Schools

OSU Details Return To Campus Measures For Spring Semester

5 Jan , 2022  

Special to 1812Blockhouse

University leaders delivered the following message to students, faculty and staff on Tuesday, January 4:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

We hope you had a happy and healthy winter break.

As you know, the nation and state are experiencing a dramatic increase in COVID-19 infections due in large part to the Omicron variant. As we prepare to start the spring semester and welcome students back to campus for in-person instruction, Ohio State continues to adjust health measures based on the latest data as well as evolving guidance from national, state and local agencies. 

Throughout the pandemic, Ohio State has successfully engaged our entire community to share responsibility for minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Your continued support is essential as we start the new year.

We urge all students, faculty and staff who are eligible to get booster shots to do so before returning to campus, or to take advantage of a booster clinic at Jesse Owens North beginning January 10. For spring semester, all health protocols below will be in place, including guidelines to wear well-fitted masks indoors, frequently wash your hands and stay home if you feel sick. The university will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves and will update protocols as information becomes available.

Details about our measures are listed below and at Safe and Healthy Buckeyes.

We invite students, faculty and staff to learn more during a virtual town hall at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday, January 6. To register and submit questions, sign up using your Ohio State name.# at this Zoom link.   

Return to campus for students

TEST-IN REQUIREMENTS

For students in university housing on all campuses:

  • A rapid antigen test for COVID-19 will be required when you first arrive this weekend. For students living in residence halls on the Columbus campus, this testing will occur at French Field House, 460 Woody Hayes Drive. Students will know their results within 15 minutes. Those who test negative can move into their residence halls during their scheduled time.
  • Students living on regional campuses will receive specific instructions about where to test in the coming days.
  • Those who test positive will not be able to move in on campus and instead will need to isolate for five days, either at home or in a local hotel (see the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website for recommended spaces in the Columbus area). Limited beds in the on-campus isolation residence hall will be prioritized for out-of-state students on a first-come, first-served basis, and space is not guaranteed. After five days of isolation, students will be able to attend classes in person as long as all symptoms have resolved, and they wear a well-fitted mask for an additional five days indoors and outdoors.

For fraternity and sorority students who live in their off-campus chapter houses:

  • Rapid antigen tests will be delivered early in the week of January 10 to your chapter house. Each resident of the chapter house must complete the test.
  • Individuals who test positive will need to isolate for five days and, as long as all symptoms have resolved, then wear a well-fitted mask both indoors and outdoors for the next five days.

REQUIRED WEEKLY TESTING FOR SPRING SEMESTER

  • The following groups will be required to complete weekly PCR testing at this time, with the first test to be completed by the end of Friday, January 14. See the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes testing page for information about scheduling.
    • All students living in university housing on all campuses, regardless of vaccination status.
    • All student members of social sororities and fraternities, regardless of vaccination status.
    • All students and employees who have an approved exemption for the university’s vaccination requirement.
    • All students and employees who have taken no action on the university’s vaccination requirement.
  • If you are a part of one of these groups and tested positive for COVID-19 at a non-university location over winter break, please report your positive result to Ohio State by uploading your information and positive result to go.osu.edu/SelfReportTest. Those with verified results will receive a temporary exemption from testing.

QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION 

  • Every student should have an individual plan for isolation housing if you have a positive COVID-19 test and quarantine housing if you are exposed to someone with the virus.
  • Students in university housing should know that on-campus isolation and quarantine housing continues to be limited. Space is not guaranteed. (See the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website for recommended spaces).

CAMPUS DINING

  • Seating capacity at dining halls will be at 40% to allow for additional physical distancing.
  • Grab-and-go options, with mobile ordering, will be expanded so that students may take their meals to go.

