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OU Response

OU Together The University of Oklahoma

OU's Response to COVID-19

Since the onset of the pandemic, the university has taken lengthy steps to protect the campus communities, including these steps taken on its Norman campus.

The OU community came together to help lead our campus, state, and nation to a healthier, safer, and more prosperous future.

OU scientists and physicians are contributing research efforts to the fight against COVID-19 in a variety of ways.


Health and Safety Measures

Since the onset of the pandemic, the university has taken lengthy steps to protect the campus communities, including these steps taken on its Norman campus.


Classroom and instructional modifications

OU is providing in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible while promoting a safe and secure campus environment. To help accomplish this, OU extended class times throughout the day and moved larger classes online.

Calendar updates

As part of its proactive strategy to safeguard the community, OU announced several modifications to the Norman campus fall 2020 and spring 2021 academic calendars including: moving programs entirely online following Thanksgiving break through the end of the fall 2020 semester; extending winter break by one week, with classes beginning Monday, Jan 25, 2021,; and canceling spring break.

COVID-19 Testing, Data, and Reporting

Free COVID-19 testing for students and employees

Any OU student, faculty, or staff member may schedule a free COVID-19 test.

COVID-19 Vaccine

In alignment with the Oklahoma State Department of Health phased plan for distribution, the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine has begun on all three OU campuses.

COVID-19 testing
requirement prior to

Before the start of the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters, OU required all students moving into on-campus housing to be tested for COVID-19 before arriving on campus.

COVID-19 dashboard

OU launched an online dashboard, available at, to track COVID-19 testing data on the Norman campus – a community of more than 38,300 students, faculty, and staff.

Mandatory online health screening

All OU employees and students must complete the online screening and reporting form when certain scenarios apply, such as testing positive for COVID-19 or suspected exposure.

Wastewater analysis

OU researchers are conducting regular sampling of wastewater from across campus to help identify areas experiencing higher levels of the virus.

Voluntary student surveillance testing program

During the fall 2020 semester, students living in OU housing who are not reporting symptoms of COVID-19 were encouraged to participate in OU’s voluntary testing program.

Facilities and University Operations

Masking requirement

OU implemented a university-wide masking policy, which applies to faculty, staff, students, and campus visitors across all three campuses. Students and employees have been provided various types of face masks appropriate to their on-campus responsibilities.

Chief COVID Officer

OU appointed Dr. Dale Bratzler, a nationally leading expert in infectious diseases and public health, to advise the university on its planning and response efforts with regard to the virus.

Social distancing

Classrooms, workspaces, and common areas across campus have been configured to promote social distancing. Additionally, OU Libraries on the Norman campus offers two tools to help students gauge study capacity before they arrive at a location.

Enhanced cleaning

Through Clean and Green, OU’s campuses are meticulously cleaned to support the healthiest environment possible. OU enhanced its daily cleaning protocols, with particular emphasis on touch points and common areas, and implemented electrostatic cleaning across the university.

Facility upgrades

OU installed touchless, motion-sensor fixtures in public restrooms, upgraded air filters to hospital-grade standards, and installed more hand sanitizer stations across campus.

Phased return to campus

To maximize safety, and to prepare for the fall semester on the Norman campus, OU implemented a phased return to campus with phase 1 beginning on May 11, phase 2 on July 6, and phase 3 on Aug. 3.

Research restart

OU researchers in Norman developed and volunteered participation in a pilot return to campus to ensure students, faculty and staff could safely resume in-person instruction in fall 2020.

Campus Life

Housing modifications

OU established 300 single-occupancy rooms to decrease dorm density.

Outdoor spaces for classes and groups

OU installed 30 tents across the Norman campus to supplement indoor common spaces.

Game day protocols

OU announced tailgating guidelines and game day procedures for the 2020 football season and 2021 spring sports season, with protocols that include reduced capacities at athletics events and requiring masks be worn at all times while on the OU campus.

Community Engagement and Outreach

The OU community came together to help lead our campus, state, and nation to a healthier, safer, and more prosperous future.

Public Health Awareness

Public health awareness

Throughout the pandemic, OU promoted the importance of practicing healthy behaviors, such as mask wearing, frequent hand washing, and social distancing. OU produced and distributed behavioral PSAs for social media, email messages and e-newsletter articles to internal audiences, featured Q&As with OU medical experts, and posted across campus. In addition, OU Health launched a public health awareness campaign to help Oklahomans understand how they can help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Production of essential medical equipment

In response to COVID-19, a multidisciplinary OU team united to prototype essential equipment designsdonating manufactured protective gear and patenting a design for a 3D printed face mask. OU costume designers also created cloth face masks that can be sanitized and reused.

