The University of Oregon (UO) fully activated its Incident Management Team (IMT) on February 28, 2020, to monitor and respond to an outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus.
The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
Incident Management Team
The UO's All-Hazard Incident Management Team (IMT) provides the command and control infrastructure required to manage the logistical, fiscal, planning, operational, safety, and campus issues related to any and all incidents/emergencies.
The IMT is a group of trained individuals from across campus who are tasked with managing the logistical, fiscal, planning, operational, safety, and campus issues related to any and all incidents/emergencies, including infections disease outbreaks and pandemics. In addition, the IMT manages all phases of an incident (e.g., response, mitigation, continuity, and recovery).
The UO follows the requirements set forth by the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS). NIMS and ICS provide a nationwide template enabling federal, state, local, and tribal governments and private sector nongovernmental organizations to work together effectively and efficiently to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents regardless of cause, size or complexity.
Using ICS at the UO allows the members of the IMT to coordinate across both academic and administrative units and departments, all schools and colleges, and the Eugene campus and satellite campuses through a common organizational structure. The hierarchical ICS system and chains of communication adapt to rapidly evolving incidents like COVID-19.
Part of the ICS protocol is to establish objectives for managing a particular situation or incident. For COVID-19, the UO IMT current objectives are:
Reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 illness among students, faculty, staff, and guests of the University of Oregon by updating and maintaining the COVID-19 Health and Safety Operations plan as needed and by addressing the evolving situation.1.1 Finalize and implement winter break plans to maintain and expand COVID-19 testing, housing isolation/quarantine operations, and core campus operations services.
Implement comprehensive testing and contact tracing programs for the university in partnership with Lane County Public Health and Oregon Health Authority.2.1 Develop and implement plans for COVID-19 testing in the 2021 winter term.
Develop agile and equity‐minded strategies and direct action to minimize the disruption to our students, faculty, and staff through effective communication, engagement, academic planning, research, and service.
Keep the campus informed of new developments, Oregon Health Authority and CDC guidance, and the university's action to mitigate and respond, and to maintain operations.
Document the financial impacts of the COVID-19 illness on the university's operations, develop financial scenarios and mitigation strategies to aid in the continuity and recovery efforts and protect its long-term financial stability.
As of this update, the IMT is now entering modes or phases related to continuity, engagement resumption planning, case management and community recovery. The long-term recovery planning lead by the president will utilize a more standard project management approach.
Key Activation Dates for the UO IMT
January 28, 2020: The IMT was partially activated for COVID-19 response. That team focused on issues around international travel and situational monitoring.
February 27, 2020: The full IMT was activated and expanded beyond our normal structure to include over 150 people, some of whom are standing members of the IMT and others who have been added to lend their operational expertise to this particular response. This expanded team worked around the clock on preparedness, mitigation and response to the outbreak.
March 27, 2020: The IMT added two new sections within the architecture to address ongoing continuity and recovery issues.
April 24, 2020: The IMT revised the objectives to meet the new planning needs of the evolving situation.
June 10, 2020: The IMT revised the objectives to meet the new planning needs of the evolving situation.
October 1, 2020: The IMT revised the objectives and its structure to meet the new planning and operational needs of the evolving situation.
Current IMT Structure as of October 1, 2020
President’s Policy Group
Chaired by the University of Oregon President
The policy group consists of the president, provost, several vice presidents and senior staff. This group provides direction and makes strategic policy decisions for the university. In conjunction with the incident commanders, the policy group sets the objectives for the IMT.
Agency Administrator, VP for Finance and Administration
The official responsible for the management of a campus(s) or functional area. The senior administrative officer of the university having responsibility for incident mitigation and management. The agency administrator is part of the policy group and has the authority to make emergency response decisions on behalf of the policy group.
Incident Commander, Chief Resilience Officer-AVP for Safety and Risk Services
Deputy Incident Commander, Associate Vice President Campus ServicesThe incident commander oversees the operations of the IMT. The incident commander brief the policy group on the status of all operations and advise the policy group when strategic decisions need to be made for the university. The incident commander hold briefings with local, state, and national agency administrators, e.g. Lane County Public Health and Oregon Health Authority.
IMT/UO Communication Lead
- Vice President for Communications
The communications lead oversees all university communications related to the incident/emergency including internal and external facing communications. The communications lead serves as the liaison with local and state public information officers.
- Chief of Staff to President
- Chief of Staff to Provost
This group includes the chiefs of staff for the president and provost. This group is charged with serves as liaisons between the IMT and senior leadership, including reviewing requests from faculty and staff for resumption activities e.g. facility access requests and event resumption requests.
