An aerial view of the painted Oval project shows the scale of the physical distancing effort
Anna Deegan and Claire Foreman, both sophomores, exercise on the Oval.Photo by Jo McCulty | The Ohio State University
Cora Wolcott, a fourth-year in English from Columbus, enjoys the shade.Photo by Jo McCulty | The Ohio State University
Jay Manguba, faculty member in medicine, takes a break with his wife Maria and 2 1/2-month-old baby Gab.Photo by Jo McCulty | The Ohio State University
Students enjoy the Oval while respecting physical distancing.Photo by Jo McCulty | The Ohio State University
Shaleen Ghosh, fourth-year biology major, enjoys the sunlight on the OvalPhoto by Jo McCulty | The Ohio State University
Painted Oval project helps encourage physical distancing at Ohio State
More than 500 painted “O”s mark safe spacing in the heart of campus
Hundreds of white “O”s stretched across the Oval as students returned to the first day of autumn semester at The Ohio State University.
The circles painted on the grass help students, faculty and staff maintain the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice to maintain physical distancing while they spend time in the heart of campus.
“The physical distancing “O”s that have taken over the Oval is part of an experiential activation to bring students, faculty and staff together to practice safe physical distancing while enjoying the Oval,” said Justin Bell, Ohio State associate vice president of brand experience.
A total of 583 “O”s have been painted across the Oval, with many circles including a Buckeye leaf. Each circle is 8 feet in diameter and distanced a minimum of 15 feet apart from the other circles. This application ensures safe distancing for those enjoying the warm weather, studying or taking a break from classes.
For some, it’s a visual cue to maintain good behavior.
“Over the summer, people were spreading out on their own and being conscious about that, but it’s always good to have a reminder,” said Shaleen Ghosh, a fourth-year biology major. “I think this can ease the anxiety around [physical distancing] because even if you know you’re going to stay away from people, this is the safety layer that you know no one is going to come too close to you.”
In addition to the painted circles, new signs that say “‘O’ Marks the Spot” are placed throughout the Oval to encourage visitors to use the circles and engage with hashtag #TogetherAsBuckeyes. This activation is one more way to demonstrate students’ active engagement in keeping each other and our communities safe and healthy.
“Together As Buckeyes, we can still come together to enjoy Ohio State traditions while keeping each other healthy and safe,” Bell said.
Anna Komissarova, a second-year international business major, found a seat in the sun on the Oval. She said the circles are a good way for students to slow down and feel comfortable outside.
“We’re so busy, it helps to just slow down and sit in the grass. I think that’s something very natural and helpful,” she said.
The physical distancing activation on the Oval is a collaboration between multiple university departments. It’s part of the concerted efforts to drive awareness of, and encourage, safe and healthy protocols for the campus community.
Thousands of physical distancing signs have been installed at high-traffic outdoor spaces like the Oval. Signage in classrooms, offices and public spaces is spreading the safety message:
- Mask requirements at exterior building entrances
- Physical distancing in high-traffic areas and elevators
- Hand washing in restrooms
- Take the stairs, if you can, on elevator doors
Ohio State continues to encourage compliance with safety measures as the academic year begins with a public health campaign focusing on people’s personal motivations for adopting healthy behaviors.
There is more information on what Ohio State is doing to support a safe and healthy campus community at the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.