We are in the midst of a fantastic summer on campus, our first with students attending classes. Now we are preparing to welcome our athletes, who begin arriving in less than two weeks.
While coping with COVID last year, we learned a great deal that will help us keep our campus safe. We kept COVID in check due to the diligence of our students, faculty, and staff. Our positivity rate was 0.23 percent, and we achieved that without vaccines for much of the academic year!
We based our ObieSafe policies on data and the guidance of public health professionals. We are continuing this successful approach even as we monitor the latest news on the Delta variant spread, which is causing some concern.
University Hospitals, which is operating our Student Health Center, and Lorain County Public Health agree that our high vaccination rates will make it difficult for the Delta variant to spread on campus. We are so proud of the sophomores and juniors on campus, who have achieved a 93% vaccination rate, based on their uploaded vaccine cards. Currently, 81.5% of faculty and staff also are fully vaccinated, giving us a campus wide vaccination rate of 86.9%.
It is critical that students, faculty, and staff complete the Vaccine Intent Form that was emailed to those who have not uploaded a vaccine card, so that the college can develop policies based on data. Anyone who is vaccinated should upload their vaccine card to the Student Health or Human Resources portal, so we can determine the vaccine rate for fall semester.
The fact that a majority of our students will not arrive on campus until late September provides additional time to determine our vaccination rate and apply the layered strategies that will best maintain the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff.
There are measures we can take to add to our layered strategy. Please remember to wash your hands, which remains among the top public health measures people can employ.
The Centers for Disease Control recently provided new mask guidelines for areas of high COVID transmission, which now includes Lorain County.
As a result, effective as of this afternoon, Monday, August 2, the College is requiring that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear a mask indoors, unless you are in your residence or office with the door closed. We will continue to monitor the risk and adjust policies based on public health guidance.
Just like last year, we will provide updates on other policy changes via email, video, online Q&A, and webinars.
Finally, over the weekend, the College sponsored an indoor event called Solstice that attracted some students who also may have attended Lollapalooza in Chicago. There is no evidence that attendees at either event are at increased risk, as there was no confirmation of exposure.
Remember, Oberlin’s high vaccination rate minimizes the risk of infection. If you attended Solstice and do not have symptoms, you do not need to take any action other than to wear a mask indoors, as we are asking everyone to do. Any student who becomes symptomatic can contact Student Health at (440) 775-8180 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, we strongly recommend everyone get vaccinated, unless you have a health reason not to. Vaccines are key to minimizing risk.
Enjoy the rest of your summer. I am excited for our athletes to return. And please, remember to get your vaccine and upload your card!
Carmen Twillie Ambar