COVID-19 Dashboard and Updates
April 5, 2021
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and the number one tool we have to return to normal on campus. Phase 2 of Missouri's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan is now open for all higher education employees (including OCC student employees). Phase 3 will open this Friday, April 9, for all Missouri residents. While OCC is not requiring the vaccine, we're encouraging all students and employees to be vaccinated.
- Click here for more about the vaccine and its distribution in Missouri.
- If you already meet one of the current requirements to be vaccinated in Missouri, sign up with Freeman, the Joplin Health Department, Mercy, or CoxHealth.
- After your vaccination, email [email protected] with the date of your completed dosage.
- Questions about the vaccine? Watch this informative Q&A session and/or contact our campus nurse Molly Shifferd at [email protected]
March 30, 2021
To: OCC Students
From: Academic Dean-Elect Chad Ragsdale
Subject: Fall 2021 Registration
It’s been a long year. We’ve asked you to do a lot of difficult things this year. We’ve asked you to wear masks and maintain physical distance from each other. We’ve asked you to attend hybrid classes, endure quarantines, and have a cotton swab jammed up your nose. We’ve asked you to wash your hands, but honestly, you should have been doing that already. It wasn’t always popular, but we did all these things and more because it was the right and responsible thing to do. Our long year has been a painful year of loss for many people around the world and in our college family. As we near the end of our long year, it’s good to pause and to pray a word of thanksgiving and a word of comfort.
Witnessing your hard work and perseverance this year has been inspiring. Under difficult circumstances, you continued to study, to serve, and to worship—often with a James 1 type of joy that only comes in the midst of trials. It could be that years in the future, you will look back on this season with a strange sense of pride in what you and your peers were able to overcome. I’ve never been as proud to be a part of the Ozark family as I am this year.
That said, I think we’re all looking forward to turning the page on this year. Personally, I’m excited to become Ozark’s sixth academic dean next school year. I’m humbled by the example of those who have preceded me, and I plan to continue their legacy in leading our Bible-centered academic programs as we continue in our mission to train men and women for Christian service.
I am also excited for a return to normalcy in the next school year. I’m excited about a return to hugs and handshakes, to serving and worshiping together as one family, to cultivating the type of deep, abiding community that has always been a hallmark of our campus. I’m excited about a return to all the things that make Ozark Ozark. This long year hasn’t changed God’s purposes or his calling on our lives. If anything, our task has never been more urgent and more relevant.
As we anticipate school next year, I want you to put April 5 on your calendar. That is the day fall registration opens for those students who have completed 60 credit hours. All other students will be able to register beginning April 7. We also want every student to meet in person with his or her academic adviser in April—even students who think they will not be returning in the fall. Look for an email from your adviser to set up a time to meet. In the meantime, you can read the fall course schedule here.
God bless you in your studies this semester!
OCC Academic Dean-Elect
P.S. Watch "Handshakes Returning" here.
March 12, 2021
To: Ozark Family
From: Damien Spikereit
Subject: Changes After Spring Break
Dear Ozark Family,
One more week before Spring Break! Just a quick note to tell you two things:
First, thank you! This semester, you’ve continued to handle the inconveniences of masks and social distancing with flexibility and grace. I’ve always been proud of our students’ attitudes, but you all have gone above and beyond during COVID-19. Thank you!
Second, good news! We’ve told you that as coronavirus cases decline across campus, we will begin to relax some of the safety measures we have in place. Out of an abundance of caution, after Spring Break we will continue to require masks on campus. Our classroom desks will remain distanced from one another, too (so that if one student goes into isolation, the rest of the class won’t need to be quarantined). However, while we’ll continue to wear masks, wash our hands, and watch our distance, we’re excited to relax our gathering guidelines. This means that after Spring Break...
- We will return to one chapel service each week! Beginning Tuesday, March 30, chapel services will be held every Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. We’ll ask you to leave an empty seat between you and the person next to you, but we’ll all be back together to worship as one. Chapel services will continue to livestream on Tuesdays at occ.edu/chapellive, and guests will be restricted from attending to allow for 50% capacity.
