COVID-19 Latest Updates
December 8, 2020
While we have hope on the horizon with news of the coronavirus vaccines, Central Oregon continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this ongoing reality, the College's leadership and I have made the first of our decisions about what to expect at COCC for the Spring 2021 term.
The College will largely maintain our current operational approach through the Spring term. Wickiup Residence Hall will remain closed. The majority of our services will continue to operate remotely. Our campus facilities will remain closed to the public, and community access will remain limited. Employees who currently work on campus will continue to do so, but we ask that all other employees plan to continue to telework through at least the Spring 2021 term.
As we make further decisions about any possible changes to in-person course offerings, we will of course communicate with our students, our employees, and the community at large. I know these difficult decisions have real-world implications, and I deeply appreciate students' and employees' ongoing resilience as we prepare for another term under COVID-19 restrictions.
Please continue to wear your masks, practice strict physical distancing, and wash your hands. Thank you for staying home when you feel sick, and for alerting your instructors or supervisors when you do. Together, Bobcats, we will get to that light we can now see at the end of the tunnel.
Take care, stay safe,
Laurie Chesley, Ph.D.
Central Oregon Community College
COCC Communication About COVID-19 Accessible by Date
College Update November 18, 2020
We hope the term is going well. As you may have heard, Oregon Governor Kate Brown has announced a two-week statewide "freeze". From November 18 to December 2, the state has restricted social gatherings and businesses to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and conserve our hospitals' capacities.
It is important to note that this two-week freeze will not affect your Fall term classes and they will continue as scheduled — whether in-person, remote, or online.
The holidays are quickly approaching, and you might be excited about traveling to see family and friends. While we know you've had to sacrifice many activities because of the pandemic, the safest place to be for the holiday is where you live right now.
If you must travel, it is important that you review guidance from the Oregon Health Authority on several important ways for students to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 when traveling this holiday season. We encourage you to read and follow these critical recommendations.
It's also important to renew our individual commitment to mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing, and physical distancing. If you are coming to campus for class, please continue to take the COVID-19 Daily Self-Check before leaving home each day. And most critical of all: please stay home if you feel sick.
Bobcats, thank you again for your patience as we continue to work together to keep each other and our community safe. Stay healthy and don't hesitate to email COVID-19 specific questions to email@example.com.
Vice President of Student Affairs
Central Oregon Community College
College Update October 23, 2020
Regionally, the COVID-19 transmission rates are not moving in a positive direction. Our local public health authorities warn of additional surges in positive cases in the weeks and months ahead. To continue to ensure the health and safety of our students, employees, and community, the College will largely maintain our current plans into the coming term. Wickiup Residence Hall will remain closed. Student Services will continue to operate remotely. Our campus facilities will remain closed to the public, and community access limited (for example, this week's blood drive, next week's flu shot drive). Employees who currently telework will continue to do so
With a dual focus on student safety and success, COCC will slightly expand its in-person course offerings for Winter 2021. In Fall 2020, the college offered in-person instruction only for those courses that could not be taught remotely and that are necessary for a student to graduate. In Winter 2021, COCC will widen its in-person course offerings to include some classes that cannot be taught as effectively in a remote environment (for example, some outdoor, low-risk health and human performance classes or studio art). Under these guidelines, COCC will offer approximately 82% remote instruction in Winter 2021
The College has not yet made a decision about Spring 2021 reopening plan updates, but we will keep you informed as to the timeline we set for those discussions.
I know these decisions impact each and every member of our COCC community, which is why I take them so seriously. The pandemic continues, but so too does our Bobcat resilience, flexibility, and shared sense of purpose. I am confident that we will continue to reinvent and reinvigorate learning in our largely virtual environment, and that we will successfully navigate this time together
Take good care,
Dr. Laurie Chesley
College Update September 18, 2020
According to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) COVID-19 reopening guidelines for higher education, COCC is required to provide a plan for communicating to the public and to local public health authorities all positive coronavirus cases confirmed among our employees and students.
One of the ways we will meet this requirement is a data dashboard. This tool is now live and available on our COVID-19 Health and Safety Information webpage. The dashboard tracks daily reported, confirmed cases among COCC employees and students who:
- test positive for COVID-19 and
- visited a COCC campus during the 14 days prior to their positive test result
With so many of our community members working and learning remotely this term, we will not record to this dashboard positive cases among those employees or students who have not been on campus within the two weeks prior to their confirmed positive test result.
