Wellness requirements for all Lutes — August 10

To: All students and families
From: Student Life

Dear Lutes and families,

The daily Wellness Check-in is now live! Please familiarize yourself with this simple process so you’ll be ready when it’s time.

CHECK IT OUT

Pre-arrival Wellness Check-in
All students should complete the daily pre-arrival Wellness Check-in beginning at least 14 days before arriving on campus. All students are strongly encouraged to follow public-health guidance, limit activities, and stay close to home for the 14 days prior to joining campus life.

During the academic year
All Lutes will be expected to attest to their health via the Wellness Check-in every day that they visit campus or participate in a PLU-related activity this semester, whether they participate in person or remotely.

One exception: students who have opted for 100% remote learning through the fall semester and will not be coming to campus for any reason are excused from Wellness Check-in.

Why a Wellness Check-in?
When all members of our community complete the Wellness Check-in regularly and accurately, community members can have greater assurance about the health of everyone with whom they will come into contact, and individuals who are experiencing symptoms can get the care that they need.

UPON ARRIVAL: Quarantine, test, quarantine (QTQ)
Testing PLU community members at different points throughout the fall is an important component of our mitigation measures. Click on the link below for a list of student groups that have been identified for initial testing.

Do you need to quarantine or be tested before arriving on campus?

FIND OUT NOW

In community,

Joanna Royce-Davis,  PhD
Vice President for Student Life
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Elizabeth Hopper, MN, ARNP
Director, Health Center
Pronouns: she/her/hers

J-Term 2021 Study Away Program Postponement - August 4

To: J-Term 2021 Study Away Program students
From: The Wang Center for Global Education

Dear J-Term 2021 Study Away Program participants,

On behalf of the Wang Center for Global Education, I write to inform you that, due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 locally and globally, we have made the difficult decision to postpone January Term 2021 study away programs to Summer 2021 Term I or II.

In partnership with university officials, the Wang Center has been monitoring developments of the COVID 19 global pandemic with special attention to notifications and updates from standard points of reference (US State Department, CDC, WHO, among others) as well as on the ground sources including US Embassy and public health notifications in locations where you had planned to study and acknowledges the current ban on US travelers to many parts of the world.

Based on the information we have gathered and the ongoing concerns that unpredictable surges of COVID 19 would compromise student safety and wellbeing, J-Term 2021 programs have been rescheduled and we are hopeful that conditions will improve by June/July 2021.

In order to support you through this change in plans and to aid you in navigating next steps, we have prepared answers to what we anticipate will be your most frequently asked questions.

MORE  INFORMATION

PLU School of Arts and Communication Updates – August 4

To: PLU SOAC Community
From: The School of the Arts + Communication

Dear PLU School of Arts and Communication Community:

In coordination with PLU’s Return to Campus announcement sent on Monday, August 3rd, the following are additional details regarding our School of Arts and Communication (SOAC) programs for the Fall 2020 semester.

Over the past many months, we have been following national and international discipline specific research and guidelines regarding the COVID-19 virus and its potential impact on our programs. We understand the increased risk of COVID-19 infection from droplets and aerosols generated in rehearsals and performances in the performing arts, as well as the close-contact required in studio-based instruction in the visual arts. There are numerous studies that are continuing to move forward, funded by an unprecedented international coalition of arts organizations, to better understand how to mitigate the risk so that we can safely return to practicing, performing, and creating art. While the research is not yet complete, all options that we considered have the safety of our students and faculty as the primary focus.

In the School of Arts and Communication, a select number of blended courses have been prioritized for phasing in elements of in-person instruction, pending public health conditions and faculty discretion. These include: a number of Studio Art courses in Art & Design (Ceramics, 3D Design, Graphic Design, and Photography); Applied Context/Lab courses in Communication (Media Lab and Student Media); Ensembles, String Lab, and some Applied Private Lessons in Music; and Acting courses in Theatre & Dance.

All of our artistic offerings will continue. To ensure safety for all students, faculty, and staff, many of these will be offered in an online mode. All Fall 2020 courses will be offered either as BL (Blended) or ON (Online). At this time, online (ON) courses are not planned to have any on-campus or in-person elements. Should public health conditions change, and pending individual faculty discretion, there may be the potential to phase in limited in-person components at a later date. However any added in-person components will not be required of students.

In Art & Design, studio art courses not listed above, as well as art history courses, will be offered online.

In Communication, most courses that are not Applied Context/Lab-based, will be offered fully online.

In Music, most of our large music ensembles will be divided into smaller chamber ensembles for the Fall semester and will proceed with a mixture of online, blended, and in-person rehearsals (with appropriate distancing both inside and/or outside). Many applied lessons (voice, woodwind, and brass instruments) will need to be offered remotely, with regular opportunities for in-person group masterclasses; applied lessons in other areas will be offered in a mixture of online, blended, and in-person modalities. Most music academic courses will be offered online. Details regarding ensemble auditions will be announced directly from the Department of Music.

In Theatre and Dance, most non-acting courses will be taught online. All dance courses will be offered fully on-line. Theatre and Dance students will gain experience with recorded performances, acting and designing for the camera, and other skills to prepare them not only for opportunities on stage but also in film, television, and new media. Details regarding auditions for Fall semester shows will be announced directly from the Department of Theatre & Dance.

Due to safety and care for our community at-large, all School of Arts and Communication performances this Fall 2020 semester will be presented without live audiences. In Music, most performances will be pre-recorded and streamed live via SOAC’s YouTube channel. Theatre & Dance has received special permission from publishers to live-stream productions in the Fall. Art Gallery exhibits will be virtual, as similar to the Senior Capstone Show from this past Spring semester. A schedule of all of our broadcast performances and exhibits will be published on our calendar page and updated by the beginning of the Fall semester.

Our goal throughout our planning has been to ensure safety for all, while continuing to provide our excellent artistic programs. We remain committed to providing meaningful and engaging experiences for all of our students. Our faculty continue to be hard at work in their planning, and soon we will have some exciting announcements regarding additional artistic elements being added to our programs during this Fall 2020 semester. In regard to scholarships, should any requirements for maintaining artistic achievement awards in any discipline be modified, you can be assured that the retention of awards will not be impacted in any way.

Sincerely,

Cameron Bennett, Dean
School of Arts and Communication

Read message on the SOAC webpage

Return to Campus for Fall 2020 – August 3

To: Students and Families
From: Office of the President

Dear Lutes and families,

As we’ve spent this summer planning for a wide range of scenarios, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff have been front of mind. This complicated moment poses different challenges to different institutions, taking countless variables into account. Some universities have announced plans to be fully remote; many more have announced plans to maintain fully in-person or blended education. Every university and every situation is different — sometimes even within a shared community.

The message from our students has been clear: you want to return to campus this fall while remaining safe and healthy. Most of you would appreciate the option for blended learning, combining online and in-person classroom, lab, and studio experiences. To date, about 3% of students have requested that they be allowed to learn entirely remotely, and we are glad to accommodate those requests. Taken together, all of you want an education that aligns with your individual circumstances. There’s no better place to make that happen than PLU.

Below, you’ll find a summary of our plan for a thoughtful return to campus, with flexible options for everyone. This plan prioritizes safety, makes every effort to mitigate risk, and provides us an opportunity to be together as a campus community in meaningful ways this fall.

We are acutely aware of the increase in infection rates in Pierce County over the past month. The state and county are reinforcing preventive measures and re-implementing several restrictions to reverse these trends. We have partnered with the Tacoma–Pierce County Health Department from the very beginning of this pandemic and have worked with them to design our mitigation strategies and testing process, and they have supported our plans to return to campus.

In our email on July 24th we shared that providing in-person learning this fall depended on securing rapid testing for students coming to campus. With the assistance of key partnerships, we have been able to secure rapid testing for PLU (plans for which are detailed below). With this testing in place and full participation from you and other members of the PLU community in all public-health directives and mitigation measures, we are ready to return to campus.

As you review the following information, please consider your needs as a learner and student, and determine which combination of options will be best for you. Please also know that once the semester has begun, if we believe that our campus community’s safety has been compromised, we will act swiftly to alter our plans to ensure your well-being.
We know this won’t be the semester you imagined or hoped for. Just as we have experienced changes in our daily lives during this pandemic, there are hallmark elements of a vibrant semester at PLU that we just won’t be able to offer safely. That’s why, later in this email, we’ll share more about our plan to offer a PLUS year — one additional year tuition-free to all undergraduate students enrolled full-time, and free continuing education opportunities for graduate students, to be taken after their currently scheduled degree completion.
This semester is going to be different. It’s going to be challenging — there’s just no way around that. We will all be managing the stress and anxiety that accompanies rapid change and highly unusual circumstances. But our staff, faculty, and alumni stand ready to support you through it all. We’re going to be there for you, both on campus and off.

