Return to Campus Information - Fall 2020

Updated 9/21/2020

General Information
Academics & Student Experience
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Health and Safety
Travel & International Student Guidance

General Information

The first day of fall classes will be Tuesday, Aug. 25, and the last day will be Friday, Dec. 4 – with the last day of in-person, on-campus instruction taking place Wednesday, Nov. 25. Instruction in the last week of the semester, Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, and final exams from Dec. 7 to 11, will be accomplished through distance methods. The autumn commencement date and format will be announced at a later date. Under this schedule, some student vacation days – fall break Oct. 15-16 and Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving – are eliminated, and classes will be in session on those dates. Veterans Day (Nov. 11) and Labor Day (Sept. 7) will still be observed. You can view the latest updates from the OSU Graduate School on their website.

Safe and Healthy Buckeyes, graduate studies page
COVID Data Dashboard

open CFAES Common Spaces


CFAES Graduate Student Town Hall - August 13
On August 13 from 10:30-12pm the Office for Research and Graduate Education held an informational Town Hall for all CFAES graduate students with information about the fall semester. View resources below.

View Q&As
PowerPoints: Return to Campus    Mental Health Resources

Watch the recording of the August 12, 2020 CFAES Town Hall
CFAES Town Hall Q&A

Return to Campus TraininG

All faculty, staff and students returning to offices or campuses must complete an online training course and the Together As Buckeyes Pledge form. The pledge acknowledges an understanding of and commitment to the behaviors described in the training. It is not a legal waiver. The 10-minute training is available in BuckeyeLearn and the pledge will be signed upon completion of the course.  

Completing the training and signing the pledge are mandatory for all faculty, staff and students returning to offices or campuses. Those who have already been working on campus should take the online training and sign the pledge as soon as possible. For those not physically returning to a campus, the training and pledge need to be completed by the start of autumn semester on August 25.

The training course will cover expectations for daily health checks, personal protection such as face masks, hygiene, staying informed and more.

To complete the training:  
1. Go to and sign in.
2. Click on “My Transcript”
3. Find the “Together as Buckeyes” training (you may have to sort by “Active”) and click on “Open Curriculum”.
4. Launch the Safe and Healthy Campus training
5. Once you have completed the training you will need to complete the pledge as well.

Daily Health Checks

All CFAES personnel will report their daily health status if they plan to be on our Columbus, Wooster, or Statewide Campus (e.g., Extension offices and research stations), doing field work, or interacting face-to-face with the community on behalf of Ohio State.

The steps to report are simple (view health check flow chart):
1.     Take your temperature.
2.     Log in to the health reporting tool via or the Ohio State app (under the "about you" section).
3.     Record your temperature and answer other health reporting questions.
4.     Receive your daily health passport. This passport is good during the day it was submitted. 
       RED = Stay home and contact your supervisor
       GREEN = Clear to come to campus
       YELLOW = Time to report your health check

If you make a mistake while answering the questions, repeat the process.

Learn more about the pilot, process, participants, and FAQs on the Health Reporting Pilot webpage.

TESTING, TRACING, and quarantine

The University is keeping the latest information on the Safe and Healthy website. You can read more information about testing here and about contact tracing and quarantine here. For specific information about testing with Student Health Services, look at their website.

What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed:
Contact your local primary care provider (PCP) for a health assessment and direction.
If you do not have a local PCP, contact Ohio State Student Health Services (SHS) via a secure message on My BuckMD, at or 614-292-4321 to assess the need for testing and to schedule a COVID-19 test if indicated.
If your PCP advises that you should have a COVID-19 test, contact Ohio State Student Health Services (SHS) via a secure message on My BuckMD, at or 614-292-4321 to arrange a COVID-19 test.
If an Ohio State contact tracer determines that you have been exposed as a close contact to someone who is infected with COVID-19, you will be contacted by the team and advised about quarantine and testing.

What if you test positive?
If you test positive via Student Health Services (SHS), you will be notified by secure message and by phone. A health care professional will connect with you to provide guidance.
If you are tested at another Ohio State site and test positive, SHS will be directly notified of the result and the actions above will begin.
If you are tested outside of Ohio State and test positive, notify SHS by secure message via My BuckMD, or 614-292-4321. 
You should notify faculty members/instructors/supervisors as soon as you can if you are ill with COVID-19 or having symptoms, or are otherwise unable to attend in-person classes/work to arrange for accommodations and plans for making up work.
You are not required to tell any faculty members/instructors that you have COVID-19 if you have tested positive, unless they are your supervisor.

