Ohio University announced Thursday it will allow all residential students the option to return to classes on campus, offering first and second year students the option to return to residential housing for the Spring Semester during a special Board of Trustees meeting. 

Board members also announced that Spring Semester will be starting a week later on Jan. 19 rather than Jan. 11. All students will be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival to campus. 

First and second year students will be housed in single and double dormitories. The university will increase COVID-19 infrastructure and testing along with case management and contact tracing, according to a university press release.

Students will be contacted by Housing and Residence Life by Friday with instructions on how to confirm if they want to return to campus or stay at home. Students will be required to fill out a spring housing confirmation form by Nov. 16 indicating where they plan to reside in the Spring Semester. 

Other undergraduate students and graduate students may return to campus or work remotely based on their program and needs. Though most students will still have a majority of their classes taught remotely, more undergraduate classes will be taught synchronously in the spring, according to the press release. All students will still be able to take their courses entirely remotely.

Graduate and other professional course formats are estimated to remain the same in the spring as they are currently, according to the press release.

Residents who are living on campus will be tested at least once a week, according to a previous Post report. The university will be testing a “remain-in-room” strategy, which will be similar to Ohio’s COVID-19 alert system. This will alert students on the statues of their residence hall, allowing students to know if their residence hall is endangered or being put under quarantine. 

Spring break will also be changed to three one-day mini-breaks days during the Spring Semester, rather than the original full week off, to “discourage travel to and from campus,” OU President Duane Nellis said in a press release. These mini-breaks will be on Feb. 9, March 3 and April 1.

The last day of classes will be Saturday, April 24, unchanged from the original calendar. There also isn’t a change in commencement, which is April 30 and May 1. 

For academic planning, spring courses will be posted Nov. 6 with the modality of the class — whether it will be online, in-person or a hybrid of both — clearly indicated. Courses will be searchable by modality so students can work with advisors to create a fully-remote schedule if preferred. 

OU fall, winter and spring sport seasons will be played, unless the Mid-American Conference and NCAA say otherwise. All sports are actively engaged in COVID-19 testing protocols determined by risk level and competitive season. Most sports will compete in-conference and travel protocols have also been changed for safety and out-of-state travel. 

During this uncertain time, the current plans are under constant review and may be subject to change.

“If people don’t take precautions, it limits our ability to open campus severely,” Dr. Gillian Ice, special assistant to the president for public health operations, said during the meeting. 

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