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Oregon's Public Universities Say Entire Spring Semester Will Happen Via ‘Remote Learning’

Chris Lehman

All seven of Oregon’s public universities say they won’t use face-to-face classroom instruction at all during the spring semester due to the ongoing COVID-19 virus outbreak.

While many traditional lecture-style classes can be held through video conferencing, the model doesn’t always work for labs and practicums. That could place students expecting to graduate this spring in jeopardy of not being able to complete their course requirements.

At Oregon State University, spokesperson Steve Clark said the school won’t charge additional tuition to students who need to make up those classes later.

“We don’t know how many students this would impact, but over the next several weeks we’ll be able to determine that," he said. "And we think that we’ll be able to address those in most cases.”

Clark says the university is also working to figure out how many students will have trouble accessing classes during the period of so-called “remote learning.”

He said the dorms at the main campus in Corvallis will stay open for students who wish to remain on campus. That's also the case at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

In a message to the campus community Thursday, U of O President Michael Shill said students who move out of on-campus housing will be able to cancel their residence hall contract with no penalty. 

One thing university students shouldn't expect, however, is a tuition break for a semester delivered via remote learning.

"We cannot discount tuition," wrote Schill.  "The costs of providing remote education to students are just as high – if not higher – than traditional, in-person classes."

Schill said the school will continue to employ faculty, graduate students and other staff. "And we need to provide additional technology and support for them to be effective."

The University of Oregon also announced that the school would not be holding any in-person commencement ceremonies this year.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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