LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The UP administration hears you

By John Donato | October 29, 2020 4:59pm

Fr. John Donato is the vice president for Student Affairs. Photo: UP Marketing and Communications.

Dear Editorial Staff,

I write regarding the University’s approach to COVID-19 testing and management of positive COVID-19 cases among students. I hear the requests for greater transparency on these issues, and this submission is intended to provide more information. I ask that you please publish this submission as a response to your editorial dated October 29.

The University is presently aware of two students who have received positive COVID-19 test results. After the Health and Counseling Center (HCC) was made aware that these students had tested positive through our Care Team, an HCC care provider ensured these students are isolating in a designated isolation residence hall on campus and receiving support.

Contact Tracing

If the HCC performs the COVID-19 test, the HCC works with Multnomah County and assists in contact tracing. The HCC health provider will then daily track the progress of the student who tested positive and provide medical consultation during the recovery process. When the test is performed by the HCC health provider, the HCC reaches out to the others possibly impacted and offers professional consult for their situation.

Care of Students in Isolation

If the University is notified that a student has tested positive from sources outside the HCC, University staff are involved in the care of local students should they be in isolation or quarantine. Daily contact and support are tailored to each student’s specific needs and comes from Residence Life hall staff, Campus Ministry, and a specially designated case manager for quarantine and isolation.

Testing On Campus

In relation to overall COVID-19 testing on campus, Athletics and the School of Nursing have conducted extensive testing for their community members. Out of the HCC, the University has conducted over 104 COVID-19 tests this semester.

Expectations for Communication

When it comes to widespread community notifications on positive COVID-19 cases, the University follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Oregon Health Authority. This guidance states that communities should be alerted when there are significant outbreaks of COVID-19.

Nevertheless, as announced by Fr. Poorman via email on October 2, information regarding testing and any COVID-19 positivity that occurs will be provided in a publicly-available dashboard next semester. Given the low number of students currently residing on campus, we initially intended for the dashboard to go live early next semester when residence halls reopen to all students. However, we have decided to accelerate development of the dashboard and publish it to the University’s website as soon as we are able.

I refer students once again to the October 2 email, which provides more details on the testing and health and safety protocols for next semester. More information on these matters will be provided in advance of the spring semester.

As always, students who have questions about COVID-19 or feel as though they should be tested should contact the Health & Counseling Center (hcc@up.edu).

Commitment to Transparency

Members of UP leadership and I understand very well that it is imperative to communicate and collaborate with our entire community to successfully make it through this pandemic (arguably the most significant challenge that our University has faced in its history). We are committed to enhancing our communication channels in order to continue to provide relevant, necessary information that will result in a safe, healthy and successful 2020-21 academic year.


Fr. John J. Donato, C.S.C.
Vice President for Student Affairs

John Donato is the vice president for Student Affairs. He can be reached at donato@up.edu.

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