Physical Distancing and Use of Face Coverings

Everyone on campus is expected to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from each other, and everyone is expected to use face coverings that cover their nose and mouth when in public spaces. This is not an either/or matter. When you are in public spaces on campus, wear a face mask and maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others.

Keeping 6 feet away from others is often called "social distancing." We think that term has unhealthy connotations. A university campus - especially at a time like this - should be a place where we provide each other with close social support. We can maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet and still be socially close - even if it must be online at times. So we will use the term "physical distancing."

Of course, there will be situations where students will not be able to be 6 feet apart, such as athletic competitions or some lab settings. Please be cautious, wear masks when possible, and minimize such instances.

The university will issue a cloth face mask to all students, faculty, and staff and ask that they take responsibility to properly clean and maintain it. Also, disposable masks will be available at the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, Beeghly Library, Slocum Hall, Merrick Hall, Schimmel/Conrades Science Center, and Smith Residence Hall front desk for those who need a temporary one.

Students who share a residence hall bedroom will be regarded as a “family unit” per public health guidelines and are not expected to wear face coverings or maintain 6 feet of distance from each other when together, but should wear face coverings and be 6 feet apart from all others.

Signage will be placed on the exterior doors and in various locations within all public buildings reminding individuals of campus-wide safety guidelines.

Other steps to facilitate physical distancing include removing furniture and desks in common areas and classrooms, taping them off, or marking them with “do not sit” signs.

In addition, plexiglass barriers are being installed at cashier stations in the dining hall, bookstore, and other student service areas where transactions occur as well as between student workspaces in science labs.

Both our academic and administrative departments have submitted plans to the Safe Campus Opening Task Force to identify what barriers and dividers are needed in every space in their areas.

See University-Wide Expectations.

If You're Not Feeling Well ...

To protect the safety of everyone in our campus community, please do not attend class if you feel ill or if you’ve been exposed to the virus. Faculty will have course plans for fall that include alternate learning activities for students who are not able to attend class. In some cases, students who are unable to be in the classroom may be able to participate via remote connections, in others they may view recordings of class activities, and in others they may be given alternate assignments.

Fall Semester Classes

Classes will be different this semester. Some will be largely in-person, some will be online, and some will be hybrid classes, combining in-person and online.

Please know that all classes will have some online components this semester, at least during the last two weeks of the semester. Most classes will have a hybrid structure with many traditional in-class elements available for remote viewing (such as videos of lectures), while face-to-face activities will focus on helping students deepen their understanding of course concepts. Other courses will be fully online, and these will include opportunities for students to interact with the instructor and with each other. Students may enroll in online courses, hybrid courses, or a mix of both.

Classroom Cleaning

ABM (OWU's cleaning services provider) will disinfect all tabletops and horizontal surfaces in classrooms at least once each day. ABM will disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as light switches and door handles, three times a day. Once per week, ABM will do complete electrostatic spraying of all classrooms.

ABM will provide large canisters of disinfecting wipes in the classrooms and department offices for students and faculty to wipe their own workspace (student desk or instructor lectern). These canisters hold 700 wipes.

Residential Living

We are a residential campus, and a vibrant residential environment, where students feel safe and supported and where they are able to share ideas and experiences with a diverse group of fellow students, is vital to the liberal arts experience.

Especially at the time of a pandemic, it is very important that everyone living on campus feels safe - and that we all take responsibility to make sure we are protecting and supporting each other. OWU is implementing extra cleaning and healthy practices, and we ask every campus resident to follow the new requirements and to act with consideration and kindness. We're all in this together.

OWU is implementing the following policies, protocols, and practices in residential spaces.

  • Oxivir disinfectant wipes will be available at a station in each lounge to encourage students to wipe down surfaces before and after use.
  • The maximum capacity will be posted in each lounge to enable a least 6 feet of distance between occupants.
  • Outlines of lounge furniture will be taped onto floors to ensure furniture is reset during each cleaning in adherence of the 6-foot distance requirement.
  • Water fountains will be turned off, but Hydration Stations (water-bottling fillers) will remain available and will be sanitized three times a day.
  • Signs will be posted in common bathrooms to discourage students from leaving personal items in bathrooms, such as toiletries and caddies.
  • Bulletin boards will be used to continuously educate residents about COVID-19 matters and safety protocols. Additionally, building guidelines will be posted at each entrance, and COVID-19 info sheets will be placed on the backs of all room doors.
  • All hall programs will be kept to a maximum of 10 participants unless exceptions are granted by the Director of Residential Life. All participants must wear masks and remain 6 feet apart.
  • Students who share a bedroom together do not have to wear face coverings or remain 6 feet apart when in each other’s presence. However, they are expected to adhere to these protocols when in the presence of non-roommates.
  • Uniformed ABM custodial staff will disinfect public restrooms twice a day, once in the early morning and again later in the day. This will include disinfecting restroom door hardware, counters, dispensers, toilets, urinals, and showers. ABM staff also will ensure that Oxivir wipes are available in these restrooms. Students who have private or semi-private restrooms will continue to be responsible for cleaning their own restrooms.
  • All buildings also will be disinfected through the use of electrostatic spraying once a week.

