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FAQ

OU Together The University of Oklahoma

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about OU’s COVID-19 planning and protocols. 

 

OU's COVID Policies

Keeping the OU community healthy relies on all of us doing our part. Here are three things you can do to slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • Get vaccinated. The university strongly encourages the entire OU community to get vaccinated.
  • Mask up. Community members are expected to mask indoors, especially in high-density settings, such as classrooms and at special events when not eating or drinking. Masking is required in all classroom settings through January 31.
  • Continue practicing healthy behaviors. Other behaviors, like frequent hand washing and staying home when you feel sick, should still be practiced, no matter the time of year.

 

A federal court has temporarily blocked the enforcement of the federal COVID-19 vaccine requirement for federal subcontractors. This means that as long as the court’s decision is in place, university employees are not required to become vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022, and are also not required to seek exemptions to the rule, except as described below.

Vaccination requirements are limited to the following groups of OU community members:

  • Students, faculty, and staff who have patient-facing responsibilities and volunteers who shadow or observe in patient-care settings.
  • All those who elect to participate in study abroad programs.
    • All eligible individuals participating in study abroad programs are required to receive a COVID-19 booster dose before departing for their study abroad destination.
  • OUHSC employees must continue to comply with the vaccination requirements found here (PDF), which were in place before the federal executive order. Many OUHSC employees may also need to comply with additional vaccination requirements at other health care facilities where they practice or rotate, including OU Health facilities and programs.

Read More: Getting Vaccinated at OU

While many universities around the country require COVID-19 vaccinations for students, Oklahoma law prohibits this. In accordance with Oklahoma Senate Bill 658, effective July 1, 2021, the University of Oklahoma may not:

  • “Require a vaccination against Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as a condition of admittance to or attendance of the school or institution;
  • Require a vaccine passport as a condition of admittance to or attendance of the school or institution; or
  • Implement a mask mandate for students who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.”

At this time, in accordance with Oklahoma law, OU is not requiring COVID-19 vaccines for students, with the exception of those in patient-facing settings or those who electively participate in study abroad programs.

As we have since the start of the pandemic, OU is continuing to follow guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control. The university strongly encourages the entire OU community to get vaccinated and is offering vaccines at no cost to all community members through OU Health Services.

Read More: Getting Vaccinated at OU

Due to supply chain challenges around testing availability, and the need for vaccine boosters to be optimally protected from the virus, masking remains one of our best mitigation strategies. Community members are expected to mask indoors, especially in high-density settings, such as classrooms and at special events when not eating or drinking.

For the Spring 2022 semester, OU will build upon its Fall 2021 masking protocol – which calls for required masking in the classroom for two weeks in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case in the class – by requiring masking in classrooms for the first two weeks of the semester. With the explosive growth of Omicron cases in Oklahoma, we are virtually assured that individuals will unknowingly be infected and return to the classroom, which is why the Spring 2022 temporary modification of assumes there will be infected individuals in the classroom within the first two weeks of class. Beginning February 1, pending additional guidance, OU will return to its Fall 2021 masking protocol.

Read More: OU Masking Protocols

Masking is required at OU in the following settings, regardless of vaccination status:

  • Patient-facing settings, including clinical research participant areas and facilities and areas where patient-care is the primary function (including Goddard Health Center)
  • Transit buses and shuttles due to Department of Transportation mandates
  • Classroom settings for the first two weeks of the Spring 2022 semester (through January 31) and for the remainder of the semester when there has been a confirmed positive COVID-19 case in the class

While OU has eliminated its social distancing protocols in all areas except patient care and clinical research participant settings, it is still strongly recommended.

The university strongly encourages the entire OU community to get vaccinated. 

Read More: Getting Vaccinated at OU

Due to supply chain challenges around testing availability, and the need for vaccine boosters to be optimally protected from the virus, masking remains one of our best mitigation strategies. 

As has been our policy since the start of Fall 2021, masking is expected in all indoor settings for all faculty, staff, and students. 

