning community well-being, cautionary measures, and modified or full campus closures.

At this time, all PLU classes and activities continue to operate on our regular schedule. We will continue to monitor changes in this situation and stay in close communication with Tacoma-Pierce County Public Health — and you — if the directive to us changes.

All hands on deck

PLU’s emergency-planning team was formally activated earlier this week, and is being led by Health Center Director Elizabeth Hopper and Vice President for Student Life Joanna Royce-Davis. This team includes over 30 leaders from every corner of campus and is working to prepare for all manner of possible scenarios. The emergency-response group has had protocol prepared for a possible pandemic situation for many years.

Classes and campus activities

There are no current changes in class schedules or broader university work schedules. However, all faculty members have been instructed to plan for the potential of moving courses online or to alternative spaces in case the need arises. All regularly scheduled campus events are also moving forward, unless they are independently cancelled or postponed. This includes athletic events, student club meetings, etc. Please note, as well, that all campus dining locations are open and fully operational.

Keeping the campus clean

Our Facilities Management and Campus Restaurants staff have been implementing enhanced cleaning practices since the emergence of the COVID-19 earlier this winter. These practices pay particular attention to high traffic and high touch areas of the campus, which means more frequent cleaning of railings, doors, and surfaces. There are also now additional sanitation stands outside many of our shared public spaces, with particular attention to where food is being served. We will continue to take similar measures as opportunities to do so are identified.

Caring for yourself and others

Your actions have the potential to help minimize risk for friends, colleagues, family, neighbors, and community members who may be more susceptible to this virus. In addition to washing hands and/or applying hand sanitizer regularly, please continue to generally avoid physical contact (handshakes, high-fives, hugs, etc.), and to practice physical distancing, where possible.

There is a likelihood that some members of our community also are experiencing the seasonal flu, other cold viruses, and seasonal allergies, all of which are still present during this time. Students, staff, and faculty are also encouraged to stay home if you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms.

If you live on campus and are experiencing flu-like symptoms, make an appointment at the Health Center or to connect with Lute Telehealth. Other options for faculty and staff are your health care provider and new free 24/7 virtual tele-health lines at MultiCare and Franciscan Health Groups.

Additionally, we know some community members are anxious and concerned about the coronavirus. If you would like to talk with someone, support is available:

Students: Counseling Center and Lute Telehealth — 24/7 medical and mental health support

Employees: First Choice Health Assistance Program (enter username: pacific)

‘Lutes Away’

We are in communication with our 70 undergraduate students currently studying abroad. Lutes have been strongly discouraged from traveling to destinations with Level 3 of higher travel advisories.

The Wang Center for Global Education and the School of Business — with close council from the emergency planning team — recently made the decision to cancel an upcoming MBA Global Business Perspectives study tour to Costa Rica. Three factors influenced this decision: the potential presence of COVID-19 in Costa Rica, the potential of travel disruption, and for quarantine onsite or upon return.

Moving forward together

One of the great challenges, for all of us, will be remaining vigilant and informed while also remaining focused on our commitments to each other — to teach, to listen, to collaborate, and to care for each other. It is vital that we support each other and act as a community, avoiding acts of discrimination and bias, and showing compassion for vulnerable populations and those affected by this disease. We are grateful to be in a community that lives into its mission.

We will continue to update you as more information becomes available and as we may need to respond to directives from public health officials.

For FAQs, previous campus updates, suggested resources, and more visit:

In community,

Elizabeth Hopper, MN, ARNP
Director, Health Center
Counseling, Health and Wellness Services
(Personal Pronouns: She/Hers/Her)

Joanna Royce-Davis, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Life
(Personal Pronouns: She/Hers/Her)

Coronavirus Update: March 6 — Morning

To: PLU Community
From: Student Life

Dear PLU Community,

Leaders from every corner of campus have been in constant collaboration throughout the past few weeks. We’re monitoring COVID-19 locally, regionally, and globally; we are in continual communication with county, state and federal health leaders; and working to plan for all manner of possible scenarios. We are developing plans to ensure that teaching and learning will continue throughout the spring, but please rest assured — the safety of our students, faculty, and staff is everyone’s top priority.

As of this morning, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at PLU or in Pierce County. At this time, all PLU activities continue to operate on our regular schedule.

We are aware that the University of Washington (all campuses) was directed by public health officials to implement a modified closure and to move their classes online this morning because of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. We are monitoring the UW situation closely.

The fact that we have not yet had any confirmed cases of COVID-19 allows us more time to prepare for possible PLU and Parkland community transmission of COVID-19. The most important thing for our community to do now is to work together on all levels to continue planning and preparing for the possibility of community-level impact on our campus.

