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Fall 2022 COVID-19 back to school update

August 19, 2022

Cowboy family,


The Pandemic Response Team has been meeting weekly throughout the summer, watching the data and the progression of the COVID-19 variants, including BA.5, the most prevalent strain at this time. 


The team is also gathering data on monkeypox. It’s important to remember that monkeypox does not pose the same threat that COVID-19 did in the early stages of the pandemic before vaccines were available. Monkeypox is rarely fatal and is primarily spread through skin-to-skin contact. Read more about monkeypox on the UHS or CDC websites. 



Protocols for a positive case in class

During the fall semester, instructors will still have the same three options should there be a positive case reported in class and can temporarily shift the delivery mode. For up to two weeks, instructors must choose from among the following options:


  • Move the course online
  • Teach in a hybrid format (part online/part in-class) to ensure social distancing and reduce further exposure. For students and instructors attending a face-to-face class, masks will be required for the duration of the two weeks.
  • Continue the course face-to-face with masks required of all students and instructors attending.

If there is a new positive case in a class while the class is meeting fully in-person or in a hybrid format, the two-week period restarts if the person who tested positive has been attending in-person. If there is a new positive case while the class is meeting online, the two-week window will not restart since there were no additional potential exposures in class.



Vaccination remains our best defense against the virus and its emerging variants. Vaccinations are available at University Health Services.



On Aug. 1, University Health Services began charging $25 for a rapid COVID-19 test. Insurance plans, including OSU's employee health insurance plan, should pay some or all of the cost. 


Payne County Health Department still provides free, rapid COVID-19 testing. You can also order at-home tests, which can be requested from the federal government and shipped to your residence.


The importance of self-reporting

With the rise in at-home tests, it's important for students and employees to remember to report a positive at-home or off-campus test to University Health Services. This makes it possible for the appropriate area or department to be notified and the case can be included in the case counts, providing the Pandemic Response Team with a more accurate picture of active cases on campus. 


CDC changes quarantine/isolation protocols

The CDC has modified its isolation/quarantine protocols. Quarantine, for those who have been exposed to the virus, is no longer necessary regardless of vaccination status. See the details on the CDC website. 


Employee guidance for a positive case

Employees who test positive will need to isolate for 10 days, using sick leave and/or working remotely with approval by their supervisor, in accordance with college and division guidelines. If the individual is asymptomatic and the department would like for them to return to work after day five, they may do so but must wear a mask for the duration of the 10 days.


If you are an employee and are unable to report to work due to illness or COVID-19 exposure, please follow departmental call-in procedures and use appropriate accrued sick leave unless authorized by your supervisor to work remotely. It is also appropriate for faculty and staff to use accrued sick leave for absences required due to child care and school disruptions caused by COVID-19 illnesses and staffing shortages.



OSU’s fall 2022 COVID-19 dashboard launched on Aug. 12. Using input from the faculty Pandemic/Endemic Planning task force, the Pandemic Response Team worked with Institutional Research and Analytics to identify data in which our community expressed interest. In addition to information about active cases on the Stillwater campus, the new dashboard provides county and statewide data about community transmission levels and hospitalizations.


Because of the large amount of at-home antigen testing performed, the dashboard will no longer report test positivity. While it was a good metric to evaluate the prevalence of COVID-19 cases and the level of testing in a community previously, the current scale of home testing means that a disproportionate percentage of people testing at UHS are symptomatic and more likely test positive.


The dashboard will be updated every Friday at 2 p.m.



Masks will remain encouraged on campus. As we enter the fall semester, please review the CDC guidelines and make the best decision for your personal health, while also being mindful of those around you.



Hundreds of alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers were installed in nearly every restroom before the start of the pandemic. Hundreds more were added in additional locations such as hallways and entrances in 2020. All are maintained and refilled by Facilities Management.


Other improvements:

  • MERV-13 high efficiency air filters have been installed in most academic and office buildings.
  • There are nine walk-up temperature monitoring kiosks around campus.
  • Needle Point Bipolar Ionization units were installed in the 16 library air handling units and also in the Greenwood School of Music.
  • Air purifiers that use a broad-spectrum UV lamp have been installed in every classroom in the Classroom and North Classroom buildings. The RestorAir advanced oxidation cell technology can eliminate viruses and odors in the air, as well as on surfaces.

Questions? Email Find FAQs, which are being regularly updated, here.


Dr. Johnny Stephens,

Senior Vice President for Health Affairs

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