Looking forward to spring semester
Welcome back! I hope you had a restful winter break and are looking forward to the Spring semester as much as I am.
This coming Tuesday, we will begin the Spring semester across our campuses in online, face-to-face and hybrid formats. Over the Winter Break Closure, our COVID Operations team sent pre-arrival testing information to students across all OHIO campuses. We asked approximately 10,000 students with an on-campus presence to complete at-home tests to help reduce risk of disease, and we will continue to test students regularly throughout the semester.
Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion
We are proud to commemorate the beginning of this semester with a celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I hope that you will join me in the special programming we have planned for the week.
While this year’s MLK celebration looks different than in years past, we remain unwavering in our dedication to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service and action. I was greatly impressed by the creativity of our Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee for finding innovative ways to teach, learn and inspire. A great example of their ingenuity is the creative approach to our annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Brunch, which this year will be held in a drive-in format. I hope you will join me and our guest speaker, alumna Jericka Duncan, ’05, a national correspondent and anchor of the Sunday edition of the “CBS Weekend News.”
It is apropos that, during this extremely challenging time in American history, our community will join together to pay tribute to Dr. King, whose leadership was fundamental in our nation’s modern fight for civil rights and social justice. Our core institutional values of compassion and critical thinking honor his commitment to nonviolence not just today but every day.
I encourage our University community to embrace differing opinions, which challenge our openness and ideals and ultimately can foster growth. I hope that you will participate in our next Challenging Dialogue lecture series event, which will take place in February. Watch your Catmail for additional details in the coming weeks.
Finding a new normal at OHIO
I would like to welcome those of you who are new to the University this Spring. I recommend Bobcat Connect as a way to join one of many tremendous student organizations to make new friends and pursue your interests.
Whether this is your first time living on-campus or you are preparing for your final semester as a Bobcat, we are unified as a community of care.
By now, we have all signed the OHIO Pledge in solidarity to observe heightened health and safety precautions and to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
I ask that you review our Presidential Health Directives, which were created in support of Interim Policy 44.102 and outline important aspects of our pandemic response plan, like facial coverings, the required daily symptom tracker for those coming to campus, and testing and contact tracing expectations.
It is hard to believe it has been nearly a year since the first novel coronavirus case was identified in the United States. While the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on the world, our country and the OHIO community, I am heartened by the fact that two safe and effective vaccines are now being administered by state and local health departments across the country. My Special Assistant for Public Health Operations, Gillian Ice, provides an update email every Tuesday, which is where you can read updates about the vaccine as it becomes available. I am grateful to Dr. Ice and our entire COVID Operations for all of their work over break on testing, contact tracing and numerous efforts designed to keep our University community as safe as possible. Please email CovidOperations@ohio.edu to join the mailing list if you aren’t already receiving those updates.
In the meantime, we will continue to closely monitor the trajectory of the pandemic. I urge you to visit our COVID-19 dashboard regularly to see the impacts on our OHIO community. I greatly appreciate your continued patience and flexibility as we navigate uncharted territory.
We will keep you apprised of any developments and share new information as quickly as possible. Though we cannot say for certain what the next few months will look like, I can commit to you that all of the decisions we make and actions we take will be in the best interest of the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community.
Stay safe, Bobcats!
M. Duane Nellis