OHIO to welcome all students, increase in-person activities for Summer and Fall 2021
Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis shared the following message with the Ohio University community on Monday, March 1.
Dear University Community,
I write today with good news about our University operations for the summer and fall semesters as we plan toward increased in-person offerings in and out of the classroom. I am pleased to share that we will welcome all students to our campuses this coming Fall Semester.
First, I want to take a moment to fervently applaud the work of Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations Dr. Gillian Ice, Chief Medical Affairs Officer Dr. Ken Johnson, and the entire COVID Operations team for their incredible work during the last several weeks and months. I also want to thank our students for the role they continue to play in keeping each other safe by following protocols, even when it creates challenges. Together, we have maintained a positivity rate under four percent and avoided significant outbreaks in our residence halls this Spring.
We have also piloted innovative and successful approaches to safe student events and engagement such as our Martin Luther King Jr. Day Silent March and celebrations, craft and movie nights, health and wellness programs and other activities that allow students to be active and stay safe.
With recent successes in mind, and with COVID cases currently dropping in Ohio and across the country as vaccines are deployed, we are planning to welcome all students to our campuses, to significantly increase face-to-face course offerings, and to have fully open residence halls on our Athens campus this fall. We have already started to phase in on-campus activities. We recently increased the number of available campus visits for prospective students, adding group information sessions under careful guidance from our public health leaders. We are also planning to host Bobcat Student Orientation in-person this summer – although in smaller groups than normal – with virtual options available for families who prefer not to travel to campus until Welcome Week in August.
While we should not expect University life to fully return to a pre-pandemic normal, we can all look forward to a more normal summer and fall.
Having said that, we will continue to follow the evolving guidance of state and national public health experts to ensure the health and safety of our University community. With that in mind, here are a few important measures we are preparing to deploy in the fall semester to keep students safe:
- We expect to continue to only offer double and single rooms in the residence halls on our Athens campus and maintain isolation and quarantine space for students who test positive or are exposed. We will once again require testing prior to move-in for all students.
- We will continue to follow the most up-to-date guidelines from the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention related to facial coverings, limitations on public gatherings, and other safety protocols.
- Classes and indoor events will continue to follow any ongoing public health guidelines for social distancing.
- We have identified meeting spaces that can be temporarily redeployed as classroom space for some larger courses.
- Some courses will be divided into smaller sections to allow for face-to-face instruction while meeting public health guidelines.
- We will offer more in-person hybrid courses that include a mix of face-to-face and online elements each week.
- Some larger classes, such as those with more than 50 students, may continue to be delivered online.
We know this news will be celebrated by many, while some students, faculty, and staff might be anxious about this shift. Know that we remain deeply dedicated to maintaining a safe and healthy campus, and we would not be making these plans if we had not seen such success over recent months. In addition, our public health experts continue to closely monitor the trajectory of the pandemic, the introduction of new strains of the virus, the availability and effectiveness of vaccines and more, and we will be prepared to make any necessary shifts to operations to protect the health and safety of our University community to the best of our ability.
Nonetheless, we are optimistic and truly thrilled to be planning toward a more familiar summer and fall. I simply cannot wait for even more of our incredible students and our dedicated faculty and staff to be together on our campuses again soon.
See you soon, Bobcats!