Astronomy Return to Campus Information


Astronomy Department Return to Campus Information

Updated: 2021 February 24

General Guidance for Spring Semester

Faculty and staff, including graduate students, should continue working from home until further notice.  Priority for on-campus work is for persons teaching classes, brief office visits to retrieve materials to work at home, and approved work in labs or administrative offices for activities requiring physical presence on campus.  Any extended work presence on-campus for other than teaching, administrative, and lab work must be cleared by the department chair.

Columbus/Franklin County Advisory

Franklin County remains at a Level 3 Public Emergency (red).

Please read the university's guidance for OSU students, faculty, and staff on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website for the latest news.

Unless you need to be physically present on campus to perform approved work in the labs or admin offices or to teach a class, all faculty, staff, and students with offices in McPherson Lab should continue to work from home during Spring Semester.  Persons making brief visits to pick-up/drop-off materials needed to work at home must sign up for an available slot and submit a health report, but you do not need prior clearance for brief visits. 

We will update this advisory as the university's response changes.

First priority for access to offices is for faculty teaching online from their campus offices and staff performing approved lab and administrative work.  Second priority is brief visits to pick-up/drop-off work materials.

However, if you are not teaching, working in the labs or admin offices, or making a brief pick-up/drop-off visit, you must ask for an exception to work on campus. Please contact the department chair and clear it with him before proceeding.  Exceptions must be of limited scope (no blanket exceptions).

We expect these restrictions and safety protocols to remain in place as long as the number of COVID-19 stays at elevated levels and the state and county restrictions remain in place.

Quick Links

Mandatory Daily Health Reporting (Ohio State mobile app or

Mandatory Department Visit Sign-up Sheet (Excel Spreadsheet on SharePoint)

OSU COVID-19 Dashboard (status of COVID-19 cases in Ohio and Columbus)

Safe & Healthy Buckeyes - official university policies and procedures for safe campus return.

Campus Visits

During Spring Semester 2021, sign-up for office visits will continue at a reduced level until further notice. Approved visits should occur between the hours of 6am and 9pm on weekdays.

A limited number of individuals may make visits to campus to retrieve materials for working from home, but you may not go to work in your office unless your work requires physical presence on campus.  All requests for on-campus work must be made in writing to the department chair (Todd Thompson). 

Persons making limited visits to exchange work materials must still file health check reports, sign up for a time on the office sign-up, and follow all safety protocols (mask wearing, distancing, etc.) to the letter.  Visits to retrieve materials to work from home must only take as long as needed to retrieve what you need.

If you are given permission to work on campus, you must also complete a health check report, sign-up online, and follow all safety protocols (wear masks, distancing, etc.) to the letter for every visit, no matter how routine.  You may be the only person in your office or lab, and you may not meet with anybody in-person during your visit, but you still need to follow the protocol.  If you need to work with someone face-to-face, please use Zoom or other teleconferencing system.

Daily Health Check Requirement

You must complete a mandatory health check self report before going to campus or going out into the community on OSU business.

This check shall be performed using the Ohio State mobile app or the website. You can learn more about the health check policies on the Safe & Healthy Buckeyes website.  The check is required independent of the duration of your visit.

There are no exceptions to this policy. Failure to comply may result in accountability measures.

Return from Travel

If you travel out of Columbus to spend time with others outside of your immediate local household, you are required to self-sequester at home for at least 14 days before returning to campus for any reason, including testing negative for COVID-19 immediately before return to work.

Face Mask Requirement

The university's mask policy is as follows:

Masks must be worn indoors at all times, including, but not limited to: classrooms, common areas, conference rooms, shared office spaces, labs, hallways, buses and shared vehicles on all Ohio State campuses.

Masks must also be worn outdoors on campus at all times, even when individuals can maintain appropriate physical distancing.

The only place you may take off your mask in McPherson Lab is if you are in an assigned single-person private office.

If you are in a shared (2+ person) office or lab, you must wear a mask even if you are the only person present.

