Campus Status Dial

Campus status dial stage 4
Case Totals

Known Active Cases: 1

Known Cases Resolved: 48

PLU Pre-Arrival and Proactive Community Testing Positives: 11 out of 16454*

*These positives have already been counted in the Known Active Cases and Known Cases Resolved.

Pacific Lutheran University will continue the 2020-21 school year with a staged approach to reopening. We’ve created a visual representation—a status dial—to ensure that our community members can quickly and easily see which stage we’re currently in, from fully remote learning and working to full capacity with in-person operations. As public-health conditions continue to evolve over the next several months, the PLU dial will be a regular part of our guidance for learning, living, and working on campus.

The dial represents data gleaned from campus, county, and state health reporting (see below) which, in combination with directives from public-health officials, will inform our decision-making related to campus operations. The dial will be updated weekly on Wednesdays by 12 p.m. with any new information (including indications that the status remains unchanged); should public-health circumstances warrant an immediate shift (e.g., restricting campus activity or operations) within a time frame that does not align with the Wednesday updates, a campus email will notify PLU community members of the change.

PLU maintains Stage 4 in Campus Status Dial

On May 4, Gov. Jay Inslee today announced a two-week pause on movement in the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan. Under the pause, every county will remain in its current phase, which is Phase 2 in Pierce County. At the end of two weeks, each county will be re-evaluated. After receiving this notice, we ran our metrics, examined our data, and made the decision to remain in Stage 4 of the Campus Status Dial.

How does the pause affect PLU?

PLU will remain in Stage 4 of the Campus Status Dial. While case rates have risen in Pierce County, all other metrics in our model, including the PLU and regional healthcare system capacity, the testing positivity rate, our proactive community testing, our on-campus capacity for managing quarantine and isolation, and current case percentages in the county continue to meet or exceed our Stage 4 requirements. The pause does not affect any of our campus operations.

What we are seeing on campus

Last month, we saw the highest number of cases that we’ve had on campus in the entire pandemic. With less than four weeks left of the semester, let’s not lose sight of why we’re undertaking this challenge together. Let’s not lose sight of why we need to practice physical distancing, wear our masks, get our vaccines, and follow the university’s COVID-19 safety policies—we are working to keep our community safe and stop the spread.

The fact that the positive cases have not resulted in community spread is a testament to the effectiveness of masks, social distancing, and other mitigations efforts. However, those efforts are now being challenged as we see a concerning trend develop this week. Contact tracing for positive cases has shown increasing numbers of close contacts being identified.  

We call on all community members to continue adhering to mitigation efforts to reduce the risk of additional close contacts and potential community spread. These factors play a significant role in PLU’s capacity to quarantine and isolate and could result in rolling back stages on the PLU Campus Status Dial.

Back to the fundamentals

Self-care is community care, and community care is self-care. We can take personal responsibility for both by:

  • Wearing a face mask
  • Staying at least six feet apart from others (even when outside)
  • Washing our hands frequently
  • Socializing in groups of no more than five
  • Refraining from holding or attending parties
  • Completing the daily Wellness Check-In
  • Being kind-hearted to one another, and holding each other accountable
  • Getting vaccinated as you are able

Even with the sunshine, we just can’t gather in large groups right now—not without putting members of our extended community in danger. So if you’re thinking of hosting or attending a large gathering, we strongly urge you to reconsider and safely gather in a small group instead.

On-campus testing

  • For students — Testing continues to play an essential part in PLU’s mitigation strategies and in keeping our community healthy and well. Students should plan to participate in testing based on their assigned schedule, even if fully vaccinated, through the end of the spring term.  Click here for more information about the PLU clinic.
  • For the whole community — There are no more on-campus community testing dates for May. Pierce County is now offering proactive community testing at the Pierce County Covid-19 Testing Station, only six minutes away from campus. The testing station is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.


As the percentage of people in Washington State initiating vaccination climbs above 43.6%, all Lute community members are encouraged to get vaccinated as they are able.

Campus Status Dial updated: May 5 at 12:00 p.m. (Please note: If the timing does not align with our regular updates on Wednesdays at noon, a campus email will notify PLU community members of any stage changes to the dial status.)

Definition of Stages

A look at each stage

Identifying different stages for campus operations allows us to pivot between varying degrees of in-person and remote learning, living, and working. Decisions about which stage we’re in, and whether we should move to a different one, will be determined by our established metrics (see below), the impacts or potential impacts of a changing health situation, available resources, and direction from local public-health officials. As the public-health situation continues to evolve, PLU will continue to review and refine these models as appropriate, and may modify stages as changing conditions require.

TeachingRemote learning
Co-curricular OpportunitiesRemote delivery of co-curricular activities and resources
Housing and DiningOccupancy and service limited to special situations
Critical Infrastructure*Limited on-campus work permitted with health precautions
All Other Offices and ServicesWorking remotely and offering remote services

*Critical infrastructure departments include: Business Office, Campus Restaurants, Campus Safety, Facilities Management, Health Center, Information & Technology Services, Mail Services, and Residential Life.

