November 12, 2020 5:00 PM
Carmen Twillie Ambar, President

Dear Oberlin Community,

Most of our students are nearing the end of their on-campus experience for the fall semester. I want to thank you once again for the phenomenal job you have done following the Community Agreement and other ObieSafe protocols. I have heard from parents, students, and members of the city of Oberlin praising our commitment to health and safety. I could not be more proud of the success we have had together.

You may have heard Governor Mike DeWine’s update late yesterday expressing concern about the toll a “third wave” of COVID-19 is exacting on our state. Hospitals are under increasing pressure, and in response, Governor DeWine expanded the state’s mask order. He asked all Ohioans to recommit to safety measures designed to slow the spread of this virus. He also praised “the vast majority” of Ohio colleges and universities for decreasing their campus populations this semester and for keeping students home after Thanksgiving.

But he also warned that higher education institutions may need to keep their students remote at the beginning of 2021. ‘‘Unless we dramatically slow the community spread of the virus, our higher education institutions may have to remain virtual when school opens in January,’’ he said in a statement.

Oberlin suspected this pandemic could throw us a curveball, so we are prepared to adjust to changing circumstances, including revisiting the remainder of the academic calendar for 2020-21. This is the main reason that we have asked all students in campus housing to pack up their belongings in boxes before leaving for Thanksgiving. This additional step ensures that if public health concerns preclude us from having students return to campus next semester, students can return to pick up their belongings when conditions ease or they can arrange for shipping should this be required. (If you need more information on move-out, please see the ResEd information here. You also may call the Dean of Students office at 440-775-8462.)

While a lengthy remote start or a delayed start is not our preference, we created the 3-semester plan to provide us with flexibility and the option to pivot should we need to do so. The governor has not made any decisions yet, and therefore neither have we. But we wanted you to be alerted to the governor’s messages so that you can be prepared for changes should we need to make them.

We are in touch with the Governor’s Office to offer feedback and to learn when Governor DeWine might make a determination on the spring semester’s start. As state officials provide more clarity, we will be ready to provide you with an update to our plans.

This news creates uncertainty, for sure. But remember that we are prepared for this uncertainty. All of our work together has placed us in the best position possible to respond to unpredictable times. In the meantime, please continue to practice the ObieSafe protocols here on campus and even when you are at home if they are applicable.

We do not know specifically how or when our next semester will start, but we do know that as Obies, we will meet this change with the same energy, diligence, and confidence with which we have met all of the challenges presented to us by this pandemic. And you can be assured that whatever change is necessary, we will do it together.

Stay well and be safe,

Carmen Twillie Ambar
President