February 28, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

I’m looking forward to seeing lots of smiles on campus over the next several weeks. 

Effective immediately, Ohio Wesleyan is ending the University requirement that facial coverings be worn throughout the academic campus. However, please note that individual faculty members will set the policy for facial coverings in their classrooms.

See the video announcement.

This decision follows the guidance of the national Centers for Disease Control and includes consultation with the Delaware Public Health District.

With the change in our mask requirement, we also are modifying our guidance for indoor events. Effective immediately, we are lifting our 100-person limit on indoor gatherings, such as lectures and Performing Arts events. Food also may be served at indoor events without COVID-related restrictions.

Despite these changes, please note that we understand individuals and families may have special concerns, and, therefore, strongly support anyone’s decision to wear a mask at any time.

As shared this weekend, we are pleased that Ohio Wesleyan’s infection rate has been low this semester, and we look forward to seeing that continue. As always, if you are feeling unwell, please monitor your health closely and take the steps needed to care for yourself and protect others. Students should seek assistance from the Student Health Center or Virtual Care Group telehealth system, and contact covid19@owu.edu if they test positive for the coronavirus.

As many of you prepare to travel for spring break, it’s especially important to be cognizant of your surroundings and your health. Together, we will conclude the semester in-person on a healthy, happy note that includes the President’s Ball, Day on the JAY, Commencement, and, of course, lots of smiles. Thank you, Bishops!

Rock


February 8, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

When we began the spring semester, the COVID-19 Omicron variant was raging across the country, including within our local community. In support of our campus safety goals, we continued to require that members of our campus community be vaccinated and receive a booster shot when eligible. We also required students to be tested upon return to campus, conducted a small number of weekly surveillance tests among randomly selected students, and instituted a number of restrictions to help inhibit viral spread.

These efforts and your cooperation as a campus community have helped tremendously. While we have had some positive test results among a couple of campus groups, that spread appears to have been contained, and positivity has been very low among our randomly selected tests. Additionally, positive case counts in many parts of the country are sharply declining, and our own Delaware County has seen a 56% drop in positive cases in the past week.

While the pandemic is not over, we believe it is time to pull back some of the restrictions put in place at the start of this semester when case numbers were rising sharply. Starting today, the following restrictions are being lifted or updated:

  • The limit on indoor group sizes is being raised from 50 people to 100 people. All individuals must continue to wear a mask while around others indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. Exceptions to this limit must be approved by a Vice President/Provost after safety considerations are reviewed.
  • Food and drink can once again be served at indoor campus events. Individuals can remove their mask while actively eating or drinking indoors, but must put their mask back on immediately afterward. Simply sitting at a table where food/drink are present or holding a plate or cup does not constitute “active” eating or drinking.
  • Mask wearing in common spaces within the residential community is encouraged but not required. Masks must continue to be worn at all times in all other public spaces throughout campus, including classrooms, libraries, and HWCC.
  • Randomly selected testing is being paused. We will continue to test individuals who are not up-to-date with their COVID vaccination, athletes who need to test in compliance with NCAA requirements, and students who have special circumstances. Symptomatic students should still be tested in the Student Health Center on Tuesday through Thursday each week and should contact covid19@owu.edu to report their symptoms.

While we are relaxing some of these extra measures, we ask for continued diligence in complying with remaining COVID safety protocols. Doing so will help protect the safety of our campus community and the ability for you and other students to enjoy the benefits of in-person learning and campus living. As always, we will continue to monitor the situation for the health of our community and adjust accordingly if needed.


December 29, 2021

Dear OWU Campus Community,

I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season, staying healthy, and refreshing yourselves for the new semester ahead.

In the fall, the safety precautions and practices we followed enabled us to enjoy a complete, in-person university experience, with classroom interaction, artistic events, formal and informal social gatherings, and a full athletic season, including NCAA tournament appearances.

With cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant on the rise, Ohio Wesleyan is implementing the spring campus safety plan outlined below. We will open the campus in-person and as scheduled for the semester.

COVID-19 Booster Requirement

Our vaccination rates were the primary reason for the limited number of COVID-19 cases on campus this past term. During fall semester, only 2% of OWU’s vaccinated students tested positive for COVID, while 28% of students who had an exemption from the vaccination requirement tested positive at some point. Now, the emergence of Omicron has led to uncontained outbreaks at other higher education institutions, including those with vaccination requirements.

With the rise in Omicron-related breakthrough cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on December 9 updated its recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, with a preference for people to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna). Guidance from the CDC recommends that “everyone ages 16 and older can get a booster shot” as an important additional layer of protection against the Omicron variant.

Ohio Wesleyan is requiring all students and employees who are eligible for a COVID-19 booster to receive their booster shot by January 14 or as soon as they reach eligibility. If you are eligible to receive a booster, please schedule it before traveling to OWU. We need to take every precaution to keep our campus community safe.

