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.  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. 

University leaders held a town hall on April 12 that covered information on university planning efforts related to fall semester as well as updates on vaccination distribution efforts. Watch it here.

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. Classes with 50-100 students will increase from 75% to 100% capacity. Classes with more than 100 students will increase from 50% to 75% capacity.

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

Testing

Testing will continue to be an integral part of our safety protocols as students return to campus this fall. By identifying COVID-19 cases early, we can take action to limit the spread of the virus.

  • Pre-arrival testing: All students living in university-managed housing on the Columbus campus and regional campuses as well as sorority and fraternity members on the Columbus campus will need to complete an at-home COVID-19 test within seven days before they return to Ohio State. Additional details about this process will be shared directly from the Office of Student Life.
  • Move-in testing: All Columbus campus students who will be on campus for any reason and all residential students on the regional campuses will be required to test for COVID-19 when they arrive. Until students receive a negative test result, they should wear a mask.
  • Weekly surveillance testing: Currently, unvaccinated students — including all students on the Columbus campus or and regional campus students who live in university housing — will be required to test weekly as the academic year begins. Students who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and reported their status to the university will not have to test. We will continue to monitor the impacts of variants of concern and may need to adjust the testing requirements for vaccinated students as new information is available. Once House Bill 244 goes into effect on October 14, we will test vaccinated and unvaccinated students with the same protocols.

Quarantine and isolation housing

Given that broad access is available to vaccines, on-campus quarantine and isolation housing will be limited this year and cannot be guaranteed at any time. All students should have individual plans for isolation and quarantine housing in the event they are exposed or have a positive COVID-19 test.

Campus Life

Outside of the classroom, campus life will include a wide range of events and gatherings. 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.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer compiled a guide for hosting successful hybrid meetings.

Employee Campus Reactivation 

At the Ohio State University, we celebrate the power of the residential, in-person campus experience, and our values reflect our commitment to students, faculty, staff and the broader community we serve. The safety of our campus community is always the university’s top priority, so we have connected in alternative ways during the height of the pandemic based on the best available science, data and public health guidance. With the availability of vaccines and continued safety protocols, we look forward to reactivating our face-to-face experiences in Autumn 2021.  

Ohio State’s faculty and staff are at the core of our ability to deliver on our mission, and they will play a central role in our reactivated campuses. We will combine the power of our residential, in-person experiences with what we have learned about ourselves and our operations during the course of the pandemic to emerge as a transformed university. In short, reactivated Ohio State campuses will be even more impactful than they were before the pandemic.   

We anticipate a significant return to face-to-face classes, and we will continue to utilize technology to deliver high quality learning outcomes. Our staff will create engaging face-to-face experiences for our students while maintaining opportunities to connect through technology. Our medical center will continue to provide patient care in person, and we will still employ telehealth solutions that have proven powerful and convenient ways to connect patients with the care they need. Our discovery mission will continue to take place in laboratories, studios, and libraries, and we will take full advantage of all means of connecting with one another to create new knowledge. 

As has been true throughout our pandemic response, we will continue to be guided by evidence. This means that we must remain agile in making decisions. Change and adaptation may be necessary as we determine how to deliver on our mission. We remain steadfast in pursuit of the mission, no matter the modality of interactions. 

We look forward to reactivated campuses and reuniting face-to-face with our Buckeye family. The Office of Human Resources website offers detailed planning tools for managers and leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Fall planning

What are the plans for a reactivation of campus?

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?

Unvaccinated students — including all students on the Columbus campus or and regional campus students who live in university housing — will be required to test weekly as the academic year begins. Students who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and reported their status to the university will not have to test. Once House Bill 244 goes into effect on October 14, we will test vaccinated and unvaccinated students with the same protocols.

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. In scheduling classrooms, the university is applying a tiered approach to allow space for physical distancing. Classes with 50-100 students will increase from 75% to 100% capacity. Classes with more than 100 students will increase from 50% to 75% capacity.

Can faculty or graduate teaching associates decide whether to teach in person?

All classes should be taught in the listed mode of instruction. Classes that are listed as being in person must be taught in person. Academic programs have determined their course offerings by taking into account various factors, including the best approach to achieve desired learning outcomes and student demand.

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.

Employees

What is the plan for employees fall semester?

Given the size and complexity of Ohio State, there won’t be a one-size-fits-all answer to address what work will look like during the reactivation process. In keeping with our philosophy that emphasizes the power of residential, in-person experiences, many employees will be expected to work on our campuses to support our mission. There are also certainly some circumstances where telework or flexible work schedules will be appropriate. Leaders will be making decisions based on the mission of their college or area and the roles of individual employees. University guidance will continue to evolve based on science, data and expertise of public health leaders. Our focus will not change: The safety of our campus community is always the university’s top priority, and we are preparing to reactivate our campuses because evidence supports our return.

