Campus Bulletin: Current Students, Parents, ObieSafe

Information about Return to Campus in January

October 26, 2020 3:15 PM

Meredith Raimondo

Dear Obie parents,

Below please find information we shared today with your student concerning the return to campus in January. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns. We hope you and your family are safe and well. 


Meredith Raimondo
Vice President and Dean of Students

Dear Obies,

Over the weekend, you received President Ambar’s video reflecting on this fall. Our community performed wonderfully in August as we implemented new protocols to keep us safe during move-in—there had never been one like it at Oberlin. We will continue to build on those lessons when we return to campus in January. Today, I am providing information on the move-in process for the Spring Semester. It will be a bit colder than our August move-in, but we are hoping for a similarly smooth process.

Testing will occur the first week of January and will involve the entire campus community. That means we will be testing more than 500 people a day. Our lab partner will process the tests as quickly as possible with the goal of a 48-hour response, but I would ask you to be prepared for the possibility that results could take up to 5 days from the date of the test if the national situation changes. To protect our community and allow for the return of test results, the first week of classes will be conducted remotely. It is our hope that after the first week, the semester’s classes will proceed normally. We will provide additional detail about next semester’s testing protocols in future emails.

Meanwhile, please read the information below and keep it for future reference. In this email you will find:

  • A reminder on how to enjoy the holidays and then travel to Oberlin as safely as possible
  • Packing advice for those who have not yet come to campus this year
  • What to expect on arrival in January and during the initial quarantine
  • Behavioral expectations for the semester (observing the community agreement and ObieSafe guidelines)

Need help? Call the Dean of Students office at 440-775-8462 or Campus Safety at 440-775-8444.

Preparing to Travel from Campus and Time Away

While at home, we recommend you maintain wearing a mask, physical distancing, and vigilant handwashing, even around friends and family. Please use PPE any time you are in public or around others. Continue to monitor your health closely. Please consult your health care provider if you have any symptoms indicative of COVID-19.

We ask you to be especially careful if you are celebrating holidays in December and January, including New Year’s. Since most of you will come to campus immediately after January 1, we urge you to consider smaller gatherings using PPE and physical distancing. Informal social gatherings are among the most serious “superspreading events;” please be thoughtful about your social choices and their impact on the campus community.

Please review the “Tips for Traveling Safely” provided by Campus COVID-19 Coordinator Katie Gravens.

Packing Tips for Spring Semester

Consider packing lightly: In the interest of health and safety, the college is providing limited assistance for move-in. If your schedule during this three-semester period requires additional moves, you will find it’s easier to have fewer belongings to manage. Students enrolled in the Spring Semester and returning for the summer should assume that you will move between semesters in order to maximize our use of air-conditioned spaces and allow maintenance projects to proceed. Students who are not returning for the summer will be expected to move out fully at the end of the spring. There will be no on-campus storage options. If you would like to make your own arrangements for off-campus storage, please consult the Residential Education website for options.

Prepare a COVID-19 isolation/quarantine bag. If you need to move to isolation or quarantine during the semester, it will be helpful to have a travel bag or backpack prepared in advance. A well-stocked bag should include a pillow, PPE, travel hygiene supplies, a thermometer, any regularly scheduled medications, a fever-reducer, electronic devices and chargers, academic materials, several changes of clothing, and items to help you pass the time and maintain your well-being. Remember, you may be in isolation or quarantine for up to 14 days.

Prepare for quarantine during move-in. After arriving on campus, you will be asked to remain in your housing except when picking up meals until you receive your test results. We recommend you pack items you can enjoy while connecting with other students in a virtual community. Items such as drawing materials, crafts, books, music, and other forms of entertainment may contribute to a positive experience.

Bring personal protective equipment (PPE): The college will provide masks at check-in for students who have not yet been on campus. In addition to a thermometer, you may also want to bring additional hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and a reusable beverage cup (water fountains will not be in service).

Mailroom during quarantine. If you are shipping items to the Oberlin mailroom that you will need during the initial quarantine, please mail them to Oberlin after November 25. All packages received by December 18 will be delivered to your assigned room. If there are items you need during initial quarantine that you cannot ship by December 18 or are too valuable to mail, please hand carry them (including key toiletries, medications, electronics, and bedding). The mail room will open to students once the initial quarantine is over. Please check the website for up-to-date information on hours of operation.

Quarantine before your departure: To the extent possible, consider quarantining for 10 to 14 days before you come to campus, to reduce the risk that you have an active COVID-19 infection when you arrive. The advice to quarantine in advance of travel is particularly important for those of you arriving from outside of the United States or from domestic COVID-19 “hot spots.”

Family helpers: Each student may bring up to two family helpers to assist with move-in. Helpers will be asked to undergo a brief COVID-19 screening consisting of temperature and symptom assessment. To the extent possible, family helpers are asked to consider quarantining for 10 ot 14 days before departure.