Remember: nearly half of all confirmed person-to-person transmissions of COVID-19 involve asymptomatic carriers.  Please wear a mask at all times when on campus, except in private offices.


Before your Visit: Mandatory Daily Health Check

Before each campus visit, no matter how brief, you must submit a mandatory Daily Health Check using the Ohio State mobile app or the online reporting form at

This health check must be completed before you leave home to travel to campus - no exceptions.

Ohio State mobile app - Health Reporting

The Ohio State mobile health check app for iOS and Android devices has been released for general use:



This app requires you to be logged into the Ohio State app with your name.# authentication.  The app must be used immediately prior to your visit.

If you cannot use the app, please use the health check website

Schedule your Visit

Before visiting campus you are required to sign-up on the department sign-up sheet.  The easiest way to access this sheet is using a web browser to go to the OSU SharePoint system:

Department Visit Sign-up Sheet on SharePoint

You may sign-up for a half-day shift on a particular day, following the guidelines below.  You are responsible for making sure that if you are in a shared office, your visit does not overlap with that of another person in the same office.  None of our shared offices is large enough to allow more than one person at a time at present (we will let everyone know if this changes).

During your Visit

  1. Visits may occur between 7am and 9pm, weekdays and weekends. We have divided each day into three shifts:
    Morning:     7am - 1pm
    Afternoon:  1pm - 6pm
    Evening:     6pm - 9 pm
  2. You must be the only person in your office during your visit.
  3. Masks must be worn at all times, indoors and outdoors (see Face Mask Requirements above).
  4. You may only occupy your regularly assigned desk in your assigned office. You may not use an unoccupied office or conference room if  you are sharing an office and there is already someone signed up for your room during that time.
  5. You may not have a visitor or family member with you on your visit except by prior permission (e.g., to help carry personal items to/from your office).
  6. No ad-hoc visits: you must plan ahead and sign-up in advance before each visit to ensure that we are in compliance with the occupancy density restriction.

Department Visit Guidelines

General Guidelines

The PDF below describes the guidelines for Astronomy department visits (it is based on an Arts & Sciences College template).  Please read and follow the guidelines in PDF format.

PPE supplies

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE: masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and sanitary wipes) are available the main conference room (MP4054). 

There are no public PPE supplies in the department office.

Please take only what you need to work in your campus office (you may not bring anything home for personal use).  If you see an item running low, contact Kristy Krehnovi or Rick Pogge right away so more can be ordered.  Sheets on the table with each item list the recommended quantities you should take.

Department Office

Note that except to check your mailbox and retrieve office supplied from the copier/supply room, please limit the time you spend in the main department office.  Package deliveries will be suspended until the start of in-person instruction in January.  We strongly ask that you do not have personal deliveries directed to the department during the pandemic as we cannot guarantee they can be retrieved and they may get returned or lost.

If you cannot find an office supply you need in the copier room supply cabinets, please contact Kristy with your request - do not go searching for items in the department office areas. This restriction is for the safety of office staff to keep the traffic in their work spaces strictly limited.

Reporting Concerns

If you observe unsafe practices that are serious enough to make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe working in McPherson Lab, you may confidentially report the problem to Kristy Krehnovi or Rick Pogge who will work with the relevant supervisor (Todd for faculty, faculty advisors for students and postdocs, supervisors for staff) to correct the problem.

While the most direct route for addressing a concern is to contact one of the people listed above, this may not always be feasible.  The Office of Research has setup a general tool for reporting concerns that you may elect to use at

The Future

The heightened restrictions imposed at the end of last year at the start of the on-going surge in COVID cases in Ohio and the US generally are likely to remain in place for most of the Spring Semester even as we expect vaccination to slowly ramp up.  We will try to allow at most 25% occupancy density during regular working hours. A great deal depends on the continued evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio, and the pace of vaccination this spring. We are still in the midst of a widespread health emergency, and until a large fraction of the population has been vaccinated, we will likely still be operating under a state of emergency for some time.

We thank everyone for their patience during these difficult times, and trust that everyone will work for the common goal of having a safe return to work and some semblance of "normal" later this year.