Governor visits campus to thank the UO for pandemic efforts

Article first appeared in Around the O on October 15.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown visited the UO on Friday to recognize the university’s commitment and progress in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Brown began the day touring the UO’s COVID-19 Monitoring and Assessment Program. The governor noted the success of the program, which helped allow the UO to return to in-person instruction and provides free community testing. 

The UO also partnered with the Oregon Health Authority to provide COVID-19 testing for public and private K-12 schools throughout Oregon during the 2021-22 school year. To date, the program has administered more than 115,000 free COVID-19 tests to UO students and employees and Oregon residents. 

“Our state has benefited greatly from having a research university like the University of Oregon during the pandemic,” Brown said. “The UO’s world-class researchers, facilities and the logistical capabilities have helped the state mitigate spread and keep K-12 schools open by offering free testing for kids.”

“It means a lot to our staff to have the governor visit and see these efforts firsthand,” said Brian Fox, executive director of the program. “The UO’s COVID testing team has been working incredibly hard to expand access to free, highly accurate PCR testing for K-12 students throughout southwestern Oregon. We are looking forward to expanding into central and southeastern Oregon in the coming weeks.”

The testing program’s free K-12 testing rolled out within weeks of the start of the 2021-22 school year, providing peace of mind for parents across the region by adding one more layer of protection. Currently,5,700 students and 100 schools are enrolled.

The program has recently been asked to expand testing to the health authority’s Region 7 school districts. Expertise from the College of Education has helped the program create and design a system that works with and for schools.  The visit also included a tour of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact followed by a roundtable discussion about child and family well-being during the pandemic.

Phil Fisher, Philip H. Knight Chair and director of the UO Center for Translational Neuroscience, launched the RAPID-EC early childhood and family well-being survey in April 2020. The goal of the survey is to inform stakeholders and policy makers about the needs of families due to the pandemic.  

To date, the research has looked at how the pandemic has affected nonparental care, children’s routines, and parent and child well-being over time. It also has recommended well-check visits and vaccinations.

—By Molly Blancett, University Communications