COVID-19 Public Health Measures
Ohio University is focused on delivering the best possible student experience while reducing risk to our students, faculty, staff, and communities. With that in mind, we have implemented a host of strategies to help reduce spread of COVID-19, as well as changes to our learning, working and residential environments to promote safety. Read on for descriptions of the precautions we are taking.
Presidential Health Directives
All OHIO students, faculty, and staff are expected to comply with specific health requirements outlined in the Presidential Health Directives, issued pursuant to Interim Policy 44.102, which provides the University the ability to take appropriate community health measures to address health and safety threats.
Daily COVID Symptom Assessment
All students, faculty, and staff should measure their body temperature and complete a Daily COVID Symptom Assessment daily before leaving their residence hall and/or leaving home to come to campus. Once on campus, if a student or staff member becomes ill, they should return home immediately and follow the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol.
OHIO COVID-19 Protocol
Any student, faculty, or staff member who lives on or off campus and tests positive for COVID-19, experiences symptoms, or is exposed to a COVID-positive person should isolate and must follow the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol.
Access to Vaccine
Campus partners including Heritage College Community Health Programs, the College of Health Sciences and Professions, the School of Nursing, the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, OHIO COVID Operations, OhioHealth Campus Care, and the Athens City-County Health Department have collaborated to provide a calendar of walk-in vaccine clinics on campus. Additionally, students can call Campus Care to schedule a vaccine Monday through Friday.
Students, faculty, and staff can view more information about vaccine clinics on regional campuses.
Students, faculty, staff, and visitors to all OHIO campuses are required to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Masks also are required on public transportation and when entering, exiting, or standing in line to enter an indoor campus facility; and are recommended outdoors for unvaccinated individuals who cannot maintain physical distance. Vaccinated individuals are not required to mask outdoors. There may be some cases where the University will require masking of everyone outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. See the Presidential Health Directives for more details on OHIO’s masking policy.
Outdoors: Individuals do not need to practice physical distancing when outdoors on OHIO campuses, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to maintain at least six feet of physical distance while outside.
Classroom* users will adhere to posted seating arrangements as designated by the University. In most cases, seating will be arranged to allow three feet of physical distance between individuals or a maximum 75 percent of classroom capacity.
In all other indoor public spaces on OHIO campuses, unvaccinated individuals are required to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others who are not members of their household.
Fully vaccinated individuals do not have to maintain physical distance from others in non-classroom indoor public spaces on campus.
Some academic programs may require that all participants keep physical distance of at least six feet from others who are not members of their household.
*For the purposes of physical distancing, classrooms are defined as any indoor campus spaces that are assigned for learning activities (lectures, labs, studios, etc.).
COVID-19 testing strategies at Ohio University include symptomatic testing to diagnose and isolate positive individuals, and asymptomatic testing to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus, monitor its incidence, and anticipate potential outbreaks.
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. Suggestions for Hosting a COVID-Safe Event
COVID Campus Liaisons
COVID Campus Liaisons (CCLs) assist students, faculty, and staff with any need that may arise when COVID affects them in some way. Every day, OHIO CCLs help students, faculty, and staff who have tested positive, are experiencing symptoms, or were potentially exposed to COVID-19.
Since March 2020, Ohio University Facilities Management and Safety has been following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s disinfection protocols to ensure our workspaces are safe. They continue to execute federal and state cleaning protocols on all campuses:
- Facilities uses EPA-approved products for daily cleaning of restrooms, focusing on ensuring handwashing supplies are fully stocked, and that high-touch surfaces are clean. (Multi-user restrooms in residence halls are cleaned daily, following CDC guidelines for congregate housing).
- Facilities has increased the cleaning frequency of high-touch surfaces in common areas (door handles, light switches, handrails, etc.).
- Facilities has provided disinfectant products for students and faculty to use in classrooms and other locations throughout campus to enable individuals to disinfect spaces before and after they use them.
Airflow, HVAC Systems and Windows
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a layered approach in reducing indoor exposures to the virus that causes COVID-19. This approach includes reducing occupancy levels, improvements to building ventilation, physical distancing, wearing face masks, hand hygiene, and vaccination.
Ohio University’s facilities and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are designed to meet building code requirements. Additionally, Facilities Maintenance and Safety has made modifications and adjustments to systems at each campus in line with CDC recommendations and industry best practices. In the very few campus instructional spaces that have no central air conditioning, Facilities Maintenance and Safety supports the use of portable filtration units.
As suggested by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Facilities Maintenance and Safety changed the HVAC filters on campus from Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 8 filters to MERV 13 filters. MERV 13 filters are recommended to help trap virus particles and keep them from circulating throughout a building.
Facilities Maintenance and Safety will replace filters based on industry recommendations. Changing filters more often than recommended can reduce their effectiveness.
Facilities Maintenance and Safety follows ASHRAE and CDC recommendations for outside air maximization, bringing in as much outside air as possible through the University’s HVAC systems while still providing adequate building temperature. This provides more total air exchange with fresh outside air versus the traditional split of outside air and recirculated air.
We operate our systems this way 24 hours a day, seven days a week to maximize air changes during overnight hours. We will not enact any temperature setbacks or energy savings measures as we strive to bring as much outside air as possible into our facilities. Facilities Maintenance and Safety will perform an additional check of all outside air dampers this summer to ensure they are functioning optimally.
The relative hot or cold temperature of a building is not related to the air filtration system or the use of outside air in that building – the factors do not directly correlate. If a building feels “too hot” or “too cold” to a particular person, it is not a reflection of air filtration or use of outside air functionality.
Facilities Maintenance and Safety does not recommend opening windows in facilities with an HVAC system. Keeping the windows in these facilities closed will ensure temperature and humidity controls remain in place, inhibiting mold growth. The HVAC filters in these buildings have been changed to MERV 13 filters to help trap virus particles and keep them from circulating.
Facilities Maintenance and Safety supports opening windows in the relatively few facilities that do not have a central HVAC system. However, opening windows above the first or ground floor of a building can create significant safety hazards. Suggested safety advice for anyone who opens a window:
Do not engage in physical activities such as exercise near windows
Keep windows closed and locked when children are present
When opening a double-hung window on an upper floor, open the top sash if possible, while keeping the bottom sash closed
Do not rely on insect screens to prevent falls, they won’t support the weight
Keep furniture away from windows
Please contact Steve Wood, chief facilities management officer, with questions or concerns.