Government relations staff covering local, state, and federal serve as the external liaison officers serve as the primary point of contact for local, state and federal government agencies.
- Director of Environmental Health & Safety
The safety officer is responsible for ensuring that safety regulations are adhered to, and for assessing unsafe situations or hazards. The safety officer also serves as a liaison to campus to assist with adherence to state guidance on resumption of operations. This includes guidance on physical distancing, cleaning protocols and face coverings.
Planning Section Chief
- Enterprise Risk Management, Project Manager
The planning section chief is responsible for collecting, evaluating, and disseminating information as the situation develops. The planning section chief facilitates all IMT briefings, works with the operations section on resumption planning, and documents actions through situation reports.
Finance Section Chief
- University Controller
The finance section chief oversees all financial and cost analysis of the incident/emergency. This includes management of external state and federal funding requests.
Operations Section Chief
- Section Chief, Safety and Risk Services Director of Operations
- Deputy Section Chief, Director of Athletic Events Services
The operation section chief ensures operations are consistent with the IMT objectives. This operations structure is where issues are reviewed, assessed, and recommendations are developed.
Below are the branches under the operations section:
- UO Housing
- Implements and maintains COVID-19 mitigation strategies to reduce likelihood of spread of illness in residence halls and dining facilities.
- Provides guidance on phased plan to resume activities across the research enterprise. Review and approves lab and PI specific resumption plans.
- Information Services
- Implements technology improvements to assist educators in teaching in person, hybrid, or remotely. Additionally, the branch monitors data systems and responds to any issues.
- Academic and Instruction
- Develops and implements COVID-19 strategies for instruction for both in person and remote modalities. Manages operational aspects of advising and other academic support infrastructure.
- Campus Community Support
- Develops and implements COVID-19 specific response and support resources for our faculty, staff and students.
- Facilities, Safety and Security
- Implements and maintains operational plans to support instruction, in-person experiences, informal learning, research operations, etc.
- Monitoring and Assessment Program
- Develops and implements three pronged testing strategies for campus: 1) diagnostic testing, 2) screening for higher risk and congregate living settings on campus, and 3) community prevalence.
- COVID-19 Case Management
- Develops support resources for students, faculty and staff who contract or have been exposed to COVID-19. This includes the isolation and quarantine plans for residence hall students, and contact tracing efforts in support of the county.
- Intercollegiate Athletics
- Implements and maintains athletic resumption plans for practice and competition in close coordination with the PAC-12, NCAA, Lane County Public Health and Oregon Health Authority.
- UO Housing
Logistics Section Chief
University Chief Procurement Officer
The logistics section chief serves as liaison to the operations section, managing and ordering necessary equipment, services, software and supplies.
Community Recovery Section Chief
Section Chief, Senior Director Community Relations
The community recovery section chief serves as liaison to local government, agencies, local business partners and consultants on community recovery.
The following UO Institutes and centers are involved in this section:
- Institute for Policy Research & Engagement
- Economic Development Administration University Center (EDAUC)
- Oregon Partnership for Disaster Resilience (OPDR)
The IMT holds weekly briefings where incident commander, section chiefs, officers, branch directors and work group leads provide updates to the entire IMT. This prevents duplication of efforts, ensures each group is working toward the operational objectives set by the policy group, and can identify issues that necessitate strategic guidance from the Policy Group.
Building a Safe and Strong Oregon | Reopening Criteria
Oregon’s phased approach to reopening Oregon’s communities and economy in an effort to allow individual counties to begin reopening if they have met specific health and safety criteria. These criteria are designed to ensure each county has the capacity to slow the spread of COVID‐19 and protect those at highest risk of severe disease as we work to build a safe and strong Oregon.
The gating criteria (e.g., testing, contact tracing, and health care capacities, etc.) for transitioning from phase 1 to phase 2 will be met at the county level. The Oregon gating criteria are not intended to be applied individually by a university or college, as our campuses are part of the broader community.
On April 21, 2020, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) outlined a proposed process for reopening postsecondary education in Oregon. Representatives of Oregon’s community colleges, public universities, and private non‐profit universities assembled workgroups of institutional leaders to develop resumption guidelines using national best practices for general instruction, research, residential and dining services, and health care education instruction.
The goal of this work was to follow public health directives and create a set of guidelines that could be used as high‐level criteria, not detailed operational campus plans. As of June 10, 2020, the Oregon Health Authority has not released the final guidance. College and university functions beyond instruction, research, and residential services should follow applicable executive orders and Oregon Health Authority guidance.