Autumn Campus Reactivation

Ohio State’s plans to reinvigorate campus life this fall are taking shape. As vaccination rates continue to increase and other health measures remain effective, the university expects to return to more of a traditional Ohio State experience with engaged classroom learning, thriving student activities and community events that bring the university community together.

The university has and will always base decisions on evidence-based public health guidance, in partnership with our state and local partners, and the state of the pandemic. A high vaccination rate will only increase the chances of normality. As of April 9, 2021, approximately 40% of the university community has already scheduled or had at least one COVID-19 shot. To achieve and maintain herd immunity, public health experts generally say that 70% to 85% of the population needs to be vaccinated. At lower vaccination levels, more safeguards are needed to protect against COVID-19. 

Details about plans for autumn are below.

Autumn Semester

Teaching and Learning

Students have already begun scheduling classes for fall, and at least 75% of classes are designated to be taught in person. With a combination of vaccination, testing and other health measures in place, more students can be together in classrooms.

In scheduling classrooms, the university is applying a tiered approach to allow space for physical distancing. This means that smaller classes (those with fewer than 50 students) can take place in classrooms at full capacity, while larger classes will take place in rooms that are at reduced capacity (75% or 50%, based on size). To enhance opportunities for students to take in-person classes, plans have been adjusted to allow some of the largest classes to take place in person under this guidance.

Academic Calendar

In anticipation of high vaccination rates, the university is planning for a more traditional academic calendar in the coming academic year.

Ohio State’s academic calendar reinstitutes a fall break (Oct. 14-15) and a week-long spring break (March 14-18) next year, with plans to return to our campuses after Thanksgiving break (Nov. 24-26) to complete fall semester.

Testing and Quarantine

In the fall, the university is planning for vaccinated students to be tested once a month or less, and unvaccinated students to be tested once or twice a week.

Vaccinated students in most cases will not be required to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus.

Campus Life

Outside of the classroom, campus life will include a wide range of events and gatherings. Masks will be required indoors, but with a high vaccination rate and low COVID-19 positivity rate, the university will examine removing the mask requirement outdoors.

With higher vaccination rates, there will be more flexibility about group sizes, space density and other protocols when the community comes together for events, programs, informal gatherings, football games and other celebrations.

 

Work Arrangements

The university is preparing to welcome more faculty, staff members, and graduate teaching and research assistants back to our campuses to foster the intersection of people and ideas. Ohio State prizes the residential experience, because it enables and empowers the university community to learn from one another in cross-disciplinary, innovative and intersectional ways.

At the same time, the university will take advantage of the opportunities where employees can work differently — through remote, hybrid or other work arrangements. With the lessons of the pandemic, the university is more equipped than ever to support flexible work arrangements and employees who require accommodations. This will require a balance of approaches, and the Office of Human Resources is working with leaders across campus to develop more specific guidance that allows managers to finalize decisions with their teams.

Frequently Asked Questions

Fall planning

What are the plans for a reactivation of campus?

CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it Ohio State’s plans to reinvigorate campus life this fall are taking shape. The university is preparing for an autumn semester that will bring engaged classroom learning, thriving student activities and community events that bring the university community together. The university will continue to follow all appropriate measures to promote the health and well-being of the community with the partnership and approval of local, state and federal health authorities. Initial plans include increasing:
  • In-person teaching, learning and student activities
  • Students in the residence halls
  • Staff working on campus 
  • In-person campus services and events
  • Fans in attendance at Ohio State football games and other athletic competitions 
  • also investigates these cases.

Will the vaccine be required for students, faculty and staff?

No. Everyone is strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as they are able to do so. The vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective. The university has and will always base decisions on evidence-based public health guidance and the state of the pandemic, and a high vaccination rate will only increase the chances of normality.

Will testing be required in the fall, and at what frequency?

The university’s robust testing strategy is a critical component of our ability to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus on campus. In the fall, we expect vaccinated students to be tested once a month or less, while unvaccinated students will be tested once or twice a week. In addition, vaccinated students in most cases won’t be required to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus.

Will people still have to wear masks in the fall?

Safety measures will still be in place in the fall and we expect to require masks indoors. If we can achieve a high vaccination rate and low COVID-19 positivity rate, we hope to remove the mask requirement outdoors.

When will we know exactly what safety protocols will be in place? 

The university community’s commitment to following the safe and healthy protocols has worked to slow the spread of the COVID-19 on our campuses. Continuing safe and healthy protocols will remain in some manner next academic year. We will always base decisions on evidence-based public health guidance and the state of the pandemic, and a high vaccination rate will only increase the chances of normality. Details will be shared with the campus community as they are finalized.

What if things get worse?

Ohio State is developing contingency plans that account for a variety of different scenarios.

Teaching and Learning

Will autumn courses will be held in person or online?

