Community Update

March 31, 2021 - Community Update

Dear PNCA Community,

PNCA eagerly anticipates primarily in-person instruction for Fall 2021. We will continue our effective and long-standing tradition of in-person education, while drawing on innovations developed during the past year. Note that we are prepared to pivot to more remote options should that prove necessary due to unexpected developments with the pandemic. If you are interested in limited remote learning options for Fall 2021 please speak with your admissions counselor or Graduate representative.

As we anticipate the joys of a fully activated campus, we are also enthusiastic to incorporate innovations in teaching and learning that resulted from the opportunities presented during the past year. We will continue to explore and evaluate alternative modes of instruction to determine how they may best serve a broad range of students, enhance student learning, and best prepare students for emergent professional trends in a variety of disciplines.

Thank you,

The COVID Task Force

Facility Access

We plan for continuous facility access throughout the semester, with structured sign-ups to reduce the number of people in each space at any given time (while circumstances could change due to state law, this is the current intent). We’ll prioritize access for making, research, and all forms of creative practice, in individual and small-group settings.

Masks are required in all shared spaces at PNCA. Physical distancing is required at all times.

One of the big changes at PNCA this fall is that attendance is not mandatory. We recognize that the outcomes of your education - the way you develop the skills necessary to graduate and succeed in your career - are the most important part.

We want to acknowledge that gatherings are a big part of the experience, so we do hope you’ll attend as many as possible, but we recognize that attendance is your choice - so attendance will not be required and calculated into the course grade.

If you can’t or don’t want to attend class in person, your instructors and advisor will work with you to find a suitable pathway forward.

511 Building COVID Protocols

511 Building HVAC and Water


  • Fresh outside air is filtered into building through MERV-13 filters.
  • MERV-13 filtration = 90% efficient in 1.0-3.0 micron range, less than 75% efficient in 0.3-1.0 micron range.
    • Hospitals use MERV 13-16.
  • Air is not cycled between spaces. Air moves from core and out through windows.
  • Building maintains positive pressure. Exhausting air to the outside.
  • Exceeds ANSI recommended ratings (ASHRAE Standard 62.1) by 44% at full occupancy, significantly higher for lower numbers of people in the building.
    • Currently no way to measure airflow on a per-room basis.
  • Taken steps to ventilate stairwells.
    • Stairwells now ventilate at approx. 3 ACH (air changes per hour).
    • Leave stairwell restroom doors open every other floor to draw stairwell air into restroom HVAC.
  • Elevators ventilate naturally via the piston action of the car within the hoist way.


  • Increased water pressure building-wide by 30% for more effective hand washing and flushing.
  • Currently flushing every device in the building 1x per week.
  • Added hand-wash stations at utility sinks on floors 3-6.

511 Building Sanitization Plan

  • Hand sanitizer stations present at every elevator stop, as well as added to classrooms.
  • Classrooms supplied with cleaning caddy/kits comprised of the following:
    • Paper towels.
    • Surface sanitizer containing n-Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides & n-Alkyl dimethyl ethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides.
    • 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes for computer equipment.
  • Cleaning caddy/kits for common use in the Atrium.
  • Scheduled daily cleanings by janitorial staff.

511 Building Traffic Flow Plan

  • Designed as guidelines for class changeover periods.
    • Not designed to be enforced 24/7.
  • ADA requirements supersede other concerns, driving plan layout.
    • ADA also overrides other elevator use. (2 occupants per elevator)
  • Staggered class scheduling will improve flow.
  • Floor striping at areas prone to crowding.
  • Service offices will be left to devise their own plans.

511 Building Classroom Use and Occupancy

  • Recommend minimizing occupancy use concentration by implementing low occupancy per classroom, allowing classroom to “rest” in between uses, and minimize/eliminate assigning adjacent classrooms during same time slot if possible.
  • Signage (yellow COVID) - Post maximum COVID occupancy rating, and do not rearrange furniture, on door and inside classroom

Glass Building COVID Protocols

Glass Building HVAC and Water


  • The Glass Building is a unique case in terms of airflow and ventilation. Having an approximate R value of <1 and being of mostly original construction nearly 100 years old, its envelope in terms of air retention is tremendously porous.
  • While we do not actively supply outside air into the space, nor actively exhaust in any meaningful way, the building 'breathes' via the stack effect quite well.
  • Being essentially a greenhouse, the interior of the space is heated via natural light infrared energy, and the air within it rises, escaping through all the gaps and voids in the envelope, while cooler air is drawn in from near ground-level.
  • Air is circulated through the space by two 20' fans which run continuously during warmer months at ~30% speed (pleasant maximum speed is ~50%), and in reverse at ~15% speed during colder months.
  • The Gallery/Sewing Classroom, Mezzanine Office, and Second Floor Offices are heated and cooled via a ducted heat pump. The Gallery air is directly conditioned within the room, while the Mezzanine and Second Floor Offices use recirculated air with hospital grade MERV 13 filters.
  • The Break Room is heated with in-wall heaters and a window-type air conditioner.
  • The Glaze Room is heated by a gas forced air heater and cooled by a window-type air conditioner.


  • Water pressure is estimated to be approximately 65PSI, though no gauge is present. Supply is regulated and may possibly be increased for greater water flow.
  • Toilets/urinals are all high flow type and remove waste effectively.

Glass Building Sanitization Plan

  • Cleaning caddie/kits for common use have been placed in all shop and classroom spaces, and hand sanitizer dispensers installed in all entryways and corridors.
  • Janitorial is scheduled for restrooms, kitchenette, and common area.

Glass Building Traffic Flow Plan

  • Floors marked off for physical distancing with painted lines in Woodshop, Metal shop, and Ceramics rooms. Floor spacing markings at the entrance. Directional floor arrows in the MFA studio space.

