Ohio University

President Nellis provides critical update about OHIO's response to coronavirus

Published: March 10, 2020 Author: Staff reports

The following message was shared with the Ohio University community on March 10, 2020.

Dear University Community,

Ohio University has been vigilantly monitoring the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), and we have been providing regular updates to help keep our entire University community safe throughout this rapidly evolving situation. For the past several weeks, I have been working closely with University leaders and subject matter experts to coordinate OHIO’s preparation and response. I am grateful to everyone in our community who has worked tirelessly on plans and guidance to help us to be nimble and provide necessary guidance related to this global health outbreak. This message includes critical updates requiring your attention and action to keep our community safe.

No cases of coronavirus have been reported at any Ohio University campus or location, and we continue to believe the risk of transmission on our campuses is low at this time. However, as this outbreak is becoming more widespread in the United States – including three cases in the State of Ohio, which has declared a state of emergency – Ohio University is taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of our communities and the public at large. To that end, Ohio University is following the guidance of state and local Departments of Public Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In an effort to prevent illness while continuing the important work of the University, we are taking several precautionary measures that will allow us to continue to meet our academic mission and provide for the education of our students while protecting our community to the best of our ability. We understand the disruptive nature of these measures but believe it is essential to safeguard the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff while continuing to fulfill our educational mission.

Suspension of In-Person Instruction

We have suspended in-person instruction on all campuses and locations and are moving to a virtual instruction environment, effective immediately and through at least Monday, March 30, 2020. We will reevaluate these measures on an ongoing basis and share updates or modifications as more information becomes available. Further communications are forthcoming regarding individual classes and support strategies.

All students who traveled home over spring break are encouraged to stay at home, and those who were traveling over spring break are also asked not to return to campus during this timeframe. Students who live in residence halls on-campus are not to return to campus after spring break unless they request and receive prior authorization by contacting housing@ohio.edu or 740-593-4090.

If individuals have an immediate need to return to campus to retrieve essential items from their residence hall, they are asked to contact housing@ohio.edu or call 740-593-4090 for assistance.

Telecommuting Plans for Staff

At this point in time, all of our campuses and locations will remain open. The University is currently preparing plans for telecommuting opportunities, where appropriate, for University staff during this time. More information about telecommuting will be available from Human Resources in the coming days.

Additionally, information about COVID-19 reporting, employee-leave management and associated workplace issues will be available from Human Resources in the coming days.

Travel

Effective immediately and until further notice, all University-sponsored travel is suspended. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis for mission critical travel only, and we are developing an approval process that will be shared in the coming days.

The
previously announced restrictions of University-sponsored travel to countries currently under a CDC Warning Level 2 and 3, remain in effect until further notice.

If you are an Ohio University student currently enrolled in one of our study away programs, please contact the Office of Global Opportunities with any questions or concerns. 

For personal travel, we strongly advise all students, faculty and staff to follow travel alerts from the CDC.

All individuals who are returning from locations with increased risk of exposure are asked to check-in with their local department of public health.

Information about University Events

All planned Ohio University events, except Ohio University athletic events, will be postponed, cancelled or moved to alternate formats through March 30, 2020. We will reevaluate guidance about future events and will share updates as they become available. As we work in coordination with the NCAA and the MAC, additional guidance will be shared in the coming days with regard to the University’s scholar athletes and athletic events.

Guidance to help Prevent the Spread of Infection

Everyone on campus should practice the appropriate social distancing and enhanced preventative public health measures outlined below.

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home and do not travel or go to work or school when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue in the trash. Then wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Maintain a safe social distance of at least six feet.

Although all of Ohio University’s campuses and locations remain open at this time, where possible, employees should consider using technology to conduct meetings.

This situation is evolving daily, and all guidelines are subject to change as necessary. Additional information and details will be shared separately soon with students, faculty, staff, our regional and extension campuses and parents. We will continue to monitor regularly and make adjustments as needed with the well-being of our University community top of mind. Please visit www.ohio.edu/alert for updates and additional information. Questions can be addressed to coronavirus@ohio.edu.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we continue to evaluate and respond to the rapidly changing and unprecedented situation. Please take care and stay safe.

Best regards,
M. Duane Nellis
President