Dear Campus Community,
We continue to have low rates of COVID-19 on our campus. In the last few days, we have had one new reported case within our community (faculty, staff, and students). That individual is isolating off campus and the one close contact of that individual is in quarantine and has been tested. Currently, there are 21 community members in quarantine, only one of whom is in an on-campus quarantine space.
State of Ohio Update. We have received a few questions regarding Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s address last evening. Like many states across the country, Ohio continues to see rising COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates. Governor DeWine focused his address on providing an update on Ohio’s numbers and restating the need for Ohioans to "get back to basics" with mask wearing, physical distancing, and avoiding indoor parties/gatherings. He announced a few action steps that provide for increased diligence within and enforcement of existing guidelines:
Retail establishments: All businesses are now required to post a mask-requirement sign at all public entrances; each store is responsible for making sure customers and employees are wearing a mask; and the state is setting up a compliance unit to enforce these requirements.
Social gatherings such as weddings: Open congregate areas can no longer be open for circulating. Everyone must be seated or wearing a mask unless actively eating/drinking. For the most part, this does not change our operations on campus. However, I want to remind our community:
Outdoor gatherings of 30 or fewer people are permitted within guidelines. Distancing is required and masks must be worn if distancing is not maintained.
Students may have guests in residence hall rooms but must adhere to guidelines around capacity, distancing, and mask wearing. Students should not be eating or drinking in one another’s residence hall rooms.
Indoor gatherings arranged by the university or by student organizations are permitted within our existing guidelines.
Bars, restaurants, and fitness centers: If current trends continue, Governor DeWine indicated the state will be forced to close these establishments. He announced that the state will revisit the possibility of bar, restaurant, and gym closures one week from today.
The Governor’s plea for us to take mask wearing, distancing, and socializing guidelines seriously is an important reminder for us all. While we may all be feeling fatigued with these requirements, they are proven to be the best defense we have against the spread of COVID-19.
The Governor also thanked higher education for finishing out the semester remotely after Thanksgiving. He expressed concern that current trends could threaten the ability of students to resume in-person learning in January, but didn't specifically mention any action items on the horizon at this time. We feel confident in our plans and our ability to safely open campus in the spring. We have been and will continue to be in contact with the Governor’s office and with the Ohio Department of Education.
Move Out. I also have received questions and want to provide clarity regarding the move out process for fall. Details are available on the Reopen website. As a reminder, any students planning to return in spring do not have to pack up and move out of their rooms. However, students transitioning to remote or considering the remote option for spring will need to pack and take all belongings and schedule a move out time through ResComm. Again, we are confident in our plans to be back on campus next semester. However, if we find ourselves in a situation where we have to be remote in spring, we will make dates available for students and families to come and pack up rooms or arrange for storage of items. We do not anticipate this will be an issue, but we will be prepared to support students and families if necessary.
As we enter our final week, I remain filled with gratitude and pride for everything we accomplished together this semester. Thank you for a great fall.