Return to Campus

Beginning the semester
We’re excited to welcome you to the first day of class on Tuesday, September 8th.

Our plan to safely welcome students back to campus on time requires that we begin the semester with a one-week period of remote learning for all classes, regardless of whether those courses will ultimately be blended or fully online. Doing so allows for adequate testing and quarantine periods for our campus community, and it reflects the current health conditions and guidance in Pierce County. Because we’ll be learning remotely that first week, faculty will be in touch with you by September 4th to let you know where and how to “show up” for their classes.

In week two, we will begin to move to in-person learning for blended courses as long as doing so is supported by conditions and health authorities. Your faculty care about your health and your education, and we’ve asked them to determine a timeline for introducing in-person instruction that supports their course content and lesson plans—for example, it may make more sense to complete a unit first. Faculty will give students a minimum of one week’s notice before the addition of any in-person learning elements.

Flexible learning environment
Our phasing-in to campus learning will also be shaped by the nature of the courses. A select number of classes have been identified as priorities for in-person learning because their learning outcomes can most readily be achieved face-to-face. Those courses — which include some labs, clinical and performance-based experiences, and formative community-building classes for first-year students — will phase back in first.

More in-person elements of blended classes may be added as public-health guidance indicates it is appropriate to increase population density on campus. Additional in-person elements will be implemented by individual faculty in the manner that best suits their courses and learning objectives.

Plans and potential pivots
It’s important to underscore that our return to the classroom may not follow a straightforward path. While our campus experienced a pivot in one direction last March — going from fully in-person to fully remote learning — the potential pivots in Fall 2020 may happen in different ways and at different times.

In addition to starting the term remotely, we will also be ending the term remotely. Your courses will continue after Thanksgiving break, though in-person instruction will conclude when the university closes for Thanksgiving break. The two weeks of instruction following Thanksgiving, and finals week, will be remote. During this time, the campus will remain open and housing and dining options will remain available. (See below for more specifics about campus housing and dining.)

Other scenarios, such as presumed positive cases among students, faculty, and their respective households, hold the potential to be more unpredictable and disruptive. If you or a member of one of your in-person courses tests positive for COVID-19, or if a member of your household does, you can expect a required quarantine of up to 14 days.

My community, my responsibility
Fellow Lutes, these possibilities underscore again that the key to being able to complete any in-person learning ultimately hinges on personal responsibility and individual decision-making: wearing face coverings, washing hands, and avoiding large groups are essential. Our ability to rejoin in-person learning is contingent upon all of our behavior.

We are PLU together
One of the beautiful things about the PLU community is the commitment to connection and care lived by your faculty and staff across our campus. The student body and 40,000-strong alumni network reflect and enhance this sense of community. We don’t know how the pandemic will proceed this fall or how often in-person learning may be disrupted. With these uncertainties in mind (and not even considering individual student’s course schedules), we want to name upfront the possibility that most or even all of your learning could be remote this fall. But no matter what happens, you won’t be alone.

As we work for the collective care and well-being of our Lute community and neighbors, we know this: whether we’re learning on campus or remotely, masked up, physically distant, or whatever else we may need to be to face this challenge, we are PLU together.

Transparency and care
We are laying this out as transparently as possible because we know from many of you that you are balancing the competing desires of wanting to return to in-person campus experiences while simultaneously safeguarding your own health and safety and that of your loved ones.

We also know that your decisions about on-campus or near-campus living are dependent on these variables. We hope that by laying out our plans, including our commitment to follow public-health guidance and the invitation to learn remotely for the term (see “Getting connected with remote learning” below), we will give you the confidence you need to make whatever decisions that are best for you.

Comprehensive Plan for COVID-19 Testing

Testing options for campus
Guided by public-health guidelines, it is essential that we have the ability to conduct rapid results testing to begin in-person learning. We have secured three primary avenues for testing on campus, and we’re working to open up even more options for students, faculty, and staff.

#1: In partnership with the Tacoma–Pierce County Health Department and the county Emergency Management team, we will be testing all residential students in the first week of classes, and we’ll have options for commuter students.

#2: The county will assist us in hosting frequent batch ‘surveillance’ testing across campus. Throughout the semester, we’ll have regularly scheduled batch testing for large groups of students, faculty and staff. We’ll also conduct batch testing for smaller sub-populations of our campus community such as Athletics.

#3: PLU’s Health Center has obtained a rapid-testing device that will produce results in 15 minutes, along with a ready supply of testing kits. The center will prioritize students who feel sick, as well as the close contacts of positive cases.

We will be publishing a COVID-19 testing guide and calendar in the coming days.

PLU also offers non-rapid—longer than 48-hour turnaround—testing through our Health Center in partnership with a local lab, which provides a backstop to those students for whom rapid testing is not indicated. In addition to these established testing capabilities, PLU continues to pursue additional testing options in order to provide expanded and back-up capabilities for students, faculty, and staff. Details of additional testing capabilities will be published when available.

Travel-related self-quarantine guidance
Because we now have access to robust testing for students on campus, we are modifying our self-quarantine requirement of two weeks prior to leaving for campus, and are no longer asking students to arrive early on campus based on their mode of travel or place of departure. Our hope is that you’ll make the safety-conscious decision to stay as close to home as possible within those 14 days, and plan your farewells with friends to occur prior to that period. All students are still expected to complete the daily pre-arrival Wellness Check-In, beginning 14 days prior to coming to campus.

Rooms at the ready
If needed, PLU will have a residence hall wing set up with a care team responsible for the comprehensive coordination of care and support for any student, residential or commuter, who needs to be placed in quarantine or isolation while attending PLU. In case more rooms are needed, PLU is partnering with the Pierce County COVID-19 Temporary Care Center to house any additional medically stable students requiring isolation. Any such student will be transported, have their basic needs met, and be medically supervised, at no cost to them or their family.

The Classroom Experience

The classroom will look very different in Fall 2020!

The physically-distanced classroom
Consistent with health guidelines for Washington State and Pierce County, students and faculty must wear face coverings at all times and remain six-feet apart, even for discussions. In addition to regularly scheduled cleaning, cleaning kits will be present in every classroom. Students will be expected to sanitize their desks and other shared equipment before and after use. To accommodate extra cleaning and reduce crowding in hallways, passing periods between classes will be longer.

For students whose experience will include in-person learning, please know that in addition to modifying our room capacities to accommodate physical distancing requirements, we have taken the extra precaution of assessing each learning space for air exchange. Classrooms that don’t permit safe distancing or airflow will be offline for the term.

A blended education that prepares you for the future
The classroom will also look different than in years past because, as we’ve shared in an earlier communication, we are adopting a blended learning format for Fall 2020. Blended classes combine the best parts of in-person and online instruction. In some blended classes, the online portions will comprise lectures, with discussion saved for in-person meetings; in others you’ll find the opposite, with discussions online and lectures in person. Some blended courses will have in-person components on a regular schedule (such as meetings once per week). Other courses’ in-person components will be less frequent (perhaps meeting just a couple of times a semester).

Faculty truly care about PLU students, and they are working to design impactful learning for this semester. Thus, each class’s composition and schedule will vary based on how the faculty member can best achieve the course’s learning objectives. They’ll provide you with concrete directions, so you’ll always know what the game plan and expectations are for each course.

Getting connected with remote learning
For many students, the “classroom” may be virtual for the entire term — because you’ve opted for remote learning in what is otherwise a blended class, because community health conditions warrant it, or because the university has shifted a course modality to minimize population density on campus or honor a faculty member’s personal circumstances. (If you haven’t already asked for accommodations to learn remotely, it’s not too late! Send an email to our Office of Accessibility and Accommodations at OAA@plu.edu with your request.)

Most of these shifts from in-person to blended or online happened after our registration period; to check the instructional method of your courses, click here for a priority list for in-person classes. As soon as permissible, those courses — which include some labs, clinical and performance-based experiences, and formative community-building classes for first-year students — will phase back in first.

Our online interactive schedule will reflect these and any future changes beginning August 7th.

And of course, for PLU students, the classroom experience extends to office hours, the vast majority of which will be held virtually this semester. Your faculty want to support you and connect with you – it just may need to be via a digital meeting where you talk about a question or assignment. Still personal, still connected, and still caring — just not necessarily in the same room.

Deep connections with faculty
Our faculty are ready to teach you — and teach you well — regardless of how the class is delivered. Since 2014, our faculty have trained through our intensive PLU Teaching Online (PLUTO) Institute and blended-learning programs.

We know that even with our engaging and dynamic virtual experiences that there are elements of the in-person academic experience you’ll deeply miss. That’s why we are creating the option for a PLUS Year (which you’ll read more about below) and we’re introducing two new experiences to help you forge deeper connections with our outstanding faculty.

