Ohio's public alert system and ongoing updates to the return to campus procedures, 10:20 a.m.

Dear Miami Community,

Thank you for all the messages of support over the last two weeks. We are also grateful for those of you who share your concerns and questions. As a committee, we made the recommendation that Healthy Together, our plan for returning to campus, be released as soon as possible, even if that meant that some decisions had not yet been made. We have heard from you and we now believe, more than ever, that releasing what we know as of today was the right thing to do. We’ve also heard that you still have concerns and that there’s more you need to know. We will continue updating the website as more decisions are made and information is available.

A few significant points of information:

The state of Ohio is utilizing a Public Health Advisory Alert System to assist people in assessing the degree in which the virus is spreading in a more localized way across the state. The framework is data-driven and based on a four-level, color-coded system. Miami University is located in Butler County, which is currently listed as level 3 (red, which is the second-highest level). As of July 9, Butler County was placed on a watch list alongside Hamilton County and Cuyahoga County due to increased possibility of approaching Level 4/Purple. We hope that this will improve quickly and are monitoring it closely as we continue in our planning efforts.

Many of you are concerned about our testing ability and plan, and rightfully so. Plans for testing and contact tracing are still fairly fluid and dependent on many local factors and forces. We can assure you that we are thinking about testing deeply and that we have multiple scenarios in development.

Testing is one example of the information being sought by our campus community. You are also interested in whether or not we can welcome visitors to campus and whether those visitors will be under the same expectations as students, staff, and faculty with regard to face coverings and symptom checks. The answer is yes, we are allowing visitors to campus, but visitors are asked to limit their trips to campus to essential visits and to follow all of our policies while here, including wearing a face-covering, doing a symptom check prior to arrival, and maintaining physical distance. 

Decisions in other areas have been made in the past week since the release of the Healthy Together Miami plan. Check the Healthy Together website for updates on Facial Coverings, Visitors to Campus, University and Personal Travel, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion during COVID-19. During the week of July 20, we will post on the Healthy Together website information about major events in the fall. (*Note, this is a change from the July 17 date originally announced.)

We are updating our strategies to reflect Governor Mike DeWine’s recently published recommendations for Higher Education. We are working hard to ensure that we are able to maintain 6’ distancing in all university spaces, including classrooms. Please be aware that this will have an impact on the size and number of face-to-face classes that we can offer and that our online course offerings are likely to increase as a result.

Those students who wish to remain off campus and attend classes online will be accommodated. It is our intention to empower families to make the best decisions about what is right for them. We want to remind students to review your fall schedule. Work closely with your academic adviser should you want to make adjustments. Miami is working to optimize our system so that all students can make progress toward graduation, and we ask for your patience and flexibility, understanding that things will be different this fall than in previous semesters. Miami is committed to providing a high-quality educational experience for students regardless of modality.

Our committee is charged with listening to and understanding the perspectives of every member of our community who shares them. We continue to collect all of your thoughts via email, our website, and social media and we assure you that we are listening. To date, we have over 950 submissions through our website, and we have read every single comment. It is important to recognize that these perspectives vary in terms of priorities and are, at times, in direct opposition. Individuals will have different reactions to whatever we do. For every person who wants more restrictions, there will be someone who wants fewer restrictions. 

Even as the plan takes shape, it will shift and change but Miami’s priority is the health of our entire community knowing that not everyone will be happy. The plan is flexible and offers options that support the varying needs of our community.

Please continue to provide us with your thoughts and perspectives and check our website frequently. 

Love and Honor,
Co-chairs, Dana Cox and Gwen Fears

*Updated: July 17, 2020