Ohio University

2020 Fall Semester closing message

Published: November 19, 2020 Author: Staff reports

The following message was shared with the Ohio University community on Nov. 19, 2020.

Dear University Community:

It’s hard to believe that despite its many challenges, this year has passed so quickly, and we are nearing the end of the fall semester. I would like to thank all of our students, faculty, and staff for your efforts to keep our campuses safe in 2020. Because of your hard work, we are looking forward to successfully implementing our plans to bring more Bobcats back to campus in the spring.

However, as we approach the holiday season and transition to remote learning as the fall semester comes to a close, this is an important reminder for our community to carefully follow public health guidelines to continue in our collective efforts to stop the spread of disease. 

Testing 
A reminder that Governor DeWine has provided tips for college students to help minimize spread as they head home for the holidays. Even if you test negative prior to returning home, the best way to avoid exposure and to ensure that you remain negative is to stay distant and wear a mask.  OHIO will offer limited asymptomatic testing through CVS Health for students, faculty, and staff on the Athens campus in December. Requests can be made by emailing CovidOperations@ohio.edu.

Faculty and Staff 
Many of our faculty and staff members have been working from home during the fall semester, and we thank you for your efforts whether you were at home or on our campuses. All employees who have been working on our campuses are encouraged to discuss your work schedules with your supervisors in the hopes that more employees can work remotely through the end of 2020 in order to enhance safety for those who must be on our campuses.

Approach to Spring Semester 2021
To minimize the public health risk to our University community as we increase density on our Athens campus in the spring, we will continue to employ strategies that have helped to reduce the spread of disease, and we will make new and necessary changes.

  • Spring semester classes will begin on Tuesday, January 19, and Spring Break will be eliminated to discourage travel to and from campus.
  • As we witness an increase in the number COVID cases across the nation, all students, faculty, and staff returning to campus this spring should be aware and prepare for necessary travel-related quarantine.
  • Continued COVID prevention efforts: This fall, the University implemented Presidential Health Directives and Policy 44.102 which established specific health requirements for University community members as necessary to mitigate current community health risks. Those policies will remain in place this spring, and it is essential for all University students, faculty and staff to follow protocols in order to maintain increased density on campus. We will continue our partnership with OhioHealth to provide expanded services for students and employees during the pandemic
  • In accordance with our newly-amended Presidential Health Directives, students may be contacted and given instruction on how to schedule a COVID-19 test prior to being permitted to access campus each semester and on a recurring basis throughout each semester. Once contacted, the student shall schedule and complete a test per the provided instructions. The University will test all students with a presence on campus.
  • Spring Commencement: We know that our graduating students and families are very excited and want to plan ahead. The reality is that unless the numbers decrease significantly, we are not going to be in the position to have a typical commencement. However, we are exploring creative ways to celebrate the class of 2021 safely.
  • Remote work for our employees: Reducing density on campus has been an important element in our return strategy. For the time being, those employees whose work can be effectively done remotely should continue to do so in the spring. Please check with your department head or supervisor if you have questions or concerns. OHIO will offer free bi-weekly testing options for all employees who are reporting to the Athens campus.

In closing, I offer my sincere gratitude to our students, faculty, and staff for your efforts to stop the spread of disease in our community. This has been an extremely trying time, and I appreciate the extraordinary work you have accomplished to meet the challenges of teaching, learning, and conducting research and creative activity during the pandemic.

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season in the weeks to come.

In Bobcat Pride, 
M. Duane Nellis
President