First, every student will be assigned a faculty mentor for the 2020-21 academic year. We know student-faculty mentorship is one of the reasons you chose a small school like PLU, and it’s one of the things we do best. You’ll learn more about that in September.

Second, throughout the fall term, a Salon Series sponsored by PLU’s Wild Hope Center for Vocation will feature faculty from various departments sharing highlights of their research, stories of their vocational journeys, and reflections on the kinds of questions that keep them up at night. For those of you choosing to remain at home for the term, the Salon Series will not only keep you connected, it’ll also give you a chance to share what you love about PLU with your household members.

Residential Living

The residence halls will also look very different in Fall 2020!

The physically-distanced residence hall
As we welcome Lutes home, there are measures that need to be in place to care for you and the wellbeing of other members of our community. Consistent with the public-health guidance in Washington State, you will be required to wear face coverings when outside of your room or apartment (even when using the shared wing bathroom), participate in daily digital wellness checks, limit your contact with others, restrict visitors, participate in COVID-19 testing on a regular basis, and quarantine or isolate as directed when exposures or confirmed cases have occurred. Visit the Residential Life Approach to COVID-19 webpage for a broader accounting of expectations and limitations.

Changes to housing assignments
Because the reality of infection rates in Pierce County is different from what we anticipated it would be when some of you originally requested on-campus housing, we are revising our approach to fall housing assignments. We are in a position where we must decrease housing density in order to care for students who are required to quarantine or isolate, and in order to optimize our ability to manage any possible outbreaks of COVID-19 on campus. To do so, we must reduce the number of students who live on campus this fall. This is one of multiple interacting mitigation measures that must be in place to decrease the chance of infections on campus.

Our best case scenario for reducing housing density is for every student residing on campus to be assigned a single room, limiting close contact in common living spaces and shared bathrooms. This means that we will have significantly less capacity for on-campus residents during the fall term. We’re asking you to help in achieving this goal by reconsidering your plan to live on campus during the fall and, if your circumstances allow, choosing to live off-campus or at home. We recognize that not all PLU students will have a viable alternative residence in which to live and learn, and are asking that those who are able provide space for those with this need. To further assist students in seeking suitable alternative living accommodations, the University Residency Requirement has been suspended for the 2020-21 academic year.

A change in your decision about fall housing does not impact your ability to live on campus during J-Term and spring, should public-health conditions permit, nor will it incur any cancellation penalty. All students who have applied for residential housing this fall must complete this survey no later than 11:59 pm on Wednesday, August 5th, 2020, to update us on your housing plans and requests, and to indicate your ability to assist us in achieving this goal. If we have requests for on-campus housing that exceed availability, assignments may be prioritized by residence life staff, and will include consideration of student and family needs. Students requesting housing will be notified by close of business on Monday, August 10th, 2020, whether their request has been approved. If approved, notice of residence hall assignment will be communicated at the same time.

Billing
Since we’re asking students and families to reconsider their housing plans, we have shifted our billing dates accordingly; you can now expect to receive your bills for fall semester by Saturday, August 15th with a new due date of Monday, August 31st.

Post-Thanksgiving housing
By decreasing our density, following public-health guidelines, and all doing our part to keep our community safe, we anticipate being able to offer housing and dining through the scheduled end of the semester, even as the university shifts to fully remote instruction after the Thanksgiving break.

Residential students choosing to depart campus at Thanksgiving for the remainder of the semester will receive a prorated refund. Those remaining on campus during and after Thanksgiving break will have continued access to campus facilities and activities, including — but not limited to — campus restaurants, some campus recreation and the library. Residents planning to return to on-campus living for J-Term and/or spring will be permitted to leave their belongings in their room. Should the university shift to fully remote instruction at any time during the semester as the result of an outbreak on campus and/or changed public-health requirements, on-campus residence may be further restricted.

Community connections
We recognize that for many of you, your residential experience is important to how you may experience belonging at PLU. We know that a sense of community does not require physical presence, and that structured learning communities, pop-up virtual gathering spaces, and purposeful opportunities for virtual gatherings with staff, faculty, and peers can contribute meaningfully to that sense. You can expect to see expanded opportunities for connection in the fall, and you will be able to easily find a dynamic schedule of options using our new app in Guidebook.

The PLUS Year

Thoughtful care as an essential aspect of our mission is a point of pride at PLU. That’s why we are pleased to announce that PLU will offer undergraduate students a “PLUS Year” — an additional year at PLU, tuition-free.

In simple terms, all undergraduate students enrolled full-time this academic year, and who remain continuously enrolled — regardless of class standing — will be eligible for two tuition-free semesters immediately following their anticipated degree completion date. Graduate students enrolled full-time at PLU this fall will be eligible for continuing education credits upon completion of their graduate degree program.

We understand the importance to our students of the countless activities, productions, competitions, and other community events that are temporarily on hiatus. It’s our hope that this free additional year will ensure that all of our students will get every opportunity to experience our university at its fullest and most vibrant, while maintaining the momentum of their education in the year ahead.

We expect students to take advantage of their PLUS Year in a lot of different ways. For some, it will mean an extra semester on the field or the stage. Others will take advantage of the opportunity to study away prior to their PLUS Year, engage in additional research with a favorite faculty member, use the extra time to complete your intended degree, or delay graduation in order to seek an additional minor or major. We also hope that the PLUS Year will give students the flexibility to take a lighter course load during the pandemic, and give special focus to the health and well-being of themselves and those around them.

The PLUS Year is deeply consistent with the core elements of Lutheran higher education, in that it offers students additional time to learn in community while building skills in thoughtful inquiry and leadership, in order to serve and care for the common good.

Look for further details on this program in the very near future.

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All of this is a lot to process, and we thank you for taking it all in. We understand that PLU’s students, families, faculty, staff, and community members are in many different places and have many different needs, sensitivities, and desires regarding this pandemic. But we hope that given the flexibility of our campus plans, and the ability to choose the teaching and learning environment that meets your needs, you find comfort. We are confident that with the comprehensiveness of our health and safety measures, focused squarely on mitigating risk to our community to the best of our ability, you may also find strength.

With great personal regards,
Allan

Safe Plans for Campus & Travel Related Guidance – July 24

Dear students,

With the start of the term less than two months away, we find the pandemic moving in the wrong direction. If you’re like us, you are worried about the record numbers of new cases across the country, including here in Pierce County. We’re planning for all that will be required for us to safely participate in PLU’s learning community and to keep one another healthy and well.

We sent out another email earlier today about additional fall preparations, but we wanted to share our expectations specifically for travel-related quarantine and testing guidance. In this message, we’ll outline our expectations for students joining our community, including residential and commuter students, returning continuing students, and first-year students joining us for the first time.

Our return plan includes two stages: the pre-arrival period leading up to your return to campus, and the immediate post-return period. We’ll outline expectations for these two periods here, as well as our expectations for travel to campus.

Thank you for showing up for this challenge in the way that Lutes do, by committing to following through on each of these expectations. The health and well-being of every member of our community depends on it.

In community,

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Elizabeth Hopper
Director, Health Services

July update on Fall 2020 planning – July 24

TO: All students and families
FROM: President’s Office

Dear students and families,

If you’ve been tracking the cases here in Pierce County, you know that our local community, like our country, is still struggling to curb the spread of the coronavirus. You are also seeing some colleges and school districts make public their decisions to shift to remote-learning. While we plan for return to campus in September, we are acutely aware that continuing growth in infection rates or directives from health authorities may require that we adjust our plans for a full return to campus.

Last month, Governor Inslee outlined the steps that would be necessary for higher education to resume in-person instruction beginning August 1. In that guidance, he acknowledged that campuses vary in their ability to respond to the virus and that the decisions that make sense for one campus may not make sense for others.

At PLU, we have worked through most of the challenges the virus presents, from modifying our physical density through classroom schedule alterations and housing policies to analyzing air exchange and circulation rates in all buildings and adjusting our cleaning protocols. The one piece that remains for us to solve is COVID-19 testing, an issue that’s emerged as a challenge in just the past few weeks.

While we have testing capacity through our Health Center, we need to be able to secure sufficient rapid result testing in order to begin in-person learning. If we are unable to do so in the coming weeks, we will announce our alternative return to campus plan no later than August 5. Guided by public-health best-practice guidelines and our commitment to reducing person-to-person contact, the alternative return to campus plan would provide the flexibility necessary for every member of our community to remain engaged and connected.

Here at PLU, staff, faculty members and student leaders have been leveraging their wisdom, talents, and strengths to help ensure that this fall we will provide excellent instruction while keeping our community safe. Thank you to our PLU community members who are dedicating their summer to this vital work.

