Suspension of optometry clinical rotations and labs
New COVID-19 information emerges almost by the minute. Ohio has been described as a leader in the public health efforts to limit its spread, to “flatten the curve” so that the number of cases stays below the capacity of our healthcare system. That will ensure that you and your loved ones, particularly those at risk, have the healthcare you need.
In close consultation with the College of Optometry’s Executive Committee, I have reached the conclusion that the learning benefit from face-to-face interactions with patients and in laboratory settings are now outweighed by the personal risk to students, staff, and clinical attendings. Given that shift in the risk-to-benefit ratio of clinical rotations, I have decided to suspend all clinical rotations and face-to-face laboratory teaching, including extern rotations, effective immediately and until further notice. The Office of Academic Affairs has approved this decision, and the Colleges of Dentistry and Medicine have reached similar decisions this weekend.
The previously announced suspension of in-person didactic courses and the implementation of online teaching and exams will continue through the end of spring semester. Students have heard or will hear from their course instructors about how that is going to work. Dr. Earley will stay in communication with students and instructors as everyone adapts to this different way of teaching.
Likewise, in-person research appointments with human participants are suspended, effective immediately until further notice. Dr. Walline will provide more specific information.
Students should not attend their courses, clinic rotations, labs, or extern rotations from this point forward. Dr. Wagner will reach out to students on external rotations with more information.
Arrangements can be made for Master’s students who are scheduled to defend their theses. Dr. Anderson will reach out shortly to those students with details.
Note that I have not set a return date. It is my sense that the course of the COVID-19 pandemic is unknown. Please check email and the college website regularly for updates. It may turn out that the return to clinic, extern, and face-to-face rotations will develop as quickly as this decision has this week.
I understand that the students are concerned about the effect this will have on their academic progress and, for fourth-year students, their graduation. I am working to minimize the negative consequences to our students across the board. For example, all schools and colleges of optometry are awaiting an update on COVID-19 from the body that accredits our programs. We hope that will be forthcoming this week.
I understand that staff are concerned about telecommuting in light of this decision. More information will follow as soon as possible. For now, clinic staff should not plan to report to work. Dr. Nixon will implement notification of scheduled patients per the clinic’s established protocol, and Jim Woods will be in touch with information related to expectations, leave, and pay.
Please check email and the college’s website frequently for updates. Know that I understand how stressful this situation is for everyone and that the college is doing everything possible to respond to concerns and to balance all considerations in this complex situation.
Let me know if you have individual questions. Thank you in advance for your understanding, patience, flexibility, and, most of all, support of each other.
Karla Zadnik, OD PhD
Dean and Glenn A. Fry Professor in Optometry and Physiological Optics
The Ohio State University College of Optometry