We will provide you with a more comprehensive update on campus preparations before the end of the day. We also will continue to update you as more information becomes available and as we may need to respond to directives from public health officials.

For the most current information visit

In community,

Elizabeth Hopper, MN, ARNP
Director, Health Center
Counseling, Health and Wellness Services
(Personal Pronouns: She/Hers/Her)

Joanna Royce-Davis, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Life
(Personal Pronouns: She/Hers/Her)

Coronavirus update from Provost Gregson to Faculty - March 5, 2020

To: PLU Faculty
From: Provost Joanna Gregson

Dear Faculty,

As we monitor the international, national, and local spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, it is clear we should begin to plan for the continuation of student learning in adverse conditions. I’m writing to provide some faculty-specific information regarding how we can focus on the continuation of student learning and a prioritization of what is best for the health of our students, faculty and staff, and larger community.

In 2007, the Faculty Assembly approved Educational Policies for Pandemic Emergencies for circumstances warranting total campus closure for an extended period. One of the details you may find worth noting is that, in the extraordinary event of such a closure, the mid-semester and last-day-to-withdraw dates are key for determining whether the semester is considered complete. Those dates this year are March 20 and May 8, respectively. (In simple terms: if on March 20 or later the Centers for Disease Control, in partnership with state and county departments of health, directs us to close campus through May 8 or later, the semester will be complete and students will be awarded the grades they have earned to date.) I bring this to your attention not because it is a likely scenario, but to emphasize the fact that even in a worst-case-scenario, we have a plan.

There are, of course, other possible scenarios we should plan and prepare for, including our own illness, the illness of students, quarantines, or a temporary closure of campus. I am working with campus partners to create a list of suggested action steps and university resources for a variety of scenarios as they relate to faculty, which I will share in the days ahead.

In the meantime, I’d like to suggest you begin to consider taking some action now. As the situation evolves, you may find that circumstances beyond your control–such as the closure of your child’s school or the need to care for an elderly parent–may also present themselves suddenly. In addition to preparing for class absence for health issues, it would be wise to prepare for being away from campus should any of these other scenarios present themselves. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Update your gradebook, and ensure it’s in a system that could be easily shared with your dean should you face an extended absence (for example, through Sakai or Google sheets).
  2. Ensure that your current syllabi have been shared with your divisional/school staff.
  3. Begin to brainstorm how you could teach your classes remotely during either your own absence or a campus closure. Sakai and Google-suite tools will make the most sense for many of us, but per the University’s pandemic policy, you can consider “conventional mail, email, web tools, hard copy assignments, or phone conferences as means of sustaining active remote learning”. Our instructional design team will be offering drop-in office hours, video tutorials, and one-on-one training opportunities on these topics in the immediate days ahead, providing you with a host of options to select from to best align with your pedagogy. More information will be shared soon.
  4. If you regularly access documents on Netstor, consider moving them to Google drive so you can access them remotely.
  5. Identify back-up instructor(s) to cover your classes in the event that you will miss 3 or more class periods due to your own illness.
  6. Take your own health seriously. If you are unsure of whether you should come to school (either because you don’t feel well or because someone you’ve been in contact with doesn’t feel well), please consult your health care professional. When in doubt, stay home. As always, you should let your chair/dean know if you will not be in class.
  7. Recognize the anxiety students are feeling and let them know their continued learning and well-being is a priority. This might include:
    • Reviewing your communication plans (e.g., “I will always send an email through Sakai by 6 a.m. if I am not well enough to teach”)
    • Reviewing your communication expectations (e.g., “If you don’t feel well, please send me a quick email to let me know so we can consider ways to continue your learning.”)
    • Reconsidering your attendance/participation expectations. Just as faculty and staff are encouraged to err on the side of caution when it comes to the potential for exposing others to illness, so too should we hold that expectation for students. This means you may need to create alternate learning experiences for your students (e.g., something they can complete outside of class), and it may mean modifying your attendance policies.
    • Assuring them that the Centers for Disease Control, in partnership with state and county departments of health, will direct us to close (short or long-term) should they perceive there to be heightened risk of transmission on campus.
  8. Follow the guidance of the sponsoring agency, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control regarding maintaining any professional or personal travel plans.

University leadership and our incident response team is reevaluating the situation on a daily basis. We will continue to provide you with updates as we have them, including through email messages when warranted and on PLU’s coronavirus page. The health and safety of our community is a shared responsibility and one that we take seriously.

The best way to care for our communities is to practice prevention, and to act from a place of compassion as you respond to community members who may be impacted by the high levels of concern that this virus is creating. I realize this is an uneasy time and that uncertainty can lead to anxiety. I am thankful for your partnership and your continued commitment to caring for one another and for our students.


