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RCC and SOU go remote-only for spring term

Local higher education centers will go close their doors to the public and go online only for the spring term following a new executive order by the governor issued Wednesday night that’s directing the state’s colleges and universities to operate remotely through at least the end of April.

Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University will close their physical doors to the public at 5 p.m. Friday, and dramatically limit their on-campus operations for the spring term.

RCC spokesman Grant Walker said students will have access to computer labs at the community college’s Riverside campus in Medford and Redwood campus in Grants Pass, and the library is “looking into what it can do.”

“All other services will be provided online,” Walker said, saying that services such as counseling, tutoring, instruction and academic advising will all be handled by video conferencing.

Walker said career and technical education instructors are currently working to develop online instruction for classes such as welding.

“Our faculty is working really hard. Our IT is working really hard,” Walker said.

For the few classes that can’t be taught online, students will be offered alternatives to ensure they graduate on time. Some of the alternatives may not be determined until Tuesday, but Walker encouraged students to register now, adding that staff will work with students as the course schedule changes.

“The college will find ways to complete their programs and graduate,” Walker said.

Walker said the college is waiting on direction from the governor related to its health care programs, but he anticipates the programs will be able to continue.

“We’ve got a crisis and our local hospitals need staff,” Walker said. “We’re hoping we can keep this going.”

The college hopes to resume in-person instruction by the summer term, but Walker acknowledged they’re in the midst of a “really fluid situation.”

“Depending on circumstances we’ll change as needed,” Walker said.

Starting Saturday, Southern Oregon University’s main campus in Ashland will only be open only to SOU faculty, staff and students, according to a release issued late Thursday afternoon.

The university is looking into modifying its tuition rate and student fees for the remainder of the year, and said the university will waive interest on all student accounts and late payment fees for all of spring term.

Most SOU employees will be encouraged to work remotely until further notice, and those remaining on campus will be required to follow social distancing guidelines, the university said.

SOU says the new measures are in line with those adopted by Oregon’s six other public universities in response to governor Brown’s latest executive order, which prohibits colleges from “conducting in-person classroom laboratory and other instruction,” starting Saturday until at least April 28.

Student housing and dining services will remain open through spring term, but SOU’s The Hawk dining commons will only offer takeout.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay. Reach reporter Nick Morgan at nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4471 . Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

Mail Tribune file photo of the High Tech Center at Rogue Community College in White City.