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

Updated ObieSafe protocols will include testing at move-in of all students, faculty, and staff

September 10, 2021 2:00 PM


Dear Obies,

There is nothing like fall at Oberlin. The energy and excitement on Wilder Bowl. The music from our conservatory students. The fervent competition of our athletic teams. The optimism of a new academic year. Reuniting with old friends, and making new ones. For first year students, the nervous exploration of an all-new campus and all-new experiences.

As we prepare for the majority of our students to arrive on campus later this month, I share these experiences and emotions. But this year, I also am mindful of the experiences on other campuses, as well as yesterday’s announcement of more stringent federal requirements regarding vaccinations and testing. I am more convinced than ever that we must step with certainty and caution. We must be confident but not overly so.

In the coming weeks, we embark together on our second fall semester under the ever-present specter of COVID. Because we functioned as one community, we emerged from the first year of COVID with a degree of success that should make us all proud. Now, the challenge before us is to build upon our success, to recalibrate our expectations where they pertain to public health, and to act together to manage the challenges the Delta variant presents to people in a congregant setting.

Since the pandemic arrived on campus in March 2020, we have operated with the health and safety of our community as our top priority. Our decisions and the creation of the layered health strategy that buoyed us through last year with a 0.23% positivity rate were based upon data and the analysis and guidance of public health professionals at the local, state, and national levels.

Equally clear to me, however, is that the Delta variant presents new challenges for us all. It is also true that this year we do not have the full mitigation of distance that our de-densified campus provided last year. Our current academic calendar allows us the benefit of learning from the experience of colleges and universities across the country. Schools that have resumed classes are struggling with larger numbers of students testing positive with COVID.

Medical professionals tell us that those who are vaccinated and contract COVID rarely require hospitalization. The risks are greater for the unvaccinated. There also is concern that some faculty and staff who are vaccinated could bring the virus home to others who may not be vaccinated.

So far, we have only experienced one case among our students, and we have nearly 700 on campus. Thank you all for following our ObieSafe protocols!

This academic year, Oberlin will be a largely vaccinated campus. But public health officials tell us that with “breakthrough” infections occurring in the region at a rate of 1–2%, it would not be surprising for us to experience COVID once all of our students return.

It is very possible that we could have more COVID cases on campus in the first few weeks of the term than we had all last year. While this is an outcome that would match what public health officials deem reasonable, we want to again do all that we can to defy the odds, as we did last year. To that end, we will take a more aggressive posture during our first weeks with a full campus. From September 19, when RAs and PALs report to campus, through at least the first two weeks of classes, we will phase in the following protocols:


  • Beginning on September 19, we will initiate testing protocols for all students, faculty, staff, and the employees of our dining and custodial vendors, AVI Fresh and Scioto, regardless of vaccination status. Even though this exceeds public health recommendations, we believe it is important to establish a baseline of infection at the beginning of the semester. Testing clinic dates and hours will be announced in the coming days.
  • The day of move-in, students are required to go to Hales Gym for a PCR test. Students living off campus should test on the day of their arrival to campus. Please note: in a departure from last year, you do not have to make an appointment. You also do not have to quarantine while you await test results.
  • Students who have symptoms at move-in should go directly to Student Health.
  • Students already living on campus also need to be tested and should come to Hales between September 19 and September 30.
  • All faculty, staff, and those who work on campus for AVI and Scioto also will be required to test at Hales. No appointments will be necessary. Testing clinic dates and hours will be announced soon.
  • After this initial test, unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff will be required to test weekly, per new federal requirements.

Isolation & Quarantine

  • Students who test positive will receive a call from a doctor, and will be directed to isolate in your room or off-campus residence. If you are on a meal plan, food will be delivered to you.
  • Students living on campus with a roommate who tests positive may request to be removed from their residence. They will be housed in the hotel, pending room availability.
  • We will conduct contact tracing, but please remember, the definition for exposure is far different now than last year. It is highly unlikely that a vaccinated person who has been wearing their mask will be considered exposed to someone who tests positive.


  • Because masks are among the most effective ways to keep yourself safe, starting September 27 when the majority of our students start to arrive, we will require that everyone be masked while on campus, indoors and out. The only time you may take off your mask is when you are in your room or while eating. Of course, Conservatory students may remove their masks to pursue their studies. Athletes will practice and compete without masks.
  • Please remember to mask up, to wash your hands, use sanitizer and remain 6 feet apart when possible. For more information on our ObieSafe protocols, please go to:


  • During this period, all dining will be grab-and-go. We hope to reopen dining halls after the first two weeks of classes and we have established a baseline on campus.

All other recently announced protocols remain in place. I appreciate that these measures are more emphatic than those we contemplated even a month ago. I will participate in the following webinars next week to offer more information and answer your questions.

Changing Policies in Light of Changing Guidelines on Oberlin’s Campus: Let’s put COVID-19 in perspective

Tuesday, September 14 – 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Exclusively for Arts & Sciences Students and Parents


Changing Policies in Light of Changing Guidelines on Oberlin’s Campus: Let’s put COVID-19 in perspective

Tuesday, September 14 – 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Exclusively for Conservatory Students and Parents


Changing Policies in Light of Changing Guidelines on Oberlin’s Campus: Let’s put COVID-19 in perspective

Wednesday, September 15 – 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Exclusively for Faculty and Staff


Our goal is to stamp out the spread of COVID and other viruses before they begin to spread across campus. After this initial period, we intend to resume the semester with relatively good health and a baseline from which to track infection.

We can do this. We continue to recommend that students, faculty, and staff enjoy all that the campus experience has to offer. But we need to work together to cope with the Delta variant. So please, get vaccinated. Wear your mask. Be safe.


Carmen Twillie Ambar