Ohio University to welcome all students, increase in-person activities for Summer and Fall 2021

ATHENS — All Ohio University students will be able to return to campus for the fall semester university President M. Duane Nellis announced on Monday.

In a letter to the Ohio University community, Nellis stated, “I write today with good news about our University operations for the summer and fall semesters as we plan toward increased in-person offerings in and out of the classroom. I am pleased to share that we will welcome all students to our campuses this coming Fall Semester.”

Nellis applauded the work f the University’s COVID Operations team and thanked the students for their role in keeping one another safe.

”Together, we have maintained a positivity rate under four percent and avoided significant outbreaks in our residence halls this Spring. … We have also piloted innovative and successful approaches to safe student events and engagement such as our Martin Luther King Jr. Day Silent March and celebrations, craft and movie nights, health and wellness programs and other activities that allow students to be active and stay safe,” stated Nellis.

The statement continued, “With recent successes in mind, and with COVID cases currently dropping in Ohio and across the country as vaccines are deployed, we are planning to welcome all students to our campuses, to significantly increase face-to-face course offerings, and to have fully open residence halls on our Athens campus this fall. We have already started to phase in on-campus activities. We recently increased the number of available campus visits for prospective students, adding group information sessions under careful guidance from our public health leaders. We are also planning to host Bobcat Student Orientation in-person this summer — although in smaller groups than normal — with virtual options available for families who prefer not to travel to campus until Welcome Week in August.”

Nellis stated that which it will not be a full return to “pre-pandemic normal” the summer and fall will look more normal than the 2020-21 academic year.

Nelllis added that there are some measures which will be put in place for a safe fall semester, including, offering only double and single rooms in the Athens campus residence halls, as well as maintaining an isolation and quarantine space for students as needed. Testing will also be required prior to move-in.

Other measures, according to the statement, are as follows:

We will continue to follow the most up-to-date guidelines from the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention related to facial coverings, limitations on public gatherings, and other safety protocols.

Classes and indoor events will continue to follow any ongoing public health guidelines for social distancing.

We have identified meeting spaces that can be temporarily redeployed as classroom space for some larger courses.

Some courses will be divided into smaller sections to allow for face-to-face instruction while meeting public health guidelines.

We will offer more in-person hybrid courses that include a mix of face-to-face and online elements each week.

Some larger classes, such as those with more than 50 students, may continue to be delivered online.

“We know this news will be celebrated by many, while some students, faculty, and staff might be anxious about this shift. Know that we remain deeply dedicated to maintaining a safe and healthy campus, and we would not be making these plans if we had not seen such success over recent months. In addition, our public health experts continue to closely monitor the trajectory of the pandemic, the introduction of new strains of the virus, the availability and effectiveness of vaccines and more, and we will be prepared to make any necessary shifts to operations to protect the health and safety of our University community to the best of our ability,” concluded Nellis.

Information provided by Ohio University.