August 19, 2021 Updated COVID-19 Protocols
What a thrill it was to welcome our incoming Class of 2025 – The PEACEMAKERS – to Ohio Christian University this past weekend. And how equally exciting it was for ALL OF US to gather as a community for our opening Chapel – on the first day of in-person classes for the Fall Semester – this Wednesday.
It all felt so, well, “normal”. Which, of course, means that it felt weird. But hopefully, as we remain diligent, and God’s grace is extended – we can be weirdly normal all semester!
Of course, I am speaking of the impact that the COVID-19 virus – and all its cousins – have had, and are still having, on colleges across the nation.
At Ohio Christian University, we have made the decision, for now, to be “mask-optional” and “vaccine-optional” as we enter this semester. This decision is made for a few reasons:
- There is no FDA approved vaccine as of today. The current vaccines are going through final testing and approval processes – but all the vaccines being implemented right now are not yet, FDA approved. Therefore, it seemed unwise to mandate a vaccine that was not officially approved by the FDA.
- Having said that, anyone feeling led to get a vaccine – is strongly encouraged to do so. We are not “anti-vax”, any more than we are “anti-mask”. What we oppose at this time, is requiring all employees and students to get the vaccine. We oppose dividing our community into the “vaxxed” and the “unvaxxed” – with tracing, tracking and subsequent punishments attached to the “unvaxxed” portion of our community. If you wish to wear a mask, you are strongly encouraged to do so. Likewise, if you feel the vaccine is effective, and you wish to get a vaccine, again, I strongly encourage you to do so.
What we want to resist, is becoming like Quinnipiac University in CT, (there are more) who not only fine students who are unvaccinated, but also punish them by blocking all their internet access while on campus – effectively preventing them from doing online research for the face-to-face classes, as well as effectively blocking them from online classes/discussions/posts while on campus.
However, we also want to be wise, as to our ability to assist those who may contract the COVID-19 virus, or a related variant. To that end:
- We will be implementing a “seating chart” for all classes and Chapel for this semester. This can be modified every few weeks per the instructor. This is not social distancing under a different name. We are not social distancing. Rather, we are having a required seating arrangement – so that if a student were to contract the COVID-19 virus, we would know who that student sat by in each class or chapel.
- We will be sanitizing the Chapel – after each gathering on M and W – to facilitate the elimination of any possible contamination. We will also do this after each use by any outside group(s) that uses a room or facility.
- We have prepared a clean and sanitized empty small residence hall on campus, to assist with the quarantine needs of any qualified student who contracts the COVID-19 virus.
Finally, when it comes to issues of moral authority, there are times when Christians, and Christian universities, must ignore government officials. For example, hiring individuals whose lifestyles are clearly in violation of any basic reading of Scripture, or supporting abortive procedures or supplying abortifacient drugs through our healthcare plan. In regard to these kinds of issues, we will not comply. Sometimes you must disobey “a” king, to be obedient to THE KING.
But let me be clear, I do not see masks and vaccines in this light. This, is not that. So, should the State of Ohio, or the Federal Government, begin to pass legislation mandating an FDA approved vaccine for employment or matriculation, we will revisit the above protocols, and may make new decisions in the light of those mandates.
We have lived with this virus, and the social implications for 18 months now.
You have been strong.
You are here pursuing your dreams and goals.
It is our desire, and pledge, to do all we can, to make sure that can still happen this academic year!
Jon S. Kulaga, Ph.D.
P.S. To keep yourself and your family up to date on any changes in our University protocols, please visit our website at www.ohiochristian.edu/emergency/coronavirus . Also, remember to monitor your own health on a daily basis. To help you with that please see the guidelines at the above website labeled “All Together as Trailblazers”.
June 2, 2021 Guidelines
With both the CDC and the State of Ohio relaxing, and in some cases cancelling, all health orders surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, we are putting the following guidelines in place effective June 2, 2021.
