Coronavirus: Ohio State University to resume in-person classes for fall semester

Coronavirus: Ohio State University to resume in-person classes for fall semester
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COLUMBUS — Ohio State University plans to resume in-person classes for the fall semester.

President Michael V. Drake announced the decision Wednesday at a board of trustees meeting and in a message to the university community.

Specific guidelines will be announced in the coming weeks based on guidance from state and local health authorities and recommendations of the Safe Campus and Scientific Advisory Subgroup of the university's COVID-19 Transition Task Force.

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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.

In-person and distance methods for students as well as faculty are also being developed.

“We are dedicated to continuing our core mission, including providing the best possible college experience for our students while operating under a set of circumstances that no one has experienced before,” Drake said. “The response of our university community to the pandemic has been exemplary, and we will continue to rely on students, faculty and staff to remain flexible and embrace the changes necessary to keep one another safe. We are counting on Buckeye Nation to be at its best.”

The first day of classes will be Tuesday, Aug. 25, and the last day will be Friday, Dec. 4 – with the last day of in-person, on-campus instruction being Wednesday, Nov. 25. The fall commencement date and format will be announced at a later date.

All non-essential university employees who are not part of an exempted operation or function are to continue teleworking and remain off campus.

By June 19, 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 over the course of up to two weeks, and dining options will feature mobile ordering and grab-and-go options.

OSU also will launch a public information initiative using social media, signage, instructional videos and other means. The effort will include a pledge for members of the campus community, including students, faculty, staff and visitors, to affirm their understanding of what’s needed to fight the spread of the virus and their intention to do their part.

As part of the phased reopening, university leaders are working on a plan to enable student-athletes to resume practice and competition. Final plans for all sports will be subject to decisions made by the Big Ten Conference and NCAA, and directives of state and local health authorities.

“Regarding football, our hope and intention is to safely have a football season, with an audience spaced out in our stadium, but we haven’t made any final decisions,” Drake said.