OU Interim Provost and Senior Vice President Jill Irvine clarified COVID-19 protocols in an email to university deans and associate deans Wednesday.
In the email obtained by The Daily, Irvine detailed COVID-19 lab protections, student isolation policies and the process for reporting students' COVID-19-related absences to professors.
“With the beginning of classes and the expected reporting of students on campus testing positive for COVID-19, many students and instructors will be concerned about the risk of transmission in the classroom, particularly in the higher density computer and science labs,” Irvine said in the email.
Irvine stressed the importance of the university’s mask mandate in the email, saying mask-wearing is still highly effective even when social distancing of 6 feet is not being observed.
Irvine said safety protocols for both students and instructors in labs are the same as those for in classrooms, with mask wearing still being the most important.
Irvine also said students in labs are encouraged to wear eye protection in addition to a mask for extra protection. All labs are now equipped with hospital-grade MERV 13 air filtration systems, according to the email.
Irvine said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU’s chief COVID officer, approved all safety protocols for labs on campus.
“If at any time the lab protocols were to become unsafe, he would direct us to change them or to move labs online,” Irvine said in the email.
Irvine also addressed confusion surrounding student self-isolation protocols and the process in which faculty are notified of their students’ status.
Irvine said students who have had known contact with someone who is positive for the virus will isolate for seven days and then take a PCR test. If the test is negative, they are permitted to return to classes.
Irvine clarified faculty are not allowed to ask a student for verification on whether or not they have been cleared to return to class, but a student can volunteer that information.
Irvine also said in the email there may be a delay in notification to faculty from Student Affairs if one of their students tests positive due to students using other off-campus locations to receive testing, which creates a delay in verification and reporting.
Irvine instructed faculty to tell the student to follow up with Student Affairs and take care of themselves if they are ill.
Editor's Note: This story's headline was updated at 1:23 p.m. to correct the spelling of Interim Provost Jill Irvine's first name.