Also, please remember that we have scheduled an on-campus booster clinic with Delaware Public Health for January 14, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Again, however, we urge everyone to receive the booster vaccination before returning to campus. Please go to this site and use the code flucovid2021 to register for a booster shot appointment. You will receive a confirmation email once your form is processed.

The CDC indicates that individuals ages 16 and older are eligible for a booster dose 5 months after completing a Pfizer series, 6 months after completing a Moderna series, 2 months after receiving a Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, or at least 6 months after completing a WHO-approved vaccine such as Sinopharm, Sinovac, or AstraZeneca. To determine when you are eligible, check your vaccination card or document to find the date of your final dose of the initial vaccine series.

When students receive their booster, they must update their COVID-19 vaccination records and upload their vaccination cards at this site. All students who update their records with the date of their booster shot by January 14 – or within one week of their earliest date of eligibility – will receive a $10 voucher for use in one of our on-campus dining venues.

OWU employees must update their COVID-19 vaccination records showing their booster dosage and upload their vaccination cards into ADP by January 14 or within one week of their earliest date of eligibility.

Procedure for Arriving on Campus

  • Upon arrival – before going to any residential building – all students must check-in at Hamilton-Williams Campus Center. Building access and meal plans for residential students will not be activated until the check-in process is completed on arrival. Students will receive an email next week from the Residential Life Office providing further instructions regarding check-in, along with a link to sign up for a check-in date and time. Commuter students will also need to follow this check-in process to ensure all students are tested as they start the semester.
  • All students, regardless of vaccination status, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test (antigen or PCR) taken within 48 hours prior to arrival or be tested upon arrival. Providing proof of a prior negative test result will speed-up the check-in process and provide you with the opportunity to isolate in a more comfortable environment at home should you receive a positive test result.
    1. If you take a test at home, you must provide a copy of the test result with your name on it, or a photo of your at-home result with your photo ID included in the photo, when you arrive at the HWCC check-in table.
    2. If you take a test upon arrival at campus, please note that your OWU account will be assessed a $100 testing fee. You will be able to immediately apply to be reimbursed for the complete fee.
  • Students who are symptomatic should not return to the university until they are symptom-free and have received a negative viral test within 48 hours of arrival.
  • Students who test positive upon arrival must return home to isolate if they live within a 3-hour drive of campus. Students who live farther away will be able to isolate on campus, if necessary.
  • Students who are currently in isolation/quarantine at home are not allowed to return until they have passed the CDC-recommended isolation and quarantine period and until cleared to do so by the university.

COVID Testing on Campus

  • We will continue weekly PCR testing of all unvaccinated students and employees (those who were previously granted exemptions from the vaccination).
  • During at least the first three weeks of the semester, a random sample of vaccinated students who have not yet received a booster also will be tested.
  • We will continue testing student-athletes, following NCAA guidelines.
  • We request that all employees perform at-home COVID tests if they are exposed to large crowds or other high-risk situations during the upcoming semester.

Additional Campus Safety Protocols

  • As we begin the new semester, we will continue to require masking in all non-residential public spaces, including academic buildings and classrooms, administrative spaces other than private offices, and athletic facilities.
  • For at least the first two weeks of the semester, masking also will be required in public spaces of residential buildings, including lobby areas, study rooms, and dining facilities. Students also must wear masks when visiting in other students’ rooms. Students do not need to wear masks when in their own rooms with their own roommates. After two weeks, we will reexamine this practice. I know this is an additional sacrifice, but the very high transmission rates we have seen with the Omicron variant require additional measures to keep our campus community as safe and healthy as we were in the fall.
  • Events must remain under 50 people in size unless an exception is provided by the president, provost, or a vice president. Any department or organization holding an indoor group event larger than 50 people must provide a written plan for how they will enforce the mask mandate.
  • Any department or organization coordinating a travel event must provide a written plan for how they will manage the safety concerns of anyone who becomes symptomatic while on the trip and how they will safely get the group home to minimize the risk of transmission. The plan must be approved by the provost or vice president who oversees that department. For student organizations, the plan must be submitted to the Student Involvement Office for approval by the dean of students’ office.
  • For athletic competitions, all guests will be required to wear masks, and family groups will be required to socially distance from each other.
  • Students planning to travel or study away this semester, such as at the New York Arts Program, should follow updates on the International and Off-Campus Programs website or contact Darrell Albon, Director of International and Off-Campus Programs.

Our campus community truly came through in the fall, and though some events had to be canceled or postponed, our on-campus life was fulfilling and fun, with robust classroom experiences, artistic performances, athletic seasons, and more. With Omicron, we will have new challenges, and depending upon the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community and on our campus, we may need to pivot during the semester. However, I believe we can come together with respect and concern to have a spring semester that is safe, healthy, robust, and fulfilling for all students.

I look forward to seeing everyone back on campus in January.