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Many students invited back to campus through Ohio University’s Phase Two plan feel unsure about how the university’s COVID-19 precautions will impact their college experience.
On Sept. 8 all OU students were notified via email about whether they were approved to return to campus this Fall Semester. In total, the university accepted roughly 31% of undergrad students, estimated to be about 7,200 people. The students who accepted the invitation will begin in-person classes Sept. 28.
The majority of the undergrad students accepted back to campus are enrolled in particular programs and classes that are considered a higher priority for in-person instruction due to the nature of the classes, according to the university’s Phase 2 website.
Aidan Kelly, a sophomore studying fine arts in acting, is one of those chosen to return to campus.
“So far none of my classes are planning to require in-person teaching,” Kelly said. “A couple of them are aiming to meet in-person the safest way they can, even if that only means meeting once a week in very small groups.”
These classes include acting studio and movement classes, Kelly said.
Similarly, Tori Bucci, a sophomore studying nursing, was approved for Phase Two and has a health assessment lab in-person, a critical class for in-person instruction, as the skills learned there are applied for the rest of nursing majors' careers, Bucci said.
“I feel that more of my classes should be in-person since I will be handling patients second semester, so I do not feel as prepared as I would like to be,” Bucci said.
Students are also given the ability to opt-in for a fully online semester, or conversely, apply for a housing exception, in which students would be granted permission to return to campus for Phase Two.
Many students took advantage of the housing exception and were approved to live in dorms for the duration of the Fall Semester.
“I live in an area where there's barely any WiFi signal and my current living situation is not conducive for learning,” Hannah Campbell, a freshman studying journalism, said in an email.
Similarly, Maggie Wilkinson, a freshman studying nursing, was also approved, though all of her classes still remain online for the semester, she said in an email.
Classrooms were adapted to adhere to state recommendations for Phase One and these changes will continue into Phase Two.
These changes include measuring seats so there are six feet of distance between students at all times while in classrooms, outlining specific instructor areas of the classrooms and installing hand sanitizing stations in buildings, according to the university coronavirus information webpage.
While living and taking classes on campus, students must adhere to all rules and regulations that the university has presented, including a daily COVID-19 symptom assessment. The four-question assessment has been put in place to further limit the spread of the virus, aiming to keep students with symptoms from interacting with other students and faculty, according to the Be Safe Bobcats webpage.
The assessment also must be completed before visiting campus.
Furthermore, all OU students must complete the OHIO Pledge, a contract that requires students to follow the state and university’s COVID-19 regulations, according to the OHIO pledge website.
The university has also implemented strict visitor policies for students living in dorms and most students have been moved into singles, Campbell said in an email.
These restrictions are “going to make finding other people on campus to talk to that much harder,” Campbell said in an email.
Those returning to campus must grapple with going to classes, keeping their items sanitized and living with only essential items for the next six weeks.
“Right now I’m focused on packing only what I really feel I’ll need, considering we have to fully move out at the end of the semester,” Kelly said. “I’m definitely limiting the clothes and other non-essential things that I’ll bring with me.”
Despite all the challenges that students face in this new on-campus environment, many are simply excited to be included and to see how this will impact Spring Semester.
“I do have high hopes that the faculty and students that will be in Athens this semester will maintain the procedures necessary to come back to a much more normal semester in the spring,” Kelly said.