Students in quarantine at Ohio University were recently found to be in violation of public health orders and University policy for throwing a party in the isolation residence hall.
The party was held on Friday, Oct. 16 in Luchs Hall, which is currently being utilized by the university as an isolation residence hall for COVID-19 positive students. According to a press release from the university, at 11:45 p.m., an OU Housing and Residence Life staff member entered Luchs Hall to assist a student who was locked out of their room.
Upon entering, the staff member witnessed approximately 30 students congregating in a common space. The staff member reported that the students were violating University directives for facial coverings and social distancing. Additionally, the students were consuming alcoholic beverages.
University leadership was then notified of the situation on Saturday, Oct. 17.
“It’s fortunate that it was reported to us quickly so that we were able to take action,” said OU Executive Director of Communications Carly Leatherwood. “
Over the weekend, all 48 of the residents of Luchs Halls were called and attended mandatory outdoor meetings with representatives from the President’s Office, the Dean of Students Office and Community Standards and Student Responsibility. Meetings were held under the advisement of the Athens City-County Health Department and were conducted with masked and socially distanced groups of 15 people.
The students found in violation now face OU’s judicial process, according to Leatherwood, each will be interviewed and subject to potential penalties up to and including suspension.
Not only were the students in violation of OU’s policies, but they were in violation of public health orders, as each had tested positive for COVID-19 and therefore are meant to be in isolation. At OU, isolation means being contained in a dorm room in Luchs Hall.
“The main issue here is that they were outside of their rooms,” Leatherwood said. “You remain in your room unless you have to use the restroom.”
Leatherwood described the situation as a “health risk”, something elaborated on in a statement from the University.
“By failing to comply with public health orders and University policy, these residents put others at risk, including the staff member who entered Luchs Hall to assist a resident, the Culinary Services staff who deliver their meals, and the custodial staff that service Luchs Hall. Ohio University’s obligation is to the safety and security of our students, faculty, and staff, and we take this matter very seriously,” the statement read.
In addition to violating health orders, some of the students attending the party were found with alcohol. Those who are under 21 could face penalties for underage drinking.
So far OU has placed three of its dorms in quarantine following several positive test results among students. Residents of both Jefferson and Tiffin halls were ordered to quarantine by the Athens City-County Health Department on Tuesday, Oct. 13. In Jefferson Hall, 16 of the 69 residents tested positive, as did 22 of the 78 residents in Tiffin Hall. Boyd Hall was vacated the week prior after 19 of the hall’s 94 residents tested positive for the virus.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is for our University community to follow University policy and adhere to public health guidance to keep our students, faculty and staff safe,” President M. Duane Nellis said last week. “The increasing numbers of COVID cases we are seeing in our residence halls should serve as a wake-up call to our students. Now more than ever, we need to follow necessary health practices to keep our community safe, protect our own families and friends, and ensure business continuity.”
The COVID-19 Dashboard of OU’s website was last updated on Friday, Oct. 16. At that time 450 Athens students had tested positive, overall 901 students have been tested with 74 test results pending.
In the community as of Monday afternoon, there are 251 known active cases and 904 recovered cases of COVID-19 in Athens County, for a total of 1,157 cases and two deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
In Athens County there have been 196 cases aged 0-19, 783 aged 20-29, 48 aged 30-39, 38 aged 40-49, 40 aged 50-59, 35 aged 60-69, 11 aged 70-79, and six cases aged 80+.
In the counties surrounding Athens, the confirmed cases stand at:
- Washington – 330 total; 90 active
- Morgan – 71 total; 16 active
- Perry – 351 total; 52 active
- Hocking – 189 total; 27 active
- Vinton – 88 total; 39 active
- Meigs – 207 total; 39 active