Personal Safety Practices
Everyone is expected to follow the safe and healthy personal safety practices, including face masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene.
Face mask requirements and exceptions
Face masks must be worn on Ohio State’s campuses. Scientific evidence has shown that face masks protect others from spread of infection by intercepting large aerosol droplets that are released when exhaling, speaking, singing, coughing or sneezing. Masks may also help reduce inhalation of these droplets by the wearer.
Face masks must be worn properly (over nose, mouth and chin) in indoor settings, including, but not limited to: classrooms, residence halls, conference rooms, shared office spaces, hallways, buses, shared vehicles and common areas such as lobbies, study spaces and laundry facilities on all Ohio State campuses. Masks must also be worn outdoors, even when individuals can maintain 6 feet or more of physical distancing.
Indoors or outdoors, exceptions are made for those dining, participating in strenuous exercise or taking part in performance-based classes. As an added safety measure, open-air tents have been set up on campus for use by arts, dance and music classes as well as certain courses with extended outdoor activities in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Masks are not required for classes in these open-air tents. Additionally, there is an exception for university staff working alone in an individual's own office or outdoors for long periods of time provided physical distancing is maintained and the individual has a mask available if needed.
The university has compiled guidance on how to respectfully encourage compliance with face mask guidelines on campus.
Colleges or departments may determine that additional signage is needed to reinforce face mask requirements. Approved signage is available to download or purchase on the UniPrint website and should be coordinated via the Facilities Operations and Development, or Wexner Medical Center signage coordinator.
Free face masks are available in most university libraries for students, faculty and staff who arrive to campus without one. These should be reserved for those in need. Masks can be picked up during business hours at circulation desks in the university libraries listed below. Hours can be found on the University Libraries website.
- 18th Avenue Library
- Architecture Library in Knowlton Hall
- Biological Sciences/Pharmacy Library in Riffe Building
- Fine Arts Library in the Wexner Center for the Arts complex
- The Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Library & Student Success Center in the Agricultural Administration Building
- Geology Library in Orton Hall
- First-floor welcome desk in the Moritz Law Library in Drinko Hall
- Thompson Library
- Veterinary Medicine Library in the Vet Med Academic Building
Alternative face masks and cleaning guidelines
Face masks are part of the return-to-campus PPE safety kits provided to students, faculty and staff. Campus community members are strongly encouraged to use the face masks provided to them by the university. Ohio State has also issued recommendations for alternative face masks that meet university standards and guidelines for cleaning cloth face masks.
The importance of face masks on campus
Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, discusses why wearing a mask is so important to keeping every member of the Buckeye community safe.
Everyone should maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others in any public space — indoor or outdoor — wherever possible.
Classrooms, offices and common spaces on Ohio State’s campuses allocate approximately 30 square feet of usable space per person.
The number or density of people permitted in buildings and residence halls on Ohio State’s campuses has been reduced to maintain appropriate physical distancing. Those who are able are advised to use stairs instead of elevators to support physical distancing.
The university has limited the size of in-person classes to no more than 50 students to reduce density on campus and maintain physical distancing.
Many employees continue to telework, and organizers are expected to conduct most meetings virtually.
Employees have also been advised to use alternative staffing model options, such as remote work, alternating days/weeks or staggered arrivals and departures, to promote physical distancing.
Hands should be washed frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after touching common surfaces.
If soap and water are not available, 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used. The university has made hand sanitizer widely available across Ohio State’s campuses.
The university is committed to ensuring that individuals who are vulnerable to COVID-19-related challenges or who face particular challenges because of the pandemic can learn and work as safely as possible. Additional information and guidance is available on the Accommodations Related to COVID-19 page.
Accountability measures are in place for those who choose not to abide by required health and safety guidelines. These accountability measures may range from additional training and informal coaching to formal disciplinary action based on existing structures for students, faculty and staff.