Guidance for In-person Gatherings and Events during COVID-19 Pandemic

Maintained by Conference and Event Support Services (CESS) and Student Activities
Approved by University COVID Task Force on 8/3/2020, last reviewed 3/15/2021
most recent update on 3/15/2021


Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission guidance requires the University adhere to “relevant OHA guidance for the respective sector” for any function other than those addressed by the OHA and HECC guidance for higher education, i.e., in-person instruction, residential, and research activities (2020, December 14, p. 2). We have prepared this guidance for faculty, staff, and student leaders who consider organizing an in-person gathering, event, or activity, in order to facilitate the University's adherence to the myriad of applicable guidance. We will do our best to keep this guidance current as federal, state, and local requirements change. Federal, state, or local requirements that are stricter will always supersede this document when changes occur. Furthermore, the University reserves the ability to impose further limitations on in-person gatherings, events, and activities to reduce risk to our continuing in-person instructional activities, students completing their education, students remaining housed on campus, and other mission-critical University operations.

General Meetings, Online, and Hybrid Activities

Everyone is encouraged to consider online meetings and activities to increase inclusion for students who are unable to attend in-person meetings because they have higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, e.g., immunocompromised or other underlying medical conditions, they engage in most activities remotely for personal reasons, or they are practicing self-isolation or under quarantine due to SARS-CoV-2 exposure. Hybrid activities occur simultaneously online and in-person. Hybrid activities likewise increase inclusion for people who cannot attend, perhaps due to in-person attendance capacity or limitations for off-campus guests. Hybrid activities are resilient to in-person cancellations because a plan was already in-place to offer an online component.


The guidance summarized here is not intended to encompass every University activity. University functions operating within their established sector-specific guidance, e.g., University health clinic operations, patient care, research operations, collegiate athletics, dining establishments, retail, etc., are subject to that guidance from OHA. Guidance summarized here is intended for non-instructional University activities that must rely heavily upon general guidance or sector guidance for gatherings, entertainment, recreation, etc.

Requirements for All In-Person Activities

Organizers of all in-person gatherings, events, and activities are required to:

