As students prepare to move into residence halls Wednesday, Ohio State announced Tuesday that eventually everyone living there will be tested for COVID-19 weekly.
Incoming University President Kristina M. Johnson said in a Tuesday email that, in order to reduce Franklin County’s COVID-19 positive test rate to below its current 5.5 percent and keep campus operational, anyone on campus must wear a mask inside and outside and testing measures will be increased so all students with housing contracts will be regularly tested.
“As part of the Buckeye family, we all play an important role in taking care of each other. If we all follow the university requirements, we will be able to continue to do the familiar things we love — teaching and learning, conducting research, walking across our campuses, and much more,” Johnson said in the email.
Students may opt out of the mandatory testing on campus, but they may be required to take their classes online and may not be permitted to live in residence halls, Johnson said. The email did not specify how the university would test all students living in university housing.
All in-person university events and gatherings will be limited to 10 people, the email reads. Events are considered planned activities either on campus or off campus with a community partner.
“These restrictions do not prohibit gatherings for the purpose of the expression of First Amendment protected speech,” Johnson said.
The email also said additional students and staff will be recruited to be a part of the university’s contact tracing team that is working under contract with the Columbus Department of Public Health. Individuals who test positive will be interviewed by a member of this team.
If an individual is found in violation of the university’s face mask policy, people are advised to politely ask them if they are aware of the face mask mandate, direct the individual to a place where they may obtain one and remind them of the university’s Together as Buckeyes Pledge, according to the university’s face mask compliance guidelines. If they continue to refuse, they should be asked to leave the area.
If this occurs in a classroom, the instructor has permission to dismiss the class and announce when they will be able to reconvene, according to the university’s face mask compliance guidelines.
Students who fail to adhere to the policy should be reported to Student Conduct for possible action, according to the university’s face mask compliance guidelines. Faculty and staff are to be reported to their supervisor for measures ranging from additional training to formal corrective action. Contractors, such as construction workers, should be reported to Facilities Operations and Development; the guidelines state contracted workers who do not comply may be dismissed from their project.
The email did not specify whether visitors who fail to wear face masks will be removed from campus.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.