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To limit spread of COVID-19, university officials are encouraging social distancing.

COURTESY PHOTO: PACIFIC UNIVERSITY - To limit spread of COVID-19, university officials are encouraging social distancing.

Pacific University has canceled its 60th annual Lu'au and Ho'ike, among other major steps intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The celebration of Pacific Islander culture planned for April 11 will not be held this year. The student-run event attracts about 2,000 people every year, including many parents and alumni who fly in from Hawaii.

The decision comes after Gov. Kate Brown announced on Wednesday night, March 11, that gatherings of more than 250 people will be canceled for at least four weeks.

"A gathering is defined as any event in a space in which appropriate social distancing of a minimum of three feet cannot be maintained," a statement from the governor's office added.

Joining several other colleges and universities across the region, Pacific University is also moving to online learning for the spring term, although students staying in residence halls will be allowed to remain on campus.

According to university officials, Pacific will extend spring break to March 31 to allow faculty time to transition courses to online delivery. Starting April 1, all Forest Grove undergraduate courses will be delivered online and intended to continue the rest of spring term.

Students are welcome to stay in Forest Grove through the end of their residence hall contracts. Campus offices, facilities and student support services will remain open. As for campus dining, it will continue after spring break, as usual.

"Students who choose to go home instead may do so, completing the rest of the spring semester remotely," said Pacific's associate vice president of marketing and communications, Jenni Luckett. "A process for checking out of residence halls will be announced early next week for those who do not wish to return to campus after spring break."

Luckett added that the university will consider alternative ways to allow students to present senior capstone projects, as senior projects day will not be possible in its normal format.

By April 1, Pacific's graduate and professional programs will also start delivering many courses online to help encourage social distancing. Some coursework, especially labs and clinical placements, will need to continue on-site.

"Every effort will be made to keep groups small or provide larger spaces for groups to meet," said Luckett. "Program directors will provide more information to students in the coming days. Campus buildings and services will remain open."

The university plans to monitor public health recommendations ahead of May commencement and other year-end celebrations.

Smaller essential university events, including admissions and clinical outreach activities, may continue with appropriate social distancing practices, said Luckett, and non-essential events should be canceled.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now lists a worldwide Level 2 advisory in relation to COVID-19. As a result, the university is canceling study abroad programs for the time being.

"All students abroad in international study or clinical placements should return home immediately," Luckett said. "Students will be able to continue coursework online as available, and programs will work with students individually when online options are not available. Faculty and staff abroad also should return home immediately."

The university has canceled non-essential domestic travel, including field trips. Pacific strongly advises for students and employees to avoid non-essential personal travel.

"To date, there have been no cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in the Pacific community," Luckett said. "We encourage students and employees who feel ill to stay home, and everyone to continue following CDC guidelines for prevention."

Staff is conducting enhanced campus cleaning, specifically wiping down high-touch surfaces such as door handles and counter multiple times a day.

"Pacific's campuses remain open, and we are committed to continuing to educate and support our students," said Luckett.

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