With just under seven weeks until the first day of fall classes, there is still much planning to be done. We also know that in the next seven weeks the challenges we face will evolve. Please be assured that—no matter the circumstance, no matter the challenges—student and community well-being is our priority, and we will continue to provide you with updates.

We plan to share additional information on current travel-related quarantine and related guidance later today. We will also be sending and requesting information on housing for residential students next week. As always, please check with our Coronavirus Update page for news and details on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are navigating this period of time together and your questions help us focus our energy on the things that matter most to you right now.

As you and I change our collective behaviors by wearing face coverings, washing our hands way more than ever, and maintaining social distancing, we are doing our part to protect ourselves and our community. We are taking these health and safety precautions because we are connected to other Lutes and to their neighbors and loved ones. Self-care is community care, and both have never been more important.

Because the world needs more Lutes,

Allan Belton
President

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Classroom and modality changes
As we’ve communicated in earlier messages, our mission calls us to care for one another just as we care for the larger community. In that spirit, students were provided with instructions for opting-in to remote learning last month (see our June 24th email, “Healthy Lutes—June update on Fall 2020 planning” from the Office of the President)—requests we are still happy to honor, despite the original deadline having passed. Similarly, we invited our faculty to teach remotely during Fall 2020 if that modality best aligns with their personal circumstances.

At the same time, our efforts to ensure that students’ classroom experiences include adequate physical distancing and appropriate air exchange resulted in shifting some originally scheduled classroom locations, as well as some course modalities.

What this means is that students who have already registered for classes may see some adjustments in a class location and/or teaching modality (for example, a formerly in-person class now being taught online). The online interactive schedule will be updated no later than mid-August; all students whose courses include modality changes will be contacted by the Center for Student Success in early August.

Travel-related quarantine and testing guidance
In a separate email later today, we will share our expectations specifically for travel-related quarantine and testing guidance for students joining (and re-joining!) our community. Our return plan includes two stages: the pre-arrival period leading up to your return to campus, and the immediate post-return period. In this email, we will outline expectations for these two periods, as well as recommendations for traveling to campus.

Convocation ceremony and the first day of classes
Each year, on the first day of classes, the Centennial bell is rung to announce the arrival of the new class to campus and the beginning of the Convocation ceremony to open the new academic year. Join us for a virtual community Convocation at 9 a.m. on September 8th. Classes will begin at 9:55 a.m. (There are no 8:00 a.m. classes on this day.)

Additional CARES Act funding for students
PLU still has a significant amount of funding from the CARES Act that has not yet been issued to students. Emergency grants from this pool of funds will be available to students in the fall semester. Students can find additional information on the Student Financial Services webpage and can expect to receive more information about how these funds will be distributed at the beginning of the school year.

Art & design, music, and theatre & dance updates
Plans for the fall semester have been in development for the past few months, with faculty and leaders from art & design, music, and theatre & dance working together. All options that we are considering have the safety of our students and faculty as the primary focus.

Considerations:

  • National and international discipline-specific research and guidelines regarding the COVID-19 virus and its potential impact on our programs, which the School of Arts and Communication is following.
  • Analysis of facilities for physical distancing and effective air circulation.
  • Increased risk of COVID-19 infection from droplets and aerosols generated in rehearsals and performances in the performing arts, as well as from the close contact required in studio-based instruction in the visual arts.

Our goal is to have definite discipline-specific plans announced in early August. Information on private music instruction, ensembles, audition information for music ensembles and theatre shows, and other requirements will be announced at that time. No matter the mode of instruction, the School of Arts and Communications remains committed to providing meaningful and engaging experiences for all of our students. Should any requirements for maintaining artistic-achievement awards in any discipline be modified, students can be assured that these decisions will not impact the retention of awards.

Athletics update
On Wednesday, the Northwest Conference Presidents’ Council announced the postponement of competition in the sports of football, soccer, rowing, and volleyball for Fall 2020. Cross country, golf, and tennis will be permitted to continue this fall in accordance with local, state, and federal health directives.

This decision, while surely difficult, is in the best interest of our student-athletes. We applaud the leaders of the Northwest Conference for putting their safety first, and we thank our student-athletes and coaches for their understanding and resilience. This fall, we’ll enjoy rooting for our cross-country, golf, and tennis teams, while looking forward to supporting our soccer, football, volleyball, and other affected teams this coming spring.

Sports practice and other athletics-related activities for all sports at member institutions’ campuses are permitted in accordance with NCAA Division III rules, as well as with institutional and state and local health directives.

LuteTelehealth
We once again highlight that telemedicine and remote-care services can be critical in the safe management of COVID-19. Accordingly, LuteTelehealth is here for students in the summer. LuteTelehealth provides 24/7 access for medical and mental-health support, via both on-demand and scheduled appointments.

PLU Athletics and NWC Update on Fall Sports — July 22

Dear Lutes and families,

The NWC, along with its member institutions, have been working diligently over the past several months to plan for the safe reopening of their campuses this fall while prioritizing the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and campus communities. With the start of the term less than two months away, we find COVID-19 infection rates and recovery from the pandemic moving in the wrong direction. With this information as the context for decision making about the fall sports season, the Northwest Conference has adjusted its plans for fall programs.

Today, the Northwest Conference Presidents’ Council announced the postponement of competition in the sports of football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s rowing, and women’s volleyball for the fall of 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Pacific Lutheran University, in conjunction with the NWC is working to develop a schedule for competition for these sports in the spring.

Men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, and men’s and women’s tennis will be permitted to continue this fall in accordance with local, state, and federal health directives.

The NWC and PLU will continue to monitor changing federal, state, and local public-health guidance and consult with our NWC health-advisory group, the NCAA, and public-health officials as we look to make a decision on the upcoming winter season and beyond. We will provide updates as they become available.

“This decision, while surely difficult, is in the best interest of our student-athletes,” said PLU President Allan Belton. “I applaud the leaders of the Northwest Conference for putting their safety first, and I thank our student-athletes and coaches for their understanding and resilience. This fall, we’ll enjoy rooting for our cross country, golf, and tennis teams while looking forward to supporting our soccer, football, volleyball, and other affected teams this coming spring.”

(Read the full news release at GoLutes.com.)

We have plans to send out additional communications on Friday and next week with other updated academic year preparations, including travel-related quarantine guidance, fall planning for music and arts, CARES Act funding resources for students, and more. Please continue to look for updates on the COVID-19 website and to share your questions with us. We are navigating this period of time together and your questions help us to focus our energy on the things that matter most to you right now.

In community,

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Jen Thomas
Interim Director of Athletics and Recreation

Update on Rescheduled Commencement — July 17

To: Class of 2020 and graduating students
From: Office of the President

Dear graduates,

This spring, as the impacts of COVID-19 were just beginning to be understood, we announced that we would be unable to host our commencement event at the Tacoma Dome. After hearing from many of you about your desire to celebrate together in person, we also shared our plan to hold commencement on campus during Labor Day weekend, pending public-health directives. Lutes, we are disappointed and sad to announce that the status of the pandemic and current public health directives preclude us from hosting the Labor Day weekend event as planned.

Please know we have explored every possible way—including in coordination with the Tacoma–Pierce County Health Department—to follow through with the September 5th event. Unfortunately, the size of the graduating class far exceeds what Pierce County permits for in-person gatherings at this time—even if we were to exclude the guests, faculty members, and others who make such a ceremony meaningful.

When surveyed for preferences, the Class of 2020 overwhelmingly indicated a desire for an in-person commencement ceremony. This is why we indicated in our original message that, should we be prevented from celebrating together on September 5th, our back-up plan would be to celebrate the Class of 2020 along with the Class of 2021 next spring. We remain committed to following through with that plan. Please mark your calendars now for Saturday, May 29th, 2021. Details will follow in the new year.

We know this decision may not come as a surprise to those who have been following the global progression of the virus, our understanding of how it is transmitted, and the related local/state restrictions on gatherings, and we recognize that this will feel like another loss for you. We are so, so sorry.

While nothing can truly demonstrate how deeply the people at this university care for you, we hope that the personal phone call from PLU faculty or staff members, the virtual LuteBox sent to each graduate, and the tribute videos from faculty and fellow graduates demonstrated that to you. Expect a physical package with your diploma cover and PLU swag to arrive at your address at the beginning of September. (Please make sure your mailing address is accurate by filling out the New Alumni Survey.)

And although we have not yet formally celebrated you, we hope you know that you are now a PLU alum! As an alumnus, you join a family 40,000 strong—all Lutes who are out in the world living their unique lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership, and care.