- We will return to one meeting day for life and mentor groups—Thursdays only, also at 9:30 a.m.—beginning Thursday, April 1. Your group leader may communicate with you regarding a possible location change for your group.
- We will resume normal seating and traffic flow in the Dining Hall. Please continue to exercise caution during meal times so that if someone you eat with goes into isolation, you can avoid quarantine.
- We will resume hosting gatherings on campus, including Women’s Event (April 9-10), Baccalaureate (May 6), and Commencement (May 15). Some safety guidelines will remain in place for those events, but we’re looking forward to welcoming our guests back to campus.
One more thing: it was one year ago today that we “extended” Spring Break by one week...which of course became the rest of the semester as we finished classes online. What a year it has been! Thank you again for your perseverance. And most of all, “thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
We're proud of you, Ambassadors!
Executive Vice President of Administration
P.S. Just a reminder...as you know, OCC is not requiring students or employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, we do strongly encourage you to be vaccinated when you’re eligible. Click here for a list of current eligibilities in Missouri. After your vaccination, email [email protected] (for students) or [email protected] (for employees) with the date of your completed dosage.
January 25, 2021
To: OCC Residential Students
From: Student Newsletter
Subject: COVID-19 Vaccine
The State of Missouri is currently offering COVID vaccinations for Phase 1A and Phase 1B (Tiers 1 and 2). This includes vaccinations for people with weakened immune systems, heart conditions, and more.
- Read the list of current vaccination eligibilities here.
- Sign up to receive vaccination information from the Joplin Health Department, from Freeman, from Mercy, or from CoxHealth.
December 31, 2020
To: OCC Residential Students
From: Vice President of Student Affairs Andy Storms
Happy New Year, Ambassadors! I hope you’re having a restful break, and I’m looking forward to another great semester together. In addition to the information Damien Spikereit already communicated earlier this month, let me give you a few details of what we’re requiring, requesting, and preparing as the semester begins.
- This spring, we’ll ask all students to continue to adhere to our COVID-19 Operations Plan. Our quarantine and isolation policies and our mandatory mask policy will remain in place. As the CDC says, the more consistently and correctly we wear our masks, the more our community will benefit.
- Residence halls open on Saturday, January 9, at noon for Winter Session students and Saturday, January 16, at noon for all on-campus students. Before returning to campus (whether Winter Session or regular classes), all students must choose one of the following options—either:
- take a free nasal-swab COVID-19 test on campus at the designated times, or
- provide verification of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days prior to moving into the dorms (on-campus students) or the first day of class (off-campus students), or
- provide verification of a positive COVID-19 test taken within the past three months
Submit this form to let us know which of the above options you choose. Any student who is unwilling to abide by these requirements must contact the Student Affairs Department.
- Before the semester begins, will you please limit outside contact with others for the next few weeks? Self-imposed quarantines will help us begin the semester with minimal exposure.
- Once the semester begins, will you please plan to stay on campus as much as possible through the month of January? We request that you not travel home for the first few weeks of the semester. When you do leave campus for church or work, please continue to wear a mask at all times.
Coming This Spring
This semester, OCC Health Services will provide on-campus rapid testing for symptomatic students and employees. These tests will let us quickly identify those who are sick so we won’t need to quarantine as many people in our community. OCC Student Affairs is also planning several on-campus activities for you, including fun events during Welcome Back Week. And, we’ve adjusted our classroom schedules so that all classes will be held in person and no classes will be held in the MPB.
Be sure to submit this form to let us know your plans regarding our mandatory COVID testing.
We are praying for you as 2021 begins! It’s our honor to be a part of your training for Christian service, and we’re excited for what God has in store this spring. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can serve you in any way.
