Phased Return – Fall 2020
In Phase 1, a limited number of graduate and undergraduate students in a carefully selected set of academic programs were permitted to return to the Athens campus. These programs require in-person experiences throughout the semester to meet accreditation or require access to essential, on-campus equipment or facilities. Students in all other programs began their fall classes remotely on August 24 and continue remotely through September 27.
Phase 1 helped serve as a test of OHIO's procedures and protocols that were established with public health experts over the summer. While our reduced campus density during Phase 1 and the safety protocols that we have implemented have helped to minimize risk, available public health data does not support a resumption of full operations this fall.
Phase 2 will begin September 28 and will continue through the remainder of the fall semester.
The Phase 2 decision was made in consultation with our Chief Medical Affairs Officer and Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations, as well as Athens County Health and Medical Directors, while leveraging available public health data to guide our next steps. University health leaders were advised by significant input from our faculty and staff community.
We have determined that we can best manage risk to our Athens campus community by implementing a model that carefully increases the number of students, access, and engagement on campus but with a commitment to a lower density model that helps enhance opportunities for safety. At least 7,200 students, representing approximately 31% of Athens campus undergraduate enrollment and 100% of Athens-based graduate enrollment, will be invited to the Athens campus during Phase 2. Total participation in Phase 2 is subject to change based on student choices and exception processes for students with extenuating circumstances.
We have prioritized eligibility for students engaged in academic experiences that require access to in-person instruction, specialized equipment, or specific facilities to ensure academic progress toward degree requirements.
- Based on the advice of key health officials, the need to carefully manage density on campus is driven by the number of quarantine and isolation rooms we can provide on our campus and the overall capacity for asymptomatic and symptomatic testing available, layered with scientific models for the spread of disease and demand for quarantine and isolation over time.
- On September 8, all undergraduate and graduate students with Athens campus enrollment will receive an official e-mail notification regarding their eligibility to return to the Athens campus in Phase 2.
- Although many students included in Phase 2 will have some face-to-face academic experiences, a majority of courses will continue in an online modality, even for those students included in Phase 2. Any student who has already arranged a fully online semester may choose to continue their studies remotely. Some Phase 2 classes will provide a remote option, and for some classes, in-person attendance may be required.
- Over the coming weeks, dedicated faculty will continue to adapt courses as necessary to optimize dynamic remote learning opportunities during Phase 2. Students should check Blackboard and their Ohio University e-mail account regularly for latest updates, including messages from instructors about how Phase 2 will be implemented in each class.
- Students not included in Phase 2 will continue their courses remotely through the fall semester. In every modality and location, OHIO students have opportunities for meaningful engagement with their peers, faculty, staff, and communities. Resident Advisors will also continue to engage virtually with students throughout the fall semester, and students can participate in our 600+ student organizations by setting up a profile in Bobcat Connect.
Testing and Safety Requirements
- In order for us to be successful during Phase 2, it will be essential for students on- and off-campus to honor the OHIO Pledge and follow all guidance for wearing facial coverings, maintaining physical distance, limiting the size of any gatherings, conducting their daily self-assessment, and reporting all cases of COVID-19 through our COVID-19 Incident Report. Any student or employee experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should also call the Ohio University COVID-19 Response Hotline, 877-OU-COV19 (877-682-6819).
- All Phase 2 students returning to campus are expected to observe a 14-day period of social distancing at their permanent residence before they arrive in Athens or on campus. During this 14-day period, students are expected to monitor their health daily, reduce contact with others and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
- On campus, students are required to complete a daily COVID-19 symptom assessment and follow all appropriate health and safety protocols to help stop the spread of disease.
- As we continue to responsibly increase density on campus, the University is working to implement a new testing strategy that will allow us to screen students who are not exhibiting any symptoms. Students will be expected to participate in asymptomatic testing when invited to participate in surveillance or exposure-based testing.
- A new dashboard will be launched in the coming days to help us understand trends and respond to changing conditions, and we will monitor the positivity rate through our testing strategy, quarantine and isolation room use, and infection rate in our residence halls in our decisions regarding our ability to continue with Phase 2.
We are cautiously looking towards spring semester with the hope of bringing back even more students. We can only do so if it is possible to effectively mitigate health risks of both our campus and off campus communities. The trajectory of the pandemic as well as our success during Phase 2 will inform decisions about Spring.
Students with Extenuating Circumstances
International students and students with extenuating circumstances that present a housing need may apply for an exception to reside on campus fall 2020.