Joanna Gregson, PhD
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Coronavirus Update from President Belton and Vice President Royce-Davis – March 4, 2020

To: PLU Parents and Families
From: President Allan Belton and Vice President for Student Life Joanna Royce-Davis

Dear Lute Families,

At PLU, our concern for the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is always a top priority. We began reaching out to the campus community with information about the Novel Coronavirus in January, and write to update you on our actions to date.

As you may be aware, Governor Jay Inslee declared a public health emergency related to an increase in the number of confirmed cases in Washington State. The declaration directs state agencies to utilize all the resources necessary to prepare for and respond to Coronavirus.

As of the date of this communication, no members of the PLU community have been diagnosed with the Novel Coronavirus. While there are currently a few cases being tested in Pierce County, none have been confirmed at this time. Even as we continue to be diligent in our monitoring of information sources, this is an evolving situation, and the best sources for updates continue to be made available through the Washington State Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including updated travel notices for countries with community transmission. Our emergency planning team participates in daily briefs and will update our emergency planning protocols based on the directives of these expert entities.

Since the emergence of the Coronavirus, our facilities team has increased their attention to frequent cleaning of high touch areas that include railings, doors, and other high traffic surfaces. Our Campus Restaurant teams also have continued to be diligent in their cleaning practices. Staff, faculty, and students have been encouraged to stay home if they don’t feel well and also to contact their respective health providers for further direction. Our goal continues to be to do everything that we can to prevent cases of the Coronavirus on our campus — and to continue to offer the education that your student came to us for without interruption.

We have also reminded students about resources available to them should they feel sick. These include PLU’s Health Services, our newest resource — Lute Telehealth — a web and phone based service staffed by licensed healthcare providers who, like our Health Services staff, have been trained in infectious disease protocols, and our after hours Nurse Advice Line 253-792-6410. In addition we have created a dedicated webpage where your student and your family can see university updates related to emergency planning and response for the Coronavirus, as well as ask questions.

For health related questions, we invite you to contact one of our providers in Health Services by Phone: 253-535-7838 or Email:, or for other questions to begin with the Office of Student Life by Phone: 253-535-7191, where we can help to connect you with the person best able to respond. You also may choose to use the Ask a Question feature of our Coronavirus webpage.

Our university response serves as a key reminder for us at PLU that care is part of our mission. That reminder also reinforces our top priorities during this time – the safety and well-being of our students – and the safety and well-being of the faculty and staff who care for and engage them in learning.

In community,

Allan Belton

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Update on COVID-19 for PLU Gateway Program — March 4, 2020

To: Students Studying Away at Gateway Locations
From: The Wang Center for Global Education

Dear PLU Gateway Student,

We write with three important updates for students currently enrolled in PLU Gateway Programs in the UK, Namibia, Norway (MF and USN), and Trinidad and Tobago.

First, as you may be aware, on Monday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a recommendation that called upon institutions of higher education to consider postponing or cancelling current or upcoming student foreign exchange programs. In response to this recommendation, the PLU team charged with closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak in all PLU study away locations, together with members of PLU’s senior administration, met to consider the CDC’s recommendation. Following a thorough consideration of up-to-date information on risk factors in each of PLU’s program locations, the decision was made to not alter or cancel PLU Gateway Programs at this time.

PLU will continue to monitor each location individually and base future decisions guided by factors that include, but are not limited to, the US State Department Travel Advisories, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, John Hopkins CCSE, international insurance providers, country-specific US Embassy alerts, and public health notifications in the three PLU Gateway locations. The following are also factors for consideration: existing university policies on study away, travel restrictions and interruptions, on-site support capability (including health and mental care services), and local university shutdowns. At this time, none of these factors indicate that a change in program status is warranted. Should the status in any one of PLU’s program locations change and develop the potential to compromise the safety of students, faculty, and staff, the Wang Center will inform participants of any contingency plans and coordinate with program leaders to implement those plans expeditiously.

Second, acknowledging the heightened concern students and their families have regarding this unprecedented epidemic, you are reminded that, per PLU Study Away study away policies, you may withdraw from the program voluntarily. Should this be a decision you wish to consider, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Students that decide to return will return to their permanent home and follow CDC self-quarantine protocols if recommended
  • Program leaders and on-site coordinators will work with departments, faculty advisors and the Center for Student Success to assist study away returnees in completing semester coursework.
  • Students are responsible for booking their return flights and paying flight change fees
  • Established policy on fees related to semester study away program withdrawal is suspended due to the outbreak; no additional fees will be incurred by students

Should you decide to withdraw, please notify Brynn Smith, Semester Program Manager at

We realize making this decision may be a difficult one for you. Please know that your program leaders are ready, willing, and able to help you in your discernment process. They also can provide you with names of mental health providers should you find the need for additional support.