TeachingRemote learning, except for select courses in state-approved “essential programs”
Co-curricular OpportunitiesRemote delivery of co-curricular activities, except where supporting “essential programs” or allowed by public health directives
Residence HallsOccupancy limited to singles or private bedrooms in apartments
Critical InfrastructureOn-campus work permitted with continued health precautions
OfficesWorking remotely where possible; employees permitted onsite for the purpose of planning and delivering online instruction, caring for students living on campus and limited student-facing services
TeachingAddition of blended learning for select clinicals, labs, and performance-based and community-building courses
Co-curricular OpportunitiesRemote delivery of most co-curricular activities and resources, select programs/resources offered in person
Residence HallsOccupancy remains limited to singles or private bedrooms in apartments
Critical InfrastructureOn-campus work permitted with continued health precautions
OfficesWorking remotely where possible; student-facing offices provide continued service, some with limited in-person hours and staffing
TeachingIncreased blended learning opportunities, contingent on space availability and course learning objectives
Co-curricular OpportunitiesAdditional co-curricular activities and resources offered in person, including in residence halls
Residence HallsOccupancy expanded to allow for limited number of double rooms
Critical InfrastructureOn-campus work permitted with continued health precautions
On-campus work/services where possible
TeachingMaximized opportunities for blended learning, contingent on space availability and course learning objectives
Co-curricular OpportunitiesMost low and moderate-risk co-curricular activities and resources are offered in person
Residence HallsOccupancy expanded to allow for double rooms at up to 50% of capacity
Critical InfrastructureResume normal operations with continued health precautions
OfficesResume normal operations with accommodations for higher-risk employees and continued health precautions
TeachingIn-person teaching resumes for all courses normally taught in that modality
Co-curricular OpportunitiesMajority of co-curricular activities and resources are offered in person
Residence HallsOccupancy maximized based on student need and availability
Critical InfrastructureResume normal operations
Resume normal operations
Data-driven Decision Making

The PLU Campus Status Dial is based on key metrics that the university is tracking daily. These factors, when considered holistically and in the context of trend and impact, will inform how to best serve and care for our community of nearly 3,500 students, faculty, and staff.

PLU factors in the model include:

  • Active COVID-19 positive cases 
  • Isolation and quarantine capacity
  • Number and/or size of any clusters on campus
  • Availability of PPE supplies
  • Ability to sustain campus operations and provide student care

Regional infection rate and health-system factors in the model include:

  • Fourteen-day rate of new cases per 100,000 people, with consideration of trends
  • Regional COVID-19 virus reproduction (R0) rate
  • Seven-day percentage of COVID-19 tests with positive results
  • Licensed hospital bed capacity
  • COVID-19 positive hospitalization rate

These factors are evaluated in the aggregate to help determine the appropriate stage for the university. No single factor will determine whether the university needs to move left or right through the stages.

PLU Community COVID-19 Data

As a supplement to the Campus Status Dial, the numbers listed below are intended to keep our community informed about the number of known COVID-19 cases on campus, as well as the number of known COVID-19 cases that were positive but are no longer considered active cases. This information will be updated every Wednesday (at minimum), in tandem with the dial, and will reflect the data from the previous week. (Data collection for the information on this page began March 23, 2020.)

PLU community COVID-19 data last updated: May 10 at 10:10 a.m.

Next scheduled update: May 12, 2021 at 12:00 p.m.

Please note: PLU community numbers update Monday through Friday by 12 p.m. if needed.

Known Active Cases*


On-campus Students0
Off-campus Students1

Known Active Cases are confirmed positives that have been identified through testing provided by the PLU Health Center, the Tacoma–Pierce County Health Department, and on-campus events sponsored by Pierce County Emergency Services. Additionally, these numbers include cases reported to the Health Center from off-campus testing.

Known Cases Resolved


Known Cases Resolved are cases that were positive, but are no longer considered active cases (i.e., they meet public-health criteria for discontinuing isolation). Data collection began March 23, 2020.

PLU Pre-Arrival and Proactive Community Testing


Total to Date16454
Total Positives to Date**11

Throughout the fall semester, PLU will employ a proactive community testing strategy—sometimes referred to as surveillance testing, pooled testing, or batch testing—for both on- and off-campus undergraduate students. This program allows us to identify cases where someone may have mild or no symptoms, to help prevent the spread of the virus within our campus community. Those chosen to test will continue to be part of a purposeful random sample that identifies and selects individuals from a pool of Lutes who have a known reason to be on campus in person, but if we have an area on campus that is seeing a high volume of cases, we may ask more individuals in that area to take part in testing. Click here for more information about PLU’s proactive community testing and testing dates.

*The data above includes employees and students who were confirmed as positive for COVID-19 though PLU testing, Tacoma Pierce-County Health Department or self-reporting, and who came to campus or were in close contact with anyone affiliated with campus.

** Please note: This number differs from total known cases because some positive cases are identified by testing symptomatic students directly through the PLU Health Center or by testing not provided by PLU.