As you likely heard, the first presumptive case of COVID-19 has been reported in Multnomah County. We know this may increase some fear and anxiety. However, at this time there have been no changes in recommendations to what we should be doing to prepare for and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The best response continues to be practicing good judgment and personal hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water (hot or cold), sanitize areas frequently with disinfecting wipes or sanitizing sprays, and stay home if you do not feel well.
MHCC leadership is making all decisions surrounding response to this virus based on the advice issued by the health experts of Multnomah County, Oregon Health Authority, and the Centers for Disease Control. If their guidance and guidelines for response change, our advice too will follow suit. Stay up to date on the latest advice and news surrounding COVID-19 on these websites:
Multnomah County Health Department
Oregon Health Authority
Centers for Disease Control
Going forward, we plan to communicate updates on a weekly basis, typically Tuesdays, to keep you up to speed on the developing situation surrounding COVID-19 in our communities. If anything changes that directly impacts our MHCC faculty, staff or students we will of course provide that update immediately.
Please see below for our response and reminders regarding frequently asked questions surrounding our response to the spread of COVID-19.
Guidance on Closures and Cancellations
Many of you have asked about closures and cancellations. College leadership continues to follow guidance from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Multnomah County Health Department.
As of now, OHA is recommending against closing schools and campuses where no cases of COVID-19 are present. It should also be noted that OHA is recommending that schools, colleges and universities consider all alternatives before closing in the event that a student, faculty or staff member tests positive for COVID-19. The full recommendation from OHA can be found here, but if this changes for any reason, we will be prepared to shift in order to preserve the health and wellbeing of our campus community.
Updated guidelines are anticipated later this week in regard to events and large social gatherings, but we are told that there will not be a recommendation for cancelling or closing venues. We will keep you updated when that information is shared publicly.
As always, please make sure your contact information in the RAVE emergency alert system is accurate so we can reach you if there is a closure (related to COVID-19 or otherwise). You can do this by logging into your MyMHCC account and clicking “RAVE Emergency Alert System”.
Bias, Stigma and Misinformation
This is an unfortunate reality during times of high stress and anxiety. As I have said before, COVID-19 can make anyone sick, regardless of their race or ethnicity, and we are committed to maintaining a learning environment on our campus where everyone should feel welcome to study, work or visit. Please review the attached poster on how to respond to instances of bias and stigma surrounding COVID-19 and remember, if you see something, say something. Please report any instances of harassment to MHCC Public Safety at 503-491-7310.
My sincere thanks go out to everyone for taking steps to prevent the spread of germs, including wiping down areas using the sanitizing kits distributed last week. If you need a refill of any of the supplies in the sanitizing kits, please go directly to the Facilities/Environmental Health and Safety rooms located at 165/166 or by submitting a work order. Pre-packaged disinfecting wipes are also an effective way to prevent the spread of germs, but please note that individual teams are responsible for ordering their own supply of these wipes.
Otherwise, please continue to take the following precautionary measures to protect yourself, your family and your coworkers:
- Wash your hands often with cold or warm water and soap.
- Cover your cough or sneeze.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Keep your immune system strong by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and taking care of underlying health conditions.
- At this time there is not a recommendation to wear a face mask.
- Avoid exposure to the virus. Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel to areas where community transmission has been detected.
- Talk to your supervisor about relevant sick leave and telecommuting policies, especially if you have an underlying health condition that may increase your risk from COVID-19 infection.
Additional links to information and communications may be found on our COVID-19 Resources page if you desire further information at this time.
With your health in mind,
Lisa Skari, EdD
Mt. Hood Community College