Dining Safety

Smith Dining Hall will be closed until the end of September due to construction. To help everyone maintain proper physical distance while dining, OWU will expand Ham-Wil dining into some of the Benes Rooms. OWU also will set up additional tables and chairs at other dining venues across campus, and students can eat outside at tables set up on the HWCC and Merrick patios or lawn.

Benes A, B, and C will be on permanent reserve for dining service and seating. Limited availability of Benes B and C may be available for other purposes, and individuals should check with Melanie Kalb, 740-368-3377, for more information.

To reduce excessive card-handling, students will use contactless scanners at all registers, powered by the GET app. Students must download this app onto their phones and have phones ready to scan upon entering dining facilities.

Credit card readers will be positioned so only the guest will touch the card and the reader itself. AVI will clean these machines between uses. AVI is not accepting cash this school year on campus - credit cards or campus dining options only.

Plexiglass shields will be in place at all registers on campus. Sneeze guards will be tilted in all locations to optimize protection for guests and AVI team members. Floor markers will be in place to remind guests to stay 6 feet apart, as well as to highlight one-way traffic flow.

AVI will be serving everything in a carryout fashion on disposable, biodegradable serviceware, as much as possible. This way, items will be portable and can be taken wherever students would prefer to eat. Students who need a carryout bag for their selections will be provided with one.

The list of the meal's menu selections will be placed in several spots, and ideally, guests will have their selections in mind before they arrive at the station, moving things along quickly and smoothly. AVI team members will fill orders for guests and place the food on the counter in front of them, instead of handing it to them directly.

Seating will be spaced and some new barriers will be added to allow for proper physical distancing.

The HWCC Marketplace will close for one-hour intervals between standard meal times to allow for a full disinfection of the serving and seating areas.

View dining venue hours and additional protocols for each designated dining space.

Air Quality in Campus Buildings

Ohio Wesleyan currently is running our HVAC systems 24/7 to increase indoor air quality. We change the air filters quarterly. We continue to evaluate the number of air changes per hour and the use of outside air in the HVAC systems. In addition, we are investigating the addition of Bipolar Ionization, UV-C lights, and MERV filters in the HVAC systems, but we have not yet determined the appropriate action.

 As for our residence halls, Stuyvesant and Smith (West) have air-conditioning. Welch and Hayes have outside air handlers that allow fresh air to replace air that is exhausted from the building, and this system is running 24/7. Students may open windows in Bashford and Thomson to allow fresh air to enter their rooms.

Every campus building is a unique situation. Also in response, we are working to move classes out of classrooms that have limited airflow and are investigating the use of outdoor tents to gain additional classroom space.

Public Spaces on Campus

The university is determining the maximum capacity in academic classrooms, meeting rooms, lounges, dining venues, Beeghly Library, Slocum Hall Reading Room, and other public spaces that will allow for 6 feet of distance between occupants. Classroom assignments will be made in accordance with this guideline. Course enrollments and schedules will be adjusted, if necessary, to ensure adherence to the guideline.

Floor markers indicating 6 feet of distance will be placed in locations where individuals stand in line for service or access. Where appropriate, doorways will be marked as entrance or exit only to encourage one-way foot traffic. Individuals will be encouraged to meet virtually rather than in person for both group and one-on-one meetings whenever possible. Individuals also will be encouraged to use their own pens or pencils at service counters.

OWU also will be placing a large canopy on the lawn outside the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center for additional dining seating. When not in use for dining seating, this space can serve as a meeting space for classes or clubs.

All public spaces and restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected frequently and regularly.

Limits on Campus Events and Group Sizes

In general, large campus events should not occur this fall. Attempts should be made to hold smaller-scale events, break up large events into smaller gatherings, or hold some portions virtually. Group sizes are limited to a maximum of 50 people (exceptions may be granted by a VP or the President, with specific safety measures in place). All individuals attending campus events must wear a facial covering and maintain a 6-foot distance from each other.

Travel Limitations

The university has prohibited university-sponsored international travel for all faculty, staff, and students for the fall 2020 semester. Domestic travel should occur only when necessary. All members of the community are encouraged to carefully monitor available public health information to determine the level of risk of contracting coronavirus during travels.

In the spirit that we are all in this together, students are urged to remain on campus throughout the semester. This is not the year to make weekend trips home or take other road trips. Normally, Columbus can be a great destination for internships and entertainment. However, Franklin County has experienced the most COVID-19 cases in Ohio, and students should avoid trips into the city.

Campus Employment

Ohio Wesleyan will continue to offer on-campus jobs for students this year. Some positions may be completed remotely. Look for updates from the Student Employment Office via email and the OWU Daily electronic newsletter.

Campus Transportation

Individuals riding in vehicles used for university-related travel should wear face coverings when in transit, and if possible, sit at least one seat apart from other riders. A record of which individuals shared a vehicle should be kept in case contact tracing is required, and should a rider develop a confirmed case of COVID-19, all riders in that vehicle must be quarantined and are subject to being tested for the virus. Surfaces in all university vehicles should be cleaned with disinfectant after each use.

One university van will be specially prepared to transport a student who is symptomatic of the virus to a testing location, if necessary. This vehicle will have a plastic barrier installed between the driver and the passenger seating area, and a symptomatic passenger should occupy the seat farthest away from the driver. Both the driver and the passenger must wear a face covering.