Beginning on September 21, graduate and professional students will be included in the surveillance testing program. This allows the university to draw conclusions about the level of spread in the student population, identify asymptomatic cases for isolation, find potential hot spots and prevent further spread on campus and in the broader community. There are limited exceptions including for students who verify that they are taking all virtual courses and that they will not be visiting campus at all during autumn semester. Students are able to submit an exemption by visiting The university will plan to conduct diagnostic testing on 1,500 graduate and professional students on a weekly basis at Jesse Owens North Recreation Center.

Voluntary Testing
As part of Ohio State’s comprehensive testing strategy, asymptomatic faculty, staff, and graduate and professional students who live off campus may volunteer for a COVID-19 test according to the process outlined on the safe and healthy website.

Check back for Wooster campus specific information.


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits are available for all undergraduate and graduate students as outlined on the Safe and Healthy website. Students are still able to pick up PPE kits at the below locations in Columbus, or contact Kayla Arnold for the appropriate pickup location in Wooster.

Ohio Union, Info Center
Monday - Friday:  7:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday:  10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

RPAC, Welcome Center
Monday-Friday:  5:30 a.m. - Midnight
Saturday:  8 a.m. - Midnight
Sunday:  10 a.m. - Midnight

Younkin Success Center, second floor administration desk
9 a.m. – Noon


For employment-related requests (including graduate assistantships): Visit the Office of Human Resources website for detailed information.
View accommodation plan template
Employee instructions to request an accommodation

For coursework-related requests: Visit Student Life Disability Services
University COVID-Related Accommodation Request Form

The university is committed to supporting students and program participants with COVID-19 based risk factors. OSU Student Life Disability Services (SLDS), in conjunction with the Office of Institutional Equity, will work with students who are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 to ensure that they have the necessary resources to participate in university life as safely as possible. If you are unsure whether you qualify for an accommodation, submit a request and an employee will respond to your concerns and provide you with additional resources. Further, documenting a request with SLDS will protect both students and instructors and allow for appropriate accommodations to be made where necessary. Further, CFAES is committed to supporting our students and their needs. If you have concerns that are not addressed here, feel free to reach out to Kayla Arnold for further assistance.


University IT Services have been working to accommodate any students who may need additional technology to successfully work from home. If students need to request technology items, they can submit a ticket with the IT help desk. However, students should first discuss needs with their advisor and/or program coordinator as the department may have some technology options available to you. Students can also apply for technology funding through the University’s student emergency fund.

In an effort to protect the health and safety of university faculty, staff, and students, the IT Service Desk offices will not be open for drop-in appointments this fall. Technicians will remain staffed strategically around campus for timely response when in-person support is required. The IT Service Desk will continue to provide IT support remotely through the following methods 24/7:
For immediate assistance, call 614-514-IT4U(4848). 
For non-urgent requests, contact online (Email: or Self Service:

IT Service Desk technicians are able to resolve most issues via phone, email, or online support. If the technician you are working with determines that you need to receive in-person support, they will set up an appointment with you in alignment with the university’s safe and healthy guidelines. Only IT staff will be allowed in IT Service Desk locations. When in-person support is necessary, it will be performed via curbside pickup, at the customer’s desk or in a central meeting area following physical distancing recommendations. Customers and IT Service Desk technicians are required to wear a mask. Thank you for your understanding and patience as we return to campus this fall.

Recording Studios Available
Two recording studios are available for use on the CFAES Wooster and Columbus campuses. These rooms are set up for individuals to create course content, research and promotional videos, student projects, and other recorded materials. To help ensure the safety of our CFAES colleagues and students, one morning and afternoon appointment are available this upcoming semester so that we may limit traffic in the spaces. Per Safe and Healthy Buckeyes, facilities will clean the high touch areas twice a day, and clean the main areas once a day. Individuals making use of the spaces will be expected to clean areas before and after use. Cleaning wipes will be made available in the recording studio. Scheduling of the studio space is by appointment only. Please click on one of the links located on the recording studio page, or contact the IT Service Desk at 614-514-4848 (IT4U).

Additional Recording Hardware Available
A limited number of iPads outfitted with Padcaster technology are available for week long reservations, and can be picked up at the IT Service Desks on the Columbus and Wooster campuses. These bundles can be used for recording video materials in the field, as well as several of the suggested activities outlined in the recording studio spaces (class introductions or overviews, promotional videos, etc.). Please contact the IT Service Desk at 614-514-4848 (IT4U).

Coming to Campus?

Before coming to campus, always answer the following questions: Am I healthy? Have I been exposed to COVID19? And report this on either the website at or on the Health Tracking App on your phone. 