To comply with health privacy laws, no additional information will be provided about the identities of those employees or students who test positive, except to assist local public health authorities with contact tracing, as required by law. COCC, per OHA requirements, will notify the local public health authorities of any known confirmed COVID-19 cases among the COCC community. The local health authority manages contact tracing and they will reach out directly to an individual if it is believed that the person has been exposed to the virus.
Bobcats: we need your help to report accurate information to the public and keep our community safe.
- All employees: if you are asked to quarantine for possible exposure to COVID-19 and/or if you test positive for COVID-19, please report this to your supervisor right away. Supervisors should then immediately alert Matt McCoy (firstname.lastname@example.org) if one of their direct reports must quarantine and/or tests positive, as Matt McCoy is the College's OHA-required COVID-19 liaison with the local public health authorities in Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson counties.
- All faculty: if your student is asked to quarantine for possible exposure to COVID-19 and/or if they test positive for COVID-19, please immediately alert Matt McCoy (email@example.com).
We are asking all COCC employees and students to report when they have a confirmed positive COVID-19 test result, regardless of whether or not they've visited campus in the 14 days prior to their test results. This is to ensure supervisors can support their direct reports while they are sick (and offer information and resources as needed), and faculty can work with students who may miss class or coursework as a result of being ill.
COCC is one of many colleges and universities deploying a public-facing data dashboard to ensure transparency about our real-time positive COVID-19 cases. You can explore the OSU-Cascades COVID-19 data dashboard and the SUNY COVID-19 Case Tracker for other examples, as well as Deschutes County's data dashboard.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out to me, your supervisor, HR, or your SLT member. Thank you for your ongoing efforts to keep our students, employees and community healthy and safe. We're in this together, Bobcats, and I'm grateful for your help.
Dr. Laurie Chesley
College Update August 20, 2020
Good afternoon, Persons of Quality –
First and foremost, let me thank each of you for the patience and understanding you continue to demonstrate during the coronavirus pandemic. This remains a time of constant change, and I am inspired by your adaptability and dedication.
After careful consideration of ongoing Central Oregon health trends, and with utmost concern for our community's long-term safety, the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and I decided to make several important updates to the College's Fall reopening plans. This afternoon, the COCC Board of Directors met in a special session to discuss these changes, and now I'm writing to share these updates with you.
In short, Fall term will now look much like Summer term, with a few notable exceptions. The following changes apply to all of our campuses:
The College will scale back its planned in-person course offerings for Fall, with the exception of some CTE classes and labs/practicums which require hands-on learning that cannot be taught effectively in a distance format. In-person instruction will now be offered in Apprenticeship, Automotive, Aviation, CPR/First Aid, Culinary Arts, Dental Assisting, Fire Science, Manufacturing, Massage Therapy, Medical Assisting, Nursing/Nursing Assistant, Outdoor Leadership, Paramedicine, Pharmacy Technician, and Veterinary Technician, as well as in internships, forestry field classes, practicums, and science labs. The College will also offer a select group of in-person skills-based Continuing Education courses. In total, this will mean that approximately 75-80% of Fall term classes will be delivered remotely and/or online.
- Barber Library will be physically closed; however, students and employees can still access the collection and other resources online, as well as schedule curbside pick-up.
- Wickiup Residence Hall will be closed, and there will be no students housed on campus for the Fall term (previously, we had intended to operate Wickiup at 50% capacity).
- Mazama Gym and Fitness Center will be closed except to those CTE students actively enrolled in Fall classes that use the facilities in their coursework. This means Mazama will remain closed to faculty, staff, and the general public.
- The Bookstore will be closed for in-person shopping; however, it will be open for online ordering and curbside pickup.
- Food and dining services will remain closed, and student support services will be offered remotely, as they were in Summer term.
- Select drop-in computer labs will remain open on each of the COCC campuses, and will continue to operate with enhanced health and safety protocols. Computer labs will provide updated information here.
- Campuses will remain closed to the general public, except to those visitors with official college business (deliveries, facilities maintenance, etc.).
All other details of the COCC Fall reopening plans will remain the same, unless the College is directed to change by the State and/or the COVID-19 health situation deteriorates in Central Oregon. Continue to check our COVID-19 health and safety webpages for the latest information. The College will revisit a broader reopening for future terms, beginning with Winter 2021, but it is too early to make any commitments about what to expect.
The College does not make these changes to our Fall plans lightly, and every decision is made with our community's health and safety as our central priorities. We all of course want to return to "normal," but we also understand that in order to keep our students, faculty, staff, and community safe—now and in the future—we have to be careful not to reopen too quickly. As a community college, we serve many different kinds of students—including those from communities most vulnerable to COVID-19—and we take this responsibility seriously. Our actions today can save lives tomorrow.
The SLT and I understand that these changes to COCC's Fall reopening plans will have cascading impacts and may create new anxieties. We will be working together to answer your questions quickly and communicate further decisions to faculty and staff in the days ahead. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me, your supervisor, and/or SLT member with your concerns, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also update the College's website over the next few days to reflect the updates listed above.
Bobcats, one of the qualities we all share is the care we exude for one another. Thank you for caring—about your students, your colleagues, our College, and the health and safety of our community.
Dr. Laurie Chesley
College Update August 13, 2020
Good morning, Bobcats!
I hope each of you is finding safe ways to rest and renew this summer.
As I've frequently indicated, the College is ready to adapt and evolve Fall reopening plans if necessary. COCC continues to monitor the COVID-19 health situation in Central Oregon, as well as the actions of our education partners at local K-12 districts, OSU-Cascades, and fellow community colleges across the state.
With the latest information in-hand, I will be calling a special session of the College's Board of Directors on Thursday Aug. 20th at 1:15 p.m. to update our Fall reopening plans. This session, as with all of our Board meetings, is open to the College community and the general public. I'll also send another Headlines communication shortly after the Board meeting concludes to give you a summary of any changes that may be made to the current plan.
Please continue to send any COVID-19-related questions or concerns to email@example.com.
Thank you for your patience as we continue to refine our health and safety commitments.
Dr. Laurie Chesley
College Update July 9, 2020
I am writing you with positive news: during yesterday's meeting of the COCC Board of Directors, the board approved the college's reopening operational plan for in-person instructional, residential, and research activities, as well as for student services.
COCC's approved reopening plans are now available here via our website, and I encourage each of you to review these plans.
The college will also launch a Fall Reopening website the week of July 20th, which will further explain and make accessible the plan's details and protocols, as well as provide FAQs for students, employees, and our community at large. If you have any COVID-19 and/or reopening-related questions, you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org, and the College Relations staff member monitoring that inbox will direct your query to the appropriate resource.
In mid-June, the Oregon Health Authority released guidance for the reopening of Oregon's colleges and universities. Among the higher education requirements was a mandate for every institution to secure board approval of a reopening operational plan prior to September 1st, 2020. With yesterday's board approval, COCC can now move forward in our efforts to resume some in-person activities across our campuses for the 2020 Fall Term.
As you know, one of COCC's Principles of Community is to "Promote a Healthy and Safe Learning Environment." Thus COCC's reopening plans take seriously health and safety requirements and concerns. The college plans to offer in-person instruction at all campuses this fall, along with online, remote and hybrid options for students. COCC is also prepared to move to fully remote or online instruction if directed to do so by the state.
I want to echo the board's acknowledgement last night of our Reopening Task Force. I'm grateful to the members of COCC's Reopening Task Force: Matt McCoy (Chair), Sharla Andresen, Seana Barry, Lori Benefiel, Zak Boone, Dan Cecchini, Julie Downing, Annemarie Hamlin, Kevin Hughes, Jenn Kovitz, Peter Ostrovsky, Paula Simone, Joe Viola, and Michel Waller. They all have shown tremendous commitment, and they have invested many hours in developing our reopening plans to date.
And our work is not done. Our plans will be reviewed and updated regularly, according to current local, state, and national requirements. We will continue to need to adapt to the changing COVID-19 situation. We will review substantive updates with our board, and communicate these changes to you as they happen.
Thank you for your resiliency, Bobcats!
Dr. Laurie Chesley
College Update June 30, 2020
I hope everyone has had a strong start to Summer Term.
