Shively Hall

Shively Hall on OU’s East Green. Photo by Conor Morris.

Ohio University announced Friday a new housing alert system, modeled after the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, and a few residence halls are approaching the most severe system level.

The university will use a color-coded system, similar to the Ohio Department of Health’s system, Dr. Gillian Ice, special assistant to OU President Duane Nellis for public health operations and a Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine faculty member, said in her weekly COVID-19 update.

Residence halls will reportedly be classified in this system based on the percentage of residents who are COVID-19 positive in the last 7 days according to the following:

Level 1 (Yellow): no known cases

Level 2 (Orange): 1-4.9 percent of residents are positive

Level 3 (Red): 5-9.9 percent of residents are positive, but no evidence of an outbreak is witnessed

Level 4 (Purple): 10 percent or more of the residents test positive for the virus; students are at very high risk for infection

Level 4 will be associated with a new protocol that required students to remain in the dorms rooms, which is “designed to stop the spread of infection for each residential floor at this level,” according to OU’s COVID-19 dashboard. The university defines an outbreak of COVID-19 as greater than or equal to 10 percent of residents testing positive in a seven-day period.

The university’s coronavirus website states that students in a residence hall that is classified as Level 4 will be advised via email and floor section meetings with their Housing and Residence Life Hall professional staff. Students then will be placed on a remain-in-room plan until it is determined through the university’s testing protocol that the virus’ spread is contained.

The university also notes on its COVID-19 website that students can expect this to be in place for up to 14 days. When a residence hall is placed under the remain-in-room plan, students should not leave the residence hall room except for bathroom usage, medical appointments, COVID-19 testing as required, contactless food delivery and emergencies.

These Level 4 residence halls will also not allow visitors to enter the building, and other members of the hall will not be permitted to visit one another’s rooms.

Residents should not leave the building to attend classes in-person or participate in other face-to-face activities, such as going to work. Residents should also not use residence hall lounges or common rooms, laundry rooms, study rooms or communal kitchens. They should also wear their face coverings at all times when they are not in their room, except as needed to use the restroom facilities.

“If the Remain-in-Room Plan is not effective in controlling COVID-19 transmission, the Athens City-County Health Department may order a mandatory quarantine for all residents,” OU states on its website.

As of Nov. 6, no residence halls were classified as the Level 4, but two residence halls are in the “red”: Shively and Johnson. Level 2, or orange, residence halls are the following: Perkins, Bryan and James, Jefferson, Washingotn, Bromley, Sowle, Sargent. Yellow, or Level 1, residence halls are Biddle, Boyd, Bush, Carr, Lincoln, Luchs, Read, Tanaka, Tiffin and Voigt.

The remain-in-room plan runs concurrently with the university’s quarantine and isolation housing protocol, an OU press release stated.

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