More practically, as an alum of PLU you have access to career resources for life. These include:

  • Virtual career-advising appointments, cover letter and résumé reviews, mock interviews, job-search tools, advice and much more. You can find more information about these services on the Alumni & Student Connections page, here.
  • A group of PLU alumni are calling every new graduate this summer to welcome you to the alumni family, help you with your post-PLU plans, and offer their support and encouragement on your new adventures.
  • To further benefit from our alumni network, make sure you sign up for LuteLink, where you can connect with PLU alumni who are eager to meet you and provide specialized career insights, résumé feedback, interview tips, and more. Creating an account is easy and only takes a moment!

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.

We continue to be so proud of you, Lutes!

Allan Belton
President

Joanna Gregson
Provost

Dan Lee
Vice President for University Relations

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Summary for first COVID-19 case on campus – July 7

Posted on the Coronavirus Update site on July 7, 2020.

Dear PLU Community,

We are writing today to share that late last week, we learned that one of our residential students had developed mild COVID-19 symptoms and subsequently tested positive for the virus. The student took the initiative to self-isolate after they were tested, and had very limited contact with others in their residence hall or on campus; and has not been enrolled in summer courses. Within 24 hours of receiving their positive test result, the student moved off-campus for isolation and recovery. They are currently doing well, and already appear to be recovering from mild symptoms.

We are required to honor the Washington State law that protects this individual’s confidential information and privacy, and as a result we will not release their name. We wish our Lute family member a speedy and uncomplicated recovery.

The Tacoma–Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) was informed immediately, and managed contact tracing and notification of close contacts of the student. A friend of the student also proactively went to get tested, and is currently self-quarantining and awaiting their test results. Other residents and staff in the student’s wing and in the building were notified to continue to take precautions, and told that if they did not hear from public health that they were not considered to be at risk, but should still practice preventative measures, and self-monitor for symptoms. Students were also informed that if they chose to be tested prior to any further communication, they could access testing services over the holiday weekend at the Walgreens on Pearl Street, the Community Health Clinic on Pacific, or the MultiCare Clinic.

As we proceed through the summer and into the fall, the best way for us to keep our PLU community healthy is to fully participate in preventative practices together. These practices include wearing face coverings indoors (and outdoors when physical distancing isn’t possible), physical distancing, frequent hand washing, disinfecting of surfaces, and self-quarantining in case of exposure. Self-monitoring for symptoms, participating in daily attestations, and communicating concerns about symptoms are also important precautions. Should any concerns or questions arise, students should call the Health Center during our summer open hours (T—Th, 9—4), utilize LuteTeleHealth when away from campus or when the Health Center is closed, and, in case of testing positive for COVID-19 after hours, contact Campus Safety for support. (In that case, Campus Safety will notify one of the Health Center providers, who will get in touch with you.) Employees should communicate with their healthcare providers for guidance, and notify PLU Human Resources about suspected or positive cases. The Washington Department of Health also ha detailed information about what to do if you suspect or have confirmed that you have COVID-19,might have been exposed, or are showing symptoms of the virus but haven’t been around a positive case.

The PLU Health Center’s well-established partnership with TPCHD has been strengthened over the past several months. They were invaluable in assisting with the management of this case through immediate contact tracing, with arranging transportation, medical evaluation, and safe self-isolation housing off-campus for our student, and have their assurance that they will continue to assist us in any way they can. The PLU COVID-19 webpage will also be kept updated with counts of all new confirmed cases at PLU, as well as general information about cases, for community members who are interested.

Everyone is eager to return to campus, to meet old friends and make new ones, to learn what a COVID-19 college experience will feel like, all the while continuing the public health precautions we have been learning to live with over the past several months. The coronavirus is unpredictable, stealthy and serious. This means that we need to be conscientious about staying as healthy as possible, keeping up consideration for the health and safety of one another – especially those more vulnerable to COVID-19 – and developing the daily practice of care that’s inherent in the PLU mission.

We are all responsible for maintaining our personal health, keeping up consideration for the health and safety of one another—especially those more vulnerable to COVID-19—and developing the daily practice of care that’s inherent in the PLU mission.

Stay informed, and stay safe!

In community,

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Elizabeth Hopper
Director of Health Services

Important announcement for Kreidler Hall summer residents – July 3

To: Kreidler Hall summer residents
From: Office of Student Life

Dear Kreidler Hall students,

We have received notification that a resident from the first floor on the east wing of Kriedler has tested positive for COVID-19. The resident who tested positive is currently feeling well and has moved to an off-campus location for the duration of their recovery.

We are required to honor the Washington State law that protects this individual’s confidential information and privacy, and as a result we will not release their name. We wish our Lute family member a speedy and uncomplicated recovery.

What happens now?

If you have been identified as a close contact of the resident, you will be notified by the Tacoma-Pierce County Public Health Department about initiating self-quarantine and other next steps by 8 p.m today, Friday, July 3rd.

If you are notified, please contact LuteTelehealth—PLU’s 24/7/365 medical and mental healthcare phone and video telehealth service—for ongoing support and coordination of care over the holiday weekend. You may also be advised to be tested, the timing of which would likely be contingent on when you may have been exposed.

Click here for local testing options that are available in Pierce County. If you are out of the county, consult LuteTelehealth for additional testing sites throughout the state and nation. PLU’s Health Services office is available for testing beginning on Tuesday, July 8th, at 9:00 a.m. Remember to call for an appointment. Walk-in appointments are not currently available.

Health and safety

Common areas in the affected wing, the first floor, and the laundry room are being deep cleaned, and signage will indicate when cleaning has been completed.

For all residents, please continue to take all precautions outlined in the Return to Learning on Campus Guide, including wearing face coverings, maintaining basic hygiene, physical distancing, and self-monitoring for symptoms.

For questions, please contact Elizabeth Hopper, Director of Health Services, at hopperea@plu.edu, or the Washington State Department of Health at (800) 525-0127. If you need someone to talk to now, please connect with LuteTelehealth for support.

In community,

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

Elizabeth Hopper
Director of Health Services

Shawn Thompson
Assistant Director of Emergency Programs

Healthy Lutes / June update on Fall 2020 planning – June 26

To: Students and Families
From: Office of the President

Opening message from Allan

This week, I had the honor of joining Washington Governor Jay Inslee and representing the Independent Colleges of Washington in announcing our state’s return to campus guidelines for the fall.

This plan will allow universities like PLU to safely return to in-person classroom instruction, lectures, and similar educational gatherings after August 1st, independent of the four-phase safe-return plan announced back in May. PLU has been intricately involved in developing this comprehensive plan that ensures the safety and security of students, faculty, and staff.

Today, I am happy to announce the major components of PLU’s plan to welcome you back. These are updates reflecting the planning being done all over campus by staff and faculty who are dedicating their summer to this vital work. We will continue to update you throughout the 10 weeks that remain before the start of classes.

As we work for the collective care and well-being of our Lute community and neighbors, we know this — no matter if we are on campus, learning from a distance, masked up, or whatever the challenge — we are PLU together.

Return to Learning on Campus

  • As part of the University’s ongoing efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, all students, faculty, and staff are required to complete a daily health-screening attestation. This simple attestation must be taken daily when you expect to be participating (on-campus or virtually) in university activities, including classes, work, dining, social events, and athletics and recreation.
  • The PLU Return to Learning on Campus Guide was designed to provide students with the information they need to safely resume in-person learning at PLU. Please familiarize yourself with this guide prior to your arrival on campus. The guide will be updated as public-health guidance for higher education changes, and we encourage you to check the coronavirus update webpage for updates on a regular basis.
  • The 2020-2021 academic calendar includes important dates, such as the first day of class (Tuesday, September 8), breaks, and finals. We’ll continue to assess the period following Thanksgiving break: we know that instruction will continue and that final exams will proceed as scheduled, but we are conferring with public-health authorities to determine the right teaching modality. Expect a decision by August 1st.

Covering, cleaning, and distancing

  • Face masks will be required, per the State of Washington’s COVID-19 safety requirements. For example, you can expect to wear face coverings on campus this fall in class and during meetings—essentially, in any building and outdoor setting on campus, except in instances in which you are able to maintain appropriate physical distancing. PLU will provide a cloth face covering to every student in addition to the ones you bring from home. PLU will also provide disposable face coverings for visitors, vendors, or others without access to a face covering.
  • Maintaining safe physical distancing in most settings is a critical step in limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Physical-distancing policies are in place across campus and in most contexts. These expectations will apply to all office spaces, in-person classes, official activities and events, uses of residence-hall common spaces, and meetings. Room and venue occupancy limits are being adjusted accordingly. Physical distancing will also be encouraged for all activities.
  • Custodial crews will continue to abide by enhanced cleaning protocols, particularly in high-traffic and shared areas. In some settings, students and employees will be asked to use provided supplies to clean their work areas, classroom desks, or computer stations before departing.

