Ohio University

COVID-19 FAQ

Welcome to our COVID-19 informational FAQ! ISFS created this site based upon the need to inform our university community of information we have been sharing to support our international student population.

ISFS has been communicating with our international students and scholars as appropriate during the global COVID-19 crisis. We will continue to do so via email and update this page frequently with any new information. 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via isfs@ohio.edu if you have questions that are not answered with the below information or via the university coronavirus website.

 

How can I contact International Student and Faculty Services during this time?

Office Hours for EAD Card/Urgent Travel Signature Pickup:

Tuesday: 9:30am - 11:00am

Friday: 9:30am - 11:00am

ISFS will mail all other documents to you via USPS. 

Please email isfs@ohio.edu with all questions and concerns or to schedule a phone appointment with an international student advisor. 

Where can I find PPE (personal protective equipment)?

Ohio University students returning to the Athens or regional campus can pick up a bag that includes personal protective equipment upon their return.

The bags, which include hand sanitizer, two branded masks and a digital thermometer, are available to students returning in the first or second phases this fall. One bag is available for each student. A student ID is required to pick up the bags.

Athens Campus students can pick up their bags at the Student Services desk on the fourth floor of Baker University Center, regardless of whether they are attending classes on campus as part of Phase 1 of the Fall reopening plan. For regional campus information and more, please visit this link

Current hours of operation for Baker University Center are 7:30am - 7pm on weekdays, 12pm - 6pm on weekends.

I am outside of the United States, when should I book my flight to the U.S.?

Due to the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 crisis, we highly recommend that you wait until you have secured your visa before you book a flight.  When you do decide to book, please be sure that the flight can be changed or refunded if circumstances change. Please also keep in mind travel restrictions as you plan your flight to the U.S.  

Do you have any recommendations on the process of obtaining a Visa?

If you are still waiting to obtain your visa, it is important to know that you do not need to pay your SEVIS fee until prior to your interview. If you have been unable to secure a visa appointment, please maintain contact with the Graduate College or Undergraduate Admissions to discuss your options. If you have paid your SEVIS fee and have decided that you will defer your admission to the university to a later semester, please know that the SEVIS fee is valid for one year. Even if deferral seems like the best option at this time, you can still attend your visa interview (once it is scheduled) and you can request an updated I-20 from your admissions office to support your new requested start date. 

I am currently outside of the U.S., what should I do if I cannot make it back before classes start?

You will need to contact your department or academic advisor to discuss your situation.  If you can make it back within the first couple weeks of the semester, it may be possible to work with your professors to start the classwork remotely.  If not, they may recommend that you take off the fall semester and return for spring instead.  The only immigration restriction is that ISFS must be able to report your full-time enrollment by our registration deadline.  For fall 2020, that deadline is 9/25/2020.  Graduate students should also ask departments how any funding may be impacted by a late return. 

If you determine that you will need to take off the fall semester, please contact ISFS (isfs@ohio.edu) for assistance with your immigration record. 

Do I need to quarantine upon arrival to Ohio University?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that all visitors entering the US from abroad should self-quarantine for a period of 14 days upon arrival.  Please keep this in mind when arranging your flights.  You can find more information on quarantine at this Reference Guide.     

Is there a mask requirement in Athens?

On July 13th the Athens City Council passed an ordinance mandating the use of face masks in public.  Effective immediately, this ordinance requires all people in Athens to wear masks in public places, including within businesses, city-owned buildings, and on public transportation, as well as outdoor areas when at least 6 feet of social distancing is not possible. This mandate follows a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the Athens area. Please be aware there is penalty of a $100 fine for those found in violation. To learn more about the requirements and exemptions, please review the Athens City Council draft ordinance found here

I am graduating this semester and planned on applying for OPT, how will leaving the country affect my application?

If you are graduating this semester and plan to apply for OPT, please note that we do not yet know how leaving the country would impact your OPT application.  If you are in this situation, please email us at isfs@ohio.edu to discuss further. 

How will COVID-19 affect my on-campus employment?

ISFS is aware that this is a very challenging time for all students.  In addition to worries about your health and the health of families far away, some students are worried about their on-campus employment that is used to cover living expenses. Ohio University has committed to ensuring that students who were working on-campus during the first part of the semester are able to continue by working remotely.  Supervisors should be reaching out to their employees by March 23 to discuss remote work options.  If you don’t hear from your supervisor by that date, please contact your supervisor.  

Can I work off-campus?

Unfortunately, we do not have the authority to lift the federal regulations that prevent F-1 students from working off-campus.  This power lies exclusively with the U.S. government.  If any changes are announced regarding this rule, we will notify our students immediately.  At this date, there have been no changes to these federal regulations. 

ISFS has received several inquiries about Economic Hardship work authorization. If you would like to learn more about applying for this, please email isfs@ohio.edu to schedule a phone appointment with your advisor.

Will ISFS still be offering OPT, CPT, and AT workshops during this time?

