September 11, 2020
Dear UO Faculty and GEs,
As we all know, the fires raging across Oregon – causing severe damage to homes, businesses, and even some loss of human life – have created yet even more hardship for our community. Everyone received a message yesterday from President Schill, who offered support and a host of resources available to those affected by the fires. I hope that you and your loved ones are out of harm’s way, and that you are able to stay safely indoors given the awful air quality.
Any faculty, staff, or students who are impacted by the wildfires should connect with their supervisors or instructors. For more information, the UO has set up a resource website, along with a regularly updated site for UO employees and students. Support also is accessible through the Employee Assistance Program. And you can use this web form if you or someone you know from the UO community has faced hardships from the fires.
We have already heard from a number of people in our community who have had to be evacuated and it is likely that soon we will hear from students who’ve had their lives turned upside down by the fires. Please try to show some compassion and understanding if you encounter students who are in this position. We need to stand together in the face of the adversity that we are seeing.
As local, state, and federal officials battle the thousands of acres of wildfires, it is important for us to note that nearly 30 percent of the firefighting workforce is made up of college students. A number of those students might miss some classes if the fires continue. As such, Oregon Governor Kate Brown has asked all Oregon colleges and universities to consider that as classes commence, instructors offer a level of leniency to students who are part of that workforce.
Faculty members should be aware that we will ask any student firefighters to notify the Office of the Provost at email@example.com if they expect to be absent once classes start. We will work with the students and their instructors to determine whether or not any absences inhibit successful completion of certain classes. UO will assist with cancelling the registrations with no penalties for these students if it is deemed necessary.
Hopefully, given our traditionally late start for the term, the fires will have subsided and this won’t become an issue. Faculty and GEs teaching summer term courses that end today may see a handful of students who are impacted by the fires, so please extend some leniency in terms of late assignments or final exams for those affected – either as firefighters or as community members who have had to evacuate an area.
Thank you for all you are doing, especially during these difficult times. I hope your families and friends are healthy and safe. Take care.
Provost and Senior Vice President