Screening, testing and tracing

  • Students exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will have access to no-cost testing at the Health Center.
  • Should it be necessary, the Health Center — with assistance from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department — will conduct contact tracing of students.
  • PLU will have isolation rooms set aside for quarantining students. If more rooms are needed, PLU is also partnering with the Pierce County COVID-19 Temporary Care Center to house any additional medically stable students requiring isolation.

Members of vulnerable populations

As we prepare for our return to campus, we recognize that some students’ personal health circumstances may make remote learning a more appropriate option for them. If for health reasons you need to participate in classes through a completely remote modality, please contact the Office of Accessibility and Accommodation (oaa@plu.edu) by July 15th to schedule a meeting to arrange accommodations.

LuteTelehealth

Telemedicine and remote-care services can be critical in the safe management of COVID-19. Accordingly, LuteTelehealth is here for students in the summer. LuteTelehealth provides 24/7 access for medical and mental-health support, via both on-demand and scheduled appointments.

Safe classroom design and flexible courses

  • Our goal is to provide an in-person learning experience, as safely as possible, for as many students as we can. Students’ learning experiences will likely include on-campus classes, blended classes, and some remote classes, a mix designed to maximize opportunities for in-person learning while prioritizing community well-being.
  • Teaching spaces will be configured to align with physical-distancing requirements, and faculty and students will use personal protective equipment appropriate for each learning activity. In most cases, this will take the form of face coverings, but for some classes, face shields and gloves may also be utilized. Each classroom will have a cleaning/disinfectant kit for students to use, prior to and after their use of any shared equipment.
  • Larger spaces traditionally used for events and performances will be adapted for classroom use to allow physical distancing in classes with larger student enrollments.
  • Reflecting our mission of care for community, we are also accommodating those members of our faculty whose personal circumstances make remote teaching the best option for them. Students who registered for Fall 2020 classes that will be shifted to a remote modality will be notified by early August.

Housing and dining

  • Living on campus remains an important part of the PLU experience for many students, and, like most of the college-going experience this upcoming academic year, it is going to look and feel different than it has in the recent past. Refer to the Residential Life Approach to COVID-19 webpages for more information.
  • Physical distancing in residential living will be maximized by increasing the number of single-living options available and spreading them across all nine residence halls, although approximately 60% of students living on campus will have roommates in the fall. Students living together in the same room or apartment will be considered a family unit, which removes the requirement of wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distancing within the shared space.
  • To assist us in managing residence hall density, there has been a temporary loosening of restrictions related to the University Residency Requirement. Any student interested in pursuing this option should follow the process outlined here.
  • Should a resident experience a change in their individual or family circumstances, causing them to make the decision to shift to remote learning only and cancel their housing, they will receive a prorated refund of housing charges and be able to request an exemption from the cancellation penalty. If, in consultation with state and local health authorities, we make the difficult decision to move to remote learning through the end of the term, residents will be expected to depart from campus and would receive a prorated refund with no cancellation penalty. In this eventuality, students requiring housing will be able to request to remain (with the original housing contract intact.)
  • Meal plans will be available on a declining-balance basis only, and balances will be carried over to the spring term. The “all-you-care-to-eat” option will not be available. Menus and station concepts have been expanded to provide a wider variety of options, and self-service areas have been replaced with full-service menu options. Operating hours in the Commons will be adjusted to provide greater flexibility while decreasing density. Online ordering, using the PLU GET Mobile app, will be utilized to reduce lines.

PLU athletics and recreation

The NCAA and the Northwest Conference are currently working on plans to resume competitive athletics this fall. Coaches will contact their players regarding specific details and schedules. Since athletic competition will, in most cases, reduce the ability to physically distance and utilize face coverings, increased surveillance testing may be necessary for athletes. Such testing will be done at the University’s expense and in coordination with local public-health resources.

This global pandemic does not follow a calendar or syllabus. However, we do know that the comprehensive planning we are doing now will ensure that we are prepared for any possible combination of variables this fall.

Thank you again to our PLU community members who are dedicating their summers to this vital work.

In community,

Allan
President

PLU Daily Health Attestation Guidelines and Expectations for All Campus – June 19

To: Faculty and staff
From: PLU Finance and Administration

Guidelines: Per the State of Washington Phased Reopening for Higher Education, PLU must screen all employees/students at the beginning of their day by asking them if they have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, or new loss of taste or smell. This requirement serves the purpose of ensuring that all campus community members remain vigilant of their health in order to avoid the possible transmission of COVID-19 onto our campus. Additionally, a YES response to any of the questions will increase the effectiveness of tracing possible contacts in the event an individual is suspected of or tests positive for COVID-19.The State guidelines also require that PLU maintain a daily attendance log of all employees and students. The PLU Health Attestation Form allows the university to meet these requirements so that we can begin to reopen our campus. This attestation must be taken daily when you expect to be participating in university activities (on-campus OR virtually) beginning Monday, June 22nd. You are welcome to try the link prior to that to familiarize yourself with the process.

Expectations: Because this attestation is a requirement for reopening our campus to in-person learning and returning to our workplaces, there is the absolute expectation that all members of the community – faculty, staff and residential/commuter students – will comply with this before they commence with their day. This link will take you to your ePass login and attestation. Depending on your responses you will be given approval to come to campus, or you’ll be advised that your answers require you to stay home. If you are an employee, follow your department’s procedure for calling out sick or requesting to work from home and contact your healthcare provider. If you are a student, inform your professors, work supervisors and/or coaches about your absence and contact the PLU Health Center.

Beyond this expectation as part of the State Guidelines, there is the expectation of all members of our community to consider the health and safety of one another, especially those more vulnerable to COVID-19, and to develop the daily practice of care that is inherent in the PLU mission.

Stay Healthy and hopeful.

Elizabeth Hopper Teri Phillips

Director, Health Services Chief Operations Officer

P.S. Remember to bookmark the link location on the Coronavirus webpage.

Return to Work Guide – June 15

To: All Faculty and Staff
From: Office of Finance and Administrative Services

Dear Faculty and Staff,

The PLU Return to Work Guide can be found here, and is also attached for easy reference. Please become familiar with this guide, as it contains important information concerning your work at PLU. This document will be updated as guidance changes, and I encourage you to check the website frequently for updates.

You will see an email soon from Pacific Lutheran University asking you to complete a SafeColleges Online Training on Coronavirus Awareness. This basic awareness training is required, and should take about 10 minutes to complete.

As we transition through the Safe Start phases, we are slowly reintroducing offices and services. During Phase 2, PLU’s open offices will include Admission, Student Financial Services, and the Business Office. 208 Garfield will be open for take-out meals and limited dine-in service, and the Anderson University Center will be available for seating and internet access, as we begin to welcome students back on-campus for face-to-face instruction.

You will be contacted by your school, unit, or program leadership when your unit is approved to return to campus. Until that occurs, we expect that you will continue to work remotely.

Stay healthy and hopeful,

Teri
Chief Operations Officer

Fall 2020 Study Away Program Suspension – June 8

Dear Fall Semester Study Away Program participants,

On behalf of the Wang Center for Global Education, we write to inform you that, due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 locally and globally, we have made the difficult decision to suspend participation for all fall study away programs.

In partnership with university officials, the Wang Center has been monitoring
developments of the COVID 19 global pandemic with special attention to notifications and updates from standard points of reference (US State Department, CDC, WHO, international insurance providers, local US Embassy alerts, among others), as well as on the ground sources including US Embassy and public health notifications in locations where you had planned to study. Based on the information we have gathered, it is highly unlikely that travel restrictions and U.S. State Department travel advisories will be lifted in time for a fall start. Most importantly, there is ongoing concern that unpredictable surges of COVID 19 would compromise student safety and well-being abroad.

We understand that this news, while not entirely surprising, will be a disappointment to many of you. In order to support you through this change in plans and to aid you in navigating next steps, we have prepared answers to what we anticipate will be your most frequently asked questions. Finally, we remain committed to working with each of you to explore study away options in the future. To that end, we encourage you to sign up for an individual Zoom planning meeting with a Wang Center staff member by using this link or contact a Wang Center staff member at:

Brynn Smith (Gateway Programs)
smithba@plu.edu (preferred method of communication)
Cell: 253-549-3765

Holly Peterson (Featured/Approved Programs)
holly.peterson@plu.edu
Cell: 503-530-0717

If I want to defer to spring 2021, how would I do that?

Contact Holly (Featured/Approved) or Brynn (Gateway) via email by June 19th. Both can help you navigate your individual next steps. Emails are provided above.

What will happen to my Global Scholar Award?

