I. Campus Safety -- Addressing public health concerns and protecting one another
Principle 1: The success of returning to and staying on campus is highly dependent on widespread adoption of public health recommendations, especially by the student body. While traditional college-aged students are typically at lower risk, we recognize that students are of all ages, backgrounds, and living situations, and that faculty, staff, and our campus communities include higher percentages of individuals with increased risk-factors.
The CDC has articulated Considerations for Institutes of Higher Education. The “Guiding Principles to Keep in Mind" include that “[t]he more an individual interacts with others, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread."
IHE Risk Categories, as defined by the CDC:
- Lowest Risk: Faculty and students engage in virtual-only learning options, activities, and events.
- More Risk: Small in-person classes, activities, and events. Individuals remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (e.g., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes).
- Highest Risk: Full-sized in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities.
Recommendation 1.A. In order to achieve the educational expectations of our students, provide access to education in alignment with guidance from the State of Ohio, and to balance campus activities with the safety of Ohio University’s students, faculty, staff, and communities, our campuses will adopt the CDC “More Risk” approach, which means resuming activities through a phased-in approach and with rigorous attention to safety protocols. [See Appendix A: Public Health]
- The risk of infection will not be zero and new positive cases will likely emerge on campuses and in the communities around them.
- Mitigation strategies will be a focus of the plan with rapid identification and management of COVID+ and exposed individuals.
- Promoting behaviors that prevent spread, maintaining healthy environments and operations will be critical to safety of all people on campus.
Recommendation 1.B. Prioritize education and training for employees and students to better understand COVID-19, the policies and principles to help ensure their safety and continued health, preventative measures, and initial actions to be taken if disease is suspected.
- Develop a Covid-19 Playbook as a comprehensive, first-stop resource for patient care policies, procedures, protocols that includes a flow from initial phone call to screening to placement in isolation to release to full activity.[Appendix A: Public Health]
- Leverage social media and marketing, social norming, peer education training, health education programs.
- As recommended by several work groups, develop and implement training materials for students, faculty, staff, student employees, and visitors. [See e.g. Appendix A: Public Health; Appendix C: Student Experience/Student Life; Appendix G: Back to Work Safely]
- COVID-19 has disproportionally impacted communities of color. Ohio University will seek to inform our safety protocols based upon the data emerging regarding these impacts (see also https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/racial-ethnic-minorities.html)
Recommendation 1.C. Require face coverings on campus and for all “face to face” activities (e.g., to enter a building, in a classroom or laboratory, in public places like Libraries, when using campus transit).
- Continue following Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) general guidelines.
- Communicate and enforce other public health practices including physical distancing, hand hygiene, and wearing of masks in all campus locations including classrooms and meeting rooms. [Appendix A: Public Health]
- Communicate the value of supporting the health and wellness of our university community.
- Additional guidance and expectations for face coverings will be developed and communicated to campus constituencies. This will include an exemption process for individuals for whom it is medially inadvisable to wear face coverings and may identify alternative safety measures for those individuals.
Recommendation 1.D. Testing, tracing, and quarantine plans must be in place prior to resuming significant activity on our campuses, to address potential outbreaks of COVID-19 infection.
Recommendation 1.D.i Testing [Appendix A: Public Health p. 4 ]
- Require testing of symptomatic and suspected infected individuals using local healthcare at all campus locations.
- Require testing of anyone “exposed,” in contact less than 6 feet apart for at least 20 minutes with an infected individual, as the risk of transmission from pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals is high (He, et al. 2020; Oran & Topol 2020)
- Mass Screening Tests – Do not currently recommend mass screening, based on current understanding of disease progression and multiple sessions with OhioHealth and Athens County Public Health Department unless future evidence supports
- Antibody - Do not currently recommend screening antibody testing unless future evidence supports
Recommendation 1.D.ii Tracing [Appendix A: Public Health p. 5 ]
- All faculty, staff and students must have emergency contact information in the University’s system (e.g. cell phones, email).
- Establish role clarity for each of the partners with Ohio University including public health authorities in counties/cities where our campuses are located.
- Ohio University will provide name, phone number, email, and address of individuals in the University community believed to have been exposed by a positive test case individual who would not have the contact information to pass on to the county health department (e.g. other students in class, all students sharing a bathroom in a residence hall, etc.)
- OhioHealth/Campus Care are responsible for testing and student health services on Athens campus.
- Local health systems are responsible for testing and student health services on regional campuses
- Rapid Response and COVID case management: Ohio University should develop "Rapid Response Teams" to provide rapid, clear and screened information to public health for tracing and take initial management steps (i.e. isolation, referral for testing).
- On regional campuses personnel from at least three functional areas should be part of the campus team – student affairs, facilities, and health
- Utilize technology to provide integrated information for tracing – phone number, email, residence hall roster, class schedule, etc.
- The Public Health Work group does not recommend app-based tracing due to low adoption in early trials and it would need to be voluntary; instead, should investigate utilizing currently available IT data to trace.
Recommendation 1.D.iii. Quarantine [Appendix A: Public Health pp. 5-6]
- Residence Hall Students
- Create separate residence hall space for students that cannot go home to isolate or quarantine. Need one residence hall for isolation and another for students that need to be quarantined. (Note: initial review indicates that there would be more than sufficient residence hall space – 300 beds – to provide these separate spaces. Capacity will need to be monitored closely in the event of significant outbreak of COVID)
- If the University desires to have off-campus space available for on-campus students to utilize for quarantine and/or isolation, enter into contracts before the students return to campus to have this resource in place.
