A letter to parents of Ohio University students
Over the past several days, I have received many emails expressing both concern about our phased reopening and its impact on students, as well as support for the decision. I want to thank our Bobcat families for sharing their thoughts, concerns and encouragement during this unusual time. Please know that the decision to move to a phased opening was a difficult decision, but, based on guidance from public health experts, we felt it was necessary in order to protect the health of our students, faculty and staff, as well as the communities we serve.
To our first-year families: I recognize that so many students in OHIO’s class of 2024 have already lost too many important milestones during this pandemic. We are mindful of how important the college transition is, and we are committed to supporting—and celebrating—your student in their transition to OHIO, now during the phased return and as soon as we can safely welcome them to campus.
As part of Phase 1, while the majority of our Athens students will begin courses online, we are bringing approximately 2,200 students to campus for in-person instruction, research and specialized experiences beginning August 24. This allows us to further reduce density in our residence halls and in-person classes while we implement, evaluate and adjust public health protocols as necessary. During the next two weeks, we will work with public health officials to closely monitor infection rates, testing capacity and other factors to inform decisions about Phase 2.
As you know, we are committed to notifying students of their eligibility to return Phase 2 no later than Sept. 8. While we recognize that students and families want to know details about Phase 2 as soon as possible, we don’t believe we can make final decisions about Phase 2 responsibly until Phase 1 is underway. We continue to consider all options, ranging from bringing back only select majors to inviting larger cohorts of students back to campus.
Across the country, we have already seen universities open to students and then quickly close again due to illness. Our hope and plan is to avoid this kind of disruption to our students and families through thoughtful planning that is informed by public health experts and responsive to the changing dynamics of the pandemic. You are invited to read more about the details behind our reopening plan on our Be Safe Bobcats website.
Again, thank you for your input, words of encouragement and questions. I am reviewing each message I receive and I am sharing them with my leadership team as we consider next steps.
M. Duane Nellis