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Reopening: OHA limits keep Sparks closed, Goudy without dine-in; WU does away with flex learning

Noah Dantes


College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) students will start all classes remotely on Jan. 20, and in-person classes are scheduled to move in-person on Feb. 2 after a 10-day “quiet period.” The intent of the quiet period “is to limit the amount of student interaction upon arrival to campus,” Director of Bishop Wellness Center and Reopening Committee (ROC) member Don Thomson said over email. During the quiet period, all classes will be remote and students, faculty and staff are being asked “to limit their interactions with others as much as possible.” President Thorsett said in a December interview: “The biggest concern is travel: once the community is together, we have the right precautions to keep people safe.”

Goudy Commons will remain grab-and-go only and Sparks Athletics Center will remain closed for the “foreseeable future,” Thomson said. Both Goudy and Sparks are subject to the limits established by the risk category given to Marion County by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Since [Marion County is currently in the OHA’s “Extreme Risk” category], Goudy cannot reintroduce dine-in and Sparks cannot reopen. [Sparks has been closed since Nov. 14 and Goudy halted in-person dining on Nov. 16].

Once in-person learning is implemented on Feb. 2, CAS students will not be allowed to switch back and forth between remote and in-person learning. While many classes still offer both in-person and remote options, Willamette has “asked students to commit to attending in one mode or the other rather than shifting back and forth,” Thomson said.

Thomson elaborated: “Feedback from CAS students and faculty indicated that the all-remote or all in-person courses were the most successful. The masks and distancing requirements made it difficult for remote learners to hear what was happening in the classroom and stifled discussions.”

When asked whether Willamette could move to online-only learning sometime during spring semester, Thomson said: “If the state or federal government made a determination to further limit in-person interaction, we would of course need to comply.” Additionally, if cases on campus rose to a level that “adequate support could not be provided,” Thomson said Willamette “would need to reconsider the decision to offer in-person experiences.”

“We successfully completed fall semester thanks to our community’s care and commitment to the requirements of the [WU Well U Agreement],” Thomson said. “These requirements, which include wearing face masks, maintaining 6 ft. of physical distance from others, hand washing, limiting social interactions, and limiting guests, will continue for the Spring 2021 semester.”

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