Guidance for faculty

  • Ohio State will continue to offer in-person classes, and faculty are encouraged to offer flexible arrangements for students who are sick, in isolation or in quarantine.
  • Since the pandemic started, the university has upgraded the HVAC systems in campus buildings and expanded instructional technology and other resources. For more information, see the Teaching and Learning Resource Center.
  • Classes are expected to be taught in the original mode as posted at registration unless there is prior approval from the Office of Academic Affairs.
  • The university is prioritizing in-person teaching and learning. When possible, other in-person events, gatherings or meetings should be transitioned to virtual formats.

Work arrangements for staff

  • Ohio State remains committed to a full in-person experience for students and to meet the needs of patients and the community.
  • Given the differences in campus operations across the university, we are expecting each supervisor to determine specific operational needs, which may vary by area. The university’s established flexible work policy enables employees to work onsite or remotely with permission from their supervisor.
  • We encourage employees and supervisors to work together to determine work arrangements, including when remote work is appropriate. Employees with questions should check with their supervisor or human resources business partner.
  • The university is prioritizing in-person teaching and learning. When possible, other in-person events, gatherings or meetings should be transitioned to virtual formats.

Guidance for all students, faculty and staff

Getting your booster shot

  • The university continues to strongly encourage all students, faculty and staff to receive a COVID-19 booster before the start of spring semester or as soon as they are eligible. Boosters will enhance your protection from serious illness and reduce the chance that a COVID-19 exposure disrupts your semester.
  • Beginning Monday, January 10, booster shots will be available by appointment at Jesse Owens North on the Columbus campus. For details, see the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes Get Vaccinated page. Individuals on regional campuses should use the Ohio Department of Health vaccine locator.
  • You are eligible to get a booster shot based on when you completed your primary vaccination (five months after a Pfizer-BioNTech series; six months after a Moderna series or two months after a Johnson & Johnson dose), according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

Reporting your booster

  • While boosters are currently voluntary, Ohio State asks individuals to report booster information to help the university continue to plan our COVID-19 response.
  • Students may report booster information to Student Health Services through My BuckMD.
  • Employees will be able to report their information in the coming weeks. The university is currently working to expand the employee vaccination reporting system and will update faculty and staff when this capability is available. 

What to do if you’re sick

  • If you are feeling sick in any way, stay home and get a COVID-19 test before returning to campus. If you are an employee, report your illness through your normal process.
  • You may obtain a PCR test from a location that tests symptomatic people, or you may use an antigen test at home if you have access to one. Do not go to an asymptomatic testing location.
  • Starting January 3, the Wexner Medical Center established a community testing site for symptomatic individuals in the parking garage at CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service), 2540 Olentangy River Road. Appointments are required. For hours and other information, see the Wexner Medical Center announcement.

University-related meetings, events and gatherings

  • The university is prioritizing in-person teaching and learning. Due to 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.
  • Concessions will be closed at all university-related athletic events. Water will be available.

Masking and other health measures

  • Masks are still required in all indoor spaces on all campuses, regardless of vaccination status. This requirement applies to CABS and other public transportation.
  • Guidance on the best type and fit of masks continues to evolve. The university strongly recommends surgical grade masks. Double-masking is recommended for those using cloth masks. University community members are encouraged to regularly check the CDC guidance on masks and other health and safety measures.
  • The university is prioritizing in-person teaching and learning and will be putting de-densification practices in place in other social and non-classroom settings.
  • For more information on personal health practices, please visit the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.

As we have throughout the pandemic, we will update guidance and communicate regularly as new information is available.

Thank you for taking an active part in safeguarding the Ohio State community. We have achieved a 92.5% vaccination rate and have stayed together throughout the fall by taking care of our community. We will continue to support each other as Buckeyes and look forward to a great spring semester.

Sincerely yours,

Kristina M. Johnson, PhD 
President

Melissa L. Gilliam, MD, MPH
Executive Vice President and Provost

Grace Wang, PhD
Executive Vice President, Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge

Jeff Risinger, PhD
Senior Vice President, Talent, Culture and Human Resources

Melissa Shivers, PhD
Senior Vice President for Student Life

Andrew Thomas, MD, MBA, FACP
Interim Co-Leader and Chief Clinical Officer, Wexner Medical Center

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