OSU to begin COVID-19 testing for off-campus student this week

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio State University is set to start what it is calling a new phase in the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 at the school — testing of off-campus students.

In a letter from OSU President-elect Kristina M. Johnson, it was announced the testing would begin this coming week.

Testing will be held at Jesse Owens North, with students being notified by Student Life if they have been randomly selected to receive the test.

According to a coronavirus dashboard released by the university this week, 495 students have tested positive for the virus since testing started on Aug. 14.

Data released Saturday shows the daily positivity rate among students jumped to 5.86 percent for Aug. 27, when 91 students were confirmed to have tested positive for the virus in a 24-hour period.

Johnson’s letter also states that the dashboard will be updated daily with the latest COVID-19 data.

The university remains under a state of emergency due to the pandemic. That state of emergency has been extended until Saturday, Sept. 5.

Johnson’s letter reads, in full:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Our first week of classes is complete. What a whirlwind beginning to the journey we are all taking together!

Almost 12,400 Buckeyes finished a student move-in like no other, as we welcomed our new class of first-year students. And our faculty and staff worked with extraordinary skill and diligence to prepare our classrooms and campuses for a safe and healthy autumn semester. Veronica and I are so amazed by all that you have done to get to this point.

One example: I was delighted to see, on the first day of classes, more than 500 “O”s painted on the Oval designed to encourage us to stay at least 6 feet apart while enjoying one of the most iconic spaces on our beautiful campus. 

Our goal remains unwavering: support a safe and healthy environment in which everyone can learn, teach, live and work together on our campuses.

We have one shot at this, and we have to get it right. Each of us has a responsibility to do their part by wearing our face masks, practicing good hygiene, limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer and maintaining physical distancing — whether indoors, outdoors, on campus or off.

Following are some important updates. As a reminder, the university remains in a state of emergency, which is being extended through Saturday, Sept. 5. 

Data dashboard enhanced

The university today expanded its COVID-19 data dashboard, available on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website. The expanded dashboard will be updated daily and include the total number of tests, student positive results and student positivity rate over the most recent available 24 hour-period, as well as a seven-day rolling average. This is part of our continuous evaluation and improvement of the university’s COVID-19 response efforts.

Off-campus testing

Next week, we will enter a new phase in which we will test students who live off campus in addition to the students we have already been testing on campus. Testing will take place at Jesse Owens North, and students will be notified by Student Life if they have been randomly selected. I am grateful for your continued participation in this vital program.

Contact tracing responsibilities

Contact tracing is a critically important part of our efforts, and it requires our active participation. Should a contact tracing team member call you, please know that the confidential information you provide contributes greatly to the public health of our community, and that it’s important to offer accurate and complete details. Information provided will not jeopardize your privacy or be used in a student disciplinary process. Thank you for your support.

Additional information about contact tracing, quarantine and isolation are now available on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website

Student innovation challenge

If you haven’t checked out the Safe and Healthy Campus Innovation Challenge, please do so. The Office of the Chief Wellness Officer, the Office of Student Life and the College of Nursing’s new Center for Healthcare Innovation and Wellness are hosting the challenge, which asks students to submit new and exciting ideas in three key areas:

– Physical distancing (student housing both on and off campus, bars/restaurants, etc.)
– Wearing of face masks/coverings
– Mental health and well-being

Cross-disciplinary teams are encouraged, and every team that submits an innovative idea will receive some level of support. The deadline for submissions is Monday, Sept. 7. I look forward to seeing your ideas — and putting the winning proposals into action.

Finally, I want to reiterate that we are all responsible for fighting COVID-19. Let’s continue to embody the Buckeye spirit by caring for and keeping each other safe. We are all counting on each other. We are all in this Together As Buckeyes. We will get the job done. 

Sincerely yours,

Kristina M. Johnson, PhD

Coronavirus in Ohio resources:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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