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Reflections of a First-Year Buckeye: Return-to-campus COVID-19 testing updates

President Johnson closes the calendar year with holiday wishes for the Ohio State community

President Johnson sent the following email to The Ohio State University community today (Dec. 22).

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Warmest holiday wishes, Buckeyes. This past year has brought historic challenges for our university. Through it all, you have demonstrated time and again the ingenuity and grace with which our Ohio State family faces moments of great adversity. I am proud to be part of a community that makes such a positive difference in the lives of so many.

As we look to the New Year and the start of the spring semester in a few weeks, I know we will continue to work Together As Buckeyes to make our university and our world a better place.

Discovery, learning and impact

Two faculty members in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences have been elected to the National Academy of Inventors 2020 class of Fellows. Dr. Monica Giusti, professor of food science and technology, and Dr. Judit Puskas, professor of food, agricultural and biological engineering, join a class of 175 academic innovators this year.

Intellectual assets for a COVID-19 vaccine technology developed by College of Veterinary Medicine faculty Dr. Jianrong Li and Dr. Stefan Niewiesk were recently licensed to Biological E. Limited. Dr. Grace Wang, executive vice president for Research, Innovation and Knowledge Enterprise, explained the importance of connecting the dots between research and entrepreneurship in an interview this week with Columbus Business First. 

A Digital Flagship initiative that teaches the basics of coding and app development is thriving. To date, more than 3,000 Ohio State students, faculty and staff have started Swift coding and app development courses. The free certificate program is part of our collaboration with Apple.

A record number of fall student-athletes received Academic All-Big Ten honors. This month, 120 Ohio State honorees were named from field hockey, football, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. You can read more at Ohio State News.

COVID-19: return to on-campus activities

COVID-19 vaccine administration at Ohio State will continue to focus on Wexner Medical Center front-line clinical staff and those most vulnerable to the virus as a national rollout continues. We will continue to protect ourselves and others in 2021 by following the same safe and healthy requirements that enabled us to complete the autumn semester on our campuses: wearing face masks, staying 6 feet apart, avoiding large gatherings, and practicing good hygiene. 

As a reminder, we are currently planning for the first two weeks of spring semester classes – January 11-22 – to be conducted virtually. The situation is very fluid, and we will continue to evaluate conditions in coordination with state and local officials, making any necessary changes as required. All students are requested to self-sequester for 10 days before returning to their on-campus residence and/or to in-person engagements on campus.

Testing remains a critical component of our plan to return and remain on campus together. Yesterday, students began receiving email messages about the following spring testing protocols.

Students living in residence halls and members of the sorority and fraternity community

  • All students returning to residence halls on all campuses in the spring and all members of the sorority and fraternity community will be required to take a university-provided COVID-19 test at home prior to their arrival.
  • These students will also need to schedule and take a second test when they arrive on campus and prior to moving into a residence hall or other facility.

Columbus campus students living off-campus (regardless of location)

  • All off-campus students will be required to test weekly at Jesse Owens North, starting when they return to Columbus to either live or visit campus for any reason. 
  • After the first test, off-campus students will begin testing weekly, with the goal of receiving two negative COVID-19 tests before resuming in-person classes and/or any on-campus activities or interaction with other students and campus community members. (Students are not permitted to test more than once a week.) 

For additional information, including required weekly student-testing protocols for on- and off-campus students, please visit the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.

For faculty and staff, we will continue to prioritize testing for those whose job responsibilities require them to have consistent and/or sustained in-person contact with other campus community members. All employees are also encouraged to take advantage of our voluntary testing program to help keep yourself and the members of your household safe.

Finally, our football Buckeyes will play January 1 in the Sugar Bowl after winning a fourth-straight Big Ten Championship this past weekend. This is an incredible achievement under normal circumstances. Of course, this year has been anything but normal, which elevates this milestone still further. We congratulate our student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff for all that they have accomplished. We are proud of you and recognize the hard work, discipline and dedication it took to get to this moment. We also thank members of our community for helping to slow the spread of the virus by “homegating” throughout this unusual year. Let’s continue to do so as our Buckeyes take the field in 2021. O-H!

Have a joyous week, and I will share more after the New Year.

Sincerely yours,

Kristina M. Johnson, PhD


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