Wash your hands and clean your lab areas before you start and after you finish, even if only present for a short time. Wash your hands often as you work through your building spaces. To prevent the spread within a lab area and shared spaces, everyone must assume and behave as the person before was shedding virus.

Face masks are an important tool in helping to protect our colleagues, classmates and broader community from the further spread of COVID-19. As of August 19, masks must also be worn outdoors in settings on campus, even when individuals can maintain appropriate physical distancing. Indoors or outdoors, exceptions are made for those dining, participating in strenuous exercise or taking part in performance-based classes as long as physical distancing can be maintained. As an added safety measure, open-air tents are being set up on campus for use by arts, dance and music classes as well as certain courses with extended outdoor activities in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Masks will not be required for classes in these open-air tents, again, as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Read more about mask requirements in President Johnson's August 19 email and on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.

No matter where you are, whether you’re at Stone Laboratory, one of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Centers, a field site, or other location, Buckeyes need to wear a mask when in public to protect themselves, each other and our community. Face masks will be part of the return-to-campus kits provided to students, faculty and staff in August before classes resume. The kits will include one disposable mask, two reusable masks, a thermometer, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.

You can find the latest information and resources specific to CFAES on the college's main webpage.

CFAES Guidance on events

Building Safety and Availability
It is important to keep building security in mind with fewer people occupying them. Please keep offices and labs locked when working alone or leaving even for a brief period of time. For questions about buildings/safety contact the below Building Coordinators:


Thompson Library, Columbus
Wooster Campus Research Library
The CFAES Café will be available in Fisher South (Wooster) 


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

SENR Student Letter to Administration
As an update to a recent letter sent out authored by graduate students in SENR: the letter has received over 100 signatures from graduate students across CFAES and nearly 50 percent of the SENR graduate students signed the letter. The students have sent a press release to the Lantern about the situation which includes responses from Dean Cathann Kress and Director Jeff Sharp. You can still view and sign the letter here. SENR Faculty also issued a letter to support the student letter.

CFAES administration (including but not limited to the Dean’s Office; Office for Research and Gradate Education, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Academic Programs) and the Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC) is working together to address these issues as a united front. One of the first major topics is addressing student concerns about the grievance processes. On August 20, CFAES released the below document to help clarify existing processes for grievances. We will continue these conversations with other students and university administrators throughout the year.

Clarifying graduate student grievance processes

Supporting diversity is beneficial for everyone in our community. We would like to encourage you to learn about how you can help advocate for and institute inclusive policies within your lab and department. For example, encourage your advisor to make space to discuss issues of racial inequality or microaggressions as they would any other lab concerns. There are issues of racism and injustice throughout academia and we all must look to address them if we hope for change. On this note, I challenge each of you to research challenges within your own discipline and think about relevant wats you can get involved. The Kirwan Institute has a large selection of race-related content (including research and initiatives) and #ShutDownSTEM has other resources to get you started. We will be compiling and sharing further resources on our website for you to learn on your own. Further, you can reach out to Kayla Arnold if you want to take action, but aren’t sure where to start.

Ohio State will advocate for a student appointment to the City of Columbus Civilian Review Board that is being created as a result of the Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission Report. The university supports continued progress toward adoption of the Commission’s recommendations. Columbus City officials also announced an independent review of the actions Columbus Police took during the protests in May, June and July. The review board will consist of community volunteers, academics, lawyers, students and researchers from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State, former U.S. Attorney Carter M. Stewart said in a press conference Wednesday. Students from the college and the Moritz College of Law along with researchers and experts from the Police Foundation and the Ohio Justice and Policy Center will provide research support. Read more

Time at OSU Outreach and Engagement Steering Committee meeting(s) will be focused on concrete actions to ensure lasting change. We must come together now and intentionally work towards justice for all of our community members, including ending racism, discriminatory policies, and practices that have intentionally excluded black men, women and children. We believe that through listening and working with each other, we can serve as a catalyst to create change. Your thoughts and ideas are important, and if you are so inclined, please share those with Ryan Schmiesing or Nicole Nieto in the OSU Office of Academic Affairs. You may also send any comments directly to me at any time, and I will pass them along.

Seed Fund for Racial Justice
Ohio State has established the Seed Fund for Racial Justice to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism and racial disparities found in all aspects of American society. Grants will be used to seed innovative, untested, and/or exploratory research approaches and creative ideas that will contribute to the elimination of racism and solve its underlying causes and consequences on our campuses, in our community, and across the nation. Proposals are expected to be interdisciplinary, innovative, and translational. They should also result in or create a clear path to, substantive change in policies, practices, programs, and processes in our systems, and in tangible human behaviors and societal outcomes.


