October 20, 2020 7:00 PM
Carmen Twillie Ambar, President

Dear Oberlin Community,

When we initiated our layered healthcare strategy to protect Oberlin’s campus, we did so knowing that we could not put our community in a bubble. Try as we might, our campus would be impacted by the world around us. As you read in today’s ObieSafe Weekly, sent earlier this afternoon, COVID has been spreading in Lorain County as well as much of the state.

This afternoon we received the results of 47 recent tests indicating that six people had a positive result; four of those people are students, one is a faculty member, and one is a staff member. We are following our established procedures, including notifying those who tested positive, transporting the students to isolation at the Hotel, and providing appropriate support for the faculty and staff members. Our contact tracing team has been notified and is beginning to reach out to people who may have been exposed.

This is not unexpected. As the cold and flu season began, and our state’s cases rose in number, the possibilities increased that we would have cases on campus. But, there are things we can do to prevent matters from progressing and we need your support.

It can sometimes be a challenge for the test notification and contact tracing teams to reach people, so please answer your phone even from unknown numbers over the next 24-48 hours. Please answer their questions honestly. It is important that we act as a caring community and get people moved to isolation and quarantine if they have been exposed. If classes were exposed, contact tracers will notify the faculty involved.

As you know, the College has prepared for positive test results on campus, and we knew they could come in bunches. We are analyzing public health information as it comes in and we will provide updates to the community as they become available and if necessary. We will, of course, continue our collaboration with the Lorain County Public Health Department to receive guidance and to coordinate our response to the changing conditions around us.

While we are monitoring conditions closely, we believe the College’s layered approach to safety, together with extensive testing, will continue to offer the protections we need to allow in-person teaching and limited campus activities to continue. So far this semester, those who have tested positive have had manageable symptoms and our strategies have served us well.

Thank you for the phenomenal job you have done to protect our campus from COVID-19. Out of nearly 7,500 COVID-19 tests administered on campus since August, only 13 had come back positive prior to today.

This recent group of positive tests, however, reminds us that we should not be complacent because of our prior successes. Along with adhering to all the other health strategies, mask wearing is critical. This is particularly true as we head into an unpredictable cold and flu season. Mask adherence in our dorm rooms when there are guests, in the classroom, and around campus continues to be of paramount importance. By doing so, we limit the progression of this virus on our campus, which I know is a goal we all share.

Please review our indoor guidelines closely and if you want more information on how to remain safe, please go to ObieSafe. Employees with questions about our policies can go to this page on ObieSafe. 

Once again, thank you for all you are doing to keep our campus safe. What is most important now is that the people who have tested positive get better, and for those who are healthy to renew their commitment to the safe practices that have protected us so far: Wear your mask. Practice physical distancing. Wash your hands.

Stay well and be safe.

Carmen Twillie Ambar
President