According to a Protect the Nest email update released on Monday, March 13, Otterbein plans to lift its campus-wide COVID-19 guidelines on May 11.
This lift is in accordance with the federal government’s plan to end the national COVID-19 emergency declaration, which is also scheduled for May 11. Otterbein also consulted with partners at Franklin County Public Health about this change.
“Public health officials are transitioning into treating COVID as an endemic illness, which means that people will continue to be infected and become ill, but in relatively stable numbers,” the email said.
With these guidelines lifted, students and employees will no longer be required to inform the university if they test positive for COVID-19, and there will be no further vaccine requirements.
Otterbein’s campus will continue to be mask-friendly, and the university will continue to encourage disease-preventing hygiene practices, like washing hands frequently.
The update also instructs students not to attend classes if they feel ill, instead encouraging them to reach out to professors or faculty to make arrangements for missed classes or work and to contact healthcare providers if necessary.
There are free at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests available to students at the library, Student Affairs Office, Office of Social Justice and Activism, and the Promise House. Residential students may also inquire about obtaining free tests from their resident assistant(s).
However, some students have mixed opinions about the change in guidelines.
“I think it’s a pretty serious mistake," said Henry Dyer, a senior computer science major. "I think that COVID-19 is still a real issue that we should be worried about and Otterbein lifting those requirements is not what they should be doing.”
“Ultimately, it’s up to the person what they want to do with their health, but at the same time it affects the public, and because it is a university, I feel like that shouldn’t be a choice because it’s for the good of the public,” said sophomore nursing major Mairela Ortega. “[A COVID-19 positive person] can also affect the people who surround you—it’s not just about you.”
Junior business administration major Helen Santos said, “I feel like not requiring vaccines is probably a good idea for people to have their own choice, but with not disclosing the positive test, I feel like [it should be disclosed] because it affects everyone else.”