Travel as safely as possible. The CDC offers important information on ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission while traveling; we encourage you to consult this health care resource and/or your personal health care provider.

Use the Full Measure tool. Please continue the habit of reporting your symptoms. Be sure to pack a thermometer in your hand luggage, so you can report your daily symptoms throughout the semester.

When to Arrive

In order to maintain physical distancing at the testing site, residence halls, and dining halls, students will return to campus by zone. Your zone is determined by your campus residence. We hope this information will help you plan, but please do not finalize your arrival time until you have received confirmation of your testing time, which will come shortly in a separate email. You may not arrive on campus more than 15 minutes before your assigned testing time in order to drop off luggage at the concierge in the Science Center Atrium.

You will receive your housing assignment for Spring 2021 shortly if you have not yet been assigned a room. 

January 3:

  • East
  • Langston
  • Off-campus students

January 4:

  • Harkness
  • Bailey
  • Barnard
  • Barrows
  • Burton
  • Kahn
  • Noah
  • Quadrangle
  • Zechiel

January 5:

  • Allencroft
  • Baldwin
  • Dascomb
  • Harvey
  • Johnson
  • Kade
  • Lord
  • Price
  • Saunders
  • South
  • Talcott
  • Old Barrows
  • Tank

January 6:

  • All students arriving on campus for the first time this year
  • All Village housing

What to Expect upon Arrival

For all students enrolled on campus in Spring 2021:

Shuttles and parking—If you are coming by shuttle, you will be dropped off at Wilder Hall. If you are coming by car, please park in a campus parking lot until you are ready to move your car to the drop-off zone nearest your housing. If you need directions for parking, please call Campus Safety at 440-775-8444.

Carrying luggage—As a reminder, you may not bring any luggage to the COVID-19 testing site. Therefore, if you need to drop off luggage, allow time before your scheduled test time to visit the luggage concierge at the Res Ed check-in location in the Science Center. Your bags will be tagged and will remain safe under staff supervision until your return. If you need help finding the correct building, check the campus map

While at the testing site—Please be aware that in order to ensure medical privacy, photographs are not permitted once you enter the tented test area outside of Williams.

Once you have moved in, please remain in your room for the initial quarantine except for the schedule time you are to pick up meals.

If you are coming to campus for the first time in January:

Running late—If you are delayed or running late and may miss your scheduled testing time, please call the Dean of Students office at 440-775-8462 for instructions about when to report to the testing site. If you arrive after business hours and check-in is closed, please go to the office of Campus Safety (140 West College St.; 440-775-8444).

After dropping off any luggage you wish to leave with the concierge, go directly to the COVID-19 testing site at the Williams Field House (200 Woodland Street) at your assigned time (unless you need to stop by the luggage concierge first). When you have completed your test, please go to the Res Ed check-in location in the Science Center. After check-in time, go to your residence hall to move in.

To ensure appropriate physical distancing during testing—We ask that family members not accompany their student to the testing site. The process will take approximately 30 minutes, after which students may meet family members at the Res Ed check-in site in the Science Center. 

Family hospitality area—From January 3-6, family members may visit the hospitality area upstairs in the Knowlton Athletic Complex, 210 Woodland Street, while students are testing or at any other point during their time on campus. Light refreshments and restrooms will be available. A staff member will be present to answer questions and to ensure that room capacity and physical distancing are observed. Restrooms and light refreshments are also available at the Res Ed check-in location in the Science Center.

Res Ed check-in—After testing, students who were not on campus in the fall will check in at the Science Center.

  • If you have not completed the Community Agreement or the housing and dining contract, you will be asked to do so (both documents are required before move-in). You will receive access to your room and instructions on how to complete your Room Condition Report.
  • Students new to campus will be issued five (5) reusable masks. The mask must be worn to cover the nose and mouth, with the white lining against your face. lease launder your masks before use and keep them clean and in good repair. Students may also wear an appropriate personal mask so long as they cover your nose and mouth.
  • AVI Fresh, our dining services vendor, will greet students at the check-in locations. Stop by the dining services table to receive your hospitality bag of snacks and staples for your use during quarantine. You’ll also receive further details about dining during quarantine, including the information about when and where you will go for meal pick-up.
  • If family members have come to help you move in, a staff member at the Res Ed check-in will take their temperature and ask COVID-19 symptom screening questions. Family members who are cleared to assist based on this assessment will be provided with a screening bracelet.

If you are a returning student who left belongings in your spring 2020 housing, your labeled boxes will have been delivered to your spring 2021 housing assignment. Please note that staff have done everything possible to move the correct items to your spring housing. In some cases, boxes were not labeled clearly, or unpacked items could not be clearly assigned to a particular resident. As a result, it is possible that some of the items you expect will not be in your room. Please contact the Dean of Students office at 440-775-8462, if you need assistance locating your belongings or if you received someone else’s belongings. Staff will respond as quickly as possible. We ask for your patience and understanding as we work to facilitate move-in for everyone.

