Ohio State announces fall plans for a return to campus. Credit: Lantern Photo File

As Ohio State prepares to resume in-person classes Aug. 25, class size, location and mode of instruction are under review to ensure proper precautions against COVID-19. 

The format of each class will depend on its size and curriculum, according to a Wednesday university press release. Some courses will meet in-person, some will adopt a “hybrid” or “distance-enhanced” approach and some will be taught entirely online, the release states.

In-person class size will not exceed 100 people, including faculty, according to the release.

“We’re finding ways to balance our approach to delivering the curriculum,” Randy Smith, vice provost for academic programs, said. “We are asking each academic program and department to ensure that opportunities for in-person instruction are available to students.”

According to the release, determinations regarding modes of teaching and location of classes will be finalized by July 1.

The update comes after outgoing University President Michael V. Drake announced at a June 3 Board of Trustees meeting the university’s plan to return to campus in the fall with a modified schedule. The semester will begin in-person as normal and will end on Dec. 4, but in-person classes will end Nov. 25, Drake said. The remainder of the semester — including final exams — will be conducted online and a decision has yet to be made on the football season, but Drake said the hope is to have one with the audience spaced out throughout the stadium. 

“We’re developing an approach to teaching and learning that combines in-person and distance methods. And our academic calendar will be adjusted accordingly,” Drake said. 

The new schedule eliminates some student vacation days, such as the traditional fall break, which was planned for Oct. 15-16, and the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 25. Classes will be held on those days, but Veterans’ Day and Labor Day will still be student vacation days, according to a June 3 press release. 

The return to campus plan includes a combination of using appropriate face coverings, physical distancing, hand hygiene, limited density in indoor spaces, controlling the flow of traffic into and around buildings, continued employee teleworking when possible, COVID-19 testing, symptom tracking and contact tracing, Drake said. 

The university plans to provide personal protective equipment packages to all students, faculty and staff. It will also launch a pilot COVID-19 testing program for students, faculty and staff as part of the phased return to campus over the summer, and the results will be used to inform broader fall testing, the release states.

Second-year students will not be required to live in on-campus housing in an effort to reduce population density in residence halls, according to the release. By Friday, the university will provide updates to first-year and returning students. Second-year students had until June 10 to notify University Housing if they wished to live off campus.

The university will also release details of a plan for physical distancing in residence halls and dining locations by Friday, which includes a staggered approach to move-in over the course of two weeks and dining options that include mobile ordering and carry-out options. 

The autumn commencement date and format will be announced at a later date, Drake said. 

“We anticipate adding to our plan throughout the course of the summer,” Drake said. 

In a universitywide email March 12, Drake said Ohio State would suspend all in-person classes for the rest of the spring semester and extend spring break until Sunday. Additionally, students living in residence halls registered for time slots to move out between March 14-19. The university closed campus March 19.

Drake said in an April 23 interview with The Lantern that a decision on whether those students will be sitting in a classroom or in front of their computers on the first day of classes would be made by the end of June.

“We’re dedicated to continuing our core mission including providing the best possible experience for our students while operating under a set of circumstances that no one has experienced before,” Drake said.

Updated June 17 to include information about class formats for the fall semester.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that announcements about modes of instruction will be made by July 1. The story has been changed to clarify that modes of instruction will be finalized by July 1.