For the first two weeks of the semester (through January 31) masking will be required in classroom settings. Beginning February 1, 2022, the Norman campus will revert to the Fall 2021 masking guidance that encourages masking in the classroom and requires masking during the two-week quarantine period in classrooms with a confirmed positive COVID-19 case.

Read More: OU Masking Protocols

The university will continue to proactively monitor COVID-19 infection rates and will make any needed shifts in policy.

Although we remain hopeful, we acknowledge that the pandemic has taught us to be nimble in our response. To help us keep making strides forward, we urge all OU community members to get vaccinated; to mask indoors; to continue practicing healthy behaviors, including frequent hand washing and staying home when ill; and to keep supporting one another.

As we have since the start of the pandemic, OU is continuing to follow guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control. New guidance from the CDC on June 15, 2021, highlighted that “in most situations, the risk of infection from touching a surface is low. The most reliable way to prevent infection from surfaces is to regularly wash hands or use hand sanitizer.”

The university has resumed pre-pandemic cleaning protocols, taking into consideration applicable government and industry cleaning and safety standards, as well as the understanding that COVID-19 is primarily spread by inhaling respiratory droplets or aerosols.

In 2020, the university upgraded many facilities to support the healthiest possible environment, including converting air filters to hospital-grade standards; increasing outside air where possible; installing touchless, motion-sensor fixtures in public restrooms; and adding more hand sanitizer stations across campus.

Read More: Cleaning Protocols

Health and Safety

If you begin to experience symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19, please stay home and complete the Passport through the Healthy Together App. You will be notified through the app of your screening results and should follow the instructions for what to do next. You may also wish to contact your health care provider for advice.

For more information, visit the Spring 2022 COVID-19 Protocols webpage.

All individuals regardless of vaccination status should complete the Passport through the Healthy Together App. You will be notified through the app of your screening results and should follow the instructions for what to do next. For guidance on community-related exposure, visit the CDC website.

For more information, visit the Spring 2022 COVID-19 Protocols webpage.

Visit the Spring 2022 COVID-19 Protocols webpage for the most up-to-date quarantine guidelines.

The Healthy Together app is a convenient tool for COVID-19 screening and reporting. Students, faculty, and staff in OU Norman campus programs are strongly encouraged to complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app before participating in any on- or off-campus activity or responsibility each time they answer YES to any of the questions listed here.

The Healthy Together app’s Passport feature replaced the university’s online COVID-19 Screening and Reporting Tool, which was first implemented in March 2020.

Yes. On the Norman campus, schedule a testing appointment at Goddard Health Center by calling (405) 325-4441.

All students, faculty and staff can receive a COVID-19 test through OU Health Services. To cover the cost of the test, individuals are encouraged to file a claim with their insurance provider. Members of the OU community who do not have health insurance will not be charged. To schedule a COVID-19 test, visit healthconnection.ou.edu or call (405) 325-4441.

Employees and students who test positive for COVID-19 should complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app. The employee or student will be notified through the app of their screening results and should follow the instructions for what to do next.

For more information, visit the Spring 2022 COVID-19 Protocols webpage.

Faculty, staff, and students, regardless of vaccination status, who have been in close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 positive individual should complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app. The employee or student will be notified through the app of their screening results and should follow the instructions for what to do next.

A close contact is generally someone who has been near a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes when health and safety measures, e.g. wearing a mask, were not in place or were insufficient.

A close contact is generally someone who has been near a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes when health and safety measures, e.g. wearing a mask, were not in place or were insufficient.

No, you are not obligated to report their private health information. Instead, ask the individual who tested positive to complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app. If the individual discloses this information to you in person, ask them to return to their place of residence and ask that they complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app.

Faculty, staff, and students regardless of vaccination status who have been in close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 positive individual should complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app. The employee or student will be notified through the app of their screening results and should follow the instructions for what to do next.

A close contact is generally someone who has been near a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes when health and safety measures, e.g. wearing a mask, were not in place or were insufficient.

