UCO Level 2 COVID operations extended

Yesterday, UCO announced COVID-19 operations would remain at Level 2 amid the Omicron variant and surge of case numbers in the community. In an campus wide email it reads:

“The university will extend Level 2 operations as detailed in the university’s COVID-19 Decision-Making Framework an additional week through Feb. 6. Level 2 is defined as “Campus Open with Moderate Density,” which includes managed density and a culture of mitigation for exposure. The extension is based on a recommendation from UCO’s COVID-19 On-call Task Force after a review of reported case numbers and other related factors in the campus and surrounding communities.”

The decision to move to Level 2 operations comes after increased case levels over the weekend of Jan. 8-9, and was announced to go into effect Jan. 11. 

“The university was monitoring what other campuses in and out of state were doing, as well as conditions in the OKC metro and state,” UCO Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Adrienne Nobles said. 

Level 2 operations gives faculty the option to move their courses to fully remote, implement a hybrid of online and in-person attendance or keep class in-person. Hybrid and in-person formats require masks to be worn when in the classroom. 

In the case that UCO chooses to move back to a Level 1, there is no specific number that leads to the decision. 

“There are multiple factors – known and unknown – that could lead to the university shifting COVID-19 operating levels,” Nobles said. 

Some students said that UCO should have made the decision to move classes to the hybrid or online options earlier in the year instead of making the announcement after students had already come back on campus.  

“I think Omicron already held a large presence before school even started back up from break,” junior Jazlyn Huynh said. “Rather than putting students at risk, it would have been more helpful to have the first two weeks of school online from the start like other universities did nationwide.” 

According to Nobles, UCO’s future case numbers depend on students’ participation in mask wearing, vaccinations, boosters, and following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for quarantine and isolation protocol. UCO then monitors case numbers and follows their Decision-Making Framework for Determining States of Campus Operations during COVID-19. This framework includes the levels of operation ranging from level 1 to a level 5 which would lead to a closed campus. 

As Omicron and future variants of COVID make their way through the UCO community, Nobles said UCO does not see a mask mandate for students in the near future, but continues its recommendation to wear a mask on an individual basis.

“There is not a campus-wide mask mandate,” Nobles said. “The university has an expectation that students will do what they can to protect themselves and others by wearing a mask when out and about on campus.”

Nobles also said that while there is no mask mandate, UCO continues its enhanced cleaning protocols and filtration along with its partnership with IMMY labs and Passport Health for vaccinations and testing.  

“That said, many of the tools we have to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are in the hands of the individual,” Nobles said. 

For more information about protocols and guidance to protect yourself and others from COVID, visit uco.edu/coronavirus.

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