OHIO COVID-19 Safety Measures
As we work and learn in the midst of a global pandemic, 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.
Daily COVID Symptom Assessment
All students, faculty, and staff are required to measure their body temperature and complete a Required Daily COVID Symptom Assessment daily before leaving their residence hall and/or leaving home to come to campus. In addition, they must monitor for symptoms including any of the following:
- temperature of 100.4°F or higher
- respiratory symptoms (dry cough or shortness of breath)
- sore throat
- body ache
- loss of taste or smell
If an individual has a temperature of 100.4°F or higher or is experiencing any of the symptoms above, they must not come to campus or leave their residence hall room, and they should immediately contact their primary healthcare provider or Campus Care. Once on campus, if a student or staff member becomes ill, they should return home immediately and contact their healthcare provider. Employees should also contact their immediate supervisor.
As part of Ohio University’s commitment to protect the health and safety of its students, employees and community, the University has implemented a broad and sophisticated COVID-19 testing program. Strategies include referrals for symptomatic testing paired with support from OHIO COVID Campus Liaisons, and mandatory regular asymptomatic testing for all students, faculty, and staff. OHIO also has implemented a wastewater surveillance testing effort.
COVID Campus Liaisons
To address the needs of individuals on OHIO campuses who are acutely affected by COVID-19, OHIO COVID Operations has built a team of COVID Campus Liaisons (CCLs). These experienced care professionals are trained and ready to assist students, faculty and staff with any need that may arise when COVID affects them in some way. All communications with CCLs are confidential and subject to HIPAA and FERPA regulations, with the goal of balancing the safety of the community and the privacy of the individuals involved. Every day, OHIO CCLs help students, faculty and staff who have tested positive or were potentially exposed to COVID-19 access the resources and services they need.
Ohio University has implemented an interim policy that requires students, faculty, staff and visitors to any of our campuses to wear a mask or face covering. All students, faculty and staff will be provided with two washable masks by the University upon return to campus. Acceptable masks must cover the nose, mouth and chin. Masks must be worn:
- When entering, exiting, or waiting in line to enter any building on any campus of the Ohio University.
- While in any Ohio University building and in areas that are accessible to and are intended for the use of the public or by more than one person, including classrooms.
- In any public transportation on any campus of Ohio University, such as a bus or other public transit vehicle, a taxi or ridesharing vehicle, any other vehicle for hire, or at a transit stop or waiting area for any public transportation.
- In any outdoor space or outdoor place where or when a person is unable to maintain or does not maintain physical separation of not less than six feet from others who are not members of their own household. For students that live in Ohio University housing, a “household” consists of roommates of the same room or suite.
Masks will not be required for children under the age of 10 or while walking or exercising outdoors, so long as physical separation of not less than six feet is maintained or while walking or exercising outdoors with other members of the same household.
See the official policy for exceptions.
Anyone on campus shall practice social distancing by ensuring a six-foot distance between people not of the same household at all times. All campus spaces have been reviewed and new maximum capacities have been set based on the ability to maintain a six-foot distance between individuals. Ingress and egress of buildings will be marked with floor signage demonstrating a six-foot distance in order to combat crowding at entrances and exits. In addition, signage will indicate one-way traffic flow in some areas to ensure physical distancing.
Student organization meetings should take place virtually or, when necessary to meet in person, should ensure meetings include 10 people or less and are held in spaces that allow for a minimum of six feet between students.
Employees whose work can be effectively completed remotely will continue in this modality to maintain reduced density on campus in order to avoid over-crowding of sidewalk traffic and on-campus transit.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Ohio University will provide all students returning to campus in spring 2021 with two OHIO-branded masks, a thermometer, and hand sanitizer. Each of these items is considered essential personal protective supplies as all faculty, staff and students must wear a mask on campus, must take their temperature and assess their own health prior to leaving their residence hall or off-campus residence to come to campus, and must wash their hands frequently. When hand-washing is not possible, individuals should use a hand sanitizer that includes at least 70% alcohol.
All members of the Ohio University community are expected to practice these habits at all times to keep our community safe.
Students experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms should call OHIO COVID Operations at 740-566-8445 and an OHIO COVID Campus Liaison will explain options for scheduling a test.
For other medical concerns students in Athens may contact Campus Care at 740-592-7100. In order to put patient safety first, visits to Campus Care must be scheduled in advance. Same-day appointments are available and most visits can be done using telehealth. Campus Care will help you decide whether a telehealth or in-person visit is recommended based on your symptoms. Call 740-592-7100.
Incident Report Form
Ohio students, faculty and staff should use this Incident Report form to report to Ohio University any confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 reported to you. Also use this form to report if you yourself test positive or believe you have been exposed to the virus. The information gathered in the Incident Report form will be used to track cases affiliated with university community members, notify relevant departments (e.g., faculty if a student will be missing class, or Facilities Management and Safety if a building needs to be cleaned), and to connect individuals with needed care. The Incident Report form also is an instrumental part of the return-to-campus process, so it is important to submit it as soon as possible after known symptoms or exposure.
Since last March, Ohio University Facilities Management and Safety has been following the Centers for Disease Control’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 disinfected. (Multi-user restrooms in residence halls are cleaned twice a day, following CDC guidelines for congregate housing.)
- Facilities has increased the frequency that they clean high-touch surfaces in common areas (for instance, door handles, light switches, handrails, etc.).
- Facilities has also 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.