Cutler Hall

File photo of Ohio University’s College Green, which was quite empty during spring break 2020 after news broke of in-person classes being canceled due to concerns about the spread of COVID 19. Photo by Conor Morris.

Ohio University released a comprehensive report Friday of more than 70 recommendations it’s actively considering in order to safely reopen campus in August.

The report was submitted to OU President Duane Nellis earlier this week for further consideration as the OU administration works to iron out a finalized reopening plan prior to the start of fall semester. It’s unclear when a final plan will be unveiled.

Eight work groups that included nearly 140 people developed the report alongside a council, which was comprised of members of the five senates that operate on campus, including Student Senate and Faculty Senate.

“This has been an extraordinary effort and a true commitment of shared governance,” Nellis said of the report at Friday’s OU Board of Trustees meeting.

Many more detailed recommendations were included in individual reports of each of the eight work groups, which will be adopted and implemented in the future, OU Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer Bradley Cohen said at the meeting.

The report released Friday recommends that the university adopt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s phased-in reopening plan, which accepts the risk that COVID-19 cases will likely emerge on campus.

An OU spokesperson confrimed in an email on June 23 that on-campus activity will halt after thanksgiving break and the remaining two weeks of the semester will be held online, as the report recommends.

Several of the other recommendations outlined in the report assume that in-person classes will end Nov. 20, the final day before Thanksgiving break. The elimination of fall break was also recommended in the report to reduce student travel.

Masks could be required inside all university facilities, and students and staff would largely be required to provide their own, OU Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer Bradley Cohen said at the Friday Board of Trustees meeting.

The report recommends that OU require testing of all symptomatic individuals and testing of those who came within 6 feet or less of an infected individual for at least 20 minutes.

However, it doesn’t currently recommend testing students for COVID-19 antibodies, unless “future evidence” is uncovered that warrant that practice.

Separate residence halls for symptomatic students who are unable to return home could be designed, along with a separate buildings dedicated to housing those who would be required to self isolate, according to the report.

Students who anticipated living in a dorm room with three roommates could be moved into a quad room so their living area is spaced out. And students who planned to live in dorms that traditionally house four people could be split up and placed in adjacent doubles, the report suggested. The report recommends reserving single dorms for students who are in a high-risk group.

The report suggests that professors should attempt to ensure that more than half of classes are spent in-person and that all learning spaces have a reduced maximum occupancy. It also recommends identifying alternative large, open spaces to hold classes, such as Baker Ballroom and Walter Fieldhouse.

Professors should work to develop online contingency plans for classes should the university decide to close the university before Thanksgiving break, the report suggests.

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