Today's Update: Monday, September 21

September 21, 2020

Dear Student Life Team, First today, I’d like to remind you that I am setting aside time each week to visit with you via Zoom, no more than ten team members at a time. I mentioned this in last Friday’s update, but in case you missed it, this week’s sessions are:  

  • Wednesday, September 23, 9-9 30 a.m.  

  • Wednesday, September 23, 4-4:30 p.m.  

  • Friday, September 25, 1-1:30 p.m.  

There are still slots available this week. You can sign up at go.osu.edu/slvpmeeting.  

My main topic today is one of the most important tools we have against COVID-19: testing. It not only allows us to identify those who have the virus, including those who do not have symptoms, but it also gives us a snapshot of how widespread it is on campus. 

We’re running a number of different testing programs at Ohio State. As I mentioned in my Update on Friday, we have one of the most multi-faceted testing strategies of any institution in the nation. Our programs are based on recommendations from the Safe Campus and Scientific Advisory Subgroup and guidance from federal, state and local health authorities. 

One component is “surveillance” testing. This is designed to give us insights into what is called the “prevalence rate,” or how many students have the virus. Both those living on and off campus are tested. All students who live in residence halls or other university-managed housing are tested weekly, coupled with regular testing of samples of 8,000 asymptomatic undergraduate students who live off campus. These tests are conducted at Jesse Owens North Rec Center.  

Starting this week, graduate and professional students are now going to be included in the university’s surveillance testing program at Jesse Owens North. 1,500 will be selected each week for this testing.   

There are limited reasons why a student is able to exempt out of this weekly testing (you can read them here: shs.osu.edu/covid-19/covid-19-surveillance-testing-program). If a student does not submit a qualified exemption request or complete their weekly testing, they will be given one week to complete the testing. If they fail to test after the second week, Student Conduct will issue an interim suspension and begin a conduct case. Our goal is to use the conduct process as an educational element to help students understand the importance of participating in the required surveillance program; however, we also use the process to limit campus access for those who refuse to comply. 

You can see the results of the testing on the university’s COVID-19 dashboard: safeandhealthy.osu.edu/dashboard.  

There is also testing for asymptomatic faculty and staff. You volunteer for a COVID-19 test by contacting the university’s COVID Call Center at 614-293-4000 to arrange the scheduling of a test at an Ohio State swabbing station. If you have symptoms, contact your health care provider.  

You can find details of the process and what you should do on the university’s Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website (safeandhealthy.osu.edu/testing).   

Testing, along with contact tracing, are key tools in our Scarlet and Great efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.  

Melissa