  • Ask people to stay home if they have COVID-19 symptoms. Organizers may remind participants in invitations or sign-up procedures, and should remind people when the activity starts or upon arrival.
    • If an attendee appears ill or demonstrates symptoms of COVID-19, i.e., coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, or feverish, the organizer shall ask the person to leave. The organizer may ask to speak with them privately or may hand them a note from their event kit that states, “I am sorry that you appear to be feeling ill. You are exhibiting symptoms associated with illness and it is my obligation to ask you to leave. Please seek assistance from the Student Health Center by calling them at 503-352-2269 and describing your symptoms. Until you are symptom-free or released by a healthcare provider, you should not attend in-person get-togethers or gatherings.” File a Care Report at about the attendee and incident, so that Student Life staff may follow-up with support for the individual. If the individual refuses to leave, indicate this in your Care Report too.
  • Familiarize yourself with the current-state wide mask requirement at Per campus policy and current state-wide order, require all attendees to wear a face covering at all times except when:
    • they are engaging in a permissible activity that makes wearing a face covering not feasible, such as: eating or drinking, communicating with a person who needs to read lips or see facial expressions to communicate, or playing a wind instrument, for which at least 10 feet of distance is advised.
    • they have an underlying medical condition or disability that precludes them from wearing a face covering, and using a face shield or maintaining at least six feet of distance from others at all times during the in-person activity is determined by the University to be the reasonable accommodation.
  • When an attendee does not have a face covering, e.g., lost, damaged, etc., provide them a disposable one from your event kit. If an attendee refuses to wear a face covering when required, you may ask them to leave. If they refuse to leave, file a Care Report at about the attendee and incident, so that Student Life staff may follow-up with the individual about requirements.
  • Maintain physical distancing at all times between all participants of at least six feet. Even more distance is preferred at times when removing a face covering is permitted. While it is possible and advisable to sing with a mask, group singing, e.g., worship, ceremony, is still not recommended. Individual performers should be spaced at least 10 feet apart from any others if singing or playing a wind instrument. Organizers must appoint at least one person to serve as a physical distancing monitor, who should ensure distance is maintained and instruct people to space out when they congregate too closely, e.g. line up at an entrance or exit. Additional volunteer staffing may be required depending on the size and nature of the activity. Even students who are roommates or intimate partners must be encouraged to assist others by role modeling appropriate distance.
  • Encourage attendees to practice good hygiene, including:
    • frequent handwashing for at least 20 seconds or use of hand sanitizer with 60-95% alcohol content, which may be offered at the start of an activity or whenever touching common objects, e.g., audio-visual equipment, game or crafting equipment, etc.;
    • covering coughs and sneezes with elbow or tissue, and immediately discarding the tissue in garbage and washing hands; and,
    • avoiding touching their face.
  • Plan activities that facilitate all of the above behaviors, in other words:
    • No activities that include physical contact or close spacing, e.g., dancing with a partner or close together; face painting, tattooing, or body art; games, sport, or team builders that involve any touching between participants.
    • Limit touching of shared or common objects to the maximum extent possible.
      • No interactive exhibits or “hands-on demonstrations” that are touched by every willing attendee.
      • Strongly encourage participants to bring their own materials, i.e., pens, scissors if crafting, game controller for gaming, etc, or distribute individual materials at individual, socially-distanced stations when participants arrive.
      • Avoid passing papers, handouts, etc. among participants. Arrange any materials in ways that allow participants to look-and-take rather than touch-to-find. For example, spread markers or individually-wrapped candies on a table so each is visible; do not offer such items from a container where attendees reach in to find the color they want.
      • When materials must be shared, i.e., audio-visual equipment, board game, etc., ask participants to hand sanitize before and after touching and not to touch their face or eat food during. Shared equipment and any other commonly touched devices or tools must be cleaned and disinfected between use.
      • Organizers or event A/V personnel must disinfect or switch microphones and similar shared A/V equipment between every speaker or performer.
  • Utilize air circulation as much as possible, i.e., open windows and doors. In indoor spaces, fans should only be used when windows or doors are open to the outdoors in order to circulate indoor and outdoor air.
  • Maintain an accurate electronic record, including names and email addresses of all attendees:
    • For social gatherings of 12 or fewer people, the following suffices:
      • Student groups that organize get-togethers must email the attendee list to and within 12 hours of the conclusion of the get-together.
      • Faculty and staff organizers must email the attendee lists to within 12 hours of the conclusion of the get-together.
      • It is ill-advised to use a shared paper-and-pen sign-in system. Have one person record names and email addresses electronically or use an advance electronic sign-up.
    • Wipe down tables and commonly touched surfaces with disinfectant provided in the room or from your event kit at the beginning and conclusion of the activity. Depending on the activity, organizers may be required to appoint a volunteer(s) to serve as a sanitation attendant. For small get-togethers, this could be the same person as the physical distancing monitor.

On-Campus Activities, Events and Gatherings

Reservation Requests, Times and Spaces

Staff, faculty, and designated student leaders may continue to request to reserve campus space via EMS: The EMS user must review all these guidelines prior to requesting space.

  • The inventory of spaces that organizers are permitted to use will be fewer due to requirements for cleaning, prioritization of academic instructional activities, or use limitations. For example:
    • Residence hall spaces shall only be reserved by residence life staff for residential activities to eliminate non-resident access to living areas;
    • The UC upper level is reserved for indoor dining purposes to maximize the availability of distanced dining space for students on a meal plan; and,
    • Tabling in the UC to promote organizations or activities is unavailable.
  • EMS users may review the most accurate availability in EMS.
  • Times may be limited due to requirements for cleaning and common facility load concerns, i.e., restrooms, exits, foot traffic between events. Curfews may also be imposed depending on campus conditions or local, state, or federal guidance. For the spring, activities should end by 11:00 p.m. and event organizers should be cleaned-up and out of any reserved spaces by midnight.
  • To ensure proper precautions, under no circumstances shall new reservation requests be considered less than two weeks prior to an in-person gathering, event, or activity.

