COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)–Ohio State University and a variety of other central Ohio colleges are ramping up their health policies as students prepare to return to campuses soon for the spring semester amid the current spike in COVID-19 cases.
Still, despite the record-high case levels recently in Ohio, colleges seem to be prioritizing keeping classes going in-person.
At OSU, students will be required to test negative for COVID-19 upon arriving on campus in order to move into residence halls. Those who test positive will need to make their own arrangements to isolate for five days, either at home or at a Columbus hotel. Fraternity and sorority residents also must test negative or will be required to isolate.
“As we prepare to start the spring semester and welcome students back to campus for in-person instruction, Ohio State continues to adjust health measures based on the latest data as well as evolving guidance from national, state, and local agencies,” President Kristina Johnson said in a letter to the university.
All students living on campus and unvaccinated students and staff members will be required to complete weekly testing until further notice.
The university still has a limited amount of quarantine and isolation space, which will be prioritized for out-of-state students.
Classes will be taught in person, but the university is urging other in-person events, gatherings, and meetings to be “transitioned to virtual formats” for the time being.
“Ohio State will continue to offer in-person classes, and faculty are encouraged to offer flexible arrangements for students who are sick, in isolation or in quarantine,” according to OSU.
Elsewhere in central Ohio, university leaders are also ramping up requirements for students.
Capital University “has revised its plans for the beginning of the spring semester,” according to the university, even though classes will remain in-person.
All students and the unvaccinated will be required to have take a COVID-19 test before classes start. Capital says that student and employee ID access to the university “will be turned off until testing has occurred.”
In addition, unvaccinated students and staff will be required to get tested for COVID-19 every week, along with 3% of vaccinated students, who will be randomly selected each week for surveillance testing.
On-campus dining will transition to grab-and-go or take-out only for the first two weeks of the semester, according to Capital.
At Otterbein University, the policies are similar when it comes to testing before move-in and weekly ongoing testing and food service, the university said in a press release.
Additionally, Otterbein says that faculty will enforce seating charts in classrooms in order to assist the university’s contact tracing team.
“The university will continue to enforce its vaccine and mask requirements and work closely with the Ohio Department of Health, Franklin County Public Health, and OhioHealth, the university’s healthcare provider,” according to Otterbein.
Most local universities, including OSU, are strongly recommending that their students and faculty get a COVID-19 vaccine booster.
But one university, Ohio Wesleyan University, is taking the additional step to require it.
Ohio Wesleyan spokesman Cole Hatcher said students and employees will need to either get boosted or get an approved exemption from the booster. It will provide an on-campus booster clinic on Jan. 14 to assist those who have not already done so.
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