The university will continue construction during the pandemic as an essential infrastructure service. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Lantern Reporter

Despite Ohio State’s current state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, some campus construction projects are still underway.

The university will continue construction during the pandemic as an essential infrastructure service, Dan Hedman, university spokesperson, said in an email. This will include Framework 2.0, Ohio State’s initiative for future campus development, although some projects are subject to timeline changes and delays.

Hedman said the university is ensuring the well-being of crews while work proceeds.

“Ohio State’s Environmental Health and Safety team is available to provide an onsite overview of health and safety tips for our construction teams,” Hedman said.

The Department of Homeland Security announced March 19 that construction workers are an essential workforce permitted to continue operations during the pandemic, and under the Ohio Department of Health’s stay-at-home order, Ohio State can continue construction that is deemed essential, such as medical care facilities, academic buildings, housing and public works.

Several of Ohio State’s Framework 2.0 projects fall under these guidelines, including a central sterile supply building for the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State, an inpatient hospital, an outpatient care facility in New Albany, an optometry clinic and Postle Hall for the College of Dentistry, according to the Framework 2.0 website.

Gov. Mike DeWine said at a March 22 press conference that businesses providing essential infrastructure, such as medical care, food and construction, are allowed to continue in-person work as long as they operate under certain regulations, such as practicing social distances of at least six feet between each individual and regularly hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, DeWine said.

“While most construction will continue as planned, projects that can be slowed or modified have been identified in accordance with the need for financial prudence during these uncertain times,” a Saturday university press release said.

School of Music construction will continue, but the Department of Theatre construction, which was supposed to be completed in August 2022, has been delayed. Construction of the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Center — a multiphase project that includes the renovation of Hamilton Hall — has been paused after the university broke ground in fall 2019, according to the release. The interdisciplinary center was supposed to open its first phase in July 2021.

The Energy Advancement and Innovation Center, which will serve as a hub for energy research and technology incubation, the Interdisciplinary Research Facility, the Mars G. Fontana Laboratories, which is the first phase of the Biomedical and Material Engineering Complex, and Postle Hall are four of the 18 construction projects that will move forward as planned, the release states. The innovation center and research facility are set to be completed by March and June 2023, respectively, and the laboratories and Postle Hall are set to open in August.