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Safety signs are surfacing across Ohio State before planned return to campus

Unified messages designed to slow the spread of COVID-19

A major messaging effort is underway on the campuses of The Ohio State University to prepare for a safe return this autumn.

Thousands of signs are going up across hundreds of buildings to encourage the use of face masks, physical distancing and good hygiene. The effort is being led by Facilities Operations and Development (FOD) in high-traffic areas and outdoor spaces.

“We are putting in physical distancing signs in all of our buildings in preparation of campus reopening,” said Stephen Malone, university signage coordinator. “We all need to wear a mask when we enter our buildings. As you come into lobbies and common areas, you will see signs stating ‘Together as Buckeyes,’ we want to stay physically distant and we encourage people to stay six feet apart.”

Physical distancing signage has been installed at high-traffic outdoor spaces like the Oval. For indoor spaces, workers are busy continuing to install signage packages including:

  • Mask requirement signs at exterior building entrances
  • Physical distancing signs in high-traffic areas and elevators
  • Hand washing signs in restrooms 
  • Take the stairs, if you can, signs on elevator doors

“Each of our restrooms will receive signs encouraging people to wash their hands for 20 seconds to prevent the spread of disease,” Malone said. “We will also be placing those in any common break areas within the buildings to remind people to wash their hands before they leave the area.”

Signs will also encourage most faculty, students and staff to take the stairs rather than elevators.

It’s no small task. FOD is in the process of placing signs in more than 400 buildings around the Columbus and regional campuses.

UniPrint, the university’s bulk printing service, provides the signs for the program and ensures a standard look across all campuses. Consistency is critical when conveying such an important message.

“The goal was that you didn’t have everybody going out to wherever across the Internet [for a sign that reads] ‘stand six feet apart’ with a different look and feel,” said UniPrint Director Jeff Dible. “Now everything on campus looks the same. There’s continuity and the brand of OSU.”

The university will install additional signage in classrooms and furniture will be set up to promote physical distancing. However, despite the installation of approximately 40,000 signs across campus, there’s an understanding that because of the unique design of classrooms and workspaces, more signs will be needed. Colleges or units can work with FOD to determine additional signage needs, including wayfinding, directional or one-way traffic signage.

There is also an option to download signs from the UniPrint website.

“We anticipate that as people come back and we have more occupants in buildings, that we are going to have to add additional signs in some of our areas to make sure that those areas are safe,” Malone said.

Keeping campus safe: That’s the ultimate message of this massive undertaking. Signs will remind the Ohio State community that a successful autumn semester depends on everyone working “Together as Buckeyes” and wearing masks, physically distancing, practicing good hygiene and maintaining reduced traffic and population density.

“Take the messaging to heart. Read the signs. Do what the signs are asking,” said Dible. “It’s about me protecting you and you protecting me so we as a community, if we all do this together, we’ll get through it together quicker.”

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