Campus Bulletin: Current Students, Faculty and Staff, Parents, ObieSafe

Faculty and Staff: Requirement of a COVID-19 Vaccine

August 27, 2021 12:00 PM

Carmen Twillie Ambar, President

August 27, 2021

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Since March 2020 when we largely vacated campus, we have worked together to keep our community safe. Despite the obstacles COVID thrust in our path, we continued to deliver on Oberlin’s mission, to provide an excellent academic and musical experience and to prepare students to change the world for good.

We kept our students, faculty, and staff safe by working together and following our layered health care strategy. I am convinced that Oberlin’s best opportunity for a safe academic year depends upon the same levels of collaboration and mutual action toward implementation of the ObieSafe protocols.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced full approval of the Pfizer vaccine. Upon that approval, I informed our students that they had 45 days to become fully vaccinated unless they receive an exemption based upon health or religious reasons.

In order to continue our layered health care strategy and to assist in our monitoring of the spread of the Delta variant, we will be taking an additional step – together. Today I am announcing that all Oberlin faculty and staff similarly must become fully vaccinated.

During the next several days, administrators will engage in discussions and formal negotiations with our union locals and other labor organizations on campus to notify them of our transition to this policy. Oberlin is unable to require employees of our vendors to be vaccinated, although we are strongly recommending it. Our vendors will therefore continue to require their employees to be fully masked while on campus, as they did last year. Moreover, we will explore with our vendors additional mitigation strategies for their employees who have extended time on our campus.

As I have said since the pandemic began, Oberlin uses data and consultations with public health officials to guide our policies. The data indicates that vaccines are safe and the most effective treatment available to reduce risk and prevent spread of COVID-19.

Last year we managed to have a transmission rate of less than 0.25% with no vaccines, mask wearing, social distancing, and handwashing. The availability of vaccines and the widespread decision by our community to become vaccinated has made this year substantially different from last year.

Our data show that a majority of our community already is vaccinated; 85% of our students, 81% of our faculty and 76% of our staff have uploaded their information certifying their vaccination. I believe that many others are likely vaccinated and have simply not shared their documentation. If you are fully vaccinated, I urge you to upload your vaccination card as soon as possible by following the directions in OberView.

Informing the college about your vaccination status is a requirement. This information is critical to our efforts to have complete information about what is happening on our campus with respect to COVID-19. 

I can appreciate that for some people, the decision to become vaccinated is one of personal choice. It is my deeply seated belief that being part of Oberlin requires the ability to balance social responsibility with personal choices. Our work together to respond to COVID-19 and protect our community is the right course. It is the responsible course and quintessentially Oberlin.

Thank you for all you do. Be well.

Carmen Twillie Ambar