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COVID test not required for Ohio University students

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College Green. Photo by The New Political

Ohio University student and faculty leadership discussed plans and answered community questions for the upcoming fall semester at a virtual town hall held Thursday evening. 

A panel including Ohio U President Duane Nellis, Provost Elizabeth Sayrs, Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations Gillian Ice and Graduate Student Senate President Kaelyn Ferris discussed a range of topics, such as COVID-19 testing, the university’s finances, facility updates, housing and dining, and student life on campus.

According to Ice, the university will not require students to test for the coronavirus before returning to campus. Ohio U is asking students who have traveled to a state with a positivity rate of 15% or higher, however, to follow the state of Ohio’s travel advisory, which requires a 14 day quarantine.

There will be a walk-up testing site at Scott Quad, as well as a drive-up site nearby, though Ice did not identify the location for that site.

Ice said it is preferred students who test positive for COVID-19 return back home if able, but they can move into an isolation residence hall. Those students will have meals delivered to them. 

Ice noted the university is concerned about the mental health of its students, insisting that mental health is a top priority for the university in helping students succeed.

Sayrs said to support faculty, the Office of Instructional Innovation and the university library have developed a variety of tools, strategies and resources to help professors teach their classes.

Nellis made clear tuition for this academic year would remain consistent, while emphasizing that Ohio U was the only public university in Ohio to not raise tuition this year.

The Ohio CARES Relief Fund will be modified to include eligible students who have lost on-campus jobs until the funds expire, Nellis said. Nellis also discussed the Ohio Get Connected Grant, a new, one-time $750 grant for first year students to meet technology needs.

Ohio U has not yet determined who will be eligible to return to campus for phase two. Nellis said there is currently not enough information to make the determination, but Ohio U is working through various “scenarios” while trying to be analytical about the decision.

“We’ll continue to monitor the conditions and seek the advice of public health officials to inform the second phase as to what kinds of programming we can bring back,” Nellis said. 

Ferris said the university is prioritizing “the best and the safest” experience for everyone in reopening facilities, with educational buildings given priority in phase one. Baker Center will be open Aug. 17, and the libraries will be open for the fall semester. Campus recreation will follow guidance of national sports governing bodies, according to Ferris.

Nellis concluded the town hall by encouraging “all of our Bobcats to accept and embrace the challenges that lie ahead.” 

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