Ohio State announces return-to-campus protocols, safety details
University-wide email updates communication enhancements, mental health resources
The Ohio State University
The following email was sent to students, faculty and staff today (Aug. 17).
With many Buckeyes returning to campus and much-loved traditions after an extended absence, Ohio State is providing a summary of what you need to know to continue the Safe and Healthy approach we successfully managed together last academic year and throughout the pandemic.
Keeping you in the loop
This year, the university is enhancing its communication by using text and email from Ohio State News to provide brief, timely updates to the university community. These updates will inform you about:
- COVID priorities: Updates and information about COVID safety requirements and protocols that you need to know immediately to be able to enhance and protect your health and safety.
- Timely university news priorities: News and updates that have a sense of immediacy so that you can immediately use – or must know – the information to protect your health and safety on and around campus, such as safety tips, health resources, timely traffic information and more.
All students, faculty and staff will receive Ohio State News alerts to their university email address. These are separate and distinct from Buckeye Alerts, which are sent by our Department of Public Safety when the campus community needs to take immediate action to remain safe. If you have provided your cell phone number to the university for emergency text messaging, you will also receive COVID-19 and university news priority updates via text message.
More information on how to update your phone number and set up your delivery preferences will be available soon. Family, friends and loved ones will also be able to sign up for Ohio State News Alerts.
- Indoor mask requirement: This month, the university updated its protocols based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to require everyone on campus to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status, with the exception of in personal living spaces, when eating and when swimming in recreation facility pools. Unlike last year, masks are not required outside if you are vaccinated.
- Testing will be an important part of our return to robust in-person operations. Testing requirements include student testing before arrival, testing upon arrival for students living in residence halls on all campuses and for students visiting the Columbus campus for any reason, and weekly testing for unvaccinated students. Anyone who has symptoms, tests positive or is assigned to quarantine due to an exposure must not navigate campus or participate in any campus activity, including attending class or taking part in co-curricular experiences, on or off campus. Employee testing remains available. See the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes page for testing requirements before you arrive on campus.
- COVID-19 Vaccination: To make informed decisions related to COVID-19 and further enable contact tracing, Ohio State is requiring everyone to report whether or not they have been vaccinated. Everyone who is able is strongly encouraged to get their COVID-19 vaccination. More information about how to get vaccinated is available here.
- Indoor air quality: Facilities Operations and Development crews evaluated the operation of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems to maintain proper indoor air requirements inside 1,100 classrooms in more than 115 buildings on the Columbus and regional campuses. The $5 million project validated and adjusted ventilation in classrooms to meet or exceed CDC recommendations. (Watch what we’ve done here.)
- Quarantine and isolation housing: Given that broad access to vaccines is available, on-campus quarantine and isolation housing will be limited this year and cannot be guaranteed at any time. All students should have individual plans for isolation and quarantine housing in the event they are exposed or have a positive COVID-19 test. More information about quarantine and isolation is available here.
Mental health support and resources
The university continues to place an emphasis on students’ mental health, and as students arrive on campus we suggest bringing this “5 to Thrive” mental health checklist.
We also offer support to faculty and staff. The Ohio State Employee Assistance Program is a confidential counseling service for Ohio State employees and their families experiencing personal or work-related distress. It offers services ranging from legal assistance to community resource referrals, and this month is featuring a four-part webinar series about adjusting to work in this next reality.
Hoping to make the best out of mask wearing? Take a look at the Mask On/Mood Up movement, a partnership between the Office of the Chief Wellness Officer (OCWO) and the Office of Student Life. For a more detailed list of faculty and staff health and wellness resources from the OCWO, check out the mental health page on Safe and Healthy Buckeyes.
Stay Safe, Buckeyes
The Ohio State campus is a safe place, though it’s in the heart of a large, growing city and crime does occur. We also know that safety can mean many different things to many different people. Ohio State works 24/7 to enhance campus safety, and you can help by taking individual and collective action to help promote a safer community.
Personal safety: Check out Safety Spotlight videos that highlight available resources and ways to stay safe on campus. Other tips include:
- Be aware of your surroundings and remove earbuds and headphones when walking, especially late at night.
- Utilize public transportation like CABS or Lyft Ride Smart at Ohio State for students.
- Download the free Rave Guardian app, so you never walk alone again.
- Report on-campus crimes to University Police (614-292-2121) and off-campus crimes to Columbus Police (614-645-4545) or the appropriate local law enforcement agency.
- Always dial 9-1-1 in emergencies.
Navigating campus: The university continues to invest in the future of our campus through construction projects to advance teaching, research and patient care. The route you traveled last year may not be an option when you return this fall, so please plan ahead and allow extra time to get to class or work. Travel and construction maps are available online, and you can sign up for OSUGo to receive text messages about timely construction and traffic information.
Home safety: At home, always lock your doors and windows. It may be tempting to leave the door unlocked for a housemate or friend but that allows easy access for criminals, too. Report suspicious behavior like someone peeking in car windows or walking from house to house seeing if doors are unlocked. Students can get free window and door alarms and safety light timers at the Ohio Union through the Willie J. Young, Sr. Off-Campus and Commuter Student Engagement office.
Do not leave keys in your car and never leave valuables like a laptop or phone unattended in public or visible in your vehicle. Reporting your valuables lost or stolen could prevent the same thing from happening to a friend or neighbor or help you recover your property.
What we’re doing to address safety concerns: To keep the community informed, the university issues a variety of crime and safety notices. We understand that these communications shine a light on crime happening on, or near, our campus and may generate real concern for those who receive them. Knowledge is a powerful tool, so understanding crime trends is critical to allowing our community members to make decisions that will enhance their personal safety.
Ohio State is committed to supporting our off-campus neighborhoods by enhancing safety for those who live there. The university continues to make progress on 15 recommendations from our Community Safety and Well-Being Task Force, with 13 fully or partially implemented, including:
- Increased Community Crime Patrols made up of community partners
- Improved lighting and additional surveillance cameras in the off-campus area
- Expanded discounted ridesharing hours
- An online safety class that will launch later this fall
- A partnership with the University District Organization to provide a full-time, licensed independent social worker
- Enhanced cultural diversity training for the Ohio State University Police Division (OSUPD)
- Comprehensive safety communication and community outreach
Ohio State continues to develop plans to increase OSUPD joint patrol coverage east of High Street and expand community policing programs. In the interim, during the fall and spring semesters, OSUPD and the Columbus Division of Police (CPD) have increased police presence through crime interdiction programs using overtime to add neighborhood patrols. The university remains actively engaged off campus and is committed to working in partnership with the City of Columbus to address crime in this area.
- The university has planned a number of events to raise awareness and provide safety resources in the community, including offering free welcome bags, tacos and BBQ.
- Coffee with a Cop: Stop by the Ohio Union from Aug. 23 through Aug. 27 to enjoy a free cup of coffee from your friends at OSUPD. You can get a free cup on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Officers are committed to building relationships of trust – one cup of coffee at a time.
The university will continue to share updates and more information as it is available. The latest COVID-19 information is always updated on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes page, including a wide-ranging set of Frequently Asked Questions. Comprehensive campus safety resources are available via the Department of Public Safety. More news about Ohio State is available at Ohio State News.