No. If a student or employee discloses that they are a close contact to a positive case, ask that they complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app.

You will be provided any necessary instruction about self-isolation or quarantine after completing the Passport through the Healthy Together app. Generally, people need to self-isolate or quarantine if they have symptoms, test positive, or are considered a close contact.

A close contact is generally someone who has been near a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes when health and safety measures, e.g. wearing a mask, were not in place or were insufficient.

For more information, visit the Spring 2022 COVID-19 Protocols webpage.

You should notify any individuals who had close contact with you that they have been exposed and ask them to complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app. A close contact is generally someone who has been near a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes when health and safety measures, e.g. wearing a mask, were not in place or were insufficient.

A certification documentation for work or class is available here (.pdf).

Students:  Once a student completes the Passport through the Healthy Together app, they will receive communication and instructions through the app that can be shared with their instructors informing them of the extended absence and request for accommodations if necessary. If additional support or communication is required, please contact Student Affairs (studentaffairs@ou.edu). Missing a class session or other class activity due to illness or isolation should not result in a grade penalty for the absence. Contact your instructors prior to your absence or inability to participate, if possible. The Provost’s Office has directed instructors to work with self-isolated/quarantined students to ensure they can complete their courses as planned.

Students who test positive should complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app. Students will receive communication and instructions through the app that can be shared with their instructors informing them of the extended absence and request for accommodations if necessary. If additional support or communication is required, please contact Student Affairs (studentaffairs@ou.edu).

Frequently used campus spaces are cleaned daily. Supervisors, RAs, faculty, staff, and others who are made aware that an individual in their area has tested positive should contact Facilities Management at (405) 325-3060 to confirm when cleaning of the space last occurred. This procedure should be followed in off-campus leased spaces as well, by contacting the leasing agent or building maintenance team.

The university has resumed pre-pandemic cleaning protocols, which take into consideration applicable government and industry cleaning and safety standards.

University Responsibility: University Operations has increased outside air where possible and converted HVAC systems with hospital-grade filters (MERV-13).

Department/Area Responsibility: As was the case prior to COVID-19, each department/area manager remains responsible for obtaining appropriate cleaning supplies and providing for the cleaning of shared office equipment, furniture, surfaces, and environment. While supplies last, department/area managers may still obtain cleaning supplies that have been EPA/CDC-approved from Facilities Management. These cleaning supplies can be requested here.

  • COVID-19 Positive Individuals – Frequently used campus spaces are cleaned on a daily basis. Department/area managers notified of a COVID-19 positive individual in their space should contact Facilities Management at (405) 325-3060 to confirm when cleaning of the space last occurred. This procedure should be followed in off-campus leased spaces as well, by contacting the leasing agent or building maintenance team.

Individual Responsibility: As was the case prior to COVID-19, individuals are responsible for cleaning their personal and shared spaces and the office equipment.

The Spring 2022 semester will follow the same protocols that were implemented in Fall 2021, with the below modifications:

For the first two weeks of the Spring 2022 semester (through January 31) masking will be required in all classroom settings. Beginning February 1, the Norman campus will revert to the Fall 2021 masking guidance, which is listed below. 

Fall 2021 Masking Guidance

General Facilities – OU community members are expected to mask indoors, especially in high-density settings, such as classrooms and at special events when not eating or drinking.

Health Care Facilities – OU continues to require masking for all individuals in patient-facing settings, including clinical research participant areas and facilities and areas where patient care is the primary function.

OU Health Sciences Center Programs will coordinate masking requirements with hospital and clinic partners, as appropriate.

Transportation – Riders on transit buses and shuttles must wear masks, in compliance with Department of Transportation mandates.

Classrooms – Resuming February 1, should there be a confirmed COVID-19 positive case in class, the class will continue meeting in-person, but masking will be required for 2 weeks during the quarantine period.