Glass Building Classroom and shop use occupancy

  • Signage (yellow COVID) – Post maximum COVID occupancy rating, and do not rearrange furniture signs on doors and inside rooms.

Covid-19 Campus Signage

Campus faq

Campus FAQ

PNCA’s class sizes are small in normal times; they average out to around 15 students per class. So we’re starting from a very small size, and then dramatically cutting that down to groups of around 7 students. By using strategies like pre-recorded videos and giving students the option to not attend physical class, we’re automatically dissipating the number of people who will be in the building at any given time, and we have other ways to ensure small cohort sizes to maximize safety.

We’re also really focused on air quality. PNCA has medical-grade filtration in our HVAC system, windows in most classrooms, and we’re working with our facilities team to make plans for sanitation of surfaces and create systems that prevent unnecessary contact when walking through the building.

While the value of a PNCA education is going to be the same this year as it previously has been, it will be a different experience. Our continuing BFA, MFA, and MA students will notice the differences and might need a bit of an adjustment period, but I think that there are so many good things about this new system, and that we’ve prioritized the important parts so well - like facilities and mentorship - that it will feel natural by the second or third week. There are actually a lot of advantages to the new methods we’re using, and I think those will become clear right away.

For new BFA students, what we’re about to engage in is radically different than any high school online art education system they’ve experienced before; this is a brand new system of remote delivery in which we’re really focused on the students’ personal experiences, relationship building, and the facilitation of creative knowledge.

Our hybrid model accounts for many different learning styles, and it also makes space for people with various life circumstances in a variety of ways. It can function both synchronously, where everybody is together in real-time, and asynchronously, where people are participating on their own time and from their own space. As one example, working parents who only have short windows of time in the day will absolutely be able to access a PNCA education.

According to the World Health Organization, "Temperature screening alone, at exit or entry, is not an effective way to stop international spread, since infected individuals may be in incubation period, may not express apparent symptoms early on in the course of the disease...." We are therefore asking all community members to diligently self-monitor their symptoms daily and to stay home if they have any symptoms of illness, including fever.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms, should quarantine at home until the symptoms, especially fever for 72 hours, have subsided.

Although testing is an important tool in the fight to contain the spread of COVID-19, the current public health guidance does not support broad testing of asymptomatic people upon arrival. Specifically, the CDC recently indicated that it "does not recommend entry testing of all returning students, faculty, and staff."

Also, the American College Health Association and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) took similar positions. The State of Oregon Deputy state epidemiologist recently published the following update to their guidance for Oregon colleges and universities:

“Testing people without COVID-19 symptoms is generally not useful because the sensitivity of viral testing in asymptomatic people is very low. In fact, a recent review in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that, in people who actually had the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, viral testing had a 100% false negative rate on the day after exposure, and at best a 67% false negative rate on the day prior to symptom onset. Therefore, a negative result does not meaningfully increase confidence that a person is not infected. And just as importantly, a negative result does not mean that a person has any period of protection when they are not or cannot be infected. Testing of asymptomatic people would result in many more false negatives than true positives, and we have serious concerns about the interpretation of a negative result which may provide unfounded reassurance to individuals and institutions.”

In addition to the public health messaging that will be prominent in all communications to our community this fall, we have plans for isolation of anyone that tests positive and quarantine for those with known close contact.

The CDC provides good information on how to take care of yourself if you start to feel sick. Most importantly, stay home if you are sick to prevent getting others ill. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Call your healthcare provider if you have any emergency symptoms including shortness of breath, pain in your chest, difficulty staying awake. Monitor your symptoms and follow all instructions from your healthcare provider. We will work with ArtHouse residents to isolate or quarantine as needed.

ArtHouse FAQ

ArtHouse FAQ

We will announce move-in dates by June 1.

We will announce our move-in plan by June 1.

The rental agreement is from the date of move-in until mid-May. You have access to your apartment in ArtHouse throughout that time. We will only close ArtHouse if we are ordered to by the Governor. It’s important to note that we did not close ArtHouse this spring and we had students living there over the summer on summer leases.

Everyone living in a unit is asked to sign a roommate agreement that details roles and responsibilities for living together and outlines how disputes will be resolved.

Sometimes transfer students do live in ArtHouse. This is on a case by case basis and room availability.

Generally, homeless people do not bother students, though occasionally there is an aggressive panhandler. If a student should feel unsafe, they are always welcome to contact Campus Safety, who will escort them. We also encourage students to take safety precautions as you would in any urban area, such as travel with a friend, be aware of your surroundings, and do not wear headphones when walking outside.

Yes, ArtHouse is a secure access building. The door can only be opened by someone who has a key fob. Further, the protests are centered downtown and not in the vicinity of ArtHouse. Campus Safety is also on call.

Yes, students need to wear masks at all times in all common areas.

No. In order to keep all ArtHouse residents safe, we ask that no one invite visitors to ArtHouse.

Yes, the common areas of ArtHouse will be sanitized several times throughout the day. Residents are responsible for cleaning their own rooms.

The sick person, their roommates, and close contacts need to self-isolate and limit their use of shared spaces as much as possible. We also have empty rooms reserved and may opt to move students into those rooms depending on the specific circumstances. All decisions will be made in concert with the Multnomah County Health Department.

No. The housing agreement covers the full semester and is non-refundable.

Yes, but we will ask the student to work with us about timing and may require a doctor’s note.

Fresh air is supplied by intakes on the sides of the HVAC units on top of the building. This is not a recirculating system. In other words, each apartment in ArtHouse receives its own fresh air supply and does not share air with other apartments.

Get more Info

If you have questions, please contact any of the following campus offices:

Academic Affairs: 503.821.8891

Campus Safety: 503.621.2061

Campus Safety Manager: 503.875.9176