Guidance For a Safe Fall Semester
Addressing OHIO's Mask Expectations
Faculty, staff, and students who see others not wearing a mask, or wearing a mask improperly, are expected to address the issue. We all have a shared responsibility to hold each other accountable for the public health measures that will help keep our community safe.
Tips for interacting with students and colleagues
- Communicate OHIO’s mask policy and make it clear that it will be enforced.
We recommend that faculty and staff communicate and repeat the mask-wearing requirement in opening remarks during the first week of class, at department meetings, and when welcoming individuals to an event or outing. Share with students and staff the expectation and the consequences of noncompliance: Addressing OHIO’s Mask Expectations.
- Use assigned seats and/or track seating.
Assigned seating or records of who sat where will assist with contact tracing and minimize disruption to the learning environment, department or organization if someone tests positive for COVID-19, as it could result in fewer individuals needing to quarantine. If you choose to use assigned seating, you may wish to add information about your assigned seating plan to your syllabi or other expectation documentation.
For faculty members, if your pedagogy accommodates it, a seating chart, whether assigned by you or chosen by students, is the most straightforward option. If you use small groups, please track (or ask students and participants to track) who is in each group during a given class or activity. Other options include setting a minute or two aside at the beginning of each class, meeting or activity to ask participants to identify and record the names of individuals who are sitting near them; passing around a blank seating chart for individuals to complete if your seating assignments change frequently; or creating “pods” of individuals who will sit near each other and work together during the semester (or portion of the semester). If someone tests positive, you will be contacted for seating information; please respond as quickly as possible. One of the goals of physical distancing and decreased capacities in classrooms this fall is to minimize contacts and thus the spread of disease. Knowing which individuals are near each other will help avoid significant delays in contact tracing, in turn reducing the spread of the disease and helping to avoid the significant disruption of quarantining and/or testing an entire class, office, or organization unnecessarily.
- Explain how you would like students and colleagues to approach you with one-on-one questions, to avoid crowding.
Options include asking individuals to approach you one at a time; requiring that they maintain physical distance if a line forms; and using office hours or digital means (email, Teams) for one-on-one conversations.
- Understand that just because someone is not vaccinated against COVID-19, it does not mean they are “anti-vax.”
There is a sophisticated misinformation campaign going on about the COVID-19 vaccines, and some people simply lack access to credible information. Others are concerned about potential side effects and how they may affect their ability to work or provide care to children or other dependents. Children under 12, too are unvaccinated – and therefore vulnerable. By listening and understanding why someone isn’t vaccinated we can find common ground and perhaps even an opportunity to kindly and respectfully discuss the topic.
- Don't ask about students' or employees' vaccination status, but please do encourage vaccination.
- Don't ask students or staff about their vaccination status unless there is a legitimate necessity. For example, a hospital or clinical practice may require that students disclose their vaccination status or a supervisor may need to discuss quarantine guidance with an employee whose job description requires travel. Please contact COVIDoperations@ohio.edu for guidance if you have questions about a particular scenario.
- Ohio University encourages all students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and you are welcome to encourage their students to do so. Information about how to get a vaccine is available here: https://www.ohio.edu/coronavirus/vaccine.
Suggested language to include in syllabi or other documents
COVID Operations has prepared the information below for faculty and staff to cut and paste into syllabi or other organizational documents, or to adapt as they wish.
We recommend that faculty and staff communicate and repeat the mask-wearing requirement in opening remarks during the first week of class, at department meetings, and when welcoming individuals to an event or outing. As with other important rules, repeating the message helps people absorb the message and identify with a community effort.
Classroom (or department) COVID-19 policies
Ohio University is committed to maintaining a safe learning environment for all members of its community – students, faculty, and staff – regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Because the university is not requiring vaccination nor are faculty or staff permitted to ask students about their vaccination status, all members of the OHIO community are expected to take certain precautions in classrooms and elsewhere on campus to keep each other safe:
- All individuals are required to wear masks in indoor public spaces on campus, including classrooms. Refusal to comply will result will be addressed through the appropriate University disciplinary processes based on the individual’s classification.
- Select a testing pathway as part of the COVID-19 Testing Pathway Program. If you have not already made your pathway selection, please do so immediately. If you select the Weekly Testing Pathway, I expect you to adhere to your required testing schedule.
- Maintain physical distance as directed on signage, vaccinated or not.
- Complete a daily COVID-19 symptom assessment and do not come to class or participate in an activity if you feel sick, even if you are vaccinated against COVID-19. If you need a thermometer, you can request one at the Guest Services desk on the fourth floor of Baker Center.
- If you test positive, feel sick or suspect exposure to COVID-19, it is your responsibility to follow the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol.
