The Klamath County Board of County Commissioners awarded $150,000 in Coronavirus Relief Funds to Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) to support remote learning and student-focused classroom improvements. The grant funds stem from a federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) allocation made earlier this year to the State of Oregon.

The $2 trillion federal CARES Act provides financial assistance to individuals, businesses, community organizations, and state and local governments. Oregon is estimated to receive about $13 billion in total CARES Act funding, $3.4 billion which is allocated for community groups, health care providers, colleges, school districts, and other organizations. Klamath County received more than $2 million in Coronavirus Relief Fund money.

The funding from the County comes at a critical time for Oregon Tech as the university continues to expand information technology needs to support distance learning and telework to provide safe, alternative learning and working modalities in light of COVID-19. Brian Fox, vice president of Finance and Administration, expressed thanks on behalf of Oregon Tech for the support from the Commissioners to acquire funds to benefit organizations in Klamath County. “Our thanks go to each of the County Commissioners for their ongoing support for Oregon Tech. We, like many, have had significant increased costs responding to the pandemic and this support allows us to maintain safe operations, including in-person and remote teaching to keep our students on track toward completion.”

Oregon Tech has experienced academic and operational adaptations in response to the impacts of COVID-19. As the virus held the world in its tight grip, Oregon Tech moved quickly to limit educational impacts on students. Oregon Tech’s Business Affairs Office worked with Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris to understand the federal funding available from the County to support costs incurred from COVID-19. “Supporting our various educational institutions, including Oregon Tech, during these challenging times, has been a priority of the Board of Commissioners,” shared Commissioner Minty Morris. “We are happy we were able to assist the University in their important work. The community is severely stressed right now, and we are hoping to do as much as we can to help students, faculty and families.”

Since March, Oregon Tech has responded to an uncertain revenue environment by quickly reducing personnel and nonpersonnel costs and implementing programs which will reduce the cost-curve over the next several years. These include furloughs, an early retirement program, leaving positions open and holding back on discretional expenses across the University. “This funding comes at a critical time for Oregon Tech and as COVID‐19 continues to impact our operations,” said Dr. Erin Foley, vice president of Student Affairs and Dean of Students. “Oregon Tech is working to fully utilize technology as one of several efforts to minimize exposure and facilitate physical distancing. This grant will give us the opportunity to continue to provide support to students during these challenging times.”

OREGON TECH BEGINS WINTER TERM REMOTELY

With an abundance of caution, Oregon Tech has been preparing for winter term to begin in January. The changing nature of the pandemic and the status of each community where campuses and teaching sites are located requires continuing review of plans, staying aligned with the framework provided by Oregon’s governor and the Oregon Health Authority.

As the University wrapped up fall term remotely the week after Thanksgiving, winter term will begin Jan. 4, 2021. Given the short time between the holidays and the start of the term, Oregon Tech’s Klamath Falls campus will teach lectures and labs (i.e., all instruction) through remote delivery for the first two weeks, with a return to a hybrid remote and in-person instruction starting the week of Jan. 18. Residence halls will open Jan. 2 so students can return to campus housing.

At the Portland-Metro campus, classes will follow the same format as for fall, with lectures being taught remotely and labs in-person.

In the interest of everyone’s health and safety, Oregon Tech requires the use of face coverings by all faculty, staff, students, and visitors who are physically present at an Oregon Tech location, in enclosed public or common areas and outside if 6 feet physical distancing cannot be maintained. Cloth face coverings, face shields or alternative, are to be used in combination with other preventative measures, such as physical distancing and proper hand-washing.

In communication sent to campus communities, senior leadership thanked everyone for their continued vigilance and precautions. “We know you hear this frequently but until vaccines are available these are the best measures we can take to curtail the spread of the virus in our community…We recognize the importance of continuing face-to-face instructions and labs because of our applied programs and are focused on doing so safely and in the best interest of our students' education.”

Oregon Tech’s coronavirus site will continue to provide up-to-date information at www.oit.edu/coronavirus.

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