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Campbell's Corner: OU must give more notice to COVID-19 policy updates

Coming into this new semester, I knew many of the Ohio University COVID-19 policies were bound to change over and over again. However, I ignorantly thought OU would give students some sort of notice when these policies were put into place. I was wrong.

OU has already updated many COVID-19 policies, such as weekly asymptomatic testing for certain individuals on campus and new masking requirements. As of Sunday, President Sherman announced more in-person events except classes will be transitioned to virtual meetings, and food and drink should not be consumed at them. 

When I read that concessions would not be available at university-related events, I immediately thought of what the situation would be in the dining halls, but I reassured myself that OU would have to give some sort of notice for those changes. Unfortunately, I was wrong again.

Sunday night was my first meal back in the dining halls. When I walked into Nelson, there were noticeably fewer chairs. Kids were scrambling to find tables and squeezing their friends in when they could find space. It was confusing as to why this was happening because students were not given any notice. 

OU did not make a statement until late afternoon Monday on the matter, saying the dining halls will remain open, but Culinary Services has reduced seating capacity. This means there were four meal periods where students were not given notice for their options. As frustrating as this may be, this is not the first time a policy has been updated and students were given little-to-no notice. 

It was Thursday when OU announced its new face covering requirements. Students started to move back into the dorms on that Thursday and started classes Monday. The announcement gave students very little notice to go and purchase new face coverings to abide by these guidelines. Although I was given one KN95 mask and two surgical masks by my resident assistant, these are obviously not enough to last for more than a few days.

The worst example of OU’s lack of communication with students was back in August 2020. With only a few weeks before students were supposed to return to school, OU announced the majority of students would not be returning to campus. When I was approved for a housing exemption to return for phase two, I was given less than a week’s notice before moving in. 

As the days grew closer to student move-in and the start of in-person classes, OU needed to communicate the idea of new mask requirements, asymptomatic testing and decreasing seating capacity in the dining halls. It didn't come as too much of a shock to me, but I definitely would have felt better about coming back to campus if I had been prepared. I completely agree with the changes, and I will abide by these requirements, but I needed to know what they were in order to do so.  

It’s understandable the pandemic is an evolving nightmare, and it’s not easy to predict which precautions the university should make in order to keep its students safe. Nevertheless, OU needs to make a better effort in communicating these changes with its students and take accountability for keeping us in the dark. 

Hannah Campbell is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hannah by tweeting her at @hannahcmpbell.

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