Updates for autumn semester

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff: 

In about a month, we’ll be together for the start of the academic year, and I’m thrilled just thinking about the Buckeye traditions that we all love.

This robust, in-person experience can happen because of the success of free, effective COVID-19 vaccines. Already, more than 70% of returning students, faculty and staff have completed their vaccinations, a rate that outpaces the rest of the state.

Today, I’m writing to share updates on our autumn semester planning so that you’re prepared for all that’s to come.

Reporting requirement and vaccine prizes

While our vaccination rate is now more than 70%, we know there are vaccinated individuals who aren’t counted in our total because they haven’t reported their status.

To make informed decisions related to COVID-19 and further enable contact tracing, we are requiring everyone to report whether or not they have been vaccinated by Thursday, August 5.

Your personal health information will not be shared publicly or directly with instructors, managers or leaders.

We strongly encourage everyone who can be vaccinated to have their shots. To promote increased vaccination, we will award up to $50,000 in gift cards, football tickets and parking passes to vaccinated students, faculty and staff, starting next month.

To win prizes, students, faculty and staff need to take three steps – including filling out the contest entry form. More details are available on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.

Act now! Those who enter by August 8 will have more chances to win, since they will be eligible for each of the four drawings.

Testing, mask requirements and other health and safety protocols

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 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 13, we will test vaccinated and unvaccinated students with the same protocols.
  • Mask requirements: For people who are fully vaccinated, masks are not required on Ohio State’s campuses except for on public transportation, in Wexner Medical Center and Student Health facilities, and in colleges and units with public-facing clinical operations. Individuals who are not vaccinated are required to continue wearing masks indoors and to maintain physical distancing when possible. These measures are in place to protect you.
  • Quarantine and isolation housing: Given that broad access to vaccines is available, 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.

As we have throughout the pandemic, we will adjust our testing, masking and other health protocols as appropriate and will share updates with you as we have them. We will also continue to monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of Ohio and local health authorities as well as the impacts of the Delta variant to inform our decisions.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone on campus next month and returning to our Buckeye traditions.

Sincerely yours,

Kristina M. Johnson, PhD


Note: On October 13, this message was updated to reflect when House Bill 244 went into effect.