Changes to Campus COVID-19 Protocols
May 17, 2021 3:00 PM
Katie Gravens, COVID-19 Coordinator
- With vaccinations proven effective, and Oberlin College vaccination rates high, the college is following the guidance of Gov. Mike DeWine and the Centers for Disease Control and phasing out indoor and outdoor mask requirements for people who are vaccinated, effective immediately.
- The college recommends that people who are not vaccinated continue to wear masks indoors and practice social distancing when possible.
- Move-in testing and quarantine for students enrolled for summer term will be required for those who have not uploaded their vaccination card to Student Health
- Testing will be available at Hales Gym, but optional, through June.
The Oberlin community has done a remarkable job adhering to the layered health care strategy this academic year. Thanks to our collective efforts, including de-densification and social distancing, masking, testing, a daily symptom survey, contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine protocols, Oberlin maintained a positivity rate of 0.195% in the fall and spring semesters.
Because vaccines are now readily available, CDC guidelines are focused on recommendations, not mandates, and health protocols will be lifted statewide in Ohio on June 2. Consequently, Oberlin is moving away from prior mandates regarding masks, testing, and other measures, barring evidence that would warrant a return to a more restrictive position. The details of these changes are provided below. The college will, however, require that all faculty, staff, and students provide their COVID-19 vaccination status.
Vaccinated individuals have met the public health guidance and community expectations for maintaining a healthy and safe living, learning, and working campus community. Unvaccinated people face the risks typically assumed with respect to illnesses for which effective and approved vaccinations exist. The college therefore recommends that unvaccinated individuals likewise take appropriate personal precautions to maintain a healthy campus community as we return to a world where we are no longer monitoring health data or requiring various behaviors.
As we enter the summer period, and a campus vaccination rate that will likely be over 80% based on current survey data and response rates, we are confident that our campus is now prepared to take appropriate safety measures without mandates.
- The vaccines have proven highly effective at preventing COVID-19, including the variants.
- We expect Obies’ vaccination rate to regularly exceed 80 percent on campus, providing a low risk of infection among the campus community.
- Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced that most of Ohio’s COVID restrictions would end as of June 2.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Gov. DeWine also announced that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks outdoors or in most indoor locations.
- Consultations with Lorain County Public Health supported a relaxation of ObieSafe guidelines, particularly for those who are vaccinated.
Oberlin COVID Policy Modifications
I am pleased to announce that a number of factors now allow us to safely and prudently revise our ObieSafe strategies.
- Effective immediately, Oberlin will no longer require anyone who is fully vaccinated to wear a mask while indoors or outdoors.
- Because the spread of COVID-19 will primarily occur in the presence of unvaccinated individuals, unvaccinated people should consider wearing masks outdoors when near others.
- Unvaccinated individuals should wear a mask indoors and maintain distance from others.
In order to adhere to Gov. DeWine’s public health requirements, the following changes to ObieSafe guidelines will become effective June 2:
- Required monthly testing will end as of June 1.
- Optional PCR testing will be available by appointment on a limited basis for unvaccinated students, faculty, or staff for the month of June. Testing will be available three days each week.
- Symptomatic COVID-19 testing will be available for students in Student Health.
- Summer 2021 billing statements and financial aid will be adjusted related to testing.
Daily Symptom Survey Monitoring
- Completion of a daily symptom survey will no longer be required to enter campus facilities.
- Each person is encouraged to monitor their health on a daily basis. Students who do not feel well should contact Student Health, who will follow standard protocols for quarantine. Faculty and staff should contact their health care provider. Individuals should stay home if they have a fever or other symptoms that may spread infection to others.
- Limitations on the number of people permitted in a given space will be lifted.
- Residential dining will gradually be phased in, in coordination with AVI. Look for additional information in the coming weeks.
- The college will return to regular housing and dining regulations with regard to guest policies/guidelines.
- Regular housing occupancy rates will be used to make assignments for the fall.
- Offices will move to full occupancy with social distancing and masking no longer required.
- Classroom capacity will be set for seating with three feet of separation for the Summer 2021 semester. For the first week of classes in the Summer 2021 semester, all courses should be “remote-accessible” to allow for PCR testing of those who are not vaccinated upon return to campus. During the add/drop period (5/24/2021 to 6/3/2021), students who are vaccinated or receive a negative PCR test may visit classes in person so long as seating is available.
- It is recommended that those who are unvaccinated wear a mask and social distance.
- All employees will fully return to work on campus by June 15, 2021.
- Campus buildings will be fully open. It is recommended that those who are unvaccinated wear a mask and social distance.
Travel, Off-Campus Engagement, Experiential Learning, and Community-Based Activities
- All Oberlin restrictions will be lifted, though each individual should follow CDC guidelines related to precautions for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
- The college will resume approved financial support for work-related travel.
- Those who are not vaccinated should follow travel guidelines, obtaining a PCR test and quarantining independently. Student Health will no longer monitor quarantine for unvaccinated students who travel internationally or domestically.
- Different organizations or travel destinations may have restrictions that you will need to comply with, so be sure to check prior to making arrangements.
- Each individual should assess the personal risk involved in gathering with others. Ideally, individuals will self-disclose vaccination status.
- Some people may choose to wear a mask and maintain distance.
- Athletics will return to standard operating procedures for practices, competition, game day operations (spectators permitted), travel, and recruitment.
- Recreational and wellness facilities (indoor and outdoor) will be open to all faculty, staff, students and those external patrons with a membership.
- Facilities may be used for external rentals, along with prospective student-athlete camps and clinics.
- YeoFit classes may be conducted at maximum capacity.
- All meeting rooms, office spaces, competition venues, weight room, fitness center and the climbing wall may return to full capacity.
- Locker rooms will be open to patrons and varsity team rooms will be available.
- Athletes/Recreation should follow all protocols for cleaning/disinfecting equipment and exercise areas.
- If you have not been vaccinated, you are encouraged to wear a mask while exercising indoors. (Masks will be available at the front desk for use.)
- Those student athletes on campus this summer may compete and travel with external leagues.
Visitors and Guests
- All vaccinated visitors and guests are welcome to campus, both indoors and outdoors, per normal regulations and guidelines.
- It is highly recommended that all guests are fully vaccinated prior to visiting Oberlin.
- Unvaccinated guests should wear a mask indoors and maintain distance from others.
- Please monitor your symptoms prior to your visit and refrain from coming to campus if you are ill.
These changes offer a welcome respite after more than a year of necessary restrictions. It is critical that we still apply common sense when considering COVID-19. Remember to wash your hands regularly. When in crowds such as those occurring on public transit, the CDC still recommends everyone wear a mask.
To ensure public health, Oberlin will still require all students, faculty, and staff to file a vaccination card with Student Health (students) or Human Resources (faculty and staff), immediately after the final dose, if they choose to vaccinate. If COVID-19 reappears on campus in large numbers, ObieSafe protocols could be reinstated.
Please be sensitive to your colleagues on campus. Even as restrictions are being lifted, some people may understandably feel more comfortable continuing to wear a mask or following other transmission mitigation strategies. Respect their choice as well as their reasons for doing so.
Oberlin continues to strongly recommend that all students, faculty, and staff get vaccinated to prevent serious illness that can result from COVID-19 unless they are advised by a medical professional not to do so. Those who choose not to become vaccinated assume a higher level of risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.