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Community Engagement in a time of Coronavirus

Community Engagement in a time of Coronavirus
Students pack bags of produce form the Student Farm to distribute to community members

The Center for Campus and Community Engagement is here to support community-university partnerships and foster resilient communities. As our communities respond to the threat of COVID-19, community engagement needs to look a little different. Below you will find resources to adapt curricular engagement and virtual opportunities for meaningful service as well as suggestions on other ways you can support our communities and sources for emergency assistance for our community partners.

CCCE Policies Community Engagement: Fall 2021

Resources for faculty, staff, students

How to support our communities

Emergency funding & assistance programs

CCCE Policies for Community Engagement: Fall 2021

The CCCE strongly recommends that any community engagement activities (volunteering, research, internships, etc.) offered by campus or community partners that can be effectively completed or provided in an outdoor, socially distanced, or remote environment should continue in this modality in order to reduce overall density of people on all campuses and in communities.

The CCCE requires students participating in our programs and sponsored events to adhere to all health and safety policies and regulations of the community organization they are engaging with. It is the responsibility of the student to abide by any and all of the organization’s health and safety policies and regulations.

For all community engagement activities, community partners are permitted to require immunizations or health tests for students interested in working with them. Providing the required proof will be the responsibility of the student.

Ohio University expects all students engaging in the community to follow the policies, procedures, rules and regulations established by the community partner during their time engaging with community partner(s).

We encourage all partners and engaged students to commit to adhering to the below Work Safety Rules and reviewing Training on COVID-19 Prevention and the Workplace.

Work Safety Rules

  • Immediately prior to reporting to the community partner site, students shall measure their body temperature and self-evaluate to ensure there is no onset of illness.
  • If students become ill while at work, they should contact their supervisor, leave the work site, and immediately contact their primary care physician or Campus Care to seek testing. 
  • All students who are confirmed or presumed positive, must not return to campus, or a partner site, until cleared by a health professional. (See University guidelines here: https://www.ohio.edu/coronavirus/testing-tracing-quarantining)
  • All students who are notified by public health that they have been exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine and not return to campus or partner site for a minimum of 14 days. (See University guidelines here: https://www.ohio.edu/coronavirus/testing-tracing-quarantining)
  • Students shall practice social distancing by ensuring a 6-foot distance between people at all times. 
  • Students shall wear a face covering when on site unless exempted from doing so by their supervisor in accordance with the Ohio Department of Health regulations. 
  • Students working alone in an office, space, or vehicle, or single operation of a piece of equipment (i.e. riding mower, etc.) may remove the mask; however, the mask must be worn properly prior to entering any space where students could potentially meet/come in contact with another person; including exterior spaces (i.e. walkways, parking lots, athletic fields, etc.). 
  • Students may seek an exemption from the requirement to wear a facial covering by contacting the CCCE at communityengagement@ohio.edu. If request is being made based on health reasons, employee’s request should be accompanied by a doctor’s note. Additionally, if an employee needs an accommodation in accordance with the American with Disabilities Act, please contact the Office for University Accessibility at 740-593-2620 or access@ohio.edu

Resources for faculty, staff, & students: service and community-based learning in a virtual world

Do you have an active partnership with a community organization? Talk to them about their needs and capacity to continue your work. Current circumstances have put additional pressure on many organizations, and they may have emergency needs that now must be met. If you are able, be flexible with your partnership and adapt your work in order to accomplish priority goals.

Virtual service opportunities

Do you need to adapt a community-based service experience? Talk with your community partner about their needs, and capacity to continue working with you. If your partner can still manage volunteers, here are some tasks that many organizations need help with that can be accomplished remotely:

  • Conducting background research or gathering best practice research or other information requested by partners 
  • Organizing and/or analyzing data
  • Taping, recording, or streaming performances or workshops to benefit community partner(s)
  • Creating digital and other social media content, print program materials, or other methods for information-sharing and advocacy
  • Grant writing 
  • Undertaking assessment, evaluation, or feedback via phone or web-based services
  • Offering (or compiling, researching, or brainstorming) strategies that provide indirect support from volunteers as a result of coronavirus 
  • Conducting virtual or phone-based educational or social supports for youth and adults

Looking for other ways to be involved in community while practicing social distancing?  Here are some ideas to explore!



  • United Nations Volunteers program is dedicated to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. Online volunteers work to address sustainable development challenges – anywhere in the world.
  • Amnesty International has a team of Amnesty DeCoders who volunteer to research and uncover human rights violations.

     Creative Endeavors

  • The Free Minds Book Club works with youth incarcerated as adults who are participating in book and writing clubs. They seek volunteers to provide feedback on their poetry. Watch these videos to learn more about how to comment (this one is about hosting your own event, but it gives you an idea of what kinds of feedback to provide and how to be a virtual volunteer).
  • Be My Eyes is an organization assisting people who are blind or visually impaired. Volunteers help read for them. Note that calls can be infrequent.
  • LibriVox, a free public domain for audiobooks seeks volunteers to record audio books created prior to 1923.
  • 7 Cups connects people to caring, compassionate listeners.  Build active listening skills and become a volunteer listener.


