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Ohio University provides updated COVID-19 guidance for Spring Semester

Published: January 9, 2022 Author: Staff reports

The following message was shared with the Ohio University community on Jan. 9, 2022.

Dear University Community,

We continue to monitor the dramatic increase in COVID-19 infections due, in large part, to the Omicron variant. We are prioritizing in-person teaching and learning and have implemented some additional protocols for the beginning of Spring Semester that we believe will help us preserve those essential components of campus life.

Over the past several days, public health experts have seen a significant rise in positivity rates and case counts across the state. Likewise, cases are rising exponentially within the OHIO community, so we are implementing several strong prevention methods across our campuses to help thwart the spread of disease. With that in mind, beginning immediately, the following guidelines will be implemented across our campuses until further notice:  

New guidance for in-person events and meetings

  • As we have stated before, we will continue to prioritize our in-person classes, but due to the recent increase in the Omicron-related case numbers, when possible, other in-person events, gatherings or meetings should be transitioned to virtual formats. The University will closely monitor this so that it can be updated as needed.
  • Food and drinks should not be served at any in-person event, gathering or meeting. Exceptions can be made for third-party space rentals that have already been confirmed, although masking should be strictly enforced. Third-party renters are defined as organizations that are not affiliated with the University. A University department renting event space from another University unit/facility is not a third-party rental.
  • Concessions will be closed at all University-related events. Water will be available.

Updated Face Covering Requirements

  • Ohio University’s Presidential Health Directives require all individuals to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces on OHIO campuses, and on public transportation. Students, faculty, and staff should use N95, KN95, KF94, or surgical masks whenever possible, regardless of vaccination status.
  • For those who do not have access to the recommended masks, the University will provide a limited number at the beginning of the semester, while supplies last. Masks are available for pickup by Athens-based students at the fourth-floor information desk at Baker Center, on the second and fourth floor service desks at Alden Library, and at the Ping Center. Regional campus students can access masks through Student Services. Masks for faculty and staff on all campuses will be ordered and distributed by the planning unit’s PPE coordinator. Faculty and staff are encouraged to make masks available in classrooms, administrative offices, and other common areas for individuals who need them. 
  • All employees are asked to remind others of University policies related to face coverings, and it is our expectation that all students, faculty, and staff will take appropriate precautions to help keep our campuses and communities safe, including wearing face coverings as articulated in the Presidential Health Directives.

Updated Testing Requirements

The following groups will be required to complete weekly asymptomatic testing until further notice, with the first test to be completed by end of day on Friday, January 14:

  • All students living in University housing, regardless of vaccination status.
  • All residents of recognized sorority and fraternity properties, regardless of vaccination status.
  • All students and employees who have an approved exemption for the University’s vaccination requirement.
  • All new students and employees who have not yet taken action on the University’s vaccination requirement or are in process.

Vaccinations and Boosters

  • All OHIO students, faculty and staff must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved exemption. You are required to upload your vaccination record online.
  • The University strongly encourages all students, faculty, and staff to get a booster shot. Please upload your booster record as soon as possible so that you can avoid quarantine if exposed to the virus.

Vaccine/booster clinics are scheduled on the Athens campus every Friday in January. Information about those clinics and where to get vaccinated or boosted anywhere in Ohio is available here.

What to do if you’re feeling sick

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, follow steps outlined in our COVID-19 Protocol:

  • Seek medical attention and complete a COVID-19 Incident Report form. An OHIO COVID Campus Liaison (CCL) will advise you on further steps.
  • Get tested. Contact a healthcare provider to arrange a test/provider visit
    • Athens-campus based students: call Campus Care at 740-592-7169.
    • All other students, faculty, and staff: contact your primary care provider. If you don’t have a primary care provider, a CCL can advise you on options in your area.
  • Stay home and avoid others. It is important to note that students may need to return home to their permanent address to isolate.

Throughout the pandemic, Ohio University has successfully encouraged our University community to share responsibility for minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

We are proud of our students, faculty, and staff for your efforts to safeguard our community throughout the pandemic, and your continued support is essential as we start the new year.

For more information about Ohio University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the Be Safe Bobcats website. We will continue to keep you engaged and informed as new information is made available. 

Best regards,

Dr. Hugh Sherman
President

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

Dr. Ken Johnson
Chief Medical Affairs Officer
Executive Dean, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine