Planning for a successful Spring Semester
The following message was shared with the Ohio University community on Dec. 15, 2020.
To the Ohio University Community,
As we enter into the holiday season, we are all looking forward to a restful winter break and a new year that culminates with the start of a successful spring semester. Reaching out to you today, I want to express my hopefulness about Spring 2021 and to ask for your help in meeting the challenges that it will surely bring.
Like me, I trust that you are cautiously optimistic about the recent approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine, which is on its way to healthcare providers around the country. At the same time, we are all watching the numbers of cases and hospitalizations rise dramatically across the country and state yet again, a trend that is expected to continue into the new year.
As you know, we made the decision in October to delay the start of Spring semester classes by one week, resuming Tuesday, January 19. That delay provides two weeks following peak holiday travel and gatherings before students return to residence halls in Athens and begin classes at all campuses. Earlier this month, we communicated to residential students new requirements for testing both before move-in and during their stay on campus. These measures were added to existing Presidential Health Directives, which all members of our community must follow.
All these steps are intended to provide the best possible protections to our students, faculty and staff as well as the communities we serve. Alone, however, they will not be enough to control the spread of the virus on our campuses. That depends in large part on the choices each of us make in our everyday lives. We are known, Bobcats, for being a community that cares about one another, and we must be committed to that idea in the coming weeks and months. Be smart this holiday season – wear a mask when around people who don't live in your household and avoid gatherings. Even small gatherings can be the cause of significant spread.
Ruthie and I have made the decision not to travel this holiday season, although we would so like to spend time with our two sons and new granddaughter. We recognize that holiday travel would not only put us at risk but potentially contribute to the spread of the virus in our OHIO community, about which we care so deeply.
As I said, this spring will not be without its challenges. Given the trajectory of the pandemic, we expect to increase the frequency of asymptomatic testing on all campuses and to strictly enforce public health directives. In addition, on our Athens campus we will continue to offer carry-out dining only, to restrict visitors to our residence halls and to implement remain-in-room protocols as necessary to control spread. We will maintain lower staff density on our campuses through remote work and will work closely with city officials in all campus communities to ensure our students are following protocols off-campus as well.
To our students and parents: know that we are very hopeful in moving forward as planned in January with on-campus move-in beginning January 13 and classes beginning January 19 in person, virtually, and in hybrid formats. However, with the high level of disease in our state and nation, our public health and student life leaders will be working closely with our local and state public health officials and communicating with other public universities in the state throughout the winter break to monitor state and national trends, which have been disturbing. Should the public health situation in the state necessitate any changes to our University schedule, course delivery plans, or on-campus protocols, we will notify you immediately.
I am hopeful that the end of this disruptive period to our daily lives is in sight, and I look forward to days when we can once again be engaged in the collaborative community activities we all know and love. Until then, be safe Bobcats. Make choices that will not only protect you but protect this University community we so dearly love.
M. Duane Nellis