Update for families – from planning to pivoting

Dear Buckeye Families, 

Today is the first day of spring semester, and it is wonderful to see so many students and feel the energy they bring back to our campuses with them.

As you know, for nearly two years we have been in a constant state of monitoring the pandemic, and putting plans in place to promote a safe and healthy Ohio State. Unfortunately, the nature of COVID-19 is that every plan needs to have a contingency (and many times more than one!). Even before the first class started this morning, we experienced the need to pivot on plans we had in place last week. I want to assure you that all of our adjustments are meant to be temporary and we have an abiding desire and intent to get back to “normal” as quickly as possible.  We appreciate your patience and understanding, and also your students’ willingness to do all we can together to fight – and beat – COVID-19.

Below are a few updates to help explain some of the temporary changes we have had to make over the past days and hours:

  • Dining: Because of the enhanced transmissibility of the Omicron variant, particularly when eating, we have had to significantly – and temporarily – reduce density in our dining facilities. We made this decision for reasons similar to the Department of Athletics’ decision to close concessions at all athletic events. Seating in some locations has been further impacted just this week in response to a staffing shortage due to COVID-19 illnesses. To ensure we have enough staff to meet food demand, we have had to redeploy some of our staff members who would otherwise focus on facility upkeep. At the same time, we are working to make it even more convenient and fast for students to order ahead and receive delivery, thus alleviating some seating demand. We will continue to make operational shifts to return as much capacity as possible, as quickly as possible.
  • Recreation: Ohio State is home to some of the nation’s finest recreational facilities, and we are proud that we have been able to largely maintain operations throughout most of the pandemic. As we have prepared for spring return and ongoing impacts from the Omicron variant, we have made a few adjustments. Among them, we have delayed the start of many intramural and club sport activities; temporarily halted indoor basketball and soccer; and limited group fitness classes to 60% capacity.
  • Events and gatherings: We take great pride in the iconic student experience we offer here at Ohio State, and it’s been unfortunate that many of our in-person events and gatherings for the start of the semester have been interrupted. Please know we expect to switch as many as possible to virtual formats, and we have already transitioned next week’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and the upcoming Student Involvement Fair. We are diligently monitoring COVID impacts so that we can return to a full complement of in-person programs as soon as possible.

I hope this gives some helpful background, and please know we are just as eager as your students are to resume our regularly scheduled semester. Thank you for the countless ways you support and encourage your student’s time at Ohio State, and please watch the Parent and Family Relations social media and website for information and updates.

Melissa S. Shivers, PhD
Senior Vice President
Office of Student Life