Ohio University campus tours have adjusted to changing COVID-19 guidelines accordingly in order to give prospective students the best touring experience while keeping Athens safe.
Campus tours moved to an entirely virtual format last March due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, in-person tours resumed in November and were limited to one family per touring group.
“We’ve worked with public health and safety teams throughout the entire campus visiting process to ensure that the safety of everybody is evaluated, whether it's our tour guides, our Ohio staff, our visitors [or] the entire Bobcat community,” K.J. Russel, a senior tour guide, said.
Currently, tours are limited to 10 people rather than one family. Masks and social distancing are required.
“In some ways, we like that because that's giving prospective students more opportunities to connect with the tour guide,” Katie Troyer, senior director of Enrollment Marketing, said. “Our tours are all about conversations and making connections, so it's more of an opportunity to speak with the tour guide and hear about their Ohio experiences.”
Access to campus buildings for prospective students is limited. Students and their families are only able to view certain buildings, including Alden Library, Ping Recreation Center, a dining hall lobby and a specified residence hall while on their tour.
The residence halls that are being shown on tours include Ryors Hall on West Green and Jefferson Hall on East Green.
“We've worked with Housing and Residence Life to make sure that we're taking them down hallways where students aren’t living or to be mindful of the egress and ingress when we are getting them in and out of the building to minimize impact on current students,” Troyer said.
Rather than a tour guide taking students to the show dorm room that they are able to view, a housing ambassador meets them in the hall in order to provide a different perspective.
“When we went to visit a mock dorm room, a different girl took us up and basically just talked to us about her experience over the four years that she has been at OU,” Samantha Snyder, a prospective OU student, said.
Not only do the requirements keep current students and staff safe, they also ensure the families visiting feel comfortable in Athens amid the pandemic.
“I felt pretty good. We all had masks on, and everybody was wearing them correctly. We spread out, but we were all talking pretty casually and they were all very friendly,” Snyder said. “We got there on a really nice day and the weather was kind of perfect, so we were able to stand outside and talk … about all the different places.”
Despite the guidelines, students still believe that their OU touring experience was beneficial.
“I would have liked to go into more of the buildings, but other than that, I think it was pretty great,” Snyder said. “I think with what (tour guides) were allowed to do, they did a very good job.”