College prepares COVID-19 precautionary measures


Dan Spatz
Executive Director, Institutional Advancement, (541) 506-6034

What is social distancing?

Health officials define social distancing as avoiding crowds and mass public gatherings, and when possible, maintaining a distance of at least three feet from others. Social distancing also means staying home when ill, avoiding contact with people who have symptoms of illness, and not shaking hands.

March 13, 2020

Columbia Gorge Community College is taking several precautionary measures as the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) prompts concern among students, staff and community.

“Our college is committed to providing a safe and healthy educational environment, but we recognize the way we provide service may need to shift for a time in response to recommendations from the Governor, Oregon Health Authority, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to help slow the rate of exposure and potential illness,” said Dr. Marta Yera Cronin, president of Columbia Gorge Community College.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown does not recommend that Oregon’s colleges close at this time. Likewise, Washington State’s community colleges remain open currently. Columbia Gorge Community College will stay open, but CGCC is expanding its on-line instructional capacity so that students will be able to access their classes remotely to the greatest extent possible through such tools as Moodle and Zoom. CGCC is also abiding by Gov. Brown’s ban on large public events with more than 250 people, effective immediately, through April 8, 2020. This may affect some activities over the next four weeks.

“This situation is changing day by day, so we ask constituents to check the CGCC website for status updates,” Dr. Cronin emphasized.

Information resources and updates regarding CGCC’s response to COVID-19 are posted through college social media and on the college’s website,
Columbia Gorge Community College recognizes the challenges remote learning presents for hands-on career-technical programs and labs. These programs will continue in person, but CGCC will implement social distancing measures to maintain a distance of at least three feet between individuals.

Columbia Gorge Community College will cancel college-associated gatherings and group activities that do not allow for individuals to maintain a distance of three feet or more from one another (referred to as “social distancing”). The college will limit all non-essential travel, including in- and out-of-state, as well as limit all non-essential meetings above 20 people. Zoom will be used as an alternative.

The college hosts the region’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which is working with the SBDC state network to provide comprehensive economic resilience and emergency preparedness for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 virus and other issues in general. “We have some funding now to train our small business community,” said SBDC director Greg Price.

College administrators are reviewing which positions at the college may have the opportunity to work remotely from home. Those decisions will be communicated as soon as is appropriate.

All operational changes will remain in place through at least April 8. The college will continue to evaluate the situation based on recommendations from federal, state and local health authorities, and make updates as appropriate.

“Columbia Gorge Community College recognizes implementing such measures may raise questions, and cause disruption and concern,” Dr. Cronin noted. “We are asking that all students and college employees accommodate these changes so we can provide as much service as possible during this challenging time. We are also asking that everyone takes personal responsibility in making sure to frequently wash your hands with soap and lukewarm water, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or the inside of your elbow, and stay home if you are sick or have symptoms of illness.

“Columbia Gorge Community College’s priority is to provide students and staff with a safe learning environment -- this is the principle that guides all of our decisions,” Dr. Cronin concluded. “Thank you for your support, grace, and sharing the responsibility for the health of our community.”