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Oregon and California Colleges Extend Spring Break, Go Online To Slow The Spread Of COVID-19

Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University

Universities and technical colleges in southern Oregon and northern California announced plans on Thursday to extend spring breaks and move classes online in order to minimize the spread of coronavirus.

Administrators at Southern Oregon University will extend spring break by one week in an effort to help slow the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The extra time will allow faculty to plan online courses for the spring quarter and get prepared to work remotely.

Additionally, theatrical performances and sporting events will be cancelled, as well as non-essential travel.

“We don’t take all these actions with great joy in our heart,” said SOU President Linda Schott. “We take them in an effort to be a responsible institutional member of this community.”

During a press conference in Portland on Thursday morning, Oregon State Health Officer Dean Sidelinger said while there are currently only 24 people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 in Oregon, officials estimate there are actually 150-250 cases currently in the state.

“If we take projections from Washington infectious disease researchers and estimate a doubling of cases every week, which may be conservative, this could mean over 75,000 cases by mid-May in the state of Oregon without taking action,” Sidelinger said.

Schott described the precautionary efforts at SOU as a way to “flatten” a possible spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We believe that following this guidance will help us slow the progression of the virus in our region and enable health care professionals to keep pace with the demands on them,” Schott said.

Other campuses changing schedules for the spring term include Humboldt State University in Arcata and Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls.

Humboldt State will extend spring break by two days as administration decides whether and how to move classes online. The university is also suspending gatherings of more than 150 people and cancelling spring sports.

The Oregon Institute of Technology will take “social distancing” precautions including limiting gatherings, temporarily suspending sporting events and encouraging remote work. The first two weeks of the OIT spring term will be taught online when possible.

Rogue Community College will remain open while taking public health precautions, according to a spokesperson. 

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.