Ohio University’s mission of teaching, research, and engagement is more urgent now than ever. Although our rapid shift to remote teaching and learning in the spring was necessary, we learned that the digital divide is real: even with access many students are disadvantaged by a fully online experience. Indeed, critical elements of many programs cannot be delivered remotely. Nevertheless, Ohio University is still known for its deeply personal, high-contact, and high-engagement educational programs, where connectivity to people, place, and purpose is what matters most to our students. In addition, we are an institution of higher learning capable of fluency in science-based, medical-informed practice. COVID-19 represents a serious public health threat. Public health guidelines and strategies available to us informed by those guidelines support a responsible phasing in of university operations even as we seek to resume activities that support a full, on-campus experience for students on all our campuses.
Maintaining our mission calls upon each of us to adapt, to prepare, and to commit to doing our part to minimize the risk to one another. We seek to reengage with one another on our campuses while protecting the vulnerable in our communities and embracing the ideal that we are all in this together.
The following goals have guided this process:
- Ensuring students receive the highest possible quality education that is enriching, engaging, intentionally contemplative of the swift pace of change in our current world situation, and supports on-time progress towards degree;
- Resuming research and creative activity that increases knowledge and expression in a world that remains in critical need of both;
- Providing faculty and staff with all the support and resources possible to ensure a research and teaching environment that cultivates the student-centered experience for which Ohio University is known and valued;
- Accommodating as much as possible the needs of individuals who are personally at high-risk or who live in a high-risk household;
- Focusing on risk mitigation as a realistic mode of operation, in recognition that total risk elimination is impractical.
We recognize that Ohio University's typical and traditional operations are disrupted by the existence of COVID-19. As we implement the principles and recommendations contained in this report and detailed in the Appendices, we embrace a culture of care for one another, acknowledging that while COVID-19 presents a real threat to the health of all, individuals are impacted differently by both the threat to health and our operational changes. We seek to interact with one another in a caring, respectful manner and with an overarching desire to help our community remain safe and connected while fulfilling the mission of Ohio University.
The principles and recommendations below reflect the work of eight distinct groups representing 138 individual faculty, staff, college administration, and students from across the system. The work of these teams was informed by, and to the extent possible incorporated, the statewide collaborative effort of the IUC Reopening Committee. We offer a high-level synthesis of 15 principles that include 72 high-level recommendations. Appendices contain full reports from each work group and additional, operational-level recommendations including timelines for completion of recommendations.