Campus Update from President Comerford – November 16, 2020
Dear Colleagues and Students,
The spreading COVID19 pandemic is of great concern to us all. Ohio is breaking records for cases every day and Franklin and surrounding counties have remained at a level 3 public health emergency.
The Protect the Nest team, after consultation with Franklin County Public Health, has reviewed our current policies and recommended changes with the health and safety of our campus community and families in mind. If we implement these changes now, we can protect our students for the next two weeks and, in turn, protect their families when they return home.
The first change is that dining services will move to grab-n-go only starting Tuesday and through the remainder of fall semester. That means all seating areas in our dining facilities will be closed from Nov. 17-25.
Secondly, we are reducing the capacity in our fitness center to what it was at the start of fall semester. Starting Tuesday, the capacity will be 16 people for the fitness area and 20 for the weight room.
Finally, students are encouraged to get tested before returning home. We offered the opportunity to sign-up for voluntary on-campus testing and all spots are now taken. We are working to add additional spots, but due to a regional shortage of healthcare staff we may not be successful. Students should contact their primary care provider or go to https://covid-19.myfcph.org/testing/ for a list of testing locations and pop-up events.
Each of us needs to continue to make good choices. As the public health experts keep telling us, we know what works — wear a mask, wash your hands and socially distance.
Some other things you can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 right now includes choosing to do outdoor activities, considering takeout or delivery options instead of going to a restaurant, staying on campus and limiting your in-person social interactions to your household or “bubble” of friends.
The good news is that our campus community has done a good job with these and other precautions. I have gotten compliments from Westerville residents that they see us wearing our masks. Our case counts have remained low and our asymptomatic testing has revealed no more than 2% positivity at any time. There is no evidence of spread in classroom or office environments. Even the Governor has acknowledged that it is social activities that are the primary cause of the spread.
In other words, while the pandemic spreads around us, we do not have evidence that it has become a larger concern on campus. Of course, that could change, and we are continuing to monitor our testing results.
It is also important that we are just 10 days away from Thanksgiving and the end of in-person classes. I hope and expect we can make it through the remainder of our semester, but things can always change.
Being a residential campus, many of us need to be on-campus to do our jobs effectively. Supervisors continue to have flexibility to allow schedule changes and/or work from home as necessary. We believe our working environments have proven safe so far.
Again, stay vigilant and stay safe. If we have reason to further change campus operations, we will communicate that quickly.
John Comerford, Ph.D.