COVID-19 Business Continuity Plan

Botany and Plant Pathology

Note: This continuity plan will be reviewed regularly and updated as needed.

Last Update: April 8, 2020

Stay Home Save Lives:  The Governor executed an Executive Order for Stay Home Save Lives.  It is effective immediately and is available here.

OSU COVID-19 updates, responses and resources can be found here. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is a particularly helpful resource.

Future updates: The state and the university will be reviewing matters on a frequent basis. As such, all of the above may be revised on short notice, resulting in further restrictions. Stay Home and Save Lives. We will get through this and the more we comply with state and university policies, the sooner we will get back to normal.

Cordley Hall

Cordley Hall will be locked and closed to the public. Access to the building by faculty, researchers, students and staff is allowed in order to execute critical and essential functions, but be sure you have your OSU ID with you. Clarity on critical and essential functions is provided below, but please keep in mind that the overall goal is the minimize the number of people in Cordley and the amount of time any one person spends in the building. Also, this is a fluid situation and things may change with little to no notice.

Botany and Plant Pathology Office

The Botany and Plant Pathology office will be staffed with one person from 10am to 2pm. The office is closed to in-person visits except in cases of an emergency. All other business and social interactions should be conducted by phone, Zoom, or email. A weekly schedule will be posted below with contact information.

BPP contacts

Joey Spatafora, Department Head
John Fowler, Associate Dept Head
Dianne Simpson
Blaine Baker
Chris Mundt
  • Role: Backup for Cordley Building issues associated with -80C freezer, growth chambers, etc.; lives close to campus and can respond to emergencies
  • Office phone: 541-737-5256

BPP related facilities


The OSU Herbarium is closed until further notice.

Plant Clinic

The Plant Clinic is a critical and essential facility.  It will remain open, but a COVID-19 plan is being implemented that only allows for plant specimens to mailed in or dropped off at a centralized location that does not require in-person contact.  See the Plant Clinic website for updated information.

Botany Farm

The Botany farm is a critical and essential facility. All trips to the Botany Farm should be to complete essential research functions only. They have requested that all office visits be ceased where possible.  Emails from Kelly O’Neil and Dan Curry will be forwarded to the Department. For more specific information contact Kelly O’Neil or Dan Curry.

Nematode Testing Facility

The NTS is a critical and essential facility.  It will remain open, but a COVID-19 plan is being implemented that only allows for samples to be mailed in or dropped off at a centralized location that does not require in-person contact.  See the Nematode Testing Service website for updated information.

Sudden Oak Death Testing

Sudden Oak Death (SOD) testing is a critical and essential facility.  The testing service will remain active, but a COVID-19 plan is being implemented that only allows for samples to be mailed in or dropped off at a centralized location that does not require in-person contact.  Contact Jared LeBoldus for additional information.

Green houses

No new experiments should be initiated at this time.  All exterior doors will be kept locked.  Access will be granted to essential personnel only.  Each lab is to designate the minimal number of people who are essential.  Please communicate these names to Jim Ervin, cc the Dept Head, and arrange for scheduled access to the greenhouses. Emails from Jim Ervin will be forwarded to the Department.  For more specific information contact Jim Ervin.

Printing and Mail

Printing and mail, including express sending and receiving, are essential services. All mail and packages will be delivered to OSU Printing and Mailing. Up-to-date information can be found on the Printing & Mailing Services website. The department will arrange pickups and deliveries on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. PIs or designated laboratory personnel will be notified of deliveries. If you need a delivery or pickup on Tuesday or Thursday, contact Blaine Baker.


Teaching is considered a critical or essential function. Remote teaching should be delivered from home whenever possible. Faculty are allowed to teach remotely from campus, using campus internet, if they cannot do so from home. Cordley classrooms available for remote delivery of classes are 1064, 1070, 3077 and 3089. You must, however, practice social distancing within Cordley Hall. Please deliver what you can from home and come into Cordley Hall only when absolutely necessary.

All faculty who are teaching Spring term are required to upload all course materials to CANVAS, and deliver all lectures remotely using ZOOM and CANVAS at the regularly scheduled class times. All labs will also be delivered online. Laboratory supply kits will be mailed to students. A few exceptions to this practice exist for students that are on campus or in Corvallis. If students in Corvallis need to pick up supplies for the lab component of the course the following must be followed, and no additional in-person contacts or meetings are allowed:

  • materials in lab kits needed to be sanitized with 70% ethanol;
  • lab kits need to be packaged using latex or nitrile gloves;
  • lab kit pickups need to be coordinated to maximize social distancing. No student may overlap with another student temporally or spatially for a pickup.

The delivery of our Spring term courses is an “all hands on deck” situation and we must be prepared to chip-in where needed and were possible. With this in mind, we have identified teaching backups in case an instructor becomes ill and cannot physically deliver their class on line. Faculty, Instructors, and Graduate Students have volunteered to serve as backups for classes for which they have some expertise. All backup activities will be documented; the portion of a graduate student’s appointment will be converted to GTA; Instructors’ appointments will be adjusted as possible; and Faculty are asked to be prepared to assist in delivery of courses as needed. The list of backup instructors and GTAs will be distributed to each instructor of record and they will share their syllabus and provide Canvas access, as needed. For additional information regarding backup instructors and GTAs, contact Joey Spatafora and John Fowler.

List of Spring Term on campus classes:
  1. BOT 101 Botany: a human concern
  2. BOT 321 Plant Systematics
  3. BOT 324 Fungi in Society
  4. BOT 332 Laboratory Techniques in Plant Biology
  5. BOT 341 Plant Ecology
  6. BOT 425/525 Flora of the Pacific Northwest
  7. BOT 458/558 Ecosystem Genomics
  8. BOT 460/560 Functional Genomics
  9. BOT 466/566 Bryology
  10. BOT 476/576 Introduction to Computing in Life Sciences

Additional university information and resources can be found at Keep Teaching and Keep Learning.