Health Expertise

OU’s front-line health care teams

From the onset of the pandemic, health professionals at OU Health Physicians and our hospital partner, OU Health, served on the front lines of the public health crisis, providing critical care for Oklahomans.

Medical expertise

OU public health and infectious diseases experts are lending their medical knowledge to guide our state through the pandemic, by giving media interviews on the status of the virus and by working side-by-side with our Health Departments to advise the state’s response to the pandemic.

COVID-19 testing sites

In collaboration with the Fran and Earl Ziegler OU College of Nursing, OU Health Sciences Center, OU Health and the Oklahoma State Department of Health, OU is engaged in offering COVID-19 testing at multiple locations across Oklahoma. 

Care of the OU Community

Financial support

Many OU alumni and friends donated of their own resources in this uncertain economic time, to benefit our students who have been negatively impacted by the virus.

Specialized support for international students

COVID-19 has introduced disruptions for all of us, but our international students have experienced disproportionate challenges as a result of the crisis. Over the last several months, the university prioritized these issues, coordinating advocacy efforts with campus partners and state and federal delegations. OU also launched a task force with the sole intention of actively supporting and advocating for international students, and a fundraising campaign is helping provide much-needed financial assistance to OU international students.

Creation of OU Together websites

The university launched an OU Together website for each campus, designed to provide employees, students, and visitors with up-to-date information and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Creation of virtual activities, meetings

When classes moved online in spring 2020, many campus departments and organizations across the university also adapted, offering services in a virtual format. Virtual tutoring, online diversity webinars, Zoom counseling sessions, and daily Facebook Live workouts are just a few examples of the resources and services that have been continually provided to students to help ensure their success.

Virtual tours for prospective students

OU Admissions creatively launched several options for prospective students to get a glimpse of campus from afar, offering virtual tours in a live, student-guided format or a self-guided option.

Conversation tips and FAQs during COVID-19

The university developed conversation tips to help encourage students, faculty, and staff to take positive steps when they see others taking actions that are not consistent with university policy related to COVID-19. FAQ documents and videos on topics from travel to testing were also developed and made available across the campuses.

OU Food Pantry

The OU Food Pantry created an online ordering system and implemented new health and safety protocols to help keep clients and staff safe.   

Bigger than Bedlam campaign

OU and OSU joined together to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Through the “Bigger than Bedlam” campaign, both schools encouraged students to get tested for COVID-19 before traveling home for the Thanksgiving holiday while continuing healthy behaviors like masking, social distancing, and proper hand hygiene.

Launch of OU Connect

Recognizing the unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic was providing for parents and family caregivers, OU launched OU Connect, a person-to-person job posting website that helps students, faculty, and staff who need help caring for a family member.

Community Service

Million mask challenge

OU medical students partnered with OU Health to help protect Oklahoma’s health care workers by collecting masks and other essential protective equipment.

Thank you note program

Students at the OU Health Sciences Center launched a thank you note program to allow members of the OU community to express their gratitude to the front-line medical workers.


OU scientists and physicians are contributing research efforts to the fight against COVID-19 in a variety of ways.

Medical Research

Virus prediction models

OU researchers on the Norman and Health Sciences Center campuses are working with the governor to protect Oklahomans by using predictive modeling, including novel modeling for rural communities, to help predict the spread of the virus.

Vaccine clinical trials

OU medical researchers are working on two vaccines for the coronavirus, and also have at least six clinical trials underway.

App for cancer patients

OU cancer researchers are creating an app that will monitor the well-being of cancer patients during the pandemic. The app will help assess the health of patients and their risk for having newly contracted COVID-19.

Coronavirus outbreak forecasts

An OU interdisciplinary group of researchers, funded by a NASA grant, is studying how coronaviruses emerge and is developing measures to forecast future infectious disease outbreaks.

COVID-19 treatment

OU researchers and OU Health physicians are studying how computed tomography imaging can guide the current and future treatment of COVID-19.

New treatment protocols

OU infectious diseases experts are working to develop new treatment protocols for the coronavirus.

The Wider Impact of COVID-19

Social media research

OU researchers are studying the impact of misinformation shared on social media on the public’s response to COVID-19.

Impact of COVID-19 on families and teachers

The OU-Tulsa Early Childhood Education Institute conducted a study of Tulsa-area first graders to understand how COVID-19 impacted the financial, physical, and mental health of students, parents, and teachers during the first three months of the pandemic.

Testing Research

PCR COVID-19 testing

Researchers at the OU Health Sciences Center developed an Oklahoma PCR COVID-19 test, the most accurate of all types of COVID-19 tests. 

Rapid testing

OU scientists are assisting diagnostic partners to develop new rapid testing.