Eligibility for the Global Scholar Award is contingent upon participation in an eligible study away program for the designated 2020-21 school year only. In the event that a Fall 2020 student elects to change to Spring 2021 participation, the Wang Center will move all eligible awards to that term. In the case that a student is not able to study away during the designated 2020-21 school year, the award will be rescinded. Students must reapply for consideration for Global Scholar Awards for 2021-22 programs. Applications will open in November 2020, and eligibility will be based on 2021-22 FAFSA.

What should I do to ensure I am prepared for on-campus coursework in the fall?

Per Wang Center instruction, Fall Study Away 2020 students were asked to sign up for on-campus PLU courses as a contingency option. We have learned that the overwhelming majority of students did follow this instruction. Thank you for your diligence! At this point, please review the courses you have enrolled in through your Banner account. Ask yourself: (1) By taking these classes will I stay on track with my academic plan? (2) If I want to study away for a semester later on, how might I plan my fall 2020 on-campus courses in order to take advantage of the classes that would only be available to me on a study away program?

If you did not register for PLU fall courses, be sure to do so as soon as you are able. If you have questions regarding on-campus course registration for fall 2020, contact your academic advisor or the Center for Student Success (css@plu.edu).

What do I do if I would like to live on-campus Fall 2020?

If you haven’t already applied to live on campus, you can do so using this link. The
sooner you sign up for the housing, the more likely you’ll be able to secure your top
choice.

What should I do if I am considering studying away in a future semester?

As indicated above, we recommend you schedule a planning meeting with a Wang Center staff member. You can sign up for a time here or contact Holly at holly.peterson@plu.edu.

Will I have to pay another application fee if I choose to study away for another term in the future?

Students who choose to defer to Spring 2021 will not need to pay another application fee. Students that choose to withdraw their Fall 2020 application and apply for Summer or Fall 2021 or later will need to start a new application and pay a new application fee. The application for Summer 2021, Fall 2021 or Spring 2022 will open in November 2020.

If I am expecting to graduate in Spring 2021, could I defer to study away in Spring 2021 during my final semester?

Per PLU study away policies, students may study away during their senior year. Keep in mind, however, that due to the timeline of when PLU receives transcripts from study away, graduation would likely be delayed to either summer or fall 2021. If you intend to graduate upon completion of a study away program in Spring 2021, you would need to apply to graduate by the March 1st, 2021 deadline as well as demonstrate to the registrar how study away coursework meets your final requirements. This is normally done by using your Assignment of Credit form. Regardless of your graduation date plan, we strongly recommend that you confirm with your academic advisor that you are able to participate in a study abroad experience and stay on track to graduate.

Thank you for your patience under these unprecedented circumstances and, once again, please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions or concerns.

Tamara R. Williams

Recovery Update – May 29

To: Staff and Faculty
From: Office of the President

Dear PLU faculty and staff,

As we conclude the spring semester, we remain grateful for all the patience and dedication our community has shown during this difficult time. Taking a moment to celebrate our PLU graduates this weekend—albeit in some unconventional ways—gave us a much-needed and joyful break.

We are writing today to update you on our plans for the months ahead. Our plan, based on modeling and indications from public-health agencies, is to return to in-person learning for the fall term with the appropriate and necessary health and safety measures in place. (Any changes to Summer Term II will be communicated separately in the days ahead.)

Planning Structure
The PLU Recovery Planning Team, tasked with spearheading our efforts to return safely to campus, has assigned subgroups to focus on more detailed operational elements. Serving with me on the Recovery Planning Team are:

  • Joanna Gregson, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Joanna Royce-Davis, Vice President for Student Life
  • Teri Phillips, Chief Operating Officer
  • Lace Smith, Associate Vice President for Marketing & Communications
  • Elizabeth Hopper, Director of the Health Center
  • Shawn Thompson, Assistant Director for Campus Emergency Programs

Across campus, divisions have formed collaborative working groups.

  • Academic Affairs. Provost Gregson established the Academic Division’s COVID-19 Response Task Force to develop recommendations for the fall, on topics ranging from classroom logistics and curriculum delivery to educational policies. This group is comprised of members of the Provost’s Academic Council and representatives from faculty governance.
  • Student Life. Vice President Royce-Davis called together a COVID-19 Fall and Future Planning group that is now working on detailed plans associated with caring for the safety and well-being of students in co-curricular contexts, including residential spaces, campus restaurants, athletics and recreation programs, and orientation. This group is also ensuring that resources needed for student success—relating to basic needs, health and mental health, connection, and engagement—are accessible in a variety of formats that support equitable access by students.
  • Administrative Services. Chief Operating Officer Phillips pulled together working groups for solidifying cleaning protocols across campus spaces, making recommendations for a campus-wide health attestation and developing a safe-return-to-campus policy and practices that will inform our return.

All of these groups are working in close alignment. The expanded Coronavirus and Campus Updates website will provide updates on these efforts this summer.

Forthcoming Guide
While much remains uncertain about how college campuses everywhere will need to adapt in the months ahead, the health and well-being of our community remains our top priority, and we will need to work together to ensure everyone’s safety.

We are preparing to move ahead with Governor Inslee’s Washington State Phased Approach to reopen. In anticipation of this phased reopening, our Recovery Planning Team is developing a set of core responsibilities and guiding principles that will inform our return-to-campus strategy and approach. This guide will be released no later than June 12th.

Because these plans will depend on cooperation from all of us, they will include expectations for full participation and adherence to safety policies, inclusive of:

  • Physical distancing
  • The use of masks and face coverings when indoors and when physical distancing is not otherwise possible, including in certain outdoor spaces
  • An emphasis on workplace sanitation and personal-hygiene practices
  • Consistent health monitoring and frequent communication
  • Select training in updated cleaning protocols
  • A commitment to the protection of vulnerable members of our community

Phased Return to Campus
Our return to on-campus activity, though urgently desired by many of us, must be accomplished in a manner that prioritizes the safety of our community and region. We will be minimizing our on-campus population density as much as possible while we reopen in the coming months, and insisting that you only come to campus when your department or unit permits. For many of you, that will mean continuing to work remotely after campus officially reopens.

Within Phase 1, our current reopening phase, only those faculty and staff whose onsite presence is required are allowed to be on campus.

The next stage of our reopening plan will begin when Pierce County moves into Phase 2. At PLU, this will first entail reactivating Admission and Student Financial Services, implementing the best practices outlined above and staggered on-campus work schedules. Individual employees from other units may also be approved to return to campus if their presence is required to prepare for the reintroduction of faculty/staff in later phases, or for the return of students in the fall. You will be contacted by your school, unit, or program leadership when your unit is approved to return to campus. Until that occurs, we expect that you will continue to work remotely.

Note: Pierce County will be allowed to move into Phase 2 when the county has no more than 90 new COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period. Numbers are released daily on the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department website before 2 p.m. Metrics have not yet been established for movement into Phases 3 and 4.

Future Updates
Our policies and guidelines will continue to evolve as the situation around us develops, and the significant planning that remains to be done will include continued engagement and updates. The Recovery Planning Team will provide monthly updates as we plan for fall, and will work with supervisors to give employees as much individual guidance and advanced notice as possible when it is time to prepare for their return to campus.

Whether we are called back to campus during Phase 1, 2, 3, or 4, we are all responsible for protecting the community’s health. We appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we work to collectively care for the well-being of our Lute community and of our neighbors.

In community,
Allan

What’s Happening This Fall – April 29

To: All students and families
From: Office of the President

Dear students and families,

My oldest son, a first-year university student, recently quipped, “Remote learning was okay for a few weeks, but I just want to get back to learning in person and enjoying life on campus.” Our youngest, a high-school junior, responded with, “I just hope I’ll get to experience college on a campus.”

That sobering exchange reminded me of the uncertainty you are all dealing with right now. Today, I am reaching out to share with you PLU’s intention to return to campus this fall, and how we are preparing to welcome you while continuing to care for the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff. Whether you’re a returning or new Lute, our goal is to provide for the welcoming and purposeful learning experience that attracted you to PLU in the first place — all within the realities of the global pandemic that continues to impact us every day.

Our plan, based on modeling and indications from public-health agencies, is that we will return to in-person learning for the fall term with the appropriate and necessary health and safety measures in place. In Washington State, the governor’s office is partnering with colleges and universities to develop a phased easing of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” restrictions issued in March. Higher education is on a shortlist of industries included in the initial planning for easing of restrictions — an easing that will be carried out thoughtfully, incrementally, and throughout the spring and summer. Of course, a successful return to campus life and the ability to maintain in-person learning remains highly dependent on the availability of testing and contact tracing, and on our ability to adapt in real time to potential increases in new cases or new public-health directives.