  • Zooniverse is always looking for volunteers for research projects in the arts, biological sciences, climate, history, physics, and more.
  • Missing Maps offers virtual volunteering to map communities that may be impacted by disasters so that humanitarian workers can best serve them. They offer excellent training videos to help you get started.
  • Firefly Watch Citizen Science Project at the Audubon Society needs help to learn about the geographic distribution of fireflies and what environmental factors impact their abundance. 


  • Catchafire matches skilled professional volunteers with nonprofits to help them increase their capacity and achieve their missions.
  • Translators Without Borders offers virtual volunteers the chance to help translate documents, if you have another language skill.
  • Project Gutenberg is always looking for people with proofreading and editing skills for books being transferred to online formats.
  • Crisis Text Line is the perfect way for students wanting to hone their social service skills by providing mental wellbeing support to those in need. Training is provided. Note, this organization expects an ongoing commitment.
  • The Smithsonian Museum gives you a chance to develop your historian skill set by transcribing historical documents such as field notes, biodiversity specimens labels, and more.
  • National Park Service is seeking volunteers to test their web applications.

     Community Engagement

  • National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster are responding to disasters across the country and can connect you with local opportunities.
  • The Mapping Prejudice Project is showing what communities of color have known for decades. Structural barriers stopped many people who were not white from buying property and building wealth for most of the last century. See how you can volunteer and contribute to racial justice.

How you can support our communities

There are many ways you can make a difference in the fight against COVID-19. We recommend that before acting, individuals research what’s already happening in your local community—many individuals and organizations are moving quickly to address the countless needs that are emerging and would be best served by collaboration, rather than duplication!

Introducing: The Bobcat Neighborhood!

Together with the Ohio University Alumni Association and Ohio University Corporate Engagement, we're working to build the Bobcat Neighborhood: A directory connecting alumni, alumni-owned businesses, and local businesses and nonprofits in our campus communities in a network of mutual support. 


Donate to help those near and far

Support local businesses 

A recent Athens Area Chamber of Commerce survey shows how critical it is for us to support local businesses, wherever they are! Consider ordering take out, investing in gift cards, or buying that t-shirt you've had your eye on! 

We are so grateful for our local business community's efforts to get everyone through this together! Check out what some community members are up to below, and reach out to us via email or social media with good stories we're missing!

Support efforts to help those in the greatest need

  • Ohio Association of Food BanksThe Ohio Association of Foodbanks represents Ohio's 12 Feeding America foodbanks, who serve all 88 counties in Ohio. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, our network served an average of 25,000 people every day. In the days and weeks to come, we will serve many more thousands of people, and we will need to do so through different means of distribution. This presents unique challenges and needs for our network, and we urge your support, if you are able to offer it. View opportunities to give help.
  • Ohio United WayOhio United Way is the voluntary state association of United Ways across Ohio. Representing local United Ways around the state, the association works to promote the public policy interest of our members, provides them with educational opportunities and leads statewide initiatives designed to improve Ohio communities. Find your local chapter here: http://ouw.org/
  • Support Ohio’s Domestic Violence SheltersFor some, social distancing and staying home may put them at risk if there is violence in the home. Consider donating to the Ohio Domestic Violence Network or by supporting your local shelter. For example, those in Fairfield County by the Lancaster Campus, you can donate to the Lighthouse, or in Athens, Vinton, and Hocking County, you can donate to My Sister’s Place.
  • Support the ArtsKeep in mind that your community nonprofit arts and entertainment venues are significantly impacted by this pandemic because they’ve had to cancel or postpone all events. For example,  those in Muskingum County by the Zanesville Campus, consider donating to the Zanesville Museum of Art, or if you’re in Athens area consider donating to The Dairy Barn Arts CenterStuart’s Opera HousePassion Works, and other local and regional organizations.
  • Donate BloodThe Red Cross has stated “Right now, American Red Cross faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving bloodplatelets or AB Elite plasma.

Be an active citizen

  • Register for Absentee Voting in OhioDon’t let a pandemic prevent you for being civically engaged! You can complete a simple form and then vote by mail well before June.
  • Participate in the 2020 CensusThe Census data informs decision making at the federal, state and local level on things that impact everyday people across the country—such as fair representation and funding allocations to support public libraries, schools, hospitals, benefit programs, affordable housing, transportation. Learn about the 2020 Census.  

Emergency Funding & Assistance Programs

The CCCE is monitoring resources available to community organizations and small businesses, and will update this list accordingly. If you are aware of resources that can assist community members, please email the CCCE at communityengagement@ohio.edu.


Federal Assistance & Resources

Local Assistance & Resources

  • Athens Response Fund & Perry Response FundHosted by Rural Action, the COVID-19 Response Fund provides flexible resources to organizations in our region working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of this outbreak, as well as attempt to alleviate impacts for specific businesses, farms and others on a case-by-case basis.
  • Mask Makers of Athens Ohio: The Ohio University CoLab is partnering with Passion Works to coordinate local mask making and connect folks with resources to join the effort.
  • COVID-19 County Resource Guides: Inspired by the work of the COMCorps member at the Athens City-County Health Department, the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine's Community Health Worker Program has developed this website with resource guides for Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Vinton, & Washington Counties
  • Voinovich COVID-19 Business Recovery Resource CenterThe Small Business Development Center (SBDC) ,  Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), and TechGROWTH Ohio, all part of Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, are working with small and local, private and non-profit business owners to use the following resources available from the state and federal government to help keep their businesses afloat during the pandemic.