Lawn masks

Landscaping on the OSU campus in Stillwater gives visitors a visual reminder to wear masks. 

Some faculty at Oklahoma State are critical of the university's response to COVID-19, calling for more input and worried that the OSU dashboard's weekly reports are too seldom. 

Oklahoma State University has now quarantined 51 students into its specialized isolated housing, according to the online COVID-19 dashboard that was updated Tuesday.

Every weekly update includes testing results from the previous week. OSU’s Tuesday numbers are for the week of Aug. 31 through Sept. 6. In that period, University Health Services performed 1,012 tests with 103 COVID-10 positive cases for a 10.18 percent positivity.

OSU is now reporting 293 active cases based on a 10-day total. It also reported 127 cases. Last week, OSU reported 279 active cases. For the week leading up to Aug. 30, UHS had tested 888 individuals with 121 positives. Totals include those students who live off campus.

Because OSU’s test results are sent to the state health department, it is likely that OSU’s numbers have already been tallied in Stillwater and Payne County’s total data.

OSU’s Arts & Sciences Faculty Council issued a statement last week about the university’s response.

“… We feel insufficiently informed about the risks to our health, largely absent from the decision-making processes that are now in place, and concerned about the steps being taken to combat the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in the Stillwater community,” the release reads.

The release states that the COVID-19 dashboard updated weekly is “inadequate.”

“Except for HIPAA-protected individual case data, OSU should share all available data on case rates, test results, incidence rates in dorms and Greek houses, contact tracing efforts and quarantine numbers. Data should should be released twice a week at minimum, although daily updates would provide the most accurate information for members (of) the OSU community to assess their personal risk,” the statement reads. “No clear procedures are in place to inform faculty about positive cases in their classrooms. Faculty and also graduate student TAs are relying almost entirely on self-reporting from students.”

The statement recommended OSU create a threshold for transitioning based on multiple metrics like case counts similar to Stillwater Public Schools, which has been in distance learning since just after the first week. 

Stillwater has been highlighted nationally, among many university communities, as one of the cities with the largest positivity increases in the country. The New York Times ranked Stillwater 13th among new cases relative to population.

The university has not publicly disclosed any potential changes to in-person instruction.

In a response, OSU Director of Media Relations Monica Roberts said administration has just recently learned of the faculty statement.

"It came to our attention yesterday afternoon, and our administration is reviewing it," Roberts told the News Press. "We are certainly taking their thoughts into consideration as we refine the dashboard and other protocols. We appreciate their feedback."

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