Changing health and safety protocols at Bowling Green State University were addressed by President Rodney Rogers and Chief Health Officer Ben Batey in a Tuesday virtual forum.
The university will not be requiring vaccination by students, faculty or staff, and is planning to resume fully in-person classes and activities this fall.
“Our plans for the fall will be that BGSU will not require — we will not require students, faculty or staff to get the COVID-19 vaccination. We will leave this up to personal choice. However, we do strongly encourage individuals that are able to get the vaccine to be vaccinated,” Rogers said.
“But we also know that there are those who may be unable to get the vaccine, because of, perhaps, some medical conditions, and we want to be respectful of those individuals as well.”
Rogers also said that a majority of the students, faculty and staff have already received the vaccine, or plan to get it.
“We are in a very different spot today than we were in last year,” Batey said during the town hall meeting. “It’s actually an excellent spot to be in. We have learned so much about this virus and how to combat it and put ourselves in a much better position, as we look toward the summer and the fall.”
Many restrictions will be staying in place for the summer, and it won’t be known until mid-June which classes will be fully in-person, Rogers said.
The lifting of most pandemic restrictions by the Centers for Disease Control and the June 2 lifting of restrictions by Gov. Mike DeWine are following what Batey called significant decreases in coronavirus cases.
Rogers said that when returning students signed up for fall classes all the pandemic restrictions were in place.
The primary determining factor for class mode has been the need for social distancing. The 6-foot requirement limited classroom capacity, he said.
There were three different types of classes held in the 2020-21 school year: In-person, hybrid and remote. The online courses that were taught prior to the pandemic will remain.
There will still be a mask requirement in both indoor and outdoor settings of groups with more than 10 people. Mask use is recommended for unvaccinated individuals, Batey said.
“We also recognize that there are individuals in our campus community that can’t be vaccinated, potentially because of an allergy, or a medical condition, or maybe a religious belief, that they can’t be vaccinated, but they still want to engage in a public settings. So in the larger gatherings this summer, we want to be respectful of those individuals,” he said. “Mostly what I like to tell people, and I think this is just a good practice when you’re out in public, is we’re still going to all carry that mask with us.”
He suggested that if less than 6 feet away from someone, wear a mask.
“You don’t know what their status is, maybe they’re vaccinated, maybe they’re not, but maybe they are also immunocompromised. Maybe they are going through chemotherapy, or have a loved one at home that they care for,” Batey said.
Several questions during the town hall revolved around the activities expected after summer, with the more complete lifting of restrictions.
“In general, it will be a very robust fall offering,” Rogers said.
Homecoming, Family Weekend and Fall Convocation are planned for the fall semester.
Rogers and Batey both believe that study abroad options could be available, but it would depend on the country and that each country will be looked at individually, from a country-based perspective.
“We know that’s one of those experiences that we are very proud that BGSU has offered all of these years of opportunities for students to go to other parts of the world and live and learn, but we want to make sure that’s done in a very safe way,” Rogers said. “So those are some of the things that we’re still trying to decide, but it will be based upon, once again, guidelines from the CDC and then also guidelines from the other countries.”