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OU President Joseph Harroz announces mandatory COVID-19 testing ahead of residential move-ins, cautions possible layoffs

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Interim OU President Joseph Harroz speaks during the regents' meeting in Bizzell Memorial Library on March 10.

OU President Joseph Harroz and other campus leaders discussed fall plans for university housing and food, including required COVID-19 testing for all students moving into the dorms and possible layoffs, in a Monday morning town hall. 

Harroz said COVID-19 testing will be a requirement for all university housing, and Greek organizations will be following suit with required testing for all students moving into houses. Tests will be at no cost to the students, he said, adding that 5,000 tests will be administered for university housing and 1,550 will be administered for Greek life. 

The testing requirements for this group will come in addition to the masking and social distancing requirements already in place on campus, Harroz said. The university received $9 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security funding and “blew through that on day one,” and the testing requirement for students was a $600,000 decision made yesterday. 

All incoming housing residents will be required to take a COVID-19 test between Aug. 4 and 5, according to the town hall presentation. The test will be mailed overnight directly to students and administered by staff via Zoom. The sample will be returned and test results will be available in 48 to 72 hours. 

Harroz also discussed the impact scaled-down Housing and Food Services could have on that department’s employees. 

“We know that we’re simply not able to — if we go fully online — continue to provide pay the way it has been provided,” Harroz said. “It will not work. And we hate that. So many universities have already (begun) furloughing and terminating employees. But the reality is if housing isn’t in operation, that directly impacts all those that work in and around Housing and Food Services.” 

He said these cuts would “put us in line” with many other higher education institutions, but added there’s a “real human consideration” that attaches to employment cuts. 

Ari Fife is the OU Daily summer editor-in-chief and a sophomore journalism major minoring in international studies and political science. Previously, she served as a senior news reporter and was an SGA beat reporter.

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