Fortunately, PLU is well prepared to welcome you to campus under multiple scenarios, because of the nature of our campus and the proactive leadership of our faculty, staff, and administration in preparing for such a return. A few ways in which we are prepared or preparing for a return to campus life include:

  • Our park-like campus setting. Our Tacoma address belies our physical reality: that PLU is a largely self-contained 156-acre woodland campus in the Parkland neighborhood, with comprehensive services and room to safely experience college life while maintaining physical distancing. Take our virtual tour to see/remember what it’s like to walk across campus, experience the beautiful Lagerquist concert hall, attend a science class, and more.
  • Smaller class sizes. PLU’s smaller class sizes — with a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1 — make it easier to accomplish physical distancing. Fully 76% of classes in Fall 2019 had 25 or fewer students — and just 2% of all sections were at full classroom capacity. Roughly two-thirds of all PLU classes could accommodate current physical-distancing requirements with no changes.
  • Flexible classroom spaces. For classes with more students, we are planning to use flexible, larger spaces to allow for physical distancing. For the 2020–21 academic year, spaces traditionally reserved for conferences, events, and performances will transform into classroom spaces to enable appropriate physical distancing between students in all classes.
  • Academic program preparedness. A task force made up of leaders from across the academic division is actively planning for maximum flexibility and sharing of best practices for teaching remotely to prepare for any possible disruption, and in case any members of the class are particularly vulnerable and require special accommodation for remote learning.
  • Pandemic contingency protocols. PLU has established policies and protocols based on CDC and Washington Department of Health guidance for anyone experiencing possible exposure, those at heightened risk, and those returning to campus. We have also developed contingencies to provide living spaces, meals, and related services for self-isolation on campus, should it be necessary.
  • Online learning readiness. Since 2014, the PLU Teaching Online (PLUTO) program has prepared approximately half of our faculty to teach fully online or via blended courses — courses that capture the fundamental elements and high impact practices that are hallmarks of a PLU education, but are conducted in a virtual modality.
  • Continuous improvement in remote education. To prepare for new health directives in the future, PLUTO training will be available to all faculty this summer, and will incorporate lessons learned from students and faculty about what was most effective this spring. As part of our commitment to teaching excellence, we are also assessing student needs regarding access to technology for any distance-learning scenarios that may emerge.
  • Adaptable residential facilities. We are working to expand both our capacity for and enforcement of physical distancing in residence halls through various measures, including maximizing the availability of single rooms, reducing density in living spaces, and ensuring coverage by our residential staff with direct experience in managing public-health directives.
  • Flexible dining services. Our campus restaurants are self-operated rather than outsourced, allowing us to swiftly respond to new scenarios while continuing to care for students’ needs. During our early response to COVID-19, we have demonstrated that we can quickly offer flexible dining programs that prioritize physical distancing and full implementation of public-health directives, while still providing students with a variety of high-quality, great-tasting, and nutritional choices.
  • Athletic program planning. We are partnering closely with the Northwest Conference and member schools to adjust practice and competition schedules and travel plans as needed to ensure the optimal student-athlete experience and full compliance with public-health directives. We also expect to offer a range of great recreational experiences, both outdoors in the Pacific Northwest and using the large spaces available to us on campus.
  • Performing and visual arts. All of our rehearsal and gallery spaces are large enough to accommodate appropriate physical distancing. Faculty are prepared to be flexible with the size of ensembles and theatrical productions, as well as repertoire and show selection. All musical performances and select theatre productions are streamed via PLU YouTube in high-definition video and high-quality audio. All 2020–21 art exhibits will also be available via a virtual tour, so student works can be shared with family and friends who are not able to see them on campus.
  • Emergency funding. In addition to CARES Act funding, PLU has raised over $150,000 in COVID-19 emergency funds, and additional donations are being sought. Help is available to both prospective and enrolled students experiencing pandemic-related financial challenges. If you submitted the FAFSA or WASFA but your 2018 income information no longer reflects your family’s current financial situation, you can request to have your financial aid offer reconsidered.
  • Study Away leadership. PLU is a long-established leader in Study Away programming. Our Wang Center for Global Education is currently preparing for multiple scenarios, including the possibility that Study Away may need to be limited or postponed for the fall semester. Students who intend to study away for Fall 2020 are now registering for on-campus courses and housing to ensure that their studies will continue uninterrupted, should our programs be cancelled due to the pandemic.
  • Remote-health resources. Just prior to the emergence of COVID-19, PLU launched a new service called Lute Telehealth, which provides students with access to no-cost, on-demand physical and mental healthcare by phone or video chat, regardless of their location. Our on-the-ground Counseling and Health Centers also have added telehealth to the scope of services that they provide.
  • Hygienic living/learning spaces. Our facilities team have boosted their cleaning efforts and increased the frequency at which we sanitize high-touch areas, including railings, doors, and other high-traffic surfaces in our living and learning spaces. Our Campus Restaurant teams continue to be diligent in their cleaning protocols as well. Hand sanitizer and washing stations are never far away, and we continue to invest in our inventory of hygiene supplies.
  • Student care resources. The Student Care Network provides support and resources for students using a hybrid approach that engages students through in-person and online interactions to provide care and support.

These are just a few important examples of how PLU is demonstrating our commitment to welcome you to campus while caring for your safety. Of course, you likely have many more questions and will seek additional certainty as we get closer to the fall term. I encourage you to return regularly to our COVID-19 support site, and particularly to the Frequently Asked Questions section (FAQs specific for prospective students here), for regular updates, including any actions from state and local authorities that may impact our return to campus. I also strongly encourage you to stay in contact with your admission counselors, academic advisors, professors, and other support staff on campus — they can help answer your questions or bring them to my attention.

Stay connected, and stay safe.

Allan Belton signature

Allan Belton
President

Guidance for when to stay home from work and when to return – April 16

TO: PLU Human Resources
FROM: Faculty and Staff

In order to help ensure a safe work environment for PLU essential staff, we have developed guidance for employees and their supervisors who are needed on campus. It has been developed based on CDC and WA Department of Health advice for essential workers and is subject to change as the pandemic evolves and more information becomes available.

Attached to this memo are two flowcharts. Their purpose is to help you better understand the recommendations for duration of self-quarantine in the following situations:

  1. An employee or a household member is sick with respiratory symptoms that may be consistent with COVID-19, or they have been in close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

  2. The requirements in order to return to work after a period of self-quarantine;

  3. Also, a reminder that if an employee becomes ill at work, they must be isolated immediately and sent home as soon as possible.

If you need further, detailed information about self-quarantine situations, these are Department of Health publications that can help answer your questions:

  1. What to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19;

  2. What to do if your were potentially exposed to COVID-19;

  3. What to do if you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

Please understand that “suspected” is any case where a health care provider believes the person has COVID-19. If you or a close contact is showing symptoms of COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider to determine whether your case is “suspected.”

If you have any questions specific to your situation and need additional information, contact your supervisor or Human Resources. We are extremely appreciative of and grateful for the dedication all of you have shown and continue to show throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. PLU is a community of many; a community of people who show up when they’re needed and put heartfelt effort into their work on a daily basis. Thank you!

Elizabeth Hopper
Director of the Health Center

Mary Jones
EHS Manager

Gretchen Howell
Director of Human Resources

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 health@plu.edu or 253-535-7337. You can access additional updates and new FAQs, recommendations, and communications at www.plu.edu/coronavirus.

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 www.plu.edu/commencement 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
President

Joanna Gregson
Provost

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 www.plu.edu/coronavirus.

In community,

Allan Belton
President

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

Actualizaciones del Coronavirus

Ver actualizaciones y mensajes para la comunidad PLU.

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,
President

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,
President

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


To:
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 sfs@plu.edu 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
President

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 humr@plu.edu 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
President

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.

Commencement
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 plu.edu/coronavirus.

In community,

Allan Belton
President

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: www.plu.edu/coronavirus.

In community,

Allan Belton
President

Joanna Gregson
Provost

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: www.plu.edu/coronavirus

In community,

Allan Belton
President

Joanna Gregson
Provost

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.

Sincerely,

Allan Belton
President

Joanna Gregson
Provost

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

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

Additional guidance regarding campus operations – March 8

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: www.plu.edu/coronavirus

Sincerely,

Joanna Gregson
Provost

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.

Sincerely,

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

Classes transitioning to distance learning | Coronavirus Update – March 7

To: PLU Community
From: 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.

Students

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

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

Staff

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: www.plu.edu/coronavirus

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
President

Joanna Gregson
Provost

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

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

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 plu.edu/coronavirus.

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

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.

Sincerely,

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

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

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: chws@plu.edu, 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
President

Joanna Royce-Davis
Vice President for Student Life

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

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 smithba@plu.edu.

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

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: www.plu.edu/chws/coronavirus

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)

Brief update on the Novel Coronavirus - February 3

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

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