Ohio University announces updated plans for fall semester

Published 5:44 pm Friday, July 31, 2020

President Nellis affirms commitment to safety and academic quality

ATHENS — Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis has announced updated plans for the University’s approach to fall semester.
With growing concern about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the nation, state and region, and consistent with the state’s guidance for higher education, Ohio University will implement a phased return to the Athens campus this fall and a hybrid approach for regional campuses.

“In keeping with recommended guidance and recognition of this evolving situation, we are implementing plans that are supported by our public health, state and medical partners to reduce the density of our students, faculty and staff,” Nellis said. “While we remain committed to the highest-quality academic experience for our students, the ultimate goal is to minimize risks to our Bobcats during a time in which COVID-19 cases are on the rise.”

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The university’s phased approach is informed following consultation with public health and medical partners who support the need to reduce the density of students, faculty and staff.

“I am very grateful for our faculty and staff, as community leaders and public health partners who have continued to play a role in our evolving fall plans,” Nellis said. “I also would like to thank Governor DeWine for his continued leadership and strong support of higher education as we adjust to the latest public health realities.”

Fall semester will begin as scheduled on Aug. 24 with a phased approach to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, staff and community.

Athens Campus: Multi-Phased return
In Phase 1, a limited number of graduate and undergraduate students in a carefully selected set of academic programs will be permitted to return to the Athens campus with a requirement to ensure social distancing, while requiring face coverings for all students, faculty,and staff.

These programs require in-person experiences throughout the semester to meet accreditation or required access to essential, on-campus equipment or facilities. Students in these select programs will be notified as soon as possible but no later than Aug. 7. Students in all other programs will begin their fall classes remotely on Aug. 24 and continue remotely at least through Sept. 27.

Throughout this first phase, OU will continue to monitor conditions and seek the advice of public health officials to inform a second phase, beginning Sept. 28. The university will leverage what they learn during Phase I and will increase face-to-face course offerings in Phase 2 as much as possible while working hard to ensure the safety of the campus and community.

Regional Campuses: Hybrid
On the regional campuses, which do not have on-campus housing, OU will begin the semester as planned on Aug. 24, and we will reduce density by offering face-to-face instruction only for clinical, practica or lab-based classes. All other courses will be offered through remote instruction. Clinical, practica and lab-based classes that do remain in person will be small, ensure social distancing, and will require face coverings for all students, faculty and staff on all campuses.

Online Option
Students on all campuses who would like to arrange a fully online fall semester will have the option to do so, with the exception of medical students in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. They have formed a Core Advising Team to assist students who may wish to make changes to their course schedule to accommodate an all-online option.

Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (HCOM)
HCOM successfully began classes on the Athens, Dublin and Cleveland campuses in July using a hybrid approach and will continue with the same approach throughout the fall semester. Students, faculty and staff participating in learning activities that require on-site instruction and clinical experience are strictly observing CDC-informed guidelines for frequent handwashing, face-covering, use of space and appropriate distancing.

“I recognize that the decision to move to a phased return to campus in Athens and to expand our hybrid approach on our regional campuses will have significant impacts for our students’ planning,” Nellis said. “We also recognize that our students may be facing a variety of additional hardships in the midst of this public health crisis. With that in mind, the OHIO CARES Relief Fund will be modified to include eligible students enrolled in fall 2020 until funds expire, and Ohio University will commit an additional $5 million to assist even more undergraduate students who have demonstrated financial need during these unexpected transitions.”

Moving forward, University leaders will continue to base decisions on our commitment both to the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and the communities we serve as well as our mission to deliver a nationally recognized, transformational academic experience.
Ohio University will continue to keep the community informed of updates through email messages an via the Be Safe Bobcats website.