May 2021 updates to COVID-19 safety guidelines

University Community — May 17, 2021

Updates to COVID-19 safety guidelines

Based on the changes to federal and state health guidance, Ohio State will be making the following adjustments to our Safe and Healthy requirements:

  • Outdoor masking: Effective immediately, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask outdoors on Ohio State campuses. The university continues to strongly recommend that unvaccinated people wear masks when they cannot maintain safe distancing. Note that individuals are fully vaccinated 14 days after their final dose of vaccine.
  • Indoor masking: Masks are still required indoors, with an exception for cases where individuals are working alone in their own office (not a shared work space). We will continue to closely monitor conditions and hope to lift the indoor mask requirement in the fall if the vaccination rate among the university community is sufficiently high.

These changes are consistent with our approach throughout the pandemic to rely on science and the guidance of national, state, local and our own university public health and medical experts to determine safeguards for our community — given the residential  nature of our university and the fact that many of our students live in congregate settings.

Vaccination updates

We continue to focus on achieving a high vaccination rate as we assess other opportunities to adjust protocols for fall, and the university is doing all we can to promote vaccination for all eligible students, faculty and staff. 

On Wednesday, May 19, we are opening a vaccination location at the Jesse Owens North Recreation Center, which will also continue to serve as our student testing location. This vaccination location will be open to all Ohio State students, faculty and staff. More information will be shared in the coming days through the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website and other channels.

Data about our vaccination rates will be key to this effort, so we began asking students to voluntarily share their vaccination information last week. This will enable more fine-tuned modeling for the fall and allows us to reduce testing and quarantine requirements for vaccinated students.

Starting May 31, vaccinated students will test monthly or less while we retain weekly testing for unvaccinated students or those who have not reported their vaccination status. Vaccination reduces the risk of serious illness or death, so reduced testing is appropriate for vaccinated students.

Student testing protocols

We will continue to evaluate other protocols — including those for classroom settings — as we plan for fall. We will continue to strongly encourage everyone to be vaccinated while understanding that some members of our community will be unable to do so because of health conditions or other reasons.

Please respect the privacy of all members of our community.  While general efforts to encourage vaccination are appropriate and helpful, we should not be asking individuals to publicly declare their health status. 

We will continue to share details as our planning evolves. Please continue to use the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes reactivation page — including the FAQs — as your central source for our current guidance.