Student Emergency Fund

Ohio State was awarded $42.9 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help mitigate financial impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Of this total, $21.4 million will be used to assist students experiencing financial hardships caused by the pandemic. The university also has set aside a portion of university donor funds to assist with this emergency.

If you are in a situation causing you to need emergency funding, students are encouraged to apply for funding through the University’s student emergency fund.

Health and Safety

HIPAA Reminder
Please remember: If you learn of a possible case of COVID-19, do not share the person's health information with colleagues. This is a violation of their privacy, and this information is protected by HIPAA and other laws. To report a COVID-19 case, contact your primary care physician. If you are a manager and receive a report, contact our CFAES HR business partners (Brandi Gilbert-Hammett.1 and Nicole Wakeley.1). In the face of this unprecedented pandemic, we must rely on regional public health officials to continue to investigate cases and trace potential contacts. To prevent the spread within a lab area or shared spaces, everyone must assume and behave as the person before had COVID-19. Remember that substantial spread of COVID19 can occur before a person begins to show symptoms. 

State of Ohio Guidance (July 23, 2020)
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has issued a statewide mask mandate and a travel warning, requiring a 14-day Quarantine for anyone traveling to Ohio from areas with positive testing rates of 15% or higher. For new students who will be coming from these areas, please contact your graduate program coordinator to make sure you are able to quarantine in your living areas (or alternative arrangements can be made). The quarantine also extends to those who travel to one of these states from Ohio. If you have questions, feel free to contact Kayla Arnold for assistance

Testing, tracing, and quarantine
As part of Ohio State’s plans to return to on-campus operations in autumn, the university is implementing a testing program based on recommendations from the Safe Campus and Scientific Advisory Subgroup and guidance from federal, state and local health authorities. Ohio State will implement a comprehensive testing program, in which participation will be mandatory for all students living on campus or in university managed housing. Students may opt out of the testing program, but this may result in moving to fully online courses, and those students may not be able to live in university housing. Testing will also be offered to students living in high-density, aggregated housing, as well as faculty and staff who are working on our campuses. Read more

Note, we are finding more specific instructions on how to participate in voluntary testing.

If you think you may have COVID-19 or have been exposed

If you've been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and do not have symptoms, quarantine for 14 days. We advise you fill out an accommodation request, above, and the appropriate staff can assist you with needed work or academic accommodations.

If you develop symptoms, you may want to get tested at that time. To get tested, first call your primary care physician if you have one and they can order a COVID test. Otherwise, you can call Ohio State Telehealth Immediate Care at 614-293-3200. They can advise you on whether you need medical care and help you with your next steps. Read more

Exposure Infographic


Wellness Resources


Travel & International Student Guidance

Travel Restrictions Extended Through December, Education Abroad Cancelled
To help slow the spread of COVID-19, the university has extended restrictions on domestic and international travel through Dec. 31, 2020. All previously approved travel prior to that date must be canceled. This includes all education abroad programs for autumn semester. The exception process for narrowly defined instances of business essential travel is spelled out on the Business and Finance website and must be pre-approved.

The university has also taken the difficult step of canceling all education abroad programs for the autumn semester. We look forward to students returning to these important teaching-and-learning experiences once it is advisable to do so. We will continue to monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and others. View the latest University travel guidance online.

Federal Guidance Related to International Students
On July 24, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released a final announcement and further guidance concerning international students who plan to enroll at a U.S. institution in the fall.

The July 24 guidance both supersedes ICE July 6 and 7 guidance and clarifies March 2020 guidance that is now in effect due to a court decision rendered July 14.

The July 24 guidance confirms that international students can engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the public health emergency generated by COVID-19, however, there are additional limitations for new international students.

For more detailed information, please visit view the updated Frequently Asked Questions on the Office of International Affairs Website.

At the Ohio State University and within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences we value the hard work and dedication of our international researchers. Whether you are a graduate student, postdoctoral scholar, faculty, or in another position, we truly appreciate the work that you all do and are here to support your efforts. Further, know that the university is helping to advocate politically against actions affecting our international community; for example, with a letter sent to Representative Dave Joyce. There is also a signed letter from June 2nd advocating for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program. There are national partners advocating for these issues as well, such as the Association of American Universities (AAU) – you can read their latest statement here.

If you have specific questions about your immigration status, we suggest you contact the OSU Office of International Affairs (OIA) at If you have general questions or are not sure who to contact, feel free to reach out to your department’s international affairs coordinator, Poppy Thornton (at CFAES International Programs in Agriculture), or Kayla Arnold (Office for Research and Graduate Education).

Accessing Office of International Affairs services (PDF)