Food and Refreshments

Organizers are limited to using Bon Appétit for food service or following the non-catered food standard for commercially-prepared, individually-packaged foods only. Self-service of food and drink from communal food sources with multiple touch points is currently prohibited by OHA guidelines at all risk levels. In other words, you may not purchase two liters of soda and let attendees pour their own and you may not purchase a dozen donuts from a bakery and let people grab their own. You could let people take individually-wrapped granola bars or bags of chips. Individually-wrapped items should be served or arranged so people only consume what they touch. Consuming food incurs the risk of people removing masks. Furthermore, eating food at tables necessitates extra attention to arrange distance between attendees. Food safety review requests for outside catering, self- or home-prepared foods, or food fundraisers of any kind shall not be considered. Student club and organization funds for food for in-person, on-campus activities may only be used for Bon Appétit or commercially-prepared, individually-packaged food. See our Alternative Student Group Event Ideas for alternatives to events with outside catering. This restriction shall be reviewed for potential revision, lifting, or exceptions when OHA guidance on food service changes, and no sooner than fall semester 2021. Event organizers indicate and receive approval for their intention to use Bon Appétit, the relevant non-catered food standard, or no food service on their EMS event requests. Additional information and examples for the COVID-approved, non-catered food standard are available under the “Food Service Plan” section when organizers make or revise an EMS event request.

Attendance Limits: Guests, Public

Gatherings, events, and activities for spring 2021 shall continue to be limited to Pacific University students, faculty, and staff only. Organizers of events for prospective students or alumni may consult with their area vice president regarding University-permitted essential functions and proceed accordingly. This restriction shall be considered for potential revision, relaxation, or lifting as deemed timely by the COVID Task Force. According to OHA and HECC guidelines, “Campus spaces and buildings should not be open to the general public,” and functions that are open to the public must “follow the relevant OHA guidance for the respective sector” (2020, p. 2). Any in-person gathering or activity open to anyone other than Pacific University students, faculty, staff, or prospective students necessitates adherence to a host of OHA guidelines depending on the nature of the activity. Guests incur added risk of exposure to the Pacific University community. CDC (2020, “Maintaining healthy operations”) likewise recommends colleges “limit any nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations.”

Attendance Limits: Invited Contractors, Speakers, Performers

Event organizers may invite or hire performers, guest speakers or trainers, or other contractors or service providers to their event. Faculty and staff should work with their dean or director with any required adjustments to the letter of agreement or contracting process. Student leaders must work with Student Activities regarding required adjustments to the letter of agreement or contracting process. Additional requirements may apply, so organizers are encouraged to work well in advance of their event. For example, the state may change quarantine or testing requirements for individuals traveling from other locations. Event organizers shall require any performer, speaker, or contractor to conduct the same self monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms required of faculty and staff prior to reporting to campus. Conduct them to HRs guidance (p. 8) here: Event organizers indicate the presence of a performer or speaker on their EMS event requests. No guest housing is available during the spring semester in order to conserve housing space for managing quarantine, social isolation spaces, and other pandemic needs.

Maximum Gathering Sizes By Risk Level

OHA and HECC (2020, December 10, p. 3) are clear that we are subject to the State’s limits on social gatherings:
”the cumulative effect of OHA’s current sector-specific requirements is that most if not all college/university activities are subject to group gathering size limitations…
…The current social gatherings restrictions are applicable to all members of the college/university community, whether they live on or off-campus.”






Social Gathering, Indoor





Social Gathering, Outdoor





restaurant curfew
for reference

11 p.m.
(outdoor only)

11 p.m.

11 p.m.

12 a.m.

Occupancy shall not exceed the maximum capacity for the activity according to OHA guidance for the respective sector and risk level, and the maximum rating for the space, whichever is lower. Event organizers shall be responsible to:

  1. know the current occupancy limit for the respective risk level and activity, e.g., if you are approved for an indoor social gathering at moderate risk, your limit is 8 and you may not increase to 12 just because the room is rated for 12;
  2. familiarize themselves with occupancy limits the University has established for the specific space;
  3. make plans to adhere to them, e.g., requiring advance registration, utilizing waitlists, staggering or scheduling attendance, etc.

Organizers and other event personnel are counted towards attendance limits, e.g. if you require an audio-visual technician, a Bon Appétit server, a guest performer, you must count them towards your attendance limit. Additionally, for some events, organizers are required by OHA guidance to have additional physical distancing monitors.

Is it a social gathering?

