Nurses and hospital weeks, post-pandemic planning, summer term

Dear Ohio State Community:

This past Sunday was a beautiful moment for all of Buckeye Nation as we came together virtually to celebrate commencement from homes across Ohio and around the world. It was bittersweet to stand in a sunny but empty Ohio Stadium to recognize the achievements of our graduates. Thank you for your incredible effort and show of support. We celebrated our largest-ever graduating class, awarding a record 12,967 degrees and certificates. We look forward to an in-person recognition of the Class of 2020 when it is safe to do so.

We continue to advance our academic mission in these extraordinarily challenging times. While the work of our Buckeye community is leading the nation in many areas, it comes as a result of a pandemic that continues to impact people and organizations worldwide.

We are all facing great uncertainty, and the university will continue to plan for multiple scenarios to help ensure a safer future for all. Below are several updates.

National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week

This week and next, we celebrate National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week. On behalf of the entire university community and the many families we serve, I want to recognize the courageous and highly skilled efforts of Ohio State’s health care professionals. You are on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, and the work you are doing in patient care, research and more is saving lives. We are deeply grateful. Thank you.

University state of emergency

As we continue to fight against COVID-19, the university state of emergency will be extended through Saturday, May 16. The declaration enables us to utilize Disaster Leave (Policy 6.28) and is essential to providing the university with flexibility in making a variety of financial decisions over an extended period if necessary.

State guidance and post-pandemic planning

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced a phased plan to reopen businesses and bring people back to work. In alignment with the state’s plan and using a data-driven approach led by public health and wellness experts at the university, Ohio State’s post-pandemic operations task force is developing our own phased transition to on-campus operations. This week, the university launched a new website dedicated to the task force’s work and will continue to update it as information is available.

All university events remain canceled through July 6, and non-essential Ohio State employees are to continue teleworking. A limited number of specific essential academic and clinical operations have resumed. These include elective procedures at the Wexner Medical Center that do not require an overnight stay as well as a limited opening of the flight education program at the Ohio State University Airport.

These exemptions for limited returns to campus are provided through President’s Cabinet and are reviewed by the chair of the post-pandemic operations task force, Gail Marsh, and the chair of the safe campus and scientific advisory subgroup, Dr. Amy Fairchild.

The state has also provided guidance on facial coverings. The university’s task force is reviewing this guidance closely and will make broad recommendations moving forward as plans for a phased approach to on-campus operations progress. At the same time, face covering protocols are already in place in several units where essential employees continue to work, including the Wexner Medical Center, Administration and Planning, and the Office of Student Life.

Finally, this week Ohio announced a $110 million reduction in funding to public universities and colleges for this fiscal year. Ohio State’s impact is estimated at about $18 million. We will continue to be responsible stewards of our resources. The university has already taken several proactive financial steps for FY20, including a pause in some capital projects and a pause in hiring with exceptions for essential services and key faculty and research positions. These actions are in addition to budget contingency planning efforts for FY21.

The medical center is engaging in a separate and coordinated budgetary control and contingency planning initiative. This effort is intended to address immediate patient-care needs during the pandemic and plan for the resumption of necessary health care services.

Summer term

As previously shared, the summer 2020 term will be offered through virtual modes of teaching and learning, and the academic calendar has been adjusted by one week.

Classes will run May 13 to July 31 followed by finals August 3-5. Summer commencement will take place August 9. At this time, no decisions have been made on the format for summer commencement. As a reminder, students, faculty and staff can find resources and support at the Keep LearningKeep Teaching and Keep Working websites. Further resources for faculty are available through the University Institute for Teaching and Learning.

We will share more next week. Finally, I want to remind everyone to take advantage of the wellness resources listed below. Please be safe and stay well.


Michael V. Drake, MD