OU StudentsAreBack8-20

Court Street would normally be packed with students, running back and forth, going to classes and buying supplies. However, this year, the classes are online and students stay at home. They could take their online classes from home back in Akron or Cleveland, but many students have signed contracts for their apartment and house rentals a year in advance. And then there is the social aspect of being in Athens. Although Court Street and the campus are nearly empty in the daytime, the bars are full at night.

In August, Hocking College and Ohio University both announced plans for the return of students, faculty and staff for the fall semester.

Many of the individual portions of the plans were very similar — anyone on either campus would be mandated to wear a face covering, and social distancing and lowering population density remained top priorities for both institutions. Both colleges are attempting to keep those who are allowed back on the campuses to prevent virus spread.

Both institutions announced that on-campus classes would end by the Thanksgiving break, at which point students would finish their courses remotely.

Hocking College offered the first week and last week online, to be conducted synchronously. Ohio University had a variety of class styles planned, including synchronous and asynchronous online classes. However, at the time, there was still little communication on what the second reopening phase for OU would look like. Phase 1, which is to last from Aug. 24 through Sept. 27, includeed a limited number of graduate and undergraduate students.

“Leveraging what we learn during Phase I, we will increase face-to-face course offerings in Phase 2 as much as possible while working hard to ensure the safety of our campus and community,” OU President M. Duane Nellis wrote in a letter to the community revised on Aug. 5.

On Aug. 13, a town hall was hosted by OU administration to attempt communicating how the fall semester would be structured, but many questions seemed unanswered in the live chat.

One anonymous user asked how the university justified full tuition for online-only students that will not have access to campus facilities. A moderator noted that that student services will be “available either remotely or through one-on-one or socially distanced in-person access.” Baker, Ping and Alden reopened on Aug. 17 with “safety measures” implemented. Even if students are all-online, these locations were accessible to those students if they are in the area.

OU students are also were not required to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to campus, however, it is suggested. Only students who came from states with positive testing rates over 15 percent were required to be tested.

Hocking College announced that they would require anyone on campus to check-in daily, which included a series of screening questions and a temperature check. Anyone who did not report symptoms, exposure to someone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or having tested positive with COVID-19 was subject to disciplinary action and the Hocking College Police may have became involved.

A system of color-coded wrist bands were created to ensure no one is on campus without the proper COVID-19 screening.

Other specifics were also announced — in the dorms, students could still have roommates, but dividers were be provided for between roommates. In addition, students had access to their own bed, microwave, refrigerator, desk and wardrobe.

Both colleges utilized take-out meals for students using the on-campus dining halls.

Hocking College classes began Aug. 17. OU’s classes began Aug. 24.

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