Linfield cautiously optimistic as Yamhill County begins reopening

Linfield cautiously optimistic as Yamhill County begins reopeningOregon Gov. Kate Brown gave approval Thursday for Yamhill County to begin gradually reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Linfield’s largest campus is in McMinnville, the Yamhill County seat.

Phase 1 of the reopening plan begins Friday, May 15. Restrictions will be eased on retail shops, restaurants, barber shops and salons, provided they can observe appropriate social distancing and use personal protective equipment to guard against the novel coronavirus.

Linfield leaders said they are thankful for the governor’s action. Students at Linfield’s School of Nursing, located in the City of Portland in Multnomah County, remain under stay-at-home orders.

“While this is only a first step, we are excited about the possibility of bringing students, faculty and staff back to our campuses at some point,” said Miles K. Davis, Linfield president.

Davis added that Linfield is pleased to work with government leaders to ensure that the areas surrounding both campuses are able to reopen with careful planning in the future.

The Yamhill County Board of Commissioners made the request to reopen after assuring the governor’s office that the county has adequate testing, contact tracing and hospital capacity to handle COVID-19 patients. According to county officials, there are currently 52 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the county, but no hospitalizations.

“We appreciate the hard work of our local and county officials in establishing guidelines and communication routes to help with the phased-reopening process,” said Patricia Haddeland, Linfield’s director of student health, wellness and counseling. “The college has always enjoyed a strong relationship with Yamhill County Public Health. We look forward to working together to plan for and implement the safe reopening of Linfield.”

The Oregon Health Authority is expected to approve phased-reopening guidelines for colleges and universities in the coming weeks.

Linfield leaders are looking ahead to the fall semester and exploring a wide variety of scenarios under which the university could operate. The planning includes alternatives for instruction, housing and food service, student activities and more.

“We will continue to work with state and county health officials and do all we can to protect the safety and wellbeing of the Linfield community,” Davis said.

Linfield is an independent, non-profit university with campuses in McMinnville and Portland, Oregon. Twenty-eight percent of Linfield students are first-generation college students, and more than one-third are U.S. students of color. The U.S. State Department has honored Linfield for being a top producer of Fulbright Scholars three years in a row.