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Universities return to campus: How some are making it happen

Students around campus | Photo by Jessica Fugett | The Wright State Guardian

Students around campus | Photo by Jessica Fugett | The Wright State Guardian


Many universities in Ohio are planning to return to their campuses this fall by implementing safe practices and modifying their fall semester schedule.

Ending in-person classes early

With the fear of students and faculty potentially contracting the virus during Thanksgiving break, many universities are deciding to end in-person classes right before Thanksgiving break.

Most students and faculty will travel and gather in big groups during Thanksgiving break, which poses a risk to everyone when they return to campus.

Miami University in Oxford, OH, is planning to start its fall semester a week earlier than expected. This will allow one more week of in-person classes before their long break.

“We are planning to begin the fall semester one week early on Monday, August 17, 2020 and to complete all classes before Thanksgiving break, eliminating the need for students to return to complete the semester,” said President Gregory P. Crawford in a letter to the Miami community. “Following Thanksgiving, all final examinations will be completed remotely.”

The Ohio State University also announced that their fall semester would end differently.

“With the last day of in-person, on campus instruction taking place Wednesday, Nov. 25,” according to an article on Ohio State’s website highlighting President Michael V. Drake’s message. “Instruction in the last week of the semester, Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, and final exams from Dec. 7 to 11, will be accomplished through distance methods.”

The University of Dayton also announced a very similar plan for their fall semester.

“Undergraduate students will begin classes Monday, Aug. 24, depart campus at Thanksgiving, and complete the semester online, without the typical fall break,” according to a statement released on The University of Dayton’s website.

Flexible courses

With the uncertainty of the pandemic, universities that plan to return to their campuses in the fall are making sure that their courses remain flexible.

This means that their courses can easily switch back to an online format if needed. They are also finding new ways to combine both in-person courses with online formats.

The Ohio State University is working on a new approach to learning.

“A teaching and learning approach that combines in-person and distance methods is also being developed,” according to an article on Ohio State’s website highlighting President Michael V. Drake’s message.

The University of Dayton has prepared its courses so that they are flexible for both in-person learning or virtual learning.

“Campus will be open and many classes will meet in person to the extent possible; however all courses will be prepared for flexible course instruction to ensure student learning continues no matter the state of the pandemic and the expectations of public health officials,” according to a statement released on The University of Dayton’s website.

Miami University is also keeping its courses flexible by keeping some classes completely online to give more classroom space to courses that need more in-person interaction.

“In some cases, we may need to have courses online due to social distancing and space limitations,” said President Gregory P. Crawford in a letter to the Miami community.

Face coverings and social distancing

Many universities are requiring their staff to wear face masks whenever they are not alone or are eating. They are also urging all students to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

“While our primary emphasis will always be on in-person, personal interaction, we must be creative and adaptable to meet public health measures such as face-coverings and physical distancing requirements,” said President Gregory P. Crawford in a letter to the Miami community.

Both Dayton University and Ohio State University share similar guidelines regarding face coverings and social distancing.

“Faculty, staff, students and visitors will be expected to wear face coverings in shared indoor environments and will be expected to maintain 6-foot physical distancing requirements across campus, except when students are in their residential household groups,” according to a statement released on The University of Dayton’s website.

“The resumption of full operations on Ohio State campuses will include a combination of the use of appropriate face coverings, physical distancing…” according to an article on Ohio State’s website highlighting President Michael V. Drake’s message.

Testing

As the virus spreads, some colleges are planning to use testing to help contain the virus and limit the spread.

The University of Dayton is one university working on a plan to help stop the spread of the virus.

“A robust plan to test, monitor and contain cases of COVID-19 will be put into place,” according to a statement released on The University of Dayton’s website. “This will include testing all faculty, staff and students initially on campus and as symptoms warrant during the semester.”

Miami University is also working on a plan to limit the spread of the virus while still allowing exposed or potentially exposed students to continue their courses.

“We are also working with TriHealth, our local hospital and healthcare provider, to develop a plan for testing and have set up a system to isolate and/or quarantine residential students who may be exposed to the virus so they can continue their studies in place while protecting our students, faculty, and staff,”  said President Gregory P. Crawford in a letter to the Miami community.

Following these procedures, many universities in Ohio are prepared to return to their campuses in the fall and operate as safely as possible against this unpredictable virus.