Fall reactivation updates
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
Our plans to reinvigorate campus life this fall are taking shape as we look forward to an autumn semester of engaged classroom learning, thriving student activities and community events that bring us together, and we need your help to reactivate our Ohio State traditions.
First, we’re writing to share more details and to ask every eligible student, faculty and staff member to be vaccinated and to follow all other safe and healthy guidelines. 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.
We’re encouraged that ~40% of the university community has already scheduled or had at least a first 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, we would need more safeguards to protect against COVID-19.
For our students, getting vaccinated also means they won’t have to test as often. 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.
As vaccination rates continue to increase and other health measures remain effective, we fully expect to return to the Ohio State experience that so many of us enjoy. Please find details below.
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, 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.
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.
Outside of the classroom, 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, programs, informal gatherings, football games and other celebrations.
As with students, 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.
Learn more about the state of the virus, vaccinations and fall planning at our virtual town hall at 5:30 p.m. on Monday (April 12).
To schedule a vaccination appointment via the Wexner Medical Center — including appointments that have been set aside for students, faculty and staff — log into MyChart or call 614-688-VAXX (8299). For more information or to sign up to “Get Notified” when new appointment times are posted, see the Wexner Medical Center website.
To find a vaccination appointment at more than 1,300 locations across Ohio and more than 110 locations in Franklin County, visit the Ohio Department of Health website. New vaccine appointments are updated often, so please do not be discouraged if initial options are filled.
To learn more about any aspect of the university’s COVID-19 response — including guidelines for masks, physical distancing and gatherings — see the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.
Bruce A. McPheron, PhD
Executive Vice President and Provost