All in-person OPT, CPT, and AT workshops are cancelled for the time-being. Please read the following if you plan on applying for either of the three soon:

OPT: ISFS has transitioned to providing virtual OPT workshops through Microsoft Teams. Please sign-up as you would normally through iCats.ohio.edu. Once signed in, select 'DETAILS' below the workshop you wish to attend, then select 'I'm Going'.  You will receive a link to join virtually prior to the workshop. 

CPT: Please email isfs@ohio.edu and we will schedule a phone appointment with an advisor to go over the CPT process.

AT: Please email isfs@ohio.edu and we will schedule a phone appointment with an advisor to go over the AT process.

What university resources are still available for students to utilize?

Please keep in mind that the response to COVID-19 is constantly evolving and the operating hours of local services are changing often as well.

Baker University Center

Baker University Center is open 7:30 am - 7:00 pm on Monday - Friday , and 10:00 am - 6:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. There is printing available on the second floor. 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) is here to support the campus community. CPS acknowledges the impact on Ohio University students related to Coronavirus and recognizes that it is typical to experience anxiety, worry, or fear. 

If you are in distress, CPS is there to help. Students may contact CPS at any time by calling 740-593-1616. If calling after hours, press 1 to be connected to a counselor. You can also visit the CPS website at www.ohio.edu/student-affairs/counseling

Alden Library

Alden Library is currently operating on modified hours. You can find an updated hours of operation schedule here

Dining Services

Dining halls will offer to-go options initially with strategic introduction of dine-in options, as determined to be safe and appropriate. Other venues will also offer to-go meals, and we will offer mobile ordering for pickup. Quarantine/Isolation meals will also be available, find ordering options and location hours here.

The Cats’ Cupboard food pantry has transitioned to a twice a week drive-up option of pre-packaged bags of food. This services is by appointment only and students can sign up here

How has COVID-19 had an impact on Athens area transportation services?

Athens Public Transit

Currently, APT is operating on their normal schedule. The current bus map and schedule can be found here: https://www.athenstransit.org/full-map-and-schedule/ .

Effective March 25th, 2020 only 5 passengers at a time will be allowed on a bus at one time. If there are already 5 passengers on the bus, you will have to wait for the next bus. Keep this in mind when judging how much time it may take to get places.

GoBus

GoBus is still operating on their normal routes and schedule which can be found here: https://ridegobus.com/routes/

Note: Athens Community Center and Hocking College GoBus ticketing centers are currently closed, but you can still purchase tickets at https://ridegobus.com/

Where can I find groceries?

If you have school aged children, many Athens restaurants are offering lunches for them at various sites.  You can find a list of free student lunch resources here.

Athens County Food Pantry

Athens County Food Pantry is distributing food at the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services Center. Please visit their facebook page to read important information about documents to bring if you visit the food pantry.

For more information on food assistance programs in Athens, please visit this link.

Cats' Cupboard

The Cats’ Cupboard food pantry has transitioned to a twice a week drive-up option of pre-packaged bags of food. This services is by appointment only and students can sign up here

Kroger Athens 919 E State St 

For cleaning and replenishing purposes, the Kroger grocery store on State Street will be open daily from 6am-11pm.  

For more informatin and to utilize pickup grocery services, visit: https://www.kroger.com/stores/details/016/00901, make sure you have selected the correct location if you utilize the pickup service. 

Walmart Athens 929 E State St 

Walmart will be open from 7am-8:30pm.

For more information and to utilize pickup grocery services, visit: https://grocery.walmart.com/?adid=1500000000000039636450&veh=wmt, make sure you have selected the correct location if you utilize pickup services. 

Which Athens restaurants are open?

As restaurants and bars begin opening back up again, operating hours for specific establishments will vary. It is recommended you contact any restaurant before you attend to make sure you are aware of any adjusted hours, reservation requirements, and safety protocols they have enacted in response to COVID-19. 

I have questions about my off-campus housing situation as it relates to COVID-19, where can I find more information?

The Center for Student Legals Services has provided this helpful website to inform students on Housing Law. Visit this link to learn about leasing agreements, communicating effectively with your landlord, and more. Be aware that to contact Student Legal Services for advice or representation, you must have not waived the Student Legal Services fee. 

How can I stay connected to other students and ISFS staff during this period of social distancing?

As we navigate these uncertain times together, International Student and Faculty Services would love to provide a virtual space for you to connect with your fellow Bobcats and ISFS staff members. To accomplish this, we've scheduled ISFS Group Virtual Hangouts through Microsoft Teams where you can come and ask questions, voice concerns, or speak about anything you’d like. Keep an eye on your email for more information on the date and time of these events, and how to join. 

Have questions regarding the economic stimulus payment?

Please visit our International Student Tax FAQ for more detailed information on the stimulus payment.

I have questions regarding my academic coursework, who should I contact?

We recommend that you direct any class or academic questions to your academic advisors or program directors.