ObieSafe FAQ: Fall 2021 Arrival


Updated October 19, 2021

Despite the 94% campus vaccination rate and indoor mask mandate, understandable concerns remain about COVID-19. Many questions related to if and when a COVID test is necessary are asked, particularly by those who believe they have been exposed. There are people on campus who can help you navigate any concerns with the goal of keeping everyone safe and healthy while still enjoying a wonderful experience at Oberlin.

Who can I contact if I am concerned that I may have COVID-19 or have been exposed?

Students, faculty and staff can email so that the ObieSafe team can discuss your concerns with you. Students can also contact Student Health ( or 440-775-8180) who can evaluate the situation and determine the need for testing.

When is COVID testing necessary?

  • Anyone who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should have a COVID-19 test.
    • Student Health will evaluate students to determine the need for testing based on multiple factors. We encourage students to test at Student Health so that the staff receive the results and can activate the contact tracing team if needed. Student Health can also test you for other potential viruses such as the flu.
    • Faculty and staff should have a test at a retail store or healthcare facility. Please report your symptoms to as soon as possible for further guidance on next steps. We ask that you forward a copy of your test result as well.
    • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not need to get tested following an exposure as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
  • It is recommended that international travelers arriving in the United States have a PCR test 3-5 days after travel regardless of vaccination status.
  • COVID testing may be necessary if there is an exposure that meets specific definitions. The contact tracing team can help you determine if there is an actual exposure and if testing is needed. Testing is not needed in every situation. Please contact Provide your phone number so we can reach out.

What type of test should I have?

  • An antigen or “rapid” test, which provides immediate results, is generally reliable for someone who has symptoms specific to COVID-19. However, be aware that false positives do occur. Negative results in a symptomatic person may be confirmed with a PCR test if Student Health determines that it is medically necessary. Antigen tests may not detect an early infection and are not as useful in an asymptomatic person.
  • PCR tests are the “gold standard” meaning they are the most reliable and accurate. PCR tests take longer to return, typically 48 hours or longer, and are often needed following an antigen test to confirm a COVID diagnosis. The ObieSafe team or Student Health can help you determine the type of test that would be best for your situation.

When should I have a COVID-19 test after exposure?

  • Once your exposure is verified by the ObieSafe team or Student Health and a determination is made that testing is necessary, you should test approximately five (5) days after the last exposure you had to the positive person. Approximately 50% of people present with signs of infection within five days of exposure.
  • Although you may have a negative test that was administered on day five, please remember that the virus can take up to 14 days to become active in your body. This means that you must be vigilant about monitoring your symptoms and wearing a mask when you’re with others for a full 14 days after exposure.
    • If you become symptomatic after the initial test done on day five, you will likely need another COVID test.
  • There are some situations, such as in a classroom setting in which 100% of people are masked, in which testing is not needed. Wearing masks is highly protective so continue to follow the policy especially in social settings.

Do I need to stay home if I have symptoms?

Yes, please stay home!

  • Students please contact Student Health (440-775-8180 or
  • Faculty and staff please contact your supervisor first regarding your need to stay home, then contact We will provide further guidance for you.

Do I need to stay home if I think I’ve been exposed to a positive person?

  • Fully vaccinated students and faculty/staff who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 are not required to stay home. You may go to class and work. However, you must be diligent about wearing a mask for 14 days in EVERY setting. Monitor your symptoms and stay home should you become ill or develop symptoms. Notify about the exposure.
  • Unvaccinated students should stay home and contact for further discussion of the specific exposure. Contact tracers will determine the need for quarantine based on public health guidelines.

What about management of other viruses?

“Viral season” will begin soon with many common viruses, including influenza, presenting on campus. It’s important to use simple strategies to prevent the spread of all illness.

  • Get a flu shot! Flu shots are required for students! They are highly recommended for faculty and staff.
    • Students can obtain a flu shot at Student Health.
    • Please upload your influenza vaccine card to the Student Health Portal.
    • Students who would like to request an influenza vaccination exemption should submit documentation to Student Health as detailed in the Certificate of Immunization form.
    • Faculty and staff can obtain a flu shot at a retail store or your healthcare provider.
  • Stay home when you’re ill.
  • Wear a mask when you’re with others to protect them.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Contact Student Health (students) or your healthcare provider (employees) for guidance.
  • There are many tests that detect common illnesses: COVID-19, influenza, strep, RSV and others.