The latest email from Anita Azarenko (Vice Provost for Extension and Engagement/ Director of the Extension Service) dated March 23, 2020:

  • All programming, activities and services will be provided remotely or canceled if this is not feasible.
  • Effective March 23, 2020, county offices will be closed. If you need to access the building for any materials, supplies or equipment, please inform your supervisor and do so as soon as possible this week. Follow recommended physical distancing when in the office.
  • Employees should work remotely. Please make arrangements with your supervisor if you have not already done so.
  • Regional directors will identify one individual per off-campus location to monitor building security, receive mail, and perform other critical functions determined by the university.
  • Lindsey Shirley and I will work with on-campus Extension units to identify physical staffing necessary for critical functions determined by the university.


All OSU travel needs to be approved by the Department and the College. For trips to regularly visited, local facilities (e.g., the Botany Farm, Hyslop and Lewis Brown), a blanket request can be made. Please fully comply with this requirement. Use this web power form to make requests. Emails from CAS will be forwarded to the Department.


Numerous elements of research are considered critical or essential functions. Determining what is critical and essential is determined by each laboratory PI in collaboration with the Department. The Research Office describes this as “idle” mode with respect to laboratory activities. The goal is to maximize personal and public health while minimizing negative impact on our research mission.

The OSU COVID-19 website FAQ page provides this policy explanation: “Until further notice, every laboratory should transition to minimal operations (e.g. “idle” mode). This level of operation should require only infrequent and short-term visits by critical personnel. Critical activities would be those that maintain the continued viability of large and complex projects, as well as unique specimens and collections; plants and animals or cultures; highly specialized analytical, manufacturing; computing facilities; and field-based facilities and laboratories. Researchers should consult with their department heads, deans or the vice president for research, as appropriate, to discuss research facilities that support essential research and to determine how best to transition labs and facilities.” Emails from Vice President for Research Irem Tumer will be forwarded to the department.

The College of Agricultural Sciences provided this guidance on determining critical and essential research functions:
  1. Continue ongoing large or complex projects at the level needed to maintain the long-term investments in this research.
  2. Maintain unique specimens and collections, plants and animals or cultures; highly specialized analytical, manufacturing, computing facilities; and field-based facilities (such as orchards).
  3. OSU is committed to all students reaching their academic goals. Research required to complete thesis projects, especially for students whose graduation could be delayed if the work isn’t done, is high priority. This is especially true for students scheduled to graduate in spring term of 2020 (Oregon State University Pledge to students).
  4. Continue work required to fulfill contractual agreements Please note: we are already receiving guidance from national funding agencies and the Agricultural Research Foundation expressing understanding regarding the need to deviate from research plans proposed in funded grants. Therefore, if research is deemed critical for this criterion alone, the PI must explore options that the contracting or granting entity will allow for an extended project period and discuss this with the Department Head or branch experimental station Director.
  5. Continue to provide services that are essential to stakeholders. Examples include the Plant Clinic, Endophyte Service lab, seed certification, and many others.
  6. Continue or initiate research that, if not done now, will delay a project by at least one year. Research that would be harmed or have its impact reduced by significant delays (i.e., a year) are essential to the research enterprise of OSU and Oregon and can continue or, on a case by case basis, initiated. Examples include field research that must be done during a critical time that occurs only once a year.
  7. Initiate or continue research to address an imminent and severe threat to society, such as COVID-19 itself. This research is needed to combat a newly emerging threat, such as devastating crop diseases or dangerous/proliferating invasive species.

To summarize:
  • Please work from home whenever possible.
  • Transition labs to minimal operations; “idle” mode.
  • Anticipate new directives that may affect research operations.
  • Begin limiting research activities involving human subjects and animals.
  • Prioritize graduate student progress, especially students who are scheduled to graduate in Spring or Summer of 2020.
  • Help support staff, technicians and postdoctoral researchers in continuing work.

Laboratory activities that fit the above description can be maintained with following stipulations:
  • Each PI must develop a laboratory or research group continuity plan to maintain minimal operations or “idle mode”.
  • The plan should include the following:
    1. A. Critical research activities.
    2. B. Critical personnel for each activity. Personnel can include faculty, researchers, postdocs, FRA, technicians, graduate students, and undergraduates.
    3. C. Social Distancing. Temporal and spatial elements to maintain appropriate social distancing. Safety should be maintained, however, and persons should not work in laboratories unsupervised.
    4. D. Sanitation. Sanitizing plan for touched surfaces before and after working in the lab.
  • Each PI needs to send their laboratory continuity plan to the Department Head.
  • No persons exhibiting symptoms of corona virus infection are allowed in Cordley Hall.
  • If you have been exposed to a person who has tested positive, a 2-week self-quarantine is required before prior to re-entering Cordley Hall.
  • Please contact Joey Spatafora or John Fowler if you have questions about designations of critical functions within your laboratory.

All non-laboratory work should be conducted remotely from home. These activities include, but are not limited to:
  • Email
  • Computational analyses
  • Online research
  • Reading and literature review
  • Scientific writing (manuscript and thesis preparation).

PIs and lab managers should routinely visit the OSU COVID-19 FAQ webpage for any updates. (Select “Researchers and Lab Managers” from the “Filter by Category” drop down menu.) Additional university information and resources can be found at Keep Working. Finally, prepare a plan that would provide for possible cessation of ALL research activities. An escalation of state and university responses to the spread of COVID-19 may occur with little advance notice.