Third, as stated in an earlier email, in the context of a very fluid and quickly evolving disease outbreak, the risk of contracting and spreading the disease, or facing prolonged quarantine, increases with travel. For this reason, at this time, the Wang Center is strongly recommending that program participants limit travel abroad. Moreover, as has been indicated in previous communications, PLU students may not travel to locations with a CDC and/or US State Department risk-level of 3 or above. Up-to-date CDC Travel Health Notices, risk levels, and recommendations can be searched by country. US State Department Advisories can be searched by country.

Aligned with on-campus strategies to contain the disease, finally, we strongly encourage you all to engage in proactive practices that are recognized as preventing the spread of viruses, including the flu. This is a list of recommended practices published by the CDC.

Moreover, due to the rapidly changing landscape of the disease, the university acknowledges the potential for quarantine in both its study away locations, and upon return to the U.S. For this reason, and in an abundance of caution, program leaders and students will receive guidelines on quarantine protocols as these may need to be implemented abroad or at home upon return.

Finally, PLU’s Health Center encourages all students and staff experiencing flu-like symptoms to see a health provider on site.

As a reminder to students currently studying abroad, PLU’s 24/7 Europ Assistance travel insurance is available for a referral to medical care, mental health support, or regional travel advisories at:

Additionally, students are encouraged to call upon the support of their Faculty Site-Director or program provider staff should they need support locating a provider and making an appointment.

In gratitude to all program participants, faculty, and staff for your patience and good spirits during this challenging period. As conditions evolve and further decisions are made, rest assured we will be in contact.

Dr. Tamara R. Williams, Professor of Hispanic Studies
Executive Director, Wang Center for Global Education
Program Director, PLU Gateway Program in Oaxaca

Coronavirus Update – March 2, 2020

To: PLU Community
From: Student Life

Dear Campus Community,

We are writing with an update regarding global concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19), including the recent declaration of a public health emergency by Washington Governor Jay Inslee related to an increase in the number of confirmed cases in Washington State. The declaration directs state agencies to utilize all resources necessary to prepare for and respond to an outbreak.

PLU is staying abreast of daily alerts and recommendations, and continuing to use a standard set of references — including communication from the Washington Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and our emergency planning protocols — to make informed decisions about study away programs and other university experiences that may be affected by the spread of the virus.

We have prepared a single webpage where you will be able to find the most current information about PLU’s response:

Quick facts about COVID-19:

  • There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pierce County at this time.
  • There are no special protective actions or orders currently in place for the county or the Tacoma/Parkland area.
  • As such, there are no special restrictions or requirements for members of the Pacific Lutheran University community.
  • If this changes, you will receive another communication with updated guidance.
  • As a reminder, following the recommended guidelines is still the most effective way to decrease your risk of infection.

These standard well-being behaviors include:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water; if this is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Minimize touching your face without washing your hands first.
  • Cover your cough.
  • Stay home if you are experiencing flu symptoms, including a fever. The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to those of the flu or colds. Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell, according to the Washington State Department of Health. The severity of symptoms varies significantly. Some cases are very mild, with symptoms similar to those of the common cold, and some cases are more like severe pneumonia that require hospitalization.
  • Call your health provider if symptoms persist or if you have concerns about your symptoms. Students should call the Health Center at 253-535-7337, or may start with a visit through Lute Telehealth. Staff and faculty should contact their healthcare provider.
  • Disinfect frequently used or publicly used surfaces such as computer keyboards, plane trays, and tables. If possible, use knuckles or elbows to open doors or to push buttons.

Here are a few additional resources that may be helpful if you need further information:

The CDC continues to emphasize that simple standards of infection control are the most effective way to prevent illness.

The best way to care for our communities is to practice prevention, and to act from a place of compassion as you respond to community members who may be impacted by the high levels of concern that this virus is creating. Again, we realize this is an uneasy time and that can lead to anxiety, but want to remind all Lutes that times of unease require us all to care more thoughtfully and intentionally for one another.

We will provide another update when additional information becomes available. Please contact the Health Center if you have additional questions that are not answered through the resources provided.

For study away concerns, please first refer to Wang Center for Global Education communication(s) about your specific location and related contingency plans.