- Off-Campus or Commuter Students
- Have future discussions with Athens County Health Department and local county public health for regional campuses regarding the potential of quarantine space for off-campus or commuter students who are exposed (e.g. could use hotels or return to permanent residence, if appropriate).
Recommendation 1.E. Develop a process for case management for those in isolation/quarantine housing to include psychological support, support for basic needs, ongoing monitoring, medical care, and return to full activity. This program should rely on health care providers and public health services.
Recommendation 1.F. Develop a program to protect and continue education and remote engagement of susceptible individuals and those who cannot return to campus for issues of safety and wellness [See Appendix A: Public Health; Appendix G: Back to Work Safely]
- Susceptible people include (but are not limited to) those who have pre-existing conditions including immunosuppression, respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes, as well as individuals who are older age or are healthcare workers (Driggin, Madhavan, Bikdeli, et al., 2020; Rothan & Byrareddy, 2020); individuals who smoke (Patanavanich & Glantz, 2020), and individuals who are obese (Kass, 2020).
- Implement and educate all campus populations to ensure high risk students, faculty and staff are aware of processes to request and receive remote education or work from home in advance to determine whether to return to campus.
- When an accommodations request falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), follow already existing accommodations processes for students, faculty and staff.
- Develop a process for students, faculty and staff who are high risk but do not qualify as having a disability under the ADA to receive remote education or work from home, such as individuals with additional risk factors such as chronic medical conditions, age, or who live in a household or are caregivers for person(s) who are at high-risk.
- Develop a process for students, faculty and staff to receive remote education or work from home if living with sick or high-risk individuals in their household.
- Use existing FMLA process for employees who are ill or who serve as caregivers for infected qualified family members.
- All programs should be evaluated in advance for University, degree and accreditation requirements to determine impacts on education if learning remotely.
Recommendation 1.G. For all members of the campus communities, require Social Compacts that acknowledge the safety protocols adopted by Ohio University and affirms willingness to abide by the protocols. [Appendix A: Public Health p. 7]
- Develop "Ohio University Social Compact" with formal adoption by all key groups (i.e. all senates) and request of support/adoption by all campuses. The five senates of Ohio University should be engaged to participate in creation of a compact. The purpose of the social compact is to acknowledge the disruption of COVID-19 and to assist all constituencies on our campuses to strengthen and clarify how we support one another’s health, teaching, learning, and creative activity.
- This could be included with training modules and signed electronically.
- Community Compact: Develop “Athens Business Community Compact" with formal adoption by all key groups (i.e. Uptown Business Association/Chamber) and request of support/adoption by all. Engage in similar conversations with local governing bodies for regional campuses towards development of local agreements.
Principle 2: Ohio University must be prepared to change and respond rapidly as new and clearer information becomes available.
- COVID-19 is a “novel virus” and as such is not completely understood. Evidence is continuing to accumulate and in turn expert medical and disease prevention and mitigation recommendations evolve rapidly.
- There may be future large outbreaks which would require the ability of individuals and the larger university to rapidly respond and adjust operations, especially if thresholds of management are exceeded (e.g. number of tests available, space to quarantine is at maximum, virulence of disease increases, etc.).
Recommendation 2.A. Monitor emerging state and public health guidance, epidemiological data, and medical best practices to determine critical decision-making points for responding to escalation of infection and/or hospitalization to prevent overwhelming local healthcare.
Recommendation 2.B. Revise and maintain Public Health Working Group to monitor and inform leadership regarding the need to respond to emerging crises.
Recommendation 2.C. Revise and maintain academic work groups to identify and nimbly respond to emerging issues in academic, student life, and experiential learning activities that may require changes to academic policy or practice.
Principle 3: Ohio University’s educational delivery model for academic year 2020-21, beginning in fall semester, must be adaptive, reduce overall density on our campuses, and anticipate the potential for increased infection.
Recommendation 3.A. Ohio University will operate in a reduced density model with a revised academic calendar that is intended to reduce “churn” between hometown and campuses. [See Appendix F: Academic Policy and Procedure]
This model includes:
- On-schedule start in August (for most programs);
- Elimination of Fall Break;
- Early departure from on-campus activities the weekend before Thanksgiving break (November 20, 2020, last day on campus) to allow the weekend before the holiday for a paced exit from campus;
- Labor Day and Veterans Day are retained as holidays; Office of Campus and Community Engagement has agreed to plan and promote these as days of service to further reduce churn;
- Remote closure of the semester with one week of instruction and one week of final examination/assessment conducted remotely (Weeks 14-16).
Recommendation 3.B. While Ohio University seeks to minimize campus density to prevent spread of infection, it will prioritize space for classes, individual and group learning/study activities, and selected co-curricular experiences.
- Follow CDC guidelines for hybrid educational model including small in-person classes, activities, and events. Individuals remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (i.e., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures and/or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes).
Recommendation 3.C. All administrative or academic support services that can be provided in a remote/online environment should continue to be provided through this modality.
- Return to campus only those employees and faculty whose work is essential to in-person service or whose work may not be completed remotely; consider each part of positions to determine if partial remote may be possible; as potential risk reduces, plan to return employees whose work may be more efficiently or effectively performed on-site, provided they are able to safely return.
Recommendation 3.D. Adopt or revise final examination/culminating experience policies that address potential conflicts between asynchronous and synchronous final examinations, clarify existing policy when more than three final examinations/culminating experiences are due on the same day, and strongly encourage adoption of asynchronous exams, unless otherwise required by program accreditation. [See proposed revision in Appendix F Academic Policy and Procedure]