On Sunday, March 22, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced a broad-based shutdown of activity in Ohio. The governor’s order begins at 11:59 p.m., Monday, March 23, and continues through April 6.
The order follows several other governors who have made similar orders in their states. Among the alternative models in various states, Ohio has followed the Illinois model, which from a higher education perspective is the best of the alternatives. The highlights of the order are as follows:
- All individuals in Ohio are to remain in their residences except for a number of exemptions listed in the order.
- All "non-essential businesses" must cease operations, and all essential business must practice social distancing.
- All public and private gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.
- Most travel is prohibited, except with social distancing travel for health and safety, procuring supplies such as food, essential work, and outdoor activity (in essence, exercise).
Essential business operations include several activities including higher education, defined as follows:
"Educational institutions. Educational institutions-including public and private pre-K-12 schools, colleges and universities-for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible." (Section 12(m))
Beyond that. "Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services" is permitted. (Section 14(c))
In addition, it is clear that certain activities of higher education institutions beyond that paragraph are also permitted. These include: health activities; food provision and preparation; critical trades such electricians, janitors, security, HVAC, etc.; residential facilities; and professional services such as legal and accounting. These provisions are all that will be necessary to support the operation of student housing.
Further, minimum basic operations are permitted while carrying out exempted operations, such as physical plant, security, payroll and employee benefits, and related functions.
The order provides the College’s administration with the necessary authority to continue to support students who remain on campus, to determine which staff are necessary to work on campus, to support the work of staff who work from home, to determine which staff will work from home, and to support staff who are working in a safe manner on campus performing functions necessary to maintain the institution.