On-campus public health protocols update

Published: June 1, 2021 Author: Staff reports

The following message was shared with the OHIO community on June 1, 2021.

Dear University Community,

As we welcome the first group of future Bobcats for Bobcat Student Orientation to our Athens Campus this week, we are increasingly excited as we move toward a robust fall semester. We’re also excited to announce a few revisions to our on-campus public health campus protocols for all students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Changes in our protocols follow shifts in guidance at the state level as well as from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As always, our decisions are informed by national and state science-based guidance, paired with local data on actual disease spread on our campuses and in surrounding communities. 

As previously announced, we plan to continue to relax guidelines with a goal of removing all protocols when vaccination rates on our campuses are sufficiently high. 

Effective immediately, the below protocols have changed:

Face Coverings

  • Outdoors: Individuals are no longer required to wear face coverings outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. Per CDC guidance, we strongly encourage unvaccinated individuals wear face coverings and maintain physical distance from other unvaccinated individuals, even when outdoors.
  • Indoors: All individuals are required to wear a face covering while indoors on OHIO campuses and while utilizing University transportation, regardless of vaccination status, except when in one’s own residence hall room and maintaining social distancing; when dining; or when working alone in a closed space (such as a lab or office).

Physical Distancing

  • Outdoors: Individuals do not need to practice physical distancing when outdoors. Per CDC guidance, we strongly encourage unvaccinated individuals maintain distance while outside.
  • Indoors: As previously announced, in classrooms, individuals are expected to maintain a distance of at least three feet from others not members of their household; in all other indoor public spaces on campus, individuals are expected to maintain a distance of at least six feet.

University Events

  • There is no capacity limit on indoor or outdoor gatherings beyond normal University guidelines if distancing protocols are met indoors.
  • Any event taking place in a University campus building must be approved by the University to ensure adherence to public health protocols.  

Maintaining a mask requirement and some amount of physical distancing until more of our campus community is vaccinated provides important protections to everyone. Paired with our Testing Pathway Program, increased vaccination rates will help us reduce disease spread on our campuses and allow us to continue to transition away from necessary protocols. This is where we all have a role to play in keeping our campuses healthy. We encourage everyone in our campus community to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Make appointments anywhere in Ohio through the state’s vaccine website.

It is because we all have worked so hard to follow safety protocols during this challenging year that we are now able to enjoy the results of our success. As we return to doing so many of the things we enjoy, please remember that every individual is managing their own risk factors. While we all will practice this basic set of safety measures, some may choose to use more protections based on their vaccination status, living with or caring for high-risk loved ones, or many other reasons. Let’s all support each other in being healthy and safe while welcoming a more relaxed campus environment. 


Dr. Gillian Ice
Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations

Dr. Ken Johnson
Chief Medical Affairs Officer