Effective June 2, 2021 removal of all health orders regarding fully vaccinated people. Ohio will comply with CDC guidelines. We will not be asking for Vaccination Cards from anyone.
Moving forward, we will still do a few things for camps and dorm use:
- We will have temperature tripods for athletics and in the dorms for people to use if needed
- We will not require students to be vaccinated to return to school
- There will not be seating restrictions placed for outside groups in the MPAC, but we will still encourage social distancing, as everyone attending may not be fully vaccinated. Signs will be made and posted at entry points of protocol.
- Athletic team guests and parents will be allowed to attend inside sporting events
- It is up to each individual coach if they want to continue wearing a mask
- Public areas will continue to be sanitized during the summer as will dorms for those attending camps.
- Hand sanitizer stations will remain in place
Expanding Services to Students
December 16, 2020 • Ohio Christian University has partnered with TimelyMD to expand practical medical access and necessary emotional care for our students during this pandemic. This effort is in addition to the ongoing strategies and policies outlined below that Ohio Christian University has implemented to foster an environment conducive to health and learning.
TimelyMD's medical providers use risk assessments based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. A student's symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath can be assessed during a telehealth visit, whether by phone or video.
Providers ask about any recent travel or contact with people who have been traveling or who have the infection. And while a diagnosis of COVID-19 cannot be confirmed virtually, a student's risk for the condition can be evaluated while answering questions and recommending next steps.
TimelyMD medical providers help coordinate referrals for in-person care based on the college or university's specific protocols, if it is necessary. If a student is suspected of having been infected by the new coronavirus (COVID-19), he or she will receive an outline for immediate treatment steps from the provider, as well as a referral for in-person care.
In addition to the need for physical care, TimelyMD addresses the student's need for mental health. The anxiety and stress that comes from the constant news and notifications about the spread of the disease takes a toll on students, who may be traveling, have a family member at risk of infection, or may be worried about returning to school. TimelyMD's mental health services, including their on-demand TalkNow and Scheduled Counseling, are ready to help students who may be in distress anytime, anywhere.
TimelyMD has a Library of Resources geared toward students' emotional, mental and practical needs.
FOR OUR COMMUNITY
To ensure the health and safety of the Ohio Christian community, our Emergency Response Team is actively monitoring the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) around the globe and here at home. We have created this center to keep our students, staff, faculty, and friends up to date on Ohio Christian University's response and safety measures.
Beyond public health considerations, we are concerned about the well-being of students affected by the impact of the outbreak. As part of our on-going Emergency Preparedness planning, we continue to monitor multiple communications from various sources to make sure we are up to date on the virus and its possible impact here in Ohio.
COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS FAQsOHIO CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY – AUGUST 2020
WHAT THE COMMUNITY SHOULD KNOW
Is campus open?
Campus is only open to the public for a specific event or meeting. Athletic events will be allowed to have spectators so long as they abide by the restrictions listed below in the athletic questions section.
Can I go to the cafeteria or to a chapel service?
To best keep our student population safe our campus cafeteria is NOT open to the general public, nor are our chapel services.
STUDENT ILLNESS OR POTENTIAL CONTACT
If a student is showing any signs of an illness (whether they believe it to be COVID-19, or not) they should:
Contact their RD if they live on campus or reach out the Student Development office at 740-477-7702 if they will be commuting to campus that day.
They will be asked several questions, and if there is a concern, they will be asked to get tested for COVID-19. Symptoms like fever warrant a self-quarantine to see if the symptom persists. If the fever remains the following day, they will be asked to get tested.
What is a residential student supposed to do if they come in contact with someone that has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has been placed in isolation for COVID-19?
If the residential student is able to go home to self-quarantine, they will be asked to do so. If they are unable to self-quarantine at home, reach out to student development. Class instruction will be made available online as to ensure no students fall behind in their education.
How are we taking precautions in classrooms?
