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

ObieSafe Weekly: October 27, 2020

October 27, 2020 12:15 PM

Office of Communications

Enter the song parody competition; a creative writing course adapts to ObieSafe

Obie Safe Weekly: Caring for Our Community. (The squirrel mascot is wearing a mask.)

Coronavirus Testing Results
October 20–26
New Tests 434
New Positives 6
(as previously reported on October 20)
% Positive 1.38%
More information on testing and test results is available at the ObieSafe website.


Transcription follows.
Created for ObieSafe by the talented Beth Wolfensberger Singer P’19.

Halloween Masks Through the Decades

  • 1940s, Donald Duck. Not a fantastic likeness.
  • 1950s, Raggedy Ann. Accidentally unnerving.
  • 1960s, yellow/green gorilla. Groovy.
  • 1970s, Chewbacca. Looks like a werewolf, though.
  • 1980s, ET. Good luck with small eyeholes.
  • 1990s, Scream's ghost face. Mask of a mask.
  • 2010s, Elsa. Scarily teensy nose.
  • 2020, specifically. Something like these. (Colorful covid masks presented by white squirrels.) Unusual year, unusual Halloween.

Flu shots keep our community healthy

As a reminder, all Oberlin College students who will be on campus during the 2020-21 school year are required to receive a flu shot. Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to get the shot. If you have already tested and forgot to get your shot, you may walk in at Williams Fieldhouse to get one any time the testing site is open. For students who received their flu shot elsewhere, proof of vaccination must be submitted to your Student Health Portal by November 1, 2020.

Flu shot results as of October 23:

  • Students: 1,367
  • Faculty and staff: 465
  • Total flu shots provided: 1,832

Give us your best song parody!

Gray skies and cooler temperatures slowing you down? Take a break from whatever you’re doing and enter our Covid Song Parody Competition! The rules are simple: it must be a relatively familiar song, and the focus of your parody must be on “life in Covid times” (you are welcome to interpret that however you wish). Your parody also must include at least three references to Oberlin-related things (ex.: Tappan Square, womb chairs, Charles Finney). Extra credit will go to any entry that features collaboration with others, especially across class years.

Each participant in the winning team will receive a $100 gift certificate from a local business of their choosing (up to $500 per team), and will be featured in a future ObieSafe Weekly. Additional prizes may be awarded for honorable mention. The competition is open to all students, faculty, and staff, and entries must be submitted by Friday, November 13, to (Need some inspiration? The LA Times has you covered!)

Isolation vs. quarantine: What to know and why it matters

Understanding the difference between isolation and quarantine is critical to keeping our campus safe. Oberlin follows guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and the Lorain County Public Health Department.

Isolation separates individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are highly symptomatic of COVID-19. It typically lasts 10 days.

  • Symptomatic individuals are tested prior to being isolated. They are released from isolation if the test results are negative.

  • Day 1 begins the day after the test or when symptoms begin.

  • If an asymptomatic person who tested positive shows symptoms, isolation is extended for 10 days after symptom onset, regardless of a test.

  • To leave, individuals must have been in isolation for 10 days, have improving symptoms and no fever for 24 hours, without fever-suppressing medications.

Quarantine separates individuals who have potentially been exposed to the virus. It typically lasts 14 days, the virus’ incubation period.

  • Individuals can exhibit symptoms in 2-14 days. Quarantine begins the day after the last exposure.

  • A PCR test is administered early in quarantine, but the individual will remain in quarantine even if the PCR test is negative. The virus may build at any point in the 14-day period.

  • If a person is exposed to someone with symptoms, the quarantine will be shorter if the symptomatic person’s PCR test is negative.

Ways to avoid isolation and quarantine:

  • Wear masks at all time unless in your room with the door closed
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart at all times
  • Avoid extended contact with others
  • Wash hands
  • Disinfect surfaces

ObieSafe in the classroom: Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Emily Barton

Professor and students cross the street near Memorial Arch.
Photo credit: Dale Preston ’83

This fall, Emily Barton teaches a creative writing/comparative literature 291 course titled The OuLiPo & Constraint. This course explores the work of the OuLiPo (the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or Workshop of Potential Literature): a mostly French, mostly 20th-century literary movement interested in using mathematical, scientific, structural, and letter-based constraints to produce works of literature, Barton explains. 

“We read works by members of the OuLiPo, and consider the broader notion of how constraint—voluntary and involuntary—affects writers. At the same time, students employ various kinds of constraints in their own creative work.

A small group sits in the grass in a circle. They are wearing protective masks.
Photo credit: Dale Preston ’83

“On this day, we took advantage of the beautiful fall weather to practice N+7. In this classic OuLiPo exercise, you replace every noun (N) in a piece with whatever comes seven words later in the dictionary (+7). So we went outside, with dictionaries, to write about our environment, sometimes using words that surprised us.

“Our class uses a hybrid model to adapt to COVID-19 protocols. Because we are a baker’s dozen, we can fit in a classroom in Peters, but I run Zoom simultaneously with the in-person class. This gives flexibility for students who might be feeling under the weather or COVID-weary, and for students whose schedules mean they need to eat during class. That’s not possible in the classroom with the new protocols—but absolutely fine if they’re Zooming in from their dorm rooms or apartments. And if someone is unable to attend class, we have a recording they can watch later.

Another view of the class circle in the grass.
Photo credit: Dale Preston ’83

“Though there have been technological hiccups here and there, I’ve been surprised and delighted at how well hybrid learning can go. With masks on, it’s a little harder to see and hear each other, but it’s worth that inconvenience to have a dynamic discussion in a room together. And yes, it’s a little awkward to have some students in the classroom while others are online. But once the projection and sound are working and everyone is used to the setup (and I remember to read the chat box), it seems like the best option, given our situation. Like everyone, I’m finding life under COVID challenging and exhausting. At the same time, these circumstances let me rethink how my courses operate, find wiggle room in places I didn’t see before, and try new things. I hope the flexibility, compassion, and humor this moment demands of us will continue to influence us going forward.”

View more fall classes on Oberlin’s Flickr site.

Questions we’ve been asked

Q. What happens if a student tests positive just before the November move-out?

A. If a student tests positive in the days before Thanksgiving, they will remain in isolation until campus health professionals clear them for travel. Isolation can last for 10 days or more. Students who are required to quarantine through the contact tracing process at Oberlin will remain in quarantine until campus health professionals clear them for travel. Quarantine can last for 14 days. 

This protocol is based on public health guidelines and is in step with Oberlin's health care protocols.

Student input needed for focus group

We want to hear your reflections on the fall campus reopening. What went well? What can use improvement? As we approach the end of the fall semester and prepare to bring a different cohort of students back in the spring, we want to hear what you think. If you are interested in participating in a focus group discussion about the campus reopening and ObieSafe guidelines, please fill out this Google form indicating when your best availability is. If you can’t make the live discussion, you can leave some feedback on the form.

Statement of service for insurance

For those students with insurance coverage for our asymptomatic testing protocol, students may request a statement of service to support their insurance claims. Student requests for a statement of service should be forwarded to Karen Purvis, Account Manager with Harness Health, at It is important that these requests come from the student and include the student's T#.

Get in touch with the ObieSafe team

Have something to share in a future issue of ObieSafe Weekly? Email with story ideas or information you’d like to have considered for publication.

ObieSafe Weekly provides the news, information—and the occasional smile—we all need to navigate the pandemic and help our community thrive. Find the tools you need in your inbox every Tuesday at noon.