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OU President Joseph Harroz details return to campus, announces chief COVID officer

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Joseph Harroz

OU President Joseph Harroz during the OU Board of Regents meeting May 9.

OU President Joseph Harroz updated the OU community Monday afternoon about plans for returning to campus in the fall and appointing the university’s Chief COVID Officer.

In a video, Harroz announced a “soft opening” of “back-to-campus work” for July 6. A full return to campus is scheduled for Aug. 3. 

“Rest assured, we’re working diligently to mitigate the disruptive effects of COVID-19 and, as best we can, return to normal operations at OU,” Harroz said in the video.

Harroz said the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City and Schusterman Center in Tulsa returned to normal operations in May.

The university is also using enhanced cleaning protocols, including its Clean and Green initiative, according to Harroz.

Harroz said the plan to welcome back student-athletes is underway and includes extensive precautions.

Harroz also said the university is developing pilot testing and contact tracing to “inform how (the OU community will) return safely this fall.”

Harroz said the university would continue to refine its efforts as new information becomes available.

A complete list of updates for OU’s Safe and Resilient Instructional Plan can be found here.

Harroz also announced the appointment of Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU’s Hudson College of Public Health’s chair of the Department of Health Administration and Policy, and OU Medicine professor, to the position of university chief COVID officer. According to Harroz, Bratzler will “help to coordinate a consistent approach to (OU’s) return efforts in light of the best available data about infection trends.”

Harroz said the objective of designating a chief COVID officer was to ensure the university was doing everything it could to prevent the virus’ spread.

“Ever since the university began closely monitoring the rapidly evolving COVID-19 virus early this year, Dr. Bratzler has been heavily involved in our decision-making and safety planning,” Harroz said in the release. “As OU’s Chief COVID Officer, Dr. Bratzler will help to coordinate a consistent approach to our return efforts in light of the best available data about COVID-19 infection trends. His guidance will help ensure we are doing everything we can on our campuses to prevent the spread of the virus, while we carefully and thoughtfully reopen our on-campus educational programs.”

Harroz said Bratzler, a former senior policy adviser for the CDC and enterprise chief quality officer for OU Medicine, has devoted nearly 25 years to the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, as well as advising health care leaders on public health topics.

According to the release, Bratzler is a master fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Internists and a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He earned a bachelor of science in biology from the University of Central Missouri, a doctorate of osteopathy from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, and a master of public health from OU.

Beth Wallis is a senior journalism major and political science minor, and news managing editor for The Daily. Previously, she worked as a junior news reporter covering university research.

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