Photo of Charlene Pepiot | For The Post

Consequences of COVID-19 response

December 1, 2021

Thinking In Print: Ohio University's Response to COVID-19 in 2021

By Charlene Pepiot | For The Post

As 2021 draws to a close, it’s fair to say that COVID-19 kept a tight grip on the world, and Ohio University is no exception. While the university was able to remain open and provide students with a somewhat normal semester given the circumstances, there was room for improvement.

At the beginning of the year, I discussed how closing Shively made the two remaining campus dining halls overcrowded and dangerous for students. As the semester continued, I did notice a decrease in the lines, though this was likely students avoiding the busier hours to beat the rush rather than anything the university did. To OU’s credit, they did eventually set up belt stanchions around the counters in Nelson and split the taco bar and Carvers Cut into two lines at The District on West Green to lessen the number of students crowding together.

Ohio University also released weekly health reports updating students and faculty about active cases and important information. As someone who was terrified of returning to remote learning, I would anxiously skim each email to see if students had to leave campus before reading the article in full. I, and many others, relied on these reports for accurate information, which is why many people were upset when OU grossly miscalculated the faculty’s vaccination rate. While the error was later corrected, it still inevitably called into question how well OU could manage the virus.

As a point for further student stress, Ohio University’s professors were a mixed bag when it came to accommodating student absences due to quarantine and COVID-19. Some professors offered substitutes for missing lectures while others were slow to respond, did not accept late work or didn’t excuse absences. When I got sick and was self-quarantining until I got my test results back, my professors were all great about not counting me absent. However, my experience isn’t universal.

Nevertheless, OU did allow eating in the dining halls this semester and tried to give students the college experience as best they could despite the circumstances. Students could go see live performances again, experience homecoming and its parade, have craft night in Baker, sign up for clubs and attend class in person. If remote learning taught me anything, it’s that these simple college experiences shouldn’t be taken for granted, and I’m grateful the university was able to sustain these college staples while keeping us safe.

Despite having one online class and one hybrid this semester, I only have one fully in-person class in the spring, with the rest being online or hybrids. Having had only a year and a half of pre-pandemic college life, it’s frustrating that despite the vaccine mandate and things getting better, my last semester will yet again be me staring at my computer screen. The world is returning to normal, and Ohio University needs to do the same in 2022.

Charlene Pepiot is a senior studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Charlene know by emailing her

AUTHOR: Charlene Pepiot
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