Vice President of Student Affairs
P.S. Don’t forget! This Tuesday, January 5, is the deadline to pay for the spring semester in full or to sign the Payment Plan Agreement here. Contact [email protected] if you have any questions. We’re proud of you, Ambassadors! See you soon.
December 14, 2020
To: OCC Residential Students and Personnel
From: Executive Vice President Damien Spikereit
Last week, most of you took your final exams and officially finished the fall semester. Well done! Now, we’re excited to turn our attention toward the spring semester and having you back on campus soon. When classes begin in January, we will still be at Level 2 in Ozark’s COVID-19 Operations Plan, which means we’ll still observe many of the protocols we followed in the fall. We’ll have a few additions, too, including required testing for students in January.
Read the main points of our spring semester plans below (and read the entire COVID-19 Operations Plan here). We look forward to having you on campus in January as you train for Christian service!
Academics and Activities
- OCC’s 2021 spring semester academics calendar will continue as planned. Winter Session begins Monday, January 11, and regular semester classes begin Tuesday, January 19. Spring break will be held Monday-Friday, March 22-26, and our 2021 Commencement is scheduled for Saturday, May 15.
- We’ve adjusted our classroom schedules so that classes will not be held in the MPB this semester. Also, all students will attend class in person, rather than the hybrid model some classes observed in the fall.
- Chapel services will be held twice a week—alternating with life/mentor groups on Tuesdays and Thursdays—to allow for social distancing. To begin the semester, life groups will meet on campus in assigned locations. OCC chapel services will remain closed to the public this semester.
- OCC men’s and women’s varsity basketball teams will play as scheduled, with regular testing and additional precautions for players and coaches.
- We’re also planning several campus activities for you, including some fun events during Welcome Back Week in January.
General COVID-19 Policies
- Our quarantine and isolation policies for students and employees (outlined fully in our COVID-19 Operations Plan) will continue to follow the guidance of our local health department and federal, state, and local authorities.
- While campus remains at Level 2, our mandatory mask policy will remain in effect in public spaces, classrooms, offices, or where it is not practical or feasible to socially distance.
- We will also continue to observe our student and employee gathering conditions for Level 2, which include guidelines on social distancing, masks, travel, food, and guests at gatherings and events. These gathering conditions will also mean changes to The Event (scheduled for March 19-20) and OCC’s Women’s Conference (April 9-10). See occ.edu/events for details.
- Non-personnel and non-students are restricted from campus facilities, including the MPB, Student Center, dorms, Dining Hall, Chapel, and classroom buildings. Off-campus guests will be allowed to visit the bookstore and library, participate in designated campus tours, and attend athletic events. All visitors will be required to wear masks in accordance with campus mask policy and maintain appropriate social distancing.
- Our OCC custodial crew will continue to take extra measures for us as they keep our campus clean. In everything, OCC will continue to practice our three most important guidelines: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.
Testing and Vaccination Policy
Before classes begin in January (whether Winter Session or regular classes), students will be required to do one of three things—either:
- take a free COVID-19 test on campus, or
- provide verification of a negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to moving into the dorms (on-campus students) or the first day of class (off-campus students), or
- provide verification of a positive COVID-19 test within the past three months
Watch your student newsletter for details on testing and dorm arrival times. OCC also encourages all students and employees to be vaccinated for both influenza and COVID-19. Read more about our testing guidelines and vaccination policy in the COVID-19 Operations Plan.
A Community that Cares
At OCC, we’re a community that cares for one another. It’s important that we all—faculty, staff, and students alike—take responsibility for our own health and safety. It’s also crucial that we respect and protect each other. With this in mind, we’re asking all students and employees to follow our campus COVID-19 policies together, for the good of our whole community.
I’ve overloaded you with information! Do take time to rest and enjoy your break. We’re praying for you to be healthy and encouraged this Christmas, and we’re excited for what God has in store for you this spring as you train for Christian service. We’re proud of you, Ambassadors!
Executive Vice President of Administration
P.S. Watch your student newsletter for more details, and don’t forget to read the COVID-19 Operations Plan.
