March 22 Message to Faculty/Staff: The state’s stay-at-home order and you

To Our Faculty and Staff:

This afternoon, Ohio’s leaders announced a statewide “stay-at-home” order that has understandably prompted questions about its effects on the university’s research and education activities.

Like measures in other states, Ohio’s directive includes an exception for educational institutions to enable such work as “distance learning,” “critical research” and other “essential functions.”

In simplest terms, the order reinforces our emphasis on reducing the number of faculty and staff on campus to those whose work requires their physical presence here.

As of this writing, for example, some professors are leading remote courses from university classrooms; while a small number may need to continue this practice, we ask those able to teach from home to make that transition quickly.

Meanwhile, other faculty and staff—such as those engaged in experiments or other aspects of research that demands their direct engagement—may remain on campus while those efforts take place. Any research or other work that can be completed at home, however, really should be done there—for your own health, and that of your colleagues.

Other staff, such as our custodial and maintenance workers supporting students still living here and our research and education enterprise, must be on campus to perform their services. Similarly, the presence of our health and public safety staff is essential to the well-being and security of our entire university community.

In all instances, however, the state emphasizes the imperative of social distancing (six feet of separation between individuals).

The state’s order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. tomorrow (Monday, March 23), and continues through 11:59 p.m. Monday, April 6. It is possible, and perhaps even likely, that the order will continue past that date.

The order also exempts such locations as grocery stores, gas stations, hospitals and pharmacies. People are permitted to be outside for exercise and/or to walk their dogs; however, they still must maintain social distance, and cannot enter playgrounds.

The state has provided additional answers to Frequently Asked Questions; you can access them on the Ohio Department of Health website.

I appreciate that this announcement may increase the stress that many of you are feeling. But I encourage you to think of it in another way: By taking this action now, Ohio stands a stronger chance of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and, ultimately, saving lives.

Please continue to follow health officials’ recommended hygiene practices, and take good care of one another.

Barbara R. Snyder