BGSU message regarding updates to the University's plans, guidelines for fall semester
August 6, 2021
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - Bowling Green State University shared the following message today with students, faculty and staff regarding updates to the University's plans and guidelines for fall semester:
"As we continue to prepare for the upcoming academic year, we want to provide you with an update regarding our COVID-19 planning. Since the beginning of this global pandemic, we have worked to remain flexible and adaptable. This certainly demanded much of us, not just from our students, their parents and families, and our faculty and staff members, but as a community.
This virus is our common enemy. We believe we must try to be united in fighting this virus and that we will be best served if we come together, be thoughtful and considerate of others, while finding a balance to move forward.
To fight this virus, we continue to work with the Wood County Health Department (WCHD) and the Erie County Health Department (ECHD) and have appreciated their leadership and guidance in navigating COVID-19. Despite our efforts right here in northwest Ohio and across the globe, the Delta variant is now prominent, which is leading to significant spread of this virus. It is clear that if you are unvaccinated, the possibility of contracting COVID-19 is considerable, given the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant. While it is your decision to get vaccinated, the vast majority of transmission, severe illness, hospitalization and death is among unvaccinated individuals.
Cases in Wood County increased quickly the past few weeks from 2 to 54 per 100,000 residents. As announced by the Wood County Health Department yesterday evening, the county has moved to the substantial transmission category – the threshold the WCHD uses to recommend face coverings for all individuals when indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Yesterday evening, Chief Health Officer Ben Batey shared that effective immediately, BGSU will require face coverings for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor public settings on our campuses. As cases fall below the 50 per 100,000 threshold for substantial transmission, we would expect the WCHD guidance to be rescinded and we would follow accordingly.
We have learned so much since March 9, 2020, when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a state of emergency to address this global pandemic. We anticipate that with increasing vaccination rates and this initial measure of using face masks we will mitigate the growing spike in cases and ensure our ability to remain fully in-person and to change the requirement of face coverings. Under much more challenging circumstances last year, we were able to navigate this pandemic because our students, faculty and staff really stepped up. Our students wanted an in-person experience, and together, we found a way forward. We can do it again if we stay united in our fight against this virus.
With the fall semester nearly three weeks away, we continue to face the impact of the COVID-19 virus, but as we have done before, we will meet this global pandemic head-on, always prioritizing the health and safety of our community. As of today, here is what you can expect from us:
- To date, all COVID-19 vaccinations that have received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration are highly effective, even among the known variants. We will continue to strongly encourage our students, faculty and staff members to get vaccinated. We launched #VaxBGSU, an incentive program to voluntarily submit proof of vaccination. Students may submit now and be entered to win prizes, including a chance to win a full-tuition award up to four years for one degree. Next week, our faculty and staff will receive details to submit their vaccinations.
- COVID-19 vaccines will be widely and easily available at no cost this fall, including during move-in weekend. If you have not already, now is the time to get vaccinated. BGSU and the WCHD will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Aug. 26 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. We will also work with our Firelands campus partners to facilitate vaccinations. As a reminder, vaccines are also available daily at the Falcon Health Center throughout the fall. If you need help finding a COVID-19 vaccine, email email@example.com.
- Throughout the pandemic, we have closely partnered with our local health departments. Yesterday, we required face coverings in indoor public spaces such as classrooms because the WCHD data shows many individuals who are not vaccinated and rapid increases in community spread. Face coverings help protect all of us, but particularly those unvaccinated individuals on our campuses. We will constantly evaluate how long this measure must remain in place this fall.
- As we did last academic year, effective and reliable COVID-19 testing will be widely available to our community. This will include regular on-campus testing opportunities as well as at-home testing kits distributed to on-campus residential students upon check-in. Those students living in residence halls who have not submitted proof of vaccination in Med+Proctor will be screened upon their move-in. This will include a temperature check, health interview and possible rapid testing.
- Wood and Erie County health departments will again oversee contact tracing, isolation and quarantine of individuals exposed or testing positive. BGSU will continue to work with WCHD and ECHD to monitor cases and update a public dashboard. We will follow the WCHD and ECHD guidance on groups who may require testing. If you are unvaccinated, you may be subject to health department quarantine protocols.
We believe with this temporary measure of face coverings and by increasing our vaccination rate, we can experience a great academic year together. Early next week, BGSU will share updated FAQs with our community. To be clear, these protocols will allow us to continue our plans for events and gatherings without physical distance.
- We plan to be at full capacity in the fall. We will hold indoor and outdoor events, including commencement, Fall Weeks of Welcome, as well as sporting and arts events.
- Course delivery modes will remain unchanged. Students enrolled in in-person or remote classes will continue as planned.
- Occupancy plans for on-campus residential students will continue as planned. Unlike last year’s large number of single rooms, the majority of our students are living in double rooms this fall. Gatherings and activities in residence halls will continue, following the indoor public space face covering requirements.
We had anticipated higher statewide and national vaccination rates to avoid face coverings and other COVID-19 safety measures. However, our students, faculty and staff members can help to change this local course by getting vaccinated if you are able. Together, with the support of the Wood and Erie County health departments, BGSU will continue to remain flexible and adaptable with the goal of ensuring our community has a successful academic year ahead."
Updated: 08/06/2021 03:02PM