Students began scheduling classes for fall on March 25, and at least 75% of classes are designated to be taught in person. With a combination of vaccination, testing and other health measures in place, more students can be together in classrooms. In scheduling classrooms, we are applying a tiered approach to allow space for physical distancing. This means that smaller classes (those with fewer than 50 students) can take place in classrooms at full capacity, while larger classes will take place in rooms that are at reduced capacity (75% or 50%, based on size). To enhance opportunities for students to take in-person classes, we have adjusted our original plans to allow some of the largest classes to take place in person under this guidance.

Will faculty be able to choose whether they teach in-person or online?

The university will offer more in-person courses for autumn 2021. Our deans, department chairs and school directors will determine the most appropriate mode of teaching for autumn courses in collaboration with faculty. Colleges will continue to offer a variety of in-person, online and blended courses in autumn semester.

Will there be any changes to the academic calendar for next year?

In anticipation of high vaccination rates, we are planning for a traditional academic calendar in the coming year. Our academic calendar reinstitutes a fall break (Oct. 14-15) and a week-long spring break (March 14-18) next year. Likewise, we expect to return to our campuses after Thanksgiving break (Nov. 24-26) to complete fall semester.

Residence Life

What will the dining experience look like in the fall?

As it relates to service delivery, even before the pandemic mobile ordering was very popular, so we expect to maintain a focus on mobile ordering. As higher vaccination levels are achieved, we hope to be able to bring back more seating and gathering options as well as greater variety through self-service options.

Will second year students be required to live on campus? 

The university’s Reactivation Task Force is focused on finalizing details as soon as possible based on the latest data related to COVID-19 and public health. Ohio State will develop contingency plans that account for a variety of different scenarios.

Events and gatherings

When will in-person events and gatherings be permitted?

While most in-person events and gatherings remain under a moratorium for the remainder of the spring semester, the university is preparing to allow in-person programming after May 10, 2021. All events and gatherings must follow state, local and university protocols, and must obtain pre-approval to protect the health and safety of all involved. Events will be approved in advance through one of the following protocols:
 
  • Organizers planning to hold an event at a university-managed venue should work with that facility to obtain approvals. For information about these guidelines, contact the Events Review Committee
  • Academic units planning to hold events at a college- or unit-managed facility or at a third-party location should contact Vice Provost Randy Smith for information about the approval process.

When will Ohio State be hosting non-university or external groups for conferences, concerts, etc.?

The university is preparing to allow in-person programming after May 10, 2021. All events and gatherings must follow state, local and university protocols, and must obtain pre-approval to protect the health and safety of all involved. Guidance on specific requirements has been posted on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website to answer questions and help organizers make decisions about their summer offerings. Please note that health and safety guidance may evolve over time, and the university will adjust its expectations accordingly.

Will the university be hosting youth camps or other events during the summer?

As of May 10, 2021, university organizations may offer in-person programming and Ohio State venues may consider third-party events that want to use university spaces under these guidelines. All events and gatherings must follow state, local and university protocols to protect all involved. These protocols include wearing masks, managing physical distancing and tracking attendance to support contact tracing if needed.

Will there be capacity limits for student organization events?

With improving COVID-19 trends and continued vigilance about public health measures, we expect campus life to include a wide range of events and gatherings this fall. Safety measures will still be in place, but this is another area where we can all make a difference. We expect to require masks indoors, but if we can achieve a high vaccination rate and low COVID-19 positivity rate, we hope to remove the mask requirement outdoors. With more of us vaccinated, we will also have more flexibility about group sizes, space density and other protocols when we come together for events and other gatherings.

Will fans be allowed to attend sporting events in the fall?

The university is planning to have more fans in attendance at Ohio State football games and other athletic competitions, consistent with government guidelines and advice from public health officials. Details will be communicated to the campus community as soon as possible.

Employees

Will there be options available to continue working from home? 

We are preparing to welcome more faculty, staff members, and graduate teaching and research assistants back to our campuses so that we can foster the intersection of people and ideas. We prize the residential experience, because it enables and empowers the university community to learn from one another in cross-disciplinary, innovative and intersectional ways. At the same time, we will take advantage of the opportunities where employees can work differently — through remote, hybrid or other work arrangements. With the lessons of the pandemic, we are more equipped than ever to support flexible work arrangements and employees who require accommodations. This will require a balance of approaches, and the Office of Human Resources is working with leaders across campus to develop more specific guidance that allows managers to finalize decisions with their teams. 

When will employees come back to campus? 

We are preparing to welcome more faculty, staff members, and graduate teaching and research assistants back to our campuses so that we can foster the intersection of people and ideas. We prize the residential experience, because it enables and empowers the university community to learn from one another in cross-disciplinary, innovative and intersectional ways. At the same time, we will take advantage of the opportunities where employees can work differently — through remote, hybrid or other work arrangements. With the lessons of the pandemic, we are more equipped than ever to support flexible work arrangements and employees who require accommodations. This will require a balance of approaches, and the Office of Human Resources is working with leaders across campus to develop more specific guidance that allows managers to finalize decisions with their teams.