Read More: OU Masking Protocols

While cloth masks are still permissible on the Norman campus, the university strongly recommends the use of KN95 masks or disposable surgical masks as they provide far greater amounts of protection against Omicron.

KN95 and disposable surgical masks will be made available to OU community members. Campus Safety will provide masks to building supervisors to be made available at all entrances.

Faculty, staff, and students regardless of vaccination status must adhere to the university’s masking protocols. Individuals in need of a health accommodation should contact the Accessibility and Disability Center at adrc@ou.edu.

Read more about OU masking protocols here.

Vaccine

A federal court has temporarily blocked the enforcement of the federal COVID-19 vaccine requirement for federal subcontractors. This means that as long as the court’s decision is in place, university employees are not required to become vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022, and are also not required to seek exemptions to the rule, except as described below.

Vaccination requirements are limited to the following groups of OU community members:

  • Students, faculty, and staff who have patient-facing responsibilities and volunteers who shadow or observe in patient-care settings.
  • All those who elect to participate in study abroad programs.
    • All eligible individuals participating in study abroad programs are required to receive a COVID-19 booster dose before departing for their study abroad destination. 
  • OUHSC employees must continue to comply with the vaccination requirements found here (pdf), which were in place before the federal executive order. Many OUHSC employees may also need to comply with additional vaccination requirements at other health care facilities where they practice or rotate, including OU Health facilities and programs.

Read More: Getting Vaccinated at OU

COVID Admin Leave was made available to facilitate compliance with the federal vaccine requirement. Now that the requirement is suspended, COVID Admin Leave is also suspended and no longer available, starting Dec. 9.

Employees are no longer required to request a new exemption or comply with the accommodations that exempted them from COVID-19 vaccination except in patient-facing environments, study abroad programs, and in compliance with the existing OUHSC vaccination requirement found here.

OUHSC employees who wish to request an exemption from the vaccine requirements, may also do that through the online form in Employee Self-Service. Find instructions for submitting an Exemption Request. The exemption request must be completed in Employee Self-Service, even if  approval of a declination request was already granted earlier this year from HSC or another system.

For questions about employee vaccine requirements, contact Human Resources at vaccine@ou.edu. For questions about vaccine requirements for study abroad participation, contact OU Education Abroad at ea@ou.edu.

COVID-19 vaccines are available to all students, faculty, and staff on all three OU campuses at no cost to the individuals.

Norman Campus: To schedule a vaccine appointment at Goddard Health Center, visit the OU Health Services webpage. For more information about vaccine distribution at OU, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Update page.

Health Sciences Center

OU-Tulsa

There is no cost to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have insurance, OU Health Services will bill your insurance only for the cost of vaccine administration. There is no co-pay required.

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated if they are:

  • A person who is at least 14 days but no more than 6 months past the second dose of a two-dose WHO-approved vaccine (currently, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and others here);  
  • A person who is at least 14 days but no more than 2 months past one dose of a single-dose WHO-approved vaccine (currently, Janssen [Johnson & Johnson]); or
  • A person who has received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

OU Health Services provides health care for the university community, which includes OU students, faculty, staff, dependents, and retirees. Please refer to the COVID-19 Vaccine Update page for the latest information.

Yes. Faculty, staff, and students regardless of vaccination status should complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. 

For more information, visit the Spring 2022 COVID-19 Protocols webpage.

Yes. You will still need to quarantine if you are not fully vaccinated. For more information, visit the Spring 2022 COVID-19 Protocols webpage.

No. All members of the OU community should continue to abide by safety precautions, including those who have been vaccinated. OU community members should continue monitoring health symptoms and frequently washing hands to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Anyone who wishes to mask indoors or outdoors may freely do so.

Classes and Academics

The university will hold in-person classes at regular capacity university-wide for the spring 2022 semester. The Spring 2022 semester will follow the same COVID-19 protocols that were implemented in Fall 2021 with a few modifications. For more information, visit the Spring 2022 COVID-19 Protocols webpage.

