Ohio University's class gateway at College Green, photographed on May 2, 2019
Ohio University’s class gateway at College Green, photographed on May 2, 2019 [Michelle Rotuno-Johnson | WOUB]

Ohio University Inviting Thousands Of Students Back To Campus

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Ohio University announced Tuesday it is inviting 7,200 students to come to campus in a few weeks to finish out the fall semester.

The decision to significantly increase the student presence on campus represents Phase 2 of the university’s graduated approach toward reopening given concerns about the coronavirus. Phase 2 begins on Sept. 28.

The vast majority of OU students have been taking classes from home under Phase 1, with about 1,700 students currently on campus. This includes undergraduate, graduate and medical school students.

[Ohio University spokesperson Carly Leatherwood]
All graduate students and medical students are being invited to campus under Phase 2. The undergraduate students invited were chosen because one or more classes they’re taking will be returning to some sort of face-to-face instruction under Phase 2 or because some component of the class, such as a lab or access to certain campus facilities or special equipment, will now be available, said Carly Leatherwood, the university’s senior director of communications services.

The majority of classes will still be taught online throughout the rest of the fall semester, even for the students invited back under Phase 2, OU President Duane Nellis said in a news release announcing the Phase 2 plans.

Still, the students invited to campus may be expected to come even if it’s just for one class in their schedule that is now part of the Phase 2 reopening, Leatherwood said. Some Phase 2 classes may provide a remote option, but for others in-person attendance may be required.

The university has extended until Friday the deadline for adding or dropping a class with a possible fee adjustment. This gives students three days to make a decision if the cost associated with coming to campus for perhaps one or two classes does not pencil out for them or they have concerns about their safety.

Leatherwood suggested that students who are reluctant for whatever reason to come to campus should reach out to their academic adviser as soon as possible to discuss their options. Decisions about whether to waive any course requirements will be made on a case-by-case basis, she said.

Leatherwood said she did not yet have a breakdown on how many of the 7,200 students receiving invitations are undergraduates, but the number of undergraduates invited represents about 31 percent of undergraduate enrollment. If all the invited undergraduates come to campus, it would result in about 25 percent density in the residence halls, she said.

While each academic department has already determined which of its courses are part of Phase 2, that information has not yet been aggregated, so a university-wide total is not available but should be by the end of the week, Leatherwood said. The Phase 2 courses will be listed on the university’s website at

Decisions about how many students to bring to campus are based on several variables, including the number of quarantine and isolation rooms available, the capacity for asymptomatic and symptomatic testing and scientific models for the spread of disease, Nellis said in the news release.

Other university campuses have seen spikes in the number of coronavirus cases, both on campus and in the surrounding communities, as students have returned. Students coming to Ohio University under Phase 2 are expected to observe a 14-day period of social distancing at home before arriving in Athens. Once here, students are required to complete a daily COVID-19 symptom assessment and follow the rules laid out by the university for preventing the spread of the disease.

Unlike Ohio State University, which is testing thousands of students and staff each week for COVID-19, Ohio University lacks the facilities on campus to do its own testing, Leatherwood said. She said the university is working on a plan to do some kind of asymptomatic testing in the near future.

Ohio University does have a partnership with Ohio Health under which students or staff at any OU campus who are experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms can get tested, Leatherwood said.


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