The spring semester of 2022 is in full swing and BGSU students, staff and faculty are back in the classroom with flexibility in mind and many of the same protocols in place.
BGSU’s Chief Health Officer Ben Batey explains that the campus’ flexibility is going to keep students in class.
“We’re really working to be flexible within our classroom spaces that we may see individual classrooms that may have to flip to remote for a week or two, but allowing that flexibility because we know it’s not a one size fits all approach across campus.”
Face coverings are still required indoors and in public settings on campus, no matter one’s vaccination status. Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear a facial covering indoors and outside. BGSU’s COVID-19 University protocol page reviews the rules and regulations that student, staff and faculty are required to follow.
Across the country and state, other universities have transitioned to a short period of remote learning, but Batey doesn’t think BGSU will reach that point.
There are different deciding factors for a campus to transition to remote learning. According to Batey, some factors include, “availability of isolation space, amount of testing resources and staff availability to assist with contact tracing or following up with students who may have to isolate or quarantine.”
Similar to the fall semester of 2021, it is up to the deans of each academic college to create plans of action for any temporary accommodations.
“I don’t think you’ll see a scenario where the entire campus will go online,” Batey said. “With this flexibility, it is truly the capacity of faculty to make decisions based on what they’re seeing in their individual classrooms.”
Provost Whitehead sent an email to the student body on Jan. 6 regarding the upcoming semester, also addressing some of these potential accommodations as, “recording and posting in Canvas of in-person lectures, a short-term change in course delivery mode, live streaming lectures or presentations and office hours over Zoom.”
This semester, the biggest change thus far in COVID-19 protocols has been the reduction of days to isolate or quarantine. Batey said this change aligns with the CDC guidelines, and that it can be a beneficial change.
“I think the biggest change is the CDC update on the isolation period and quarantine period going down to five days from 10 days, what it was during the fall semester, and so that’ll be the biggest shift for faculty, staff and students on campus this semester.”
Batey believes the long isolation period was the trickiest thing for staff, faculty and students in particular.
“Those isolations and quarantine most likely led to mental health impacts on students, so now the reduction to a five-day isolation period, I think it will be a huge benefit, especially for a lot of our students,” Batey said. “We can still slow down the spread, but at the same time we can avoid some of those longer-term mental health impacts that come with that quarantine or isolation.”
The requirement for students, staff and faculty to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination has resulted in high vaccination rates, which has helped the campus open again this semester.
“We have a very high vaccination rate across our campus community compared to similar age groups in the community, the widespread mask-wearing drastically helped in slowing down the spread of the virus,” Batey said.
Alongside the continued mask-wearing and classroom flexibility, BGSU is continuing to provide at-home COVID-19 testing, distributed across campus for students to use and on-site testing every Tuesday and Thursday at the Bowen Thompson Student Union.
“So I think (testing), plus our other protocols, like mask-wearing and really working with all of our student population, faculty and staff to make sure that we’re following those protocols,” Batey said. “It’s really helped us keep case numbers at a manageable level so we don’t have to worry about fully going online as a campus.”