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SOU tells students to stay home after Thanksgiving

In a letter posted to Southern Oregon University’s website Wednesday, president Linda Schott urged students currently living in residence halls to return home for Thanksgiving and stay there for the remainder of fall term to help slow the community spread of COVID-19 and “begin winter term on a positive trajectory.”

Schott’s letter also included a new coronavirus policy at SOU. Before returning to residence halls, SOU students will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken two days before their return to campus — SOU student-athletes return Dec. 28, and the rest of the student body returns Jan. 2 — and during the winter term all in-residence housing students will be “asked” to participate in random testing.

The letter did not specify whether students were obligated to take the random tests. Schott also announced that students who need a test upon their return to campus will be able to receive one “as quickly as possible” but did not specify whether students would be allowed to stay in the residence halls while awaiting the results. Attempts to reach the school after business hours Wednesday were unsuccessful.

SOU, which lists student and staff cases on its website along with a brief summary of events (example: “The student is in isolation and contact tracing was performed”), has reported 10 cases of COVID-19 since Nov. 12 — all students.

“Violations to the university’s campus requirements have increased over the last several weeks, and unfortunately, this is resulting in suspensions and other warnings for students,” Schott wrote. “Our goal is to keep you safe, not to impose sanctions that hinder your ability to work toward your degree.

“I appreciate everyone’s efforts to stay safe this fall and I urge you to remain both disciplined and vigilant. Continue to maintain social distancing, wear appropriate face coverings, and avoid gathering in large groups or with people you don’t know.”

Mail Tribune education reporterJoe Zavala can be reached at 541-821-0829 or jzavala@rosebudmedia.com.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneA student returns to campus after picking up lunch in between Shasta Hall and McLoughlin Hall at SOU.