When will employees know when they will be expected to return?

The intent is for all colleges and areas to have their reactivation plans finalized by July 15. Autumn classes begin Aug. 24, so our plans for in-person work will reflect that timing. Some individuals may return earlier — if managers determine that workspaces and operations are in place to support them. Where possible, managers will provide at least 30 days notice before asking faculty and staff to return to campus.

When will we learn the plan for our area?

Leaders of each broad area — deans for college and regional campuses, vice presidents or senior vice presidents of university support units, and senior leaders in the Wexner Medical Center — are expected to finalize their plans by July 15. We do not envision that each front-line manager would be responsible for creating a plan for their individual team. Where possible, deans and vice presidents and medical center leaders will provide at least 30 days’ notice when changing work arrangements for faculty and staff. Some areas may be ready to implement return-to-campus plans more quickly, while others will need time to ensure that workspaces and other operations are ready to support faculty and staff.

Will flexible work continue to be an option?

This will be decided by each college and area based on its mission and operational needs. There are certainly some circumstances where flexible work schedules will be appropriate.

Can employees work from home permanently?

There may be instances where this is appropriate. In keeping with our philosophy that emphasizes the power of residential, in-person experiences, many faculty and staff will be expected to work on our campuses to support our mission. Leaders will be making decisions based on the mission and needs of their college or area and the roles of individual employees.

Are employees required to be vaccinated?

Vaccination is strongly encouraged for everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated. It is not required. Vaccines protect you and those around you, and a high vaccination rate will allow our campuses to more fully return to “normal” activities. Our health guidance will continue to evolve based on science, data and expertise of public health leaders.

Vaccines are available for faculty, staff and students at Jesse Owens North Recreation Center. Walk-ins are welcome.

To book an appointment:

  1. Log in to your MyChart accountGo to the Appointments section and look for the “COVID-19 Vaccine” option. Don’t have a MyChart account? Sign up now.
  2. Call 614-688-8299 (VAXX), 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Will employees be required to be tested for COVID-19?

Employees are not required to be tested for COVID-19. Weekly testing is available on a voluntary basis for asymptomatic faculty and staff. Testing appointments can be scheduled at Jesse Owens North via MyChart. More details are on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website employee testing page.

Do vaccinated employees still need to wear masks?

For fully vaccinated people, masks are no longer required on Ohio State’s campuses except for in Wexner Medical Center clinical facilities, Student Health facilities, colleges and units with public facing clinical operations, and on public transportation. Individuals who are not vaccinated are required to continue wearing masks indoors and are encouraged to wear masks outdoors.

Vaccination is strongly encouraged because a high vaccination rate will allow our campuses to more fully return to “normal” activities. Our health guidance will continue to evolve based on science, data and expertise of public health leaders.

Will there be physical distancing requirements in offices?

Unvaccinated individuals are required to maintain 6 feet of physical distancing both indoors and outdoors. As with other guidance, this guidance will continue to be evaluated based on science, data and expertise of public health leaders.

Unvaccinated individuals not in a private office should eat or drink only in designated places that allow for 6 feet of distance. Unvaccinated individuals in shared office environments can take an occasional drink and should take masks off only as necessary.

At the Wexner Medical Center, there are additional safety measures and masking guidance in place.

How many people are allowed to attend in-person meetings?

There is not a limit on the size of meetings. Larger meetings should take place in spaces with increased capacity. Before scheduling a meeting, organizers should determine:

  • The appropriate mode to support the desired outcome. Some meetings benefit from in-person attendance, such as those requiring brainstorming; others do not necessarily require in-person attendance
  • What accommodations will be available to those who cannot attend in person, preferably with technology that optimizes a hybrid approach
  • Whether the length of the meeting can be limited
  • What space can accommodate the number of people, using the following guidelines:

Meeting Size

Room Capacity

Up to 50 people

Same as number of people

51-99 people

Reduced to 75% of normal room capacity

100+ people

50% of normal room capacity

What if I am not comfortable returning to campus yet?

It is normal to feel stress and anxiety with changes related to COVID-19. Ohio State is committed to providing a safe environment for all faculty, staff, students, patients and visitors with protocols guided by our scientific leaders, government leaders and the CDC. The university also offers resources for managing stress related to COVID-19 through its Employee Assistance Program for benefits-eligible employees. Additionally, if you are an employee in need of an adjustment or change to your job due to your own medical condition, contact an IAMVS Disability Program Manager (DPM) to initiate the accommodation process under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).