Ohio State Announces COVID-19 Testing Plans for Fall Semester

By Dan Hope on July 31, 2020 at 6:35 pm
Ohio State campus

Ohio State's COVID-19 testing plan for fall semester will include both testing of symptomatic and exposed students, faculty and staff and surveillance testing for random samples of asymptomatic undergraduate students.

The university announced its plans for COVID-19 testing on Friday. Testing will begin before fall semester with “a random sample of up to 6,500 undergraduate students.” Students who test positive will be required to quarantine – at their homes if they have not yet moved onto campus, or in on-campus isolation housing if they have.

Testing results from that sample “will be used to establish the baseline prevalence of positive cases on campus” and “compared to results from ongoing student testing that will occur over the course of the semester” to inform future actions Ohio State may need to make to ensure the safety of the university community.

Ohio State says it will cover the costs of asymptomatic testing, which will be conducted in random samples of undergraduate students throughout the semester and will be available to faculty, staff and graduate and professional students on a voluntary basis. The university will also conduct targeted testing if COVID-19 hotspots are identified, and will “share aggregate information with the public in a way that protects individuals’ medical and educational privacy.”

Buckeye football players and other athletes have been tested for COVID-19 since their return to campus in June, but OSU has not yet released any data on how much testing it has conducted or how many athletes have tested positive, citing privacy concerns. 

Ohio State also announced Friday that its online training course and the Together as Buckeyes Pledge, which all students, faculty and staff must complete before the start of the fall semester on Aug. 25, are now online.

The Together as Buckeyes Pledge includes much of the same language that was already included in the Buckeye Pledge athletes were asked to sign in June. All members of the university community are asked to follow the university's guidelines on physical distancing, face masks, hygiene and personal protection, complete a daily health check and to stay home and contact health care providers if they feel sick.

“As a member of the Buckeye community, I know that I must take steps to stay well in order to protect others and promote a safe return to campus for all Buckeyes. Taking steps to minimize the risk of COVID-19 at Ohio State is a shared responsibility,” the Together as Buckeyes Pledge reads in part. “I know that by coming onto campus to engage in work or education-related activities that I may be exposed to COVID-19. I also understand that despite all reasonable efforts by the university, I can still contract COVID-19.

“I understand that COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus and it is possible to develop and contract the COVID-19 disease even if I follow all of the safety recommendations of the university and comply with the Pledge,” the pledge continues. “I understand that even though the university is following the guidelines issued by the CDC and other experts to reduce the spread of infection, a COVID-19 free environment can never be guaranteed. I also acknowledge that this Pledge is a condition of being on any of The Ohio State University campuses. I understand that if I do not honor my pledge, I would be failing to comply with a legitimate university directive and pursuant to university policies, students, faculty, and staff will be subject to the appropriate accountability measures and disciplinary actions.”

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