In an attempt to confront the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Oregon won't hold final exams for winter term in person next week. And when classes resume after spring break, they will be only be held online.

"We believe it is time to enact active measures to increase social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19 on campus and protect students, faculty, staff and the broader community," wrote Michael H. Schill, University of Oregon's president, in a letter to the community that was posted on the university website.

The school has also ended any gatherings larger than 50 people—an effective end to public athletic events for the foreseeable future. "All UO home athletic events will be restricted primarily to participating student-athletes, essential personnel and credentialed media," the letter states.

Oregon State University announced similar policies this afternoon.

Portland State University has advised professors to not conduct in-person exams, but didn't announce any orders.

Shortly after 5:30 pm, PSU Interim President Stephen Percy announced that most of its classes after spring break would also be taught remotely.

"Classes will continue this week as scheduled unless you hear otherwise from your instructor," Percy wrote. "PSU leadership has encouraged faculty to move to a remote format for final exams when possible. Professors will contact their students with their plans for next week."

The decision comes shortly after three University of Oregon professors, who are in Italy right now, sent a letter of warning to the university that it was necessary to act quickly to avert the same fate as that nation.

The letter from Schill notes that there are still no known cases in Lane County. But the policy changes will take effect March 15. (Few classes are scheduled between now and that date.)

All "nonessential" travel is canceled, both in the U.S. and abroad.

It's a notable action in a state that has lagged behind Washington and California in canceling large-scale events and other proactive responses to COVID-19.