OHA defines “social gathering” as “individuals getting together for a social purpose anywhere” (2021, March 12, p. 1). If you answer “yes,” to any of the following questions, you are hosting a social gathering and subject to the limits:

  • Is the first purpose social?
    For most people, the primary purpose of seeing a movie, performance, or other indoor entertainment is to see the entertainment. They sit in the same place and pay attention to what they’re watching. If you’re going to “see” the other people there and not the entertainment, the purpose is social.
  • Will people mingle?
    When you go for indoor dining during the pandemic, health authorities assume you don’t eat and socialize with the diners outside your OHA-limited party size. If a student organization or academic department hosts an end-of-year dinner, people are not going to remain seated with the same party of 6 or 8 for the evening. Unlike indoor dining in the pandemic, people are not dining at campus events for the food– they are going to be social with the entire group assembled.
  • Is the activity only for members of a specific group? (i.e., a club)
    If the activity is only open to members of a certain group, the primary purpose is social. Entertainment purveyors entertain anyone who wants to see or pay. Indoor fitness establishments provide fitness classes to any paying customer who signs up. Most come to work out and do not socialize together.

Is it an instructional activity?

The HECC guidance is clear that the capacities allowed for classrooms are for instructional functions only. If you answer “yes,” to any of these, higher classroom instruction capacities may apply.

  • Is it required for the attendees to get a degree?
  • Is it required of all people registered for a course and only open to those registered for a course?
  • Is it required to attend Pacific?
    For example, some form of student loan exit counseling is federally mandated. Last Spring, Pacific chose to cancel that in-person activity and do it online.

University-Operated Establishments and Providers, and Other Sector Guidance

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission COVID-19 guidance routinely and distinctly specify the terms “university-operated” and “establishment.” Guidance during the pandemic from these agencies and other public health officials has largely signaled that most student-led co-curriculars do not meet either definition. For example, a table set up by students in the University Center or a building lobby to fundraise for a club or project does not qualify as a “retail establishment,” and a dinner party for 50 hosted by a student club does not qualify as a “restaurant.” The vast majority of our spaces are “established” as classrooms or spaces for instructional purposes, not as entertainment or recreation venues. They may only be used for social gatherings as a lower priority function and within the guidance limits.

The COVID Task Force recognizes the following university offices or departments as having the authority to operate in-person events and activities only as permitted under their sector-specific OHA guidance. Any other university unit wishing to host an in-person event or activity, which they believe qualifies under guidance other than a social gathering or instructional purpose, shall consult with their area vice president, who may request CESS to approve University space and concurrent requirements for said event or activity. Additional University units may be added to this list as public health guidance continues to evolve.

  • Indoor and Outdoor Entertainment Establishments: Conference and Events Support Services, Performing Arts departments with CESS guidance, Student Activities
  • Indoor Recreation and Indoor Fitness Establishments: University Athletics
  • Outdoor Recreation and Outdoor Fitness Establishments: Outdoor Pursuits, University Athletics

Cited Guidance

CDC. (2020, December 31). Considerations for institutions of higher education. CDC.

Oregon Health Authority. (n.d.). Oregon Mask Requirements. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from

Oregon Health Authority (2021, March 12). Sector guidance – Gatherings.

Oregon Health Authority (2020, December 3). Sector guidance – Self-service operations.

Oregon Health Authority. (2021, January 29). Sector guidance – Eating and drinking establishments.

Oregon Health Authority. (2021, January 29). Sector guidance – General guidance for employers and organizations.

Oregon Health Authority. (2021, March 12). Sector guidance – Indoor entertainment establishments.

Oregon Health Authority. (2021, March 10). Sector guidance – Indoor recreation and indoor fitness establishments.

Oregon Health Authority. (2021, January 29). Sector guidance – Outdoor entertainment establishments.

Oregon Health Authority. (2021, March 10). Sector guidance – Outdoor recreation and fitness establishments.

Oregon Health Authority. (2021, March 12). Sector risk level guidance chart.

Oregon Health Authority (2021, March 12). Statewide reopening guidance – Masks, face coverings, face shields.

Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission. (2020, December 14). Guidance for the conduct of in-person instructional, residential, and research activities at Oregon colleges and universities. State of Oregon.

Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission. (2020, December 10). Clarifications on public health guidance: Related to the guidance for the conduct of in-person instructional, residential, and research activities at Oregon colleges and universities, issued June 12, 2020.

Pacific University Human Resources. (2020, July 16). HR return to campus guidelines for faculty and staff.


Contact Us

Conference & Event Support Services
Rogers Building | 503-352-2111 |

Jill Thornton | Director, Conference & Event Support Services
Rogers Building | 503-352-2240 |

Pete Erschen | Assistant Director, Student Activities
University Center 102 | 503-352-3127 |