If you do test positive or need to isolate or quarantine this semester, after you have taken care of yourself and followed all the steps in the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol, please email me so that we can develop a plan for you to receive necessary information. COVID-related illness, quarantine, isolation, and remain-in-room directives are legitimate university absences, and I will work with you to manage your academic or work requirements and connect you to resources.
If you feel that your class or work performance is being impacted by COVID-19, please talk with me and/or contact COVID Operations by phone (740.566.8445) or email (COVIDoperations@ohio.edu) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends. The University has resources available to help with quarantine and isolation support, as well as access to COVID-19 testing, counseling services, food assistance, and more.
Fall Planning Town Hall
COVID Operations hosted a Teams Live town hall for faculty and staff on Thursday, August 12, on the topic of fall planning.
Gillian Ice, special assistant to the president for public health operations, and Jivanto van Hemert, director of Case Management and COVID Response Operations, hosted a brief overview and open discussion of COVID-19 plans and protocols for fall semester.
What to do if you are aware of a COVID-19 exposure or positive individual
- Advise those reporting to you to follow OHIO’s COVID-19 Protocol.
- Complete an COVID-19 Incident Report regardless of whether you believe it has been previously reported by someone else. Do this for each person (faculty/staff/student) who reports their illness or exposure to you. A COVID Campus Liaison (CCL) will inform the supervisor, facilities management, UHR and co-workers when necessary.
- Do NOT share personal identifying information regarding an individual except for with appropriate authorities (via the incident report form and your supervisor, as needed).
- Contact tracing will be completed by COVID Operations or the local health department, who will notify close contacts and provide specific instructions regarding quarantine. Do not attempt to perform contact tracing.
Protocol for classroom/space
- Typically, Facilities Maintenance and Safety’s daily cleaning regimen, which follows CDC protocols, is sufficient.
- If a room was contaminated by an actively sick individual (vomit, coughing on items, etc.), faculty and staff are expected to post appropriate signage for closing any related University spaces. Signage is available in each classroom and in each departmental main office.
- A report using the COVID-19 Incident Report form will trigger the creation of a cleaning work order, if appropriate, as well as any necessary contacts to individuals who may have been exposed.
- Spaces used by individuals who are COVID positive need additional cleaning only if someone was actively sick in the room. If the report comes in more than 24 hours after the incident, no additional cleaning is required.
- Once the cleaning protocol is complete, the space may be reopened. Facilities Maintenance and Safety will remove the signs following cleaning and post a sign indicating the room is clean.
Role of COVID Campus Liaisons and the Incident Report form
- A COVID Operations staff member reviews each COVID-19 Incident Report form, filters for duplicates, and triages next steps. Individuals are assigned a COVID Campus Liaison, who will be in contact to connect them with appropriate resources and services.
- OHIO COVID Operations will analyze data from Incident Report forms to identify patterns and trends. This information will be used to make decisions regarding campus safety and to develop mitigation strategies.
Suggestions for Hosting a COVID-Safe Event
Crowded settings, indoors or outdoors, increase the chances for transmission of disease including the virus that causes COVID-19. Event planners should consider implementing strategies to encourage behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19 at events. COVID Operations has prepared suggestions to help those planning events. Hosting a COVID-Safe Event
Ordering PPE and other supplies
Each planning unit has identified one point of contact for coordination of all COVID-19-related supply needs. All PPE requests must be made through this planning unit contact. Faculty and staff who would like to order supplies including masks, hand sanitizer, wipes and other materials should directly contact their planning unit contact.
Actions we can all take to make campus safe
Facilities Management and Safety has evaluated ventilation systems, and University Planning has re-arranged seating and marked floors for furniture placement in preparation for our return to the classroom. You will notice new signage and seating arrangements -- please leave furniture where it is arranged to promote physical distancing.
Providing a robust campus experience requires that we maintain physical distance whenever possible, test unvaccinated individuals, promote vaccination, and wear masks indoors. Achieving high vaccination among our campus community will provide the safest environment possible. Until most of our campus community is vaccinated, we will continue with a layered approach to prevention that includes testing, isolation and quarantine, and other public health measures.
Here are some more things the University is doing to keep us all safe this fall:
- Encouraging and offering COVID-19 vaccinations
- Testing unvaccinated individuals
- Requiring all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to wear masks indoors
- Requiring unvaccinated individuals to maintain six feet of distance indoors except in classroom spaces*
- *In classrooms, seating is arranged to so that faculty may maintain six feet of distance, and to allow three feet of distance between individuals or a maximum 75 percent of classroom capacity.
- Providing quarantine and isolation housing for residential students
- Providing support from COVID Campus Liaisons for anyone affected by COVID-19
There also are a number of things you can do to keep yourself and our whole campus community safe:
- Get vaccinated against COVID-19
- Wear a mask and maintain distance where required
- Avoid crowded indoor gatherings
- Wash your hands often
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Stay home and call COVID Operations if you don’t feel well: (740) 566-8445