2021 COVID Operations Plan
The COVID-19 global pandemic has had a significant, lasting impact on health care, transportation, community structures, education, and everyday life worldwide. No institution or individual is immune to its effects. At Ozark Christian College, we are striving to develop a cautious, compassionate, and comprehensive plan for the wellbeing of our entire community. OCC's COVID-19 Operations Plan adapts our normal campus procedures to enable the ongoing work and mission of the college.
The purpose of the COVID-19 Operations Plan is to prepare the Ozark Christian College campus to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan will guide the response and recovery actions of the entire campus and work in concert with OCC’s Emergency Operations Plan. The plan is guided by the following principles:
- Continue OCC’s commitment to train men and women for Christian service as a degree-granting institution of biblical higher education.
- Protect and support the health, safety, and welfare of our faculty, staff, and students, as well as the physical assets and property of the college.
- Recover from disruptions or suspensions of operations as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- Establish a multi-modal method to communicate with the campus and community.
- Set benchmarks or “triggers” to define actions and thresholds for those actions.
COVID-19 Risk Assessment
Pandemic events occur when a new illness emerges for which people have little or no immunity and for which there is no vaccine. The following assumptions were used in the planning process:
- The emergence of the COVID-19 coronavirus has led to unprecedented infectious disease risk. The duration of this pandemic remains unclear, and the situation continues to evolve.
- Vaccinations and antiviral treatment are the most effective medical treatment.
- Public health guidance, scientific knowledge, and clinical best practices will change, and these guidelines will be updated accordingly.
- Returning to a fully active on-campus environment will depend on widespread testing, contact tracing, and isolation/quarantine of ill and exposed individuals both on campus and in the community.
- The high-touch, highly interactive, mobile, densely populated living and learning environment of the college campus is a congregate setting with multiple risk factors.
- Changes to the status of operations will need to be made rapidly in response to a local outbreak.
- Federal or state mandates will supersede any plans made by the college.
Three-Level Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
OCC’s administration will follow the recommendations of the CDC, the State of Missouri, and the Joplin Health Department. Additional consideration will be given to the plans of Missouri Southern State University and the City of Joplin. OCC’s three levels of response are based on guidance issued by the CDC and on the level of community transmission:
- Level 1: when there is no community transmission (preparation and prevention). In Level 1, a pandemic is present in the area but not currently present on the OCC campus. The college will take measures to limit exposure to students, staff, and guests. The focus is on education, social distancing measures, and communicating policies and procedures in the event of exposure.
- Level 2: when there is minimal to moderate community transmission. If there is minimal to moderate transmission in the City of Joplin or Jasper County, the college will move to Level 2. Or, when a student, staff, or faculty member has been identified as either a confirmed or probable pandemic case, the college will immediately move to Level 2. If community transmission is significantly reduced AND there is no campus transmission, the college may return to Level 1. It is the goal at this level to contain any active cases and sustain college activities through the semester.
- Level 3: when there is substantial community transmission. When there is evidence of substantial community transmission of confirmed or probable cases, or in the event the state/city mandates a “shelter in place” order, the college will shift to a distance education model for students, and only essential workers will remain on campus. The focus will shift to maintaining educational programs either through the conclusion of the semester or until the college returns to Level 2.
The local health department will determine the current level of transmission in the Joplin community. OCC will monitor the level of transmission that may be occurring on campus. The Executive Vice President of Administration will communicate to all students, staff, faculty, and students’ parents that the college has moved from one level to another.
Campus Self-Quarantine Status
In the event that COVID-19 transmissions increase on campus and/or in the community, the Student Affairs Department may trigger a heightened alert status to restrict campus life activities to an even greater degree. Such restrictions would be for a defined period of time and communicated broadly via email, text, and social media. Heightened restrictions may include:
- Suspension of in-person life/mentor groups
- Suspension of in-person chapel
- Suspension of campus life activities
- Suspension of intramural activities and other athletic activity on campus where social distancing is not possible
- Removal of additional seating in the Dining Hall (only offering to-go meals)
- Closure of athletic facilities and practices
- Removal of additional seating in the Student Center
- Suspension of dorm activities, including dorm devotions
- Imposing dorm room capacity limits
- Requesting dorm students to restrict off-campus contact and activities
Administrative Units and Responsibilities
Administrative units are responsible for creating a department response under the guidelines set by the COVID-19 Policies and Response Team.