- Faculty have taken on the responsibility of sanitizing and cleaning student areas in classrooms after each class.
- Students will be social distancing at seats in classrooms that will be clearly marked.
- Class sizes that are too large to accommodate in our large classrooms will have hybrid accommodations.
- All students will be required to leave classroom before the next class enters
What are we asking student to do?
Students are to abide by the ALL-TOGETHER AS TRAILBLAZERS and encourage them to stay on campus as much as possible. However, should they choose to leave, we also ask that they recognize it is their responsibility to keep themselves and the Ohio Christian community safe.
What does wearing a mask look like on campus?
Students, faculty, and staff will be expected to wear masks while on campus. During the semester, once students are seated, they may remove their masks and as long as faculty maintain a 6-foot distance, they may remove their masks to aid in lecturing, leading discussion, and answering questions.
What are the precautions taken for other public areas?
- Social distancing in all common areas and lines are marked for the cafeteria, coffee shop, etc…
- Over 42 hand sanitizing stations have been installed campus wide, including dorm common areas
- There are new designated entrances and exits for all buildings and classrooms
- Staff, faculty, and students will check their temperature daily before entering any Ohio Christian University building. If your temperature is 100.0 degrees or higher please reach out to your appropriate contact.
What will Chapel look like with COVID-19 precautions?
- Social distancing measures will be implemented and there will be overflow areas available
- All doors to the auditorium prior to chapel will function as entrances, and after the service all doors will be exits as to limit crowding
- We are asking that all audience members not sing out loud as to not increase the spread of germs
- Faculty, staff, and community members are asked not to attend chapel. Staff and Faculty will be able to watch online at myocu.com/live
How is the cafeteria taking precautions?
- Just like the rest of campus, masks are to be worn until seated at a safe social distance.
- The seating capacity of the cafeteria has been reduced to ensure social distancing compliance.
- We are also asking that no community members dine in the cafeteria to best protect our students.
What does the university semester schedule look like?
- Onsite class activities for the Circleville campus will cease starting at 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 24, and all courses will finish the final two weeks of the semester online after Thanksgiving break
- Students will return to the Circleville campus for the start of the Spring 2021 semester
- Pumpkin Show days are still awarded
HOW ARE ATHLETES STAYING SAFE?
How are athletes taking precautions?
- The temperatures will be taken of all student-athletes before they get on a bus to travel for any game/match.
- There are student-athlete temperature parameters specific to the RSC and NAIA that will be adhered.
- Once the bus has arrived on location, all student-athletes will, again, be subject to a fever check administered by a healthcare professional
- In addition, all fall sports will be completed before Thanksgiving
Will athletes be required to take the COVID-19 test?
Ohio Christian University seeks to comply with the most up-to-date information regarding the issue of COVID-19 testing for our fall student-athletes. At this time testing is not mandatory to play as it is not a requirement of our governing bodies. As things change, Ohio Christian University will respond accordingly.
What should spectators and parents know before coming on campus?
- All spectators attending games must wear a mask at all times and six-feet social distancing must be maintained between household groups
- Inside seating capacity is limited to 15% of normal capacity
WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS A SPIKE IN POSITIVE COVID-19 CASES?
Last year we were all thrown into a situation, thankfully, we were ready and adjusted with a smooth transition into online learning. Moving forward, we have made certain that all faculty will be prepared to move to online instruction, should the university need to go fully remote to best focus on the safety of all students, staff, and faculty.
Please reach out to the specific department that you have a question for:
Ohio Department of Health Call Center 1-833-4-ASK-ODH
WHAT IS THE CORONAVIRUS
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear between 2 to 14 days after exposure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends contacting your professional health care provider if you are experiencing symptoms, have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case or have traveled to a destination with higher numbers of confirmed cases.
Take Steps to Protect Yourself
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people
Take Steps to Protect Others
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow
- Throw used tissues in the trash
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Wear a facemask if you are sick
Clean and Disinfect
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.