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Seven Details for Spring Semester

Posted by:
February 11, 2021

From: Office of the President
To: PLU Community

1. Campus Status Dial moves closer to Stage 4
While we remain in Stage 3 on the Campus Status Dial, we are moving closer to Stage 4. As of this update, eight of the ten metrics in our model—including PLU and regional healthcare-system capacity, our on-campus capacity for managing quarantine and isolation, and current case percentages in the county—continue to meet or exceed our Stage 3 requirements, with the majority now meeting our criteria for Stage 4.

At the local level, we’ve seen steady improvement in current case rates and case rates overall, as reflected in the six-day lag reports from the Tacoma–Pierce County Health Department. We will continue to evaluate campus and regional data, including case rates, the county’s testing-positivity rate, results from our mandatory back-to-campus testing, and a new metric assessing what percentage of the population is vaccinated. Regular updates to the dial are announced on Wednesdays. A campus email will notify PLU community members of any stage-to-stage changes.

2. What does moving to Stage 4 mean?
Stage 3 allows for select clinicals, labs, and performance-based and community-building classes with a BL designation to include in-person elements, which means those classes could meet in person as early as the first week of class. If you are in any of these types of BL courses, faculty will be in touch with you to let you know how/where to show up for the first day.

Moving to Stage 4 allows for significantly more in-person instruction.

  • A move to Stage 4 would happen no earlier than February 24. If the dial does move on the 24th, that means that those faculty slated to teach in a blended-course format could do so as early as March 3.
  • If your course is designated blended (or “BL”), this pertains to you. Check your course modality on the interactive course schedule.
  • If a course you signed up for is totally online (or “ON”), this will not affect it.
  • Decisions about adding in-person elements to BL courses are made at each faculty member’s discretion, allowing them to schedule such pivots with their pedagogy.
  • Faculty will provide students with a minimum of one week’s notice before they make any pivots to in-person instruction.
  • If you haven’t already asked for accommodations to learn remotely, it’s not too late! As we prepare for our return to campus for spring, we recognize that some students’ personal health circumstances may make remote learning a more appropriate option for them. If you need to participate in classes through a completely remote modality, please fill out this form for the Office of Accessibility and Accommodation to arrange accommodations. Questions? Please email oaa@plu.edu.

3. Are you ready for the first day of class?
Your faculty will be contacting you with instructions about how to show up for the first day of the spring semester, whether that means joining a Sakai site or meeting in a classroom.

Just as they did in the fall of 2020, start and end times for classes will reflect a 30-minute break between classes instead of our usual ten minutes. This increase is intended to provide remote learners/teachers with opportunities to take a break from their screens and for in-person learners/teachers to have ample time to disinfect their individual workspaces and shared equipment.

4. Additional opportunities for in-person activities

The Hospitality Services and Campus Restaurants team is excited to announce plans for a return to indoor dining. The Commons and the Anderson University Center’s upper level are scheduled to open on Monday, March 1. Capacity will be capped at 25%, group size will be limited to four, and extensive cleaning protocols will be in place.

Performing Arts
In response to Governor Inslee’s release in mid-January of the COVID-19 Performing Arts & Theatre Sector Guidance, PLU will be adjusting some safety precautions for the performing arts for the Spring 2021 semester. At this time, PLU will be moving forward with Phase 1 guidance. (Please note the difference between PLU’s stages in the Campus Status Dial and Washington State’s phases in the governor’s recovery plan.) We will continue to monitor and will determine at a later date, pending local health department decisions, whether further easing of restrictions may be feasible as part of Phase 2.

While no formal concerts or performances (with audiences) will yet be allowed under the Governor’s guidance, Phase 1 will enable enhanced usage of the Eastvold Stage for Theatre and Dance, indoor rehearsals for instrumental ensembles (distanced, masked, and with bell covers for wind instruments) and choral ensembles (distanced and masked), and the live streaming of individual student-degree recitals in Lagerquist Concert Hall, with six or fewer (distanced and masked) family members from a single household allowed to be in attendance.

Many thanks to Dean Cameron Bennett for his work with the statewide committee to help craft this guidance. It will lift our hearts exponentially to hear music on campus again!

Athletics and Recreation
PLU Athletics, the Northwest Conference, and the NCAA are committed to prioritizing the health and safety of student-athletes while returning this spring. Athletics is continually working with campus and conference leadership, medical professionals, and the State of Washington on policies and are committed to providing a quality student-athlete experience. Visit GoLutes.com for schedules.

No spectators are currently allowed at any events during the 2020-2021 academic year as part of the Northwest Conference Return to Play plan. Fans, families, faculty and staff, and friends can join LanceLute’s “Cutout Kingdom” and game live streams to support student-athletes!

Recreational opportunities for all students are available at many of our outdoor locations, including the disc-golf course, tennis courts, track, outdoor basketball courts, the running/walking trail, and through intramural sports opportunities that meet public health guidelines. As we continue to move through the Campus Status Dial stages, additional recreational opportunities will continue to become available.

5. Introducing the THRIVE Network
Seventeen PLU offices and departments, all with one goal—to help you THRIVE. The THRIVE Network will guide students through Spring 2021 in three parts: you’ll be seeing a lot of this information in Sunday newsletters to all students (no need to sign up), and you’ll also see these themes woven throughout university programming and engagement.

Rooting + Routine // Beginning of the semester
It’s been a journey to get to spring! Whether you’re returning to campus, continuing virtual learning, or arriving as a brand-new Lute, THRIVE will invite you to create goals, set down roots, and be intentional about setting yourself up for success—as you define it.

Sunday topics:

  • Put down roots in your WHY (why are you here at PLU, getting a degree, working here, living according to certain values, etc.?).
  • Find or reconnect with “your people.” Who are your academic and social supports (e.g., tutors, faculty, advisors, coaches, and friends)? Remember, you are not alone!
  • Make a plan for your overall wellness in mind, body, and spirit.

6. Vaccine Phase Finder
The Phase Finder tool is designed to help people in Washington find out if they’re currently eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, and if they’re not, to sign up to be notified when they become eligible. It asks a series of questions relevant to the four phases of vaccine distribution (regarding living situation, age, health conditions, risk factors, work situation, and ZIP Code) to inform eligibility.

7. Positive vibes
Please extend positive thoughts and well wishes to a student in quarantine by writing a care note in person at the Hospitality Services office (AUC 280) or online.


Notes do not have to be to anyone specific, but you can write in a name. The Hospitality Services office will deliver your messages to those currently in quarantine.

Interested in the conversation about double-masking? Visit the CDC’s webpage on how to improve how your mask protects you and the community.

— The PLU Recovery Planning Team

Allan Belton, President
Joanna Gregson, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Joanna Royce-Davis, Vice President for Student Life
Teri Phillips, Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Site Supervisor
Lace M. Smith, Associate Vice President of Marketing & Communications
Elizabeth Hopper, Director of the Health Center
Shawn Thompson, Assistant Director of Emergency Programs