Updated September 17, 2021

Will the college resume a testing protocol?

The college plans to test all students, faculty, and staff upon arrival to campus, regardless of vaccination status. After arrival testing all unvaccinated students, faculty and staff will be required to have a COVID test on a weekly basis. Specific information will be announced in the coming days. If a student is symptomatic they should contact Student Health at or (440) 775-8180 for a health assessment. Employees should contact their primary care provider.

Will the college require vaccinations?

Oberlin will require all students to be fully vaccinated by October 7, which is 45 days from the FDA’s announced approval on August 23. Students who have health or religious reasons preventing them from becoming vaccinated may fill out an exemption form and apply for special consideration.

Where can I obtain a vaccine?

Please begin the vaccination process immediately as this will provide sufficient time to receive all doses prior to your arrival on campus to keep yourself and your fellow Obies safe. Local health departments and retail stores have an adequate supply of vaccines.

The following are in walking distance of campus:

  • CVS Pharmacy Oberlin location
  • Mercy Health-Allen Hospital: Call the Mercy Health COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline 866-624-0366 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST to schedule a COVID vaccine appointment.

Additional locations:

Please make an appointment prior to returning to campus.

Will vaccines obtained in other countries be accepted at Oberlin?

  • Any student who received a vaccine other than Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson must still upload their vaccination card to the Student Health Portal regardless of World Health Organization (WHO) approval.
  • Vaccinations that are approved by the WHO are accepted.
  • Fully vaccinated students (2 weeks past the final dose) arriving from international destinations:
  • Unvaccinated students or those not fully vaccinated upon arrival from international destinations:
    • Quarantine for 7 days.
    • Schedule a rapid test for the day of your arrival at Student Health (440) 775-8180 or
    • Schedule a PCR test with Student Health (440) 775-8180 or 3-5 days after arrival. Quarantine lasts the full 7 days even if the PCR is negative.
    • Unvaccinated international travelers may request early arrival so that their quarantine ends prior to the first day of class. International arrivals must fill out the Student Early Arrival Request Form no later than September 10 to request early arrival.

What If I have been vaccinated, but I’m having trouble uploading my card?

We can help! Students can email or call Student Health at (440) 775-8180 or Faculty and staff can reach out to Human Resources at (440) 775-8430 or

Where can I get tested if I feel I have been exposed or have symptoms?

Students should contact Student Health (440) 775-8180 or if they are symptomatic. Student Health will determine the need for testing based on specific criteria. Employees can test through their healthcare provider or local test center.

Fully vaccinated students and faculty/staff who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 are not required to test or quarantine provided they were wearing a mask at the time of exposure. Monitor your symptoms for 14 days and be vigilant about wearing a mask. Students can attend class, athletics and extracurricular activities unless symptoms develop. Employees can continue to work on campus.

Contact tracers will determine the need for testing and quarantine of unvaccinated close contacts. If masks were worn during exposure testing and quarantine may not be required.

Will the college implement contact tracing once again?

Oberlin will conduct contact tracing. Anyone who tests positive will also be contacted by the Ohio Department of Health contact tracing agency, called Public Consulting Group (PCG). Students, faculty or staff who test positive should expect a phone call from this service. Please answer the call even if contact tracing was done at Oberlin.

Close contacts will be identified through contact tracing. Fully vaccinated individuals who wore masks indoors will not need to test or quarantine but will receive an email notifying them of the contact and precautions that should be taken. Any close contact who did not wear a mask will be required to test and quarantine. The status of unvaccinated contacts will be determined based on the type of contact as determined through a contact tracing interview.

If I see a violation of ObieSafe policies and/or the Community Agreement, should I report it, and if so, how do I file a report?

For faculty, staff, and students who would like to issue comments regarding instances when they believe members of the campus community are/were not following the college's ObieSafe Protocols, please use the ObieSafe Non-Compliance Comment Form to document your concern.

Do students, faculty, and staff have to practice social distancing either indoors or outdoors?

Physical distancing is not necessary for fully vaccinated students, faculty, and staff on campus for institutions of higher education where everyone is fully vaccinated and masked indoors. The health department advises that unvaccinated and immunocompromised individuals maintain as much distance as possible.

Will visitors have access to campus, and if so, will they need to wear masks?

Visitors are welcome to campus but must be masked indoors and outdoors. Oberlin recommends that all visitors be vaccinated. Hand washing remains among the top public health measures people can employ.

