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Cutler Hall on Ohio University's campus in Athens, Ohio. (FILE)

At least 7,200 students to be invited to return to campus during Phase 2

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include information from an email faculty members received about Phase 2.

Ohio University announced Tuesday that at least 7,200 students have been invited back to campus for Phase 2.

Phase 2, which begins Sept. 28, includes about 31% of undergraduate students at the Athens campus and all graduate and medical students. Students will receive an email Tuesday about their eligibility to return to campus, according to a university-wide email from President Duane Nellis.

“Because of our lower density on the Athens campus during Phase 1, we have not seen a large spike in cases at this time as have some of our peer institutions that returned at full density, although Athens County has moved recently from a yellow to an orange alert level per the state’s public health advisory system,” Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs told faculty members in an email.

The criteria for prioritized programs includes cohorts and programs that require in-person learning for part of the semester for accreditation, licensure or other external requirements, Sayrs said in the email. Examples of those are some nursing and music education cohorts.

Another requirement is programs, cohorts or courses that require specific equipment or spaces for part of the semester. That includes biology, chemistry, geology, physics, engineering, exercise physiology and plant biology. There are also some classes in photojournalism, commercial photography, media arts and production, studio art and stage production.

The last requirement are programs that require experiential learning, such as clusters in the College of Business, dance, theater, environmental studies and social work.

The university is working to implement a testing strategy for students who aren’t experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Students are expected to get asymptomatic testing while they are invited to participate in surveillance or exposure-based testing.

All students who return to campus are expected to have a 14-day social distancing period at their permanent residence before returning to Athens. When students get on campus, they are expected to complete daily COVID-19 assessments, Nellis wrote.

Students are required to complete an online learning module on COVID-19 before returning. Nellis also asked students to acknowledge the OHIO Pledge.

Housing and Residence Life will be in contact with Phase 2 students about housing, move-in and dining plans.

Students returning to campus during Phase 2 will have some face-to-face learning. 

“A majority of courses will continue online modality, even for those students included in Phase 2,” Nellis wrote in the email.

Students who chose to have a fully online semester can continue to have a remote semester.

Students who are not part of Phase 2 will continue their courses online through the Fall Semester.

Nellis said the success of the rest of the Fall Semester, along with pandemic and public health concerns, will determine OU’s decision for the Spring Semester.

“While we hope that conditions will permit a robust in-person experience at every location, we must continue to monitor health risks to our campuses and communities in the coming months,” Nellis wrote in the email.

Any student or employee experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should call the university’s COVID-19 hotline at 877-682-6819.


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