  • Once all of your belongings are moved into your room, your family helpers should depart campus so you can begin your quarantine.

After-hours arrival—If your travel is delayed and you arrive after the end of testing and check-in for the day, please go to Campus Safety at 140 West College Street. Campus Safety will assist you in gaining access to your housing and provide a welcome bag of snacks from Campus Dining. You will be notified of the next available testing time and your dining schedule by email. Please quarantine until your assigned testing time, after which you should proceed to the Res Ed check-in location to complete the move-in process. Additional questions may be directed to the Dean of Students office at 440-775-8462

If you were on campus for the fall semester:

Please go directly to the COVID-19 testing site at the Williams Field House (200 Woodland Street) at your assigned arrival time (unless you need to stop by the luggage concierge first). Please do not arrive early or late—you may not access your residence hall until after your assigned testing time. Once you have completed your initial COVID-19 test, please go directly to your residence hall and begin your initial quarantine.

After completing your initial test, you will be able to retrieve any luggage you left with the concierge and go to your room. 

You will receive your dining assignment by email in advance of your arrival.

Initial Quarantine

Students will quarantine until they receive negative initial test results, expected to be 2 to 5 days. A quarantine period will allow the college to establish a baseline for infection on campus and initiate our health care strategy.

Shared spaces: Students may use shared hallways and restrooms during quarantine. Physical distancing should be observed and masks should be worn unless particular activities (tooth brushing, showering) prevent it. Please use a personal caddy and do not put personal items like toothbrushes directly on counter tops. Disinfecting materials will be available to wipe down commonly touched surfaces before and after use. Until quarantine is complete, students are asked not to use common social spaces like lounges.

Dining: Meal plans start on the day of your arrival. If you are returning to campus, you will receive your dining hall assignment for the initial quarantine via email at least one day before your arrival. During quarantine, you may leave your room at your scheduled mealtime (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and travel to your assigned dining hall to pick up a meal and a beverage. If you are new to campus, you will receive your assigned time and location during move-in; if you need a reminder, please call Campus Dining Services at 440-775-8101. Dining hall hours and menus can be found here. Please return to your room promptly after receiving your meal.

Orientation/Welcome Days: Use time in quarantine to reconnect to the community and make new friends. Programs will run during the day and into the evenings. Check the RemObies website, the RemObies Facebook page, and the RemObies Instagram.

Resources for support: If you are finding quarantine too isolating, don’t hesitate to reach out. During weekdays, you can call the Counseling Center at 440-775-8470. SHARE advisors are also available at 440-775-8462 or by completing this form. The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life can be reached at 440-775-8103.

If you develop symptoms: In addition to completing the Full Measure symptom monitoring each day, you are encouraged to call Student Health at 440-775-8180 for a telehealth consultation with any concerns about symptoms. If symptoms develop after business hours and you need immediate medical assistance, please call Campus Safety at 440-775-8444 for help in arranging transport to a hospital.

Receiving Your Test Result

Quarantine ends when you are notified of a negative COVID-19 test result. At that time, students may access any campus facilities that are open—please check specific facilities for schedule changes related to COVID-19.

If you test positive, a doctor will call you to discuss your health status, connect you to the Campus COVID-19 Coordinator, and to Campus Safety, which will arrange your transportation to our hotel for isolation. Please remain in your room until Campus Safety arrives. Remember, you will have lots of support during isolation, including daily check-ins. Please be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • If you have a negative test result, please continue to visit your assigned dining hall at your assigned time through January 9. Campus dining facilities open for regular service on January 10, at which time you may pick up food at any facility during operational hours. Please be sure to observe the practices designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission described in the Community Agreement, including the daily completion of Full Measure screening, use of PPE, hand and respiratory hygiene, and physical distancing. If you test positive for COVID-19, please remain in your campus housing and wait for further instructions about moving to isolation. 

Your commitment to the community’s health is our best and most important resource to ensure that we are able to continue to gather in person. As you may be aware, the single biggest challenge to college operations during the pandemic is social gatherings of large numbers of people without PPE and physical distancing. Alcohol and other drugs may affect good judgment about maintaining COVID-19 risk reduction practices. Please embrace your agency and your responsibility for community well-being. The direction of our spring will be significantly determined by demonstrating that Obies truly care for each other, no matter the personal inconveniences or frustrations they face. I know we can do this well, together.

Safest travels, Obies, and we look forward to Spring Semester!


Meredith Raimondo
Vice President and Dean of Students

For more information and to reach key offices:

Visit ObieSafe for updates and frequently asked questions.

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