Everything you've been wondering since classes went online

The Beacon answers UP and COVID-19 FAQs

By Madison Pfeifer | March 24, 2020 6:11pm

Photo courtesy of CDC. Canva created by Claire Desmarais.

In the midst of uncertainty and adjustment for students, The Beacon has compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for University of Portland students who are learning to navigate remote learning and adjusting to life away from campus.


Question: How many students were approved to remain on campus and what criteria was used to determine who could stay? 

Answer: According to Director of Residence Life Andrew Weingarten, of the 501 applications to stay on campus, 333 were approved. Students approved fell into circumstances including having to travel internationally or across the country, having family members with underlying health conditions and not having access to the internet at home. Not all students who met the criteria were guaranteed approval.

Question: How are students living in off-campus houses owned by the university impacted?

Answer: Joe Cates, director of Physical Plant, said in an email Friday to students living in UP-owned rental homes off campus that they may occupy their homes for the remainder of their leases. 

Cates cited the lower density of people in rental homes as the reason for the different rules. Students must notify Physical Plant at physicalplant@up.edu if they leave their houses for seven days or more. If they choose to fully move out of their rental homes before the end of their leases, they must also email Physical Plant and return their house keys to Public Safety or Physical Plant. 


Question: How and when is registration taking place?

Answer: Registration for fall 2020 will begin Tuesday, March 24 as planned. Students can register for courses online with their alternate pin which they can receive from their academic adviser.

Question: Will classes be online for the rest of the semester?

Answer: Yes. University President Fr. Mark Poorman announced in an email sent March 20 that classes will remain online for the rest of the spring semester.

Question: How can I return my textbook rentals?

Answer: Students can return textbooks for free with a UPS return rental label. Students should go to the UP bookstore website, log in to their account and print return labels for their rentals.

Question: How are labs going to be conducted going forward?

Answer: Professors are working to adjust courses and use online lab simulations so that students will meet the necessary learning outcomes for courses without having to visit on-campus laboratories, CAS Dean Herbert Medina wrote in an email to The Beacon. 

Labs will not be converted to pass/fail. National organizations, like the American Chemical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers, are guiding faculty in the transition to online laboratories. 

Educational companies across the nation are also reaching out to faculty and students to give them free access to resources, including online lab simulations. 

Professors are also supporting each other through “best-practice” blogs, listservs and other resources, Medina said. 

Medina has communicated to faculty that they may need to adjust the scope of work normally required. Professors will decide how much to adjust the scope of work, but Medina has asked them to try their best to “maintain the academic integrity” of classes. 

Question: Will the Learning Commons still be able to hold tutoring sessions?

Answer: Yes. The Learning Commons can provide virtual tutoring via Microsoft Teams. Students should try to schedule appointments 24 to 48 hours in advance.

Question: How are summer classes going to work?

Answer: At this time, there are no plans to change the summer schedule, Provost Tom Greene wrote in an email to The Beacon. He said the administration will inform students, staff and faculty of any developments. 

Campus Life

Question: What services will the Health and Counseling Center (HCC) offer? 

Answer: For students in Oregon, the HCC can provide counseling sessions via phone. Students will need to sign in to their student health portal and sign the new Informed Consent document, located in the Medical Clearances section of the portal. 

For students not in Oregon, the HCC can provide transitional support to help students find a new counselor or appropriate resources in their area. 

The HCC’s clinicians are licensed to practice and conduct telephone sessions only in the state of Oregon; the law requires that the therapist be licensed in the state the student is physically located in. Students can call 503-943-7134 to discuss their options, or if they have any questions about this transition plan. 

For after-hours care, ProtoCall is still available. If they are currently experiencing a mental health emergency, students can contact the National Suicide Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255), call 911, or go to their nearest Emergency Room. 

If students want to avoid the ER due to the coronavirus outbreak, Portland options may include contacting the Multnomah County Crisis Line, Cascadia Walk-in Clinic/Project Respond and Unity Center for Behavioral Health. ProtoCall may also help students access mental health resources and emergency treatment centers in their area, as may their insurance providers (call the number on the back of your insurance card). 

The HCC will continue to update its website: https://www.up.edu/healthcenter/

Question: What dining halls will be open and what will the hours of operation be? 

Answer: Starting March 16, The Commons will be the only on-campus dining hall open. The hours of operation will be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

The Commons will only offer to-go dining, per Gov. Kate Brown’s order on March 16 that restaurants offer only take-out or delivery options. Bon App also asks guests to avoid using the back hallway as an entrance/exit to The Commons, to minimize contact with community members. 

Question: Will the Career Center be open and able to help students with summer internships?

Answer: The Career Center will maintain regular operating hours. Students can schedule virtual appointments at any time through Handshake or by calling the office at 503-943-7201. There will be no Drop-In Hours. The Career Center can also provide information on virtual internships.

Question: Will student employees be able to continue to work and get paid?

Answer: Yes. If students are able to and want to work, they can check in with their supervisor(s) to see if there is work available via the Covid Telework Policy for Students.

“Any telework arrangement approved under this policy is intended to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, also known as COVID 19, without putting undue burden, undue added expense, or undue operational difficulty on the supervisor, team, department, and/or University,” the policy states.

The policy is only applicable during times when the University believes telework is necessary because of the threat of COVID-19. Employees are responsible for following the same conduct and performance expectations as they would in the office.

Maddie Pfeifer (News and Managing editor), Austin De Dios (Reporter) and Dora Totoian (Opinion Editor and Reporter) contributed to this story.