Students who test positive should complete the Passport through the Healthy Together app. Students will receive communication and instructions through the app that can be shared with their instructors informing them of the extended absence and request for accommodations if necessary. If additional support or communication is required, please contact Student Affairs (studentaffairs@ou.edu). Students should contact their instructors prior to their absence or inability to participate, if possible.

Employees

Due to supply chain challenges around testing availability, and the need for vaccine boosters to be optimally protected from the virus, masking remains one of our best mitigation strategies. As has been our policy since the start of Fall 2021, masking will continue to be expected in all indoor settings for all faculty, staff and students.

For the first two weeks of the semester (through January 31) masking will be required in classroom settings. Beginning February 1, 2022, the Norman Campus will revert to the Fall 2021 masking guidance, which is listed below.

Fall 2021 Masking Guidance

General Facilities – OU community members are expected to mask indoors, especially in high-density settings, such as classrooms and at special events when not eating or drinking.

Health Care Facilities – All individuals in patient-facing settings, including clinical research participant areas and facilities where patient care is a primary function must wear a mask.

OU Health Sciences Center programs will coordinate masking requirements with hospital and clinic partners, as appropriate.

Transportation – Passengers on transit buses and shuttles must wear a mask due to Department of Transportation mandates.

Classrooms – Resuming February 1, should there be a confirmed COVID-19 positive case in class, the class will continue meeting in-person, but masking will be required for 2 weeks during the quarantine period.

Read More: OU Masking Protocols

Through January 31, managers are asked to use their discretion in instituting operational changes for their units to ensure workplace continuity and service offerings, and to make all reasonable efforts to assist staff members whose circumstances put them at unique risk to the virus. Managers may contact Human Resources at ohr@ou.edu for additional guidance.

Through January 31, if an employee has concerns about returning to on-campus work and considers themselves to be at high-risk for COVID-19 based on the CDC guidelines or cares for a household family member who is at high-risk, the employee should contact the HR ADA Coordinator at vanessallach@ou.edu to discuss accommodation or FMLA options. Supervisors are also encouraged to consider remote-work options, as appropriate, for these employees.

Through January 31, supervisors are encouraged to consider remote-work options, as appropriate, for these employees. If working remotely is not an option, the employee should take PTO.

Employees may not bring their children to the workplace as a substitute for daycare.

Through January 31, if it is reasonable to accomplish the objectives of the meeting virtually, such meetings should be held online via Zoom, Teams etc. or by conference call. When in-person meetings are necessary, masks are expected, and social distancing is recommended.

While a return to normal operations is expected on February 1, due to the dynamic situation regarding the Omicron variant, OU leadership may issue updated guidance and instructions as appropriate.

University Operations and Events

For the latest updates, visit ou.edu/together.

The university is continuing in-person classes at regular capacity university-wide for the spring 2022 semester with necessary safety precautions in place. Learn more about the COVID-19 protocols for the Spring 2022 semester.

Events, including those hosted by third parties, may be held in university facilities following pre-COVID protocols. In accordance with CDC guidance, the university recommends COVID-19 vaccination for anyone participating in events on OU property.
Read more about getting vaccinated at OU here.

OU expects individuals to wear a mask indoors, especially in high-density settings, such as classrooms and at special events when not eating or drinking.
Read more about OU masking protocols here.

Please refer to each campus' Response Plan for specific information about a particular campus.

OU-Tulsa: ou.edu/tulsa/coronavirus

OU Health Sciences Center: ouhsc.edu/coronavirus

Through January 31, if it is reasonable to accomplish the objectives of the meeting virtually, such meetings should be held online via Zoom, Teams etc. or by conference call. When in-person meetings are necessary, masks are expected, and social distancing is recommended.

Food Services will operate as they did during the Fall 2021 semester. To learn more about campus dining options, visit ou.edu/housingandfood/dining.

Guidelines for OU Athletics events will be consistent with those in place during the Fall 2021 semester.