As you may have heard, Governor Kate Brown has declared that, effective tomorrow, Wednesday July 1st, all Oregonians must wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. This guidance, which you can read in full here, currently applies to businesses and to members of the public visiting indoor public spaces.
Admittedly, the Governor's latest statewide directive does not specifically mention higher education institutions. However, in the spirit of the order, and to uphold COCC's steadfast commitment to being a good community partner, we will follow this new guidance.
Beginning tomorrow, all COCC students, faculty, staff—as well as visitors to the college for any reason—are required to wear a face covering while inside any campus building for any length of time, unless an accommodation or exemption is legally permitted.
COCC will provide complimentary disposable masks to any individual who needs one (more on this below). I encourage each of you to make a habit of keeping a mask with you at all times, and I'm looking forward to seeing the creative, personalized prints many of you sport on your cloth masks.
I've prepared a brief FAQ below, as I imagine questions will arise from this new statewide mandate and our college's adherence to it. If you have further questions beyond those I've gathered below: faculty and staff, please reach out to your supervisor; students, please contact Alicia Moore, Vice President of Student Affairs: email@example.com or 541-383-7211.
How is a "face covering" defined?
"Face covering" is defined as a cloth, paper, or disposable face covering that covers both the nose and the mouth.
What are the legally required accommodations or exemptions to this face coverings guidance?
These include—but are not limited to— state and federal disabilities laws if applicable, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which protects people with disabilities from discrimination in employment and requires employers to engage in the interactive process for accommodations.
For a complete list of accommodations or exemptions as required by law:
COCC Students, please reach out to Disability Services firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-383-7583.
COCC Faculty and Staff, please contact Human Resources: email@example.com or 541-383-7216.
Am I required to wear a face covering in my classroom if I'm taking/teaching a 2020 Summer Term course on campus?
Yes please! Instructors, if you and/or your students do not have a face covering, please contact Lori Benefiel, Director of Auxiliary Services: firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-383-7572.
Do I have to wear a face covering if I'm alone at my desk?
Per Governor Kate Brown's latest guidance, individuals do not need to wear a face covering when eating or drinking, nor when at or in a location where the individual is not interacting with the public and where six or more feet of distance can be maintained between other people. For COCC faculty and staff, we are interpreting the "public" to mean "students and/or visitors to the college for any reason." This means that if you are alone in your office, you do not need to wear a face covering. However, if one or more individuals join you in that space, we do expect you (all) to wear your face coverings.
I don't own a mask or other face covering. What do I do?
Throughout Summer Term, COCC is committed to providing disposable face coverings to any individual (faculty, staff, student, or visitor) who requires one. Please contact the following individuals if you need a mask this term:
Faculty and Staff: Lori Benefiel, Director of Auxiliary Services, email@example.com or 541-383-7572
Students/Visitors: Ask your instructor or a staff member for a mask, and they can contact Auxiliary Services on your behalf.
For Fall Term: as we prepare to (hopefully) reopen, please stay tuned for a more robust and widespread distribution plan for free face coverings across our four campuses beginning in September.
Bobcats, I understand and empathize with the feeling that each new statewide COVID-19 response might seem abrupt or disruptive. But we are truly in this together. I remain optimistic that we will be able to gather on campuses together this Fall; however, the current regional increase in COVID-19 cases means we are at a critical point in central Oregon in this pandemic. Together, we can wear our face masks and make a difference in the transmission rates of this virus. And with our faces covered together, we can help ensure we'll learn together again this fall.
From behind my cat-print mask, I thank you,
Dr. Laurie Chesley
- College Update June 12, 2020 (pdf)
- College Update April 24, 2020 (pdf)
- College Update April 9, 2020 (pdf)
- College Update March, 19, 2020 (pdf)
- College Update March 16, 2020 (pdf)
- College Update March 13, 2020 p.m. (pdf)
- College Update March 13, 2020 a.m. (pdf)
- College Update March 12, 2020 (pdf)
- College Update March 11, 2020 (pdf)
- College Update March 10, 2020 (pdf)
- College Update March 6, 2020 (pdf)
- Letter to Students from COCC President, Dr. Laurie Chesley, March 3, 2020 (pdf)
Still have questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.