The COVID-19 policies and response team includes Damien Spikereit (Team-Lead), Andy Storms (Student Affairs), Lisa Witte (Academics), Whitney Morgan (HR), Amy Storms (Communications), Peyton Marple (Contact Tracing), and Sara Wood (Testing and Health Services). This cross-departmental team is responsible for establishing and implementing policies for the entire campus. They will monitor updates issued by the CDC and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). Additionally, they will be responsible for responding to and monitoring COVID-19 cases on campus including testing, contact tracing students and employees, food delivery, monitoring and assigning students to quarantine/isolation units, and providing care for students in quarantine/isolation.
Administrative units represented here will be responsible for developing and implementing department plans under the guidelines established by the COVID-19 Policies and Response Team.
- Academics: Faculty, Policies and Procedures, Instruction, Academic Technology, Support Services
- Student Affairs: Health Services, Housing, Dining Services, Athletics, Student Activities, Counseling Services
- Administration: Marketing, Communications, Human Resources, Information Technology, Chapel
- Campus Operations: Finances, Campus Sanitation, Bookstore, Mail Center
- Enrollment Management: Admissions, Student Financial Services
- Advancement: Donor Engagement, Events
A cross-departmental team is responsible for establishing policies for the entire campus. All administrative units are represented and have created corresponding plans under the guidelines established by this team, including:
- Policies for students, staff, and faculty regarding notification, quarantine, and contact tracing
- Policies for campus regarding social distancing and limiting of outside groups
- Travel restrictions or quarantine guidelines for students, staff, and faculty who travel
- Monitoring local, state, and national trends regarding virus
- Campus regulations for each level (classrooms, chapel seating, special events, lobbies, hallways, guests on campus)
- Communication regarding policies to be addressed by specific teams
- Maintaining communication with insurance company and monitoring issues related to liability
**All policies and guidelines described below are assumed to be in a Level 2 state of response. The college will announce any transitions to Levels 1 or 3, and departments will plan accordingly.
Quarantine and Isolation Policies
OCC has outlined the circumstances under which individuals who become symptomatic, test positive for COVID-19, or are thought to be exposed to the virus will quarantine or isolate.
- Circumstances may include:
- Individuals who have developed symptoms consistent with information provided by the CDC
- Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19
- Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset
- Individuals who share a common living space with someone who tests positive for COVID-19
- OCC has remote work or leave policies that support faculty, students, and staff if they are sick or quarantining following exposure to someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
- OCC will follow the guidance of local health departments and federal, state, and local authorities regarding isolation and quarantine policies.
- Students living in campus-owned residence halls who become symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19 will enter into isolation either off campus or in locations designated by the college.
- Students living in campus-owned residence halls who are known to have been in close contact for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or longer over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset will enter into quarantine for the recommended time either off campus or in locations designated by the college.
- Students living off campus will enter into isolation or quarantine at an off-campus location determined by the student.
- Students may be around others on campus when conditions are met according to the CDC recommendations (see also updated quarantine guidelines here). The Health Services Coordinator, in consultation with the appropriate local health department, will issue clearance for students to return to campus activities. The Human Resources Director, in consultation with the local health department, will issue clearance for employees to return to campus activities.