Travel and Study Abroad

University Domestic and International Travel – Although university operations have in many ways returned to pre-pandemic status, OU administration continues to be mindful of the financial challenges induced by the pandemic and has been planning accordingly.

Part of that planning includes taking advantage of cost-saving strategies that proved useful during the pandemic. Travel savings have been an important part of the university’s reduced expenses throughout the pandemic and are an area in which we can continue to thoughtfully limit costs while still maintaining our high standards of excellence as an academic institution. Therefore, in determining the necessity of travel, the following guidance is strongly encouraged, which focuses on travel that is considered essential or mission-critical to the university:

  • Is the travel critical to the performance of core academic, research, or operations functions as outlined in the Strategic Plan?
  • Is it required by the federal government or a sponsoring agency or organization?
  • Is it necessary to secure or maintain funding?
  • Is it required for work that can only be performed in person?
  • Is it necessary to maintain professional accreditation?
  • Is a remote option available?

Please note that while travel no longer requires VP-level approval, it must still be approved by deans and/or directors, as has always been required.

Over the past year, the OU Travel and Screening Committee, comprised of medical and public health professionals and university administrators, has met regularly to monitor the state of COVID-19 around the world and make recommendations for OU study abroad program locations. In a March 12 message (pdf), Provost Irvine announced that this screening process led to conditionally approving Summer study abroad options to 15 countries. On May 13, Provost Irvine announced that Fall study abroad is also conditionally approved to 14 countries and territories: China, France, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom.

This approval means the university can move forward with study abroad planning to these destinations with three important caveats:

  • First, various program and country-specific contingencies, most outside the control of the university, may lead to the necessity of cancelling programs, a possibility that always exists in study abroad but is obviously heightened by the context of the global pandemic. The College of International Studies and the OU Travel and Screening Committee will continue to closely monitor the situation and update the community and any affected program participants.
  • Second, multiple Fall study abroad countries recently saw an increase in their Department of State (DOS) Travel Advisory to Level 4, i.e., “Do Not Travel”. This change was due to an update in the Travel Advisory methodology rather than a re-assessment of conditions on the ground. DOS recommends travelers consider multiple sources of information when making travel decisions. This is how the OU Travel and Screening Committee has operated since it was established. The committee takes a broad range of data and indicators into consideration for each destination. Because traveling in a world affected by COVID-19 is not to be undertaken lightly, the university strongly encourages anyone planning for travel to exercise informed and careful judgement.
  • Finally, please note that the university recently announced the requirement for study abroad participants to be fully vaccinated before traveling to their destination countries. If you are considering participation in one of these programs, you are encouraged to complete your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the OU Education Abroad Office at ea@ou.edu.

Tuition and Fees

OU is working to provide in-person courses to the maximum extent practical. OU has also added new, smaller, in-person sections to many classes – a large-scale effort that will benefit students. The online coursework proposed through the Safe and Resilient Instructional Plan is a temporary but necessary structure to protect the health of students, faculty, and staff. Although online instruction is different, its quality is based on a similar set of factors to in-person instruction – with instructor preparation and student engagement playing a key role in either scenario.

The payment of tuition for courses, no matter the delivery method, ultimately leads to the attainment of an OU degree – an achievement that will forever lead students to new opportunities. By completing a course online or in-person, students will meet degree requirements and will progress in their degree program.

 

Yes, tuition rates will remain unchanged, but no additional fees will be charged for courses that have been moved online due to COVID-19.

Should courses be moved entirely online, there will be no reduction of tuition or fees. If instruction were to move entirely online, the university will still remain open providing accessible services that are supported by student fees. Although online instruction is different, its quality is based on a similar set of factors to in-person instruction – with instructor preparation and student engagement playing a key role in either scenario.

The payment of tuition for courses, no matter the delivery method, ultimately leads to the attainment of an OU degree – an achievement that will forever lead students to new opportunities.

The university understands that many students and their families are presented with financial concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although transitioning courses in spring 2020 from in-person to online increased the cost of education for the university, those additional costs were not passed along to students.