OU updates COVID-19 guidance

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2022

More mask use, no food served at games, events

ATHENS — Ohio University continues to monitor the dramatic increase in COVID-19 infections due, in large part, to the Omicron variant and in order to prioritize in-person teaching and learning, have implemented some additional COVID-19 protocols for the beginning of spring semester to help 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 OU community, so the university is implementing several strong prevention methods across its campuses to help thwart the spread of disease. With that in mind, beginning immediately, the following guidelines will be implemented across all campuses until further notice:

New guidance for in-person events and meetings

• OU will continue to prioritize 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 Univer- sity’s Presidential Health Direc -tives require all individuals to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces on OU campuses, and on public transportation. Students, faculty and staff should use N95, KN95, KN94 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. 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 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 Jan. 14.

• All students living in university housing, 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 new students and employees who have not yet taken action on the university’s vaccination requirement or are in process.

Vaccinations and Boosters
• All OU 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.

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 continued to encourage the university community to share responsibility for minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

For more information about Ohio University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the Be Safe Bobcats website.