Student and Employee Gathering Conditions
During Level 2 status, the following conditions must be met by all participants for OCC-sanctioned student gatherings outside of the classroom to take place:
- Compliance with all college-approved screening measures is required
- Social distancing guidelines must be maintained when feasible
- Masks must be worn at all times unless the exceptions below apply
- Traveling together in vehicles is discouraged
- Food must be individually served and not shared
- Non-OCC personnel or students are not allowed to attend or participate
Additionally, to limit the spread of the virus on campus, non-personnel (other than immediate family members) and non-students are restricted from campus facilities, including the MPB, Student Center, dormitories, Dining Hall, Chapel, and classroom buildings. Off-campus guests will be allowed to visit the bookstore and library, participate in designated campus tours, and attend meetings and athletic events. All visitors will be required to wear masks in accordance with campus mask policy and maintain appropriate social distancing.
Mandatory Mask Policy
During Level 2 status, all employees and students are required to wear masks in public spaces, classrooms, open workstations, office buildings, or where it is not practical or feasible to socially distance.
- Exceptions will be made for those who should not wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition, for those in the dining hall while they are eating, for organized group or team sports, or other physical activities or settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear a mask.
- Employees seeking accommodations for health-related reasons should contact Whitney Morgan in the Human Resources Office if requesting a face shield instead of a mask. Students should contact Lisa Witte in the Academics Office.
- Professors are not required to wear masks when teaching behind plexiglass barriers, wearing a face shield, or teaching 10 feet or more from the nearest student.
Below are the most current testing guidelines and options for OCC students and employees. It is recommended that symptomatic individuals and those who have come in close contact with someone who is symptomatic read the CDC guidelines and information on testing for COVID-19.
- The OCC Health Services Department and Office of Human Resources will maintain a list of testing options available in the community.
- OCC is partnering with Lucid Laboratory Services to provide PCR testing for students and employees. These tests will be used for asymptomatic individuals or groups for detection purposes (e.g., dorm students, athletes, traveling groups, etc.).
- OCC is in the process of acquiring a supply of BinaxNOW antigen rapid tests. These tests will be used for symptomatic individuals and administered by the Health Services Office.
- Students or employees who are unable or unwilling to take an OCC-mandated test will be required to quarantine for 7 days.
OCC strongly encourages all students and employees to be vaccinated for both influenza and COVID-19.
Due to the staggered distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, students and employees will be required to wear masks after vaccination as long as the campus remains in Level 2.
Vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:
Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥ two weeks following receipt of the second dose in a two-dose series, or ≥ two weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
Are within three months following receipt of the last dose in the series
Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure
It is important that all faculty, staff, students, and visitors take responsibility for their own health and safety and demonstrate respect and consideration for others.
Student violations of the college’s COVID-19 expectations or local or state laws related to COVID-19 will typically result in a referral to the Office of Community Standards (OCS). Students who are determined to be responsible for a violation will be subject to sanctions up to and including reassignment to virtual learning, loss of housing, or suspension from the college.
Students should expect:
- The conduct and resolution process for COVID-19 violations will occur swiftly out of concern for public safety.
- Students who violate COVID-19 expectations after being warned will be reassigned to virtual learning.
- Students who demonstrate repeated or egregious violations of COVID-19 expectations may lose their housing privileges and be reassigned to virtual learning immediately.
While we expect each OCC community member to assume personal responsibility to protect the Ozark community, we understand that missteps and oversights with compliance may occur. Generally, issues with compliance will be addressed with care, understanding, and education. The goal is to de-escalate the situation and encourage compliance.
In compliance with the Higher Ed Emergency Relief Fund reporting requirements:
Ozark Christian College signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement. OCC has issued 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.
Ozark Christian College received $500,000 from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.
OCC has designated $244,732 of Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission.
OCC estimates that 462 students are eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
As of October 1, 354 students have received a total of $243,302 in Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
OCC determined which students received Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act based on a calculation of need determined through the FAFSA and student enrollment status.
Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.
Students received an email notification from the Executive Vice President letting them know that we have received funds for Emergency Grants.
Student Financial Services emailed a notice of award to eligible students that included what the funds could be used for as well as instruction for acknowledging that they had experienced expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.
Click here to view the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Report.
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