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Members of the Ohio University Board of Trustees meet in 2019 in Walter Hall (FILE:). 

Board of Trustees receives update on phased reopening plan, including development of virus rapid response team

Correction appended.

The Board of Trustees received updates Monday on how Ohio University is continuing to monitor the coronavirus in order to allow more students back on campus for Phase 2 of the Fall Semester.

Under Ohio University’s phased reopening plan, only about 2,200 students will be back on campus Aug. 24 for Phase 1. As of now, there are 313 beds being filled during Phase 1, a number subject to change, compared to the planned 6,400 for Fall Semester.

July was a “national reality check” for dealing with the pandemic, Brad Cohen, chief strategy and innovation officer, said. The rising number of cases in Athens County during that month led to most of the university's planning, and a divide in the OU community.

“What was interesting about that moment is we experienced a… change in student and family attitude toward our plan to return,” Cohen said. “There was a clamoring in our inboxes for reconsideration and ‘please don’t put my student in danger’ kind of message.”

In response to July, OU created a Testing/Tracing/Quarantine Implementation Team, or TTQ. The team is a rapid response group with expertise in public health and student care, and will help develop protocols for managing COVID-19, Cohen said. 

The TTQ is also developing a dashboard that will use predictive modeling to project changes in the pandemic.

Data from that dashboard will help determine the outcome of Phase 2, Cohen said. 

Individual colleges are also planning which students to bring back to campus for Phase 2. Priority will be given to programs that need specialized equipment or facilities, research, graduation and retention support, senior experiences and capstone classes.

“How we managed through this is going to determine a lot about our future,” Cohen said.

The Board also heard from the interim Student Senate executive officers during the Academic and Student Success committee meeting.

The officers said more student organizations have registered on Bobcat Connect during the course of the pandemic. There has also been greater involvement in those organizations. Senate would like to see more money given to the Senate Appropriations Commission, which oversees giving student organizations funding for event programming, as a result. 

The Board also received an update on the One OHIO initiative during the committee meeting. 

The initiative began in 2019 and it is designed to connect all of OU’s campuses together. One of the goals of One OHIO was to make all campuses more financially efficient. Those working on the initiative had a goal of reducing administrative costs across campuses by $250,000. Through restructuring the regional campuses, costs have been lowered by over $1.4 million.


Correction appended: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated the number of beds and students projected to return for Ohio University’s phased reopening plan. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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