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OSU releases COVID-19 guidelines for fall semester

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200422 Oklahoma State Campus Art-1896.jpg (copy)

OSU has released its COVID-19 guidelines for the fall semester.

Oklahoma State University officials are planning for the future amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, OSU released an in-depth plan explaining what protocol will be for many COVID-19 scenarios in the fall. The entire report can be found here.

Students

The plan asks students to take special precautions to avoid exposure for at least two weeks prior to the start of the fall semester, to not go to class on-campus if they're sick and to self screen each morning before arriving on campus. Your temperature must be less than 100.4⁰ F/38⁰ C.

In addition to this, students must maintain social distancing guidelines, wear cloth masks-- which will be provided by OSU-- and wash hands regularly.

"This is not only to protect your health, but the health of our entire community," the statement read. "Your continued support of these guidelines is appreciated."

Employees

OSU continued its guidelines by displaying what employees should do if they come in contact with the coronavirus.

"For employees experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, your supervisor will require you to stay home, and you should seek guidance from your healthcare provider," the statement read. "The university has leave policies that encourage faculty and staff to stay at home when they are sick, when household members are sick, or when they are required by a healthcare provider to isolate or quarantine themselves or a member of their household."

The university also made a specific section for employees in the higher risk category.

"Those who are in a vulnerable population are of the utmost concern," the statement read. "If your health is considered high risk, you provide care for a high risk individual, have childcare disruption or require modifications to your work, please engage in individual discussions with your supervisor and/or HR Consultant.

"Potential modifications include, but are not limited to: telework, use of accrued  leave or leave without pay, adjusted work hours to avoid or reduce contact with others and isolated workstations. To help prepare for returning to work on campus, please review HR’s employee guidance and this employee checklist."

As for employees in offices, virtual office hours will be offered to eliminate crowding in hallways and offices.

Face masks

The university is strictly monitoring the use of face coverings on campus. All students, employees and visitors must wear a face mask if they want to enter a building or when near other people. 

"COVID-19 can be spread when people are asymptomatic, which means they do not know they are sick yet," the statement read. "Wearing face coverings has been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to others."

The face mask rule applies to the classroom as well. Students who fail to wear their facial covering in class will be asked to leave the classroom and return after retrieving their facial covering.

If a student continuously fails to comply with this university expectation will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct Education and Administration for the Student Code of Conduct’s Failure to Comply policy.

What if someone tests positive on campus?

If a student tests positive on campus, OSU will take important measures such as isolation and quarantine, contact tracing, disinfecting and communication.

"We follow the guidance of national and local health officials in our response to a positive diagnosis on campus," the statement read.

If a member of the OSU community self-reports they are symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19, they should contact University Health Services at 405-744-7287 immediately.

Classrooms

Class schedule wise, not much is changing. OSU will still follow the Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Tuesday, Thursday format for classes, but some of them may look very different.

"Every effort is being made for faculty to maximize in-person instruction for all students on campus this fall," the statement read. "It is especially important that many first-year classes be taught face-to-face with social distancing maintained. However, hybrid and online options may be used to accommodate challenges in scheduling. In all cases, faculty should remain socially distanced from students while teaching.

"Laboratory groups of six or less that cannot maintain social distancing for pedagogical or safety purposes must wear additional PPE to provide reasonable health safety (e.g., face shields, gloves, surgical masks)."

In addition to this, the classrooms will be physically bigger. OSU will utilize locations such as the Student Union ballroom, Alumni Center and the Watkins Center for some classes. 

Social distancing and assigned seating will be required. Assigned seating will help in a potential contact tracing scenario.

Edmon Low Library

With its centralized location and many offerings, Edmon Low Library is one of the most crowded buildings on campus. That being said, it will operate on a different schedule this fall.

"Library business hours will be reduced during the fall semester to allow time for overnight cleaning and sanitizing," the statement read. "Furniture in public spaces will be arranged to ensure appropriate social distancing and barriers or shields will be erected to allow more than one user at library tables. When possible, library services will continue to include options for users who are unable to come into the library.

"For example, curbside pick-up for books and library laptops and chat reference assistance. The Library Browsing Room and Reading Room will not be available for events or public gatherings until social distancing requirements are no longer in place."

Study abroad

Since the novel coronavirus is still new, it is unknown how long this pandemic may last. Because of this, OSU must take precautions with having students and faculty traveling around the world.

"The U.S. Department of State issued a Global Level 4 Travel Advisory on March 19, which advised U.S. citizens to avoid international travel of any sort," the statement read. "It is not clear at this time when the State Department travel advisory will be reduced. With this in mind, no faculty-led study abroad programs will be allowed prior to Nov 1, 2020. This restriction will be revisited by August 30, 2020 to determine the risk associated with fall break, winter break or spring 2021 programs. "

"OSU will also suspend its student exchange programs until the Spring 2021 semester, except in very rare cases. Please contact the Office of Global Studies and Partnerships for more information."

Other campus activities/buildings

Housing: The student housing plan includes reducing or rearranging shared spaces, increased frequency of cleaning, acquisition of specialized disinfecting equipment and dedicated rooms reserved for student quarantine, if necessary. Accommodations for vulnerable populations will be provided.

DiningUniversity Dining Services has reduced the capacity for seating to allow for social distancing within OSU dining facilities. Some dining operations will only be available via an online ordering app to reduce waiting time and exposure to risk. Take-out and delivery options are strongly encouraged.

Student UnionIn addition to campus protocols for social distancing and the wearing of face coverings, the Student Union will increase disinfection protocols for all high-touch areas. Restrooms will be sanitized every two hours.

Colvin Recreation CenterA minimum of two housekeepers will be on staff at the Colvin during all operating hours continually cleaning areas by zone as well as repeatedly cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces (handrails, door handles, push plates, etc.) multiple times daily. Fitness floor staff will clean equipment continuously throughout the day including equipment touch points (I.e. seats, handles, bars, and pins).

All OSU COVID-19 related questions may be answered at: covid19@okstate.edu

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