In community,

Elizabeth Hopper, MN, ARNP
Director, Health Center
Counseling, Health and Wellness Services
(Personal Pronouns: She/Hers/Her)

Joanna Royce-Davis, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Life
(Personal Pronouns: She/Hers/Her)

Coronavirus Update - February 3, 2020

To: PLU Community
From: Student Life

Dear campus community,

I am writing today to provide a brief update on the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak that recently has been declared a global health emergency. The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) assures us that there have been no cases of novel coronavirus in Pierce County, and that the risk to the general public remains low. PLU is aware of the new State Department Travel Advisory recommended and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the potential impact it may have on some of our international students and scholars, as well as any other members of our community who planned travel to or have traveled recently in any of the affected countries. We are working closely with a small number of individuals who may be affected by these travel limitations and are assisting them to problem-solve the challenges associated with their particular situation.

Global learning is a key feature and value of a PLU education and the university will continue to honor our commitment to caring for and engaging communities worldwide.

Per best practice, university officials continue to monitor this situation closely and are paying specific attention to notifications and updates from standard points of reference (e.g., US State Department, CDC, World Health Organization [WHO]) and in consultation with other relevant sources, such as airlines. We also will continue to work closely with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department on this rapidly developing situation and will provide additional information as it becomes available. Relevant updates will be posted to the PLU Health Center website. Additional detailed information about the Coronavirus also is available at the following websites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Human Coronaviruses

Why the Current Exposure Risk Is Low From Novel Coronavirus

Since the region is still in the midst of regular flu season, the TPCHD encourages anyone who has not yet received the flu shot, to do so. There is evidence that the flu vaccine mitigates the severity of the Coronavirus, as well as other strains of the flu. The vaccine continues to be available to students in the PLU Health Center; staff and faculty should contact their health care providers or local pharmacies for the vaccine.

Developing the following everyday habits also helps to prevent the spread of any respiratory viral infection, including the flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The Health Center encourages students who are experiencing flu-like symptoms to call for an appointment at the Health Center which is open from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. When the Health Center is closed, students should contact the after hours MultiCare nurse consulting line at 253-792-6410 or Campus Safety at 253-535-7441. Faculty and staff should consult with your primary care physician for advice and guidance.

The health and safety of our community is very important to us. We realize this is an uneasy time and that can lead to anxiety, but want to remind all Lutes that times of unease require us all to care more thoughtfully and intentionally for one another.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Hopper
Director, PLU Health Center

Important Information Regarding the Coronavirus – January 22, 2020

To: PLU Community
From: Student Life

To the PLU community,

Many of you may be aware of the recent news of a virus coming out of China, called Novel Coronavirus 2019. It has been transmitted from an animal market to humans starting in December 2019. It originated in one specific province in China, Wuhan Province, and is implicated in ~60 hospitalizations in China. The first case in the US was announced yesterday and involves a resident of Snohomish County, north of Seattle, who has been hospitalized with pneumonia and at this point is in stable condition. He returned to the United States six days ago from a visit in Wuhan, China.

Coronavirus is a very common virus and in its simplest form causes the common cold and most influenza illnesses. In its more serious form it causes SARS and MERS. This new, or novel, version has been determined not to be SARS or MERS. It can, however, cause significant respiratory illness. Anyone traveling from Wuhan Province enters the U.S. through one of the five airports that are now screening for this virus. There is no current concern for travelers from any other part of China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Washington State Department of Health and Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department have issued a joint statement that is attached in the following link, which we encourage you to read:

Outbreak of Pneumonia of Unknown Etiology in Wuhan, China

In addition, there is a link to general information about the flu below. Please review that information and follow its recommendations. Students can be evaluated at the Health Center, tested for Influenza A/B, and receive a flu shot if appropriate and if they haven’t already had one. We are seeing flu in those who have been immunized, but the symptoms and duration of the illness are significantly reduced compared to those who haven’t been immunized this year. 

Flu: What To Do If You Get Sick

If you’re concerned that you have developed the flu, please call for an appointment within the first 2-3 days of symptoms, especially if you’re experiencing a fever greater than 102 degrees, or chills that are hard to control with blankets and warm clothes.

If you are a student and have a cough and/or fever when you arrive at the Health Center, you’ll be instructed to wear a face mask. This will help protect other students and the Health Center staff. If you are a faculty or staff member, please contact your health provider for instructions.

As needed, we will provide updates to this communication and share advice from Tacoma Pierce County Public Health regarding ongoing response. If you are a PLU community member who has traveled recently or for any community member with immediate questions, please contact your healthcare provider, Tacoma Pierce County Public Health at 253-798-6410 or the PLU Health Center at x7337.

Be well, stay well!

Elizabeth Hopper, MN, ARNP
Director, Health Services
Counseling, Health and Wellness Services