Pilot testing program, autumn housing and dining

Dear Ohio State Community

As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic together, we are also united in our efforts to end institutional and systemic racism. This week, we shared several action steps, including the establishment of a university task force and the creation of a $1 million research fund to study the causes and effects of, and solutions to, racism and racial disparities.

Our gratitude goes to all students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends who have stepped forward to call for meaningful and lasting change. Diversity, equity and inclusion are essential components of our excellence, and we were pleased this week to announce the recipients of our annual Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Awards. Congratulations, and thank you.

Updates related to COVID-19 and our phased return to on-campus operations are below.

Pilot testing program

As a reminder, the university announced last week that it plans to resume in-person classes for the autumn semester. The resumption of full operations on Ohio State campuses will include a combination of the use of appropriate face coverings, physical distancing, hand hygiene, limited density in indoor spaces, control of the flow of traffic into and around buildings, continued employee teleworking when possible, testing, symptoms tracking and contact tracing.

Soon, the university will launch a voluntary COVID-19 testing program for a limited number of student, faculty and staff employees who are already working on campus or will be returning to on-campus work duties this summer. The pilot will be used to inform decisions about broader testing during the autumn semester while helping to support the health and safety of our community during the current phased approach to on-campus operations. Again, the test is voluntary and will be offered to employees in a limited number of units. There is no cost to employees. Those offered the opportunity to participate will be contacted directly via email.

Transition and phased return

As part of Ohio State’s phased approach, a limited number of academic, clinical and athletics operations have resumed on-campus operations with safety protocols in place.

These include some research and creative expression activities in laboratories, studios and research spaces; the university’s child care facilities; elective procedures at the Wexner Medical Center; student clinical rotations in the College of Pharmacy; and others. Additionally, fourth-year medical students and students in diagnostic sonography, medical dietetics, occupational therapy, physical therapy, radiologic sciences, radiation therapy and respiratory therapy returned to clinical rotations this month. Third-year medical students will return June 29. No students will be involved with COVID-19 patient care. Outpatient clinics are permitted to return to pre-COVID capacity on June 15.

More information is available on the COVID-19 transition task force website.

All in-person university events remain canceled through July 6. As part of our phased return, the university is convening a group of faculty and staff through the transition task force to evaluate and make recommendations for in-person events beyond July 6.

All non-essential university employees who are not part of an exempted operation or function are to continue teleworking and remain off campus at this time. Summer-term classes will continue to be virtual only. Additionally, the university state of emergency is extended through June 20, enabling Ohio State to continue to utilize Disaster Leave (Policy 6.28).

Autumn on-campus student housing and dining

As shared, the university will reduce population density in residence halls when students return to campus for the autumn semester. Availability updates will be provided by Friday, June 19, to first-year students and returning students who have expressed interest in living on campus. Also by that date, the university will outline the details of the plan to promote physical distancing in on-campus housing and dining locations. For example, move-in will occur in a staggered approach, and dining options will feature mobile ordering and grab-and-go options.

Additionally, Ohio State temporarily expanded the housing exemption criteria for second-year students who prefer to live off campus for the 2020-21 academic year.

For more, visit the Office of Student Life University Housing website.

As always, thank you for your ongoing flexibility and your commitment to Ohio State’s mission.

Michael V. Drake, MD