Will campus tours and recruitment visits continue? What will the mask and activity policies be?

Yes, campus tours and recruitment visits will continue and participants will adhere to masking requirements indoors and outdoors. Oberlin recommends that all visitors be vaccinated. Hand washing remains among the top public health measures people can employ.

Will Homecoming still take place this fall?

Oberlin will continue to monitor the pandemic and make a determination in the coming weeks. But at this time, the campus will continue to plan for Homecoming events.

Can the public still visit campus facilities such as the museum, gym, library, or bowling alley? Can the public attend lectures, concerts, or events on campus?

Visitors are welcome to campus and may enjoy the amenities that are open to the public; however, masks are required indoors and outdoors. Oberlin recommends that all visitors be vaccinated. Hand washing remains among the top public health measures people can employ.

Will all meals be shifted to grab-and-go? What about events where food is served?

Between September 27 and October 18, all dining will be grab-and-go * (jump to note 1). Students may eat outdoors with others. When eating indoors, students should eat in their room.

Campus events must also follow this protocol.

Outdoor events are permitted with masks, and food can be served and consumed.

Once the grab-and-go requirement is lifted, those sponsoring campus events where food is served:

  • Everyone is to abide by the 6 feet physical distancing protocol and reduced indoor occupancy policies.
  • Masks should be worn at all times indoors when not actively eating or drinking.

Outdoor events are permitted with masks, and food can be served and consumed.

* (return to reference 1) The grab-and-go meal requirement may be extended dependent upon the rate of infection identified in the arrival period.

Will dining and custodial employees need to wear masks on campus?

Yes, dining and custodial employees have been notified of the updated mask policy and will adhere to these requirements. Masks need to be worn indoors and outdoors.

Will all vendors need to wear masks on campus?

Vendors are required to wear a mask indoors and outdoors.

Will students be able to host parties?

Students are permitted to host gatherings in their space, provided that they follow all ObieSafe guidelines, including the current indoor and outdoor mask mandate. We encourage students to utilize on-campus resources to help guide safe socialization, including but not limited to, Office of Student Activities at or (440) 775-8411, and Residential Education’s Village Party Planning Process.

What do I do if I am vaccinated and my roommate is not?

As public health officials have indicated, anyone who is vaccinated has a low risk of contracting COVID and breakthrough infections rarely result in hospitalization or death. The major risk is for unvaccinated students as they may experience more serious infections.

If any student develops symptoms or if their roommate becomes positive for COVID-19, contact Student Health at or (440) 775-8180 for a health assessment.

If I am enrolled in the summer term, will I have the same housing assignment in the summer and in the fall?

Maybe. Students will have the option to request to stay in their summer housing assignment, but all housing assignments are based on semesters in residence.

Will the college institute a hybrid class model where some students rotate, taking turns attending classes in person?

Classes are expected to remain fully in person all semester. Classrooms will be utilized at full occupancy, with mask guidelines in place. There may be times when educational activities require the temporary removal of masks indoors in shared spaces.

Will the college offer remote learning for the fall semester?

Remote learning sessions are not being planned for the fall semester.

Will students be required to social distance while in class?

Classrooms will be utilized at full occupancy and mask guidelines should be followed. There may be times when educational activities require the removal of masks indoors in shared spaces.

Will students register for one or two semesters?

Students will register for fall 2021 courses in June. Spring 2022 advising and registration will take place during the fall semester.

What will winter term be like?

Winter term will begin on January 25 and end on February 17. This will be a traditional winter term, and students may pursue individual or group projects.

How will the October 2021 start date impact the 2022-2023 academic calendar?

We expect the fall 2022 semester to start around the time that the academic year would typically start in late August or early September.

When will students move in?

Move-in will take place on Sept. 28–29 for first year students. Returning students will move in October 1–3.

When will fall 2021 bills be posted?

Student Accounts plans to bill students for tuition on August 2. The office will bill for insurance on July 1, since the enrollment start date is August 1.

Can faculty remove masks while teaching?

Faculty or class speakers/guests who are fully vaccinated may choose to remove their mask during class as long as they are six feet away from students in class while they’re speaking. If faculty work with a small group or individual students masks should be worn.

How will the October start date impact sports?

Oberlin College Athletics is coming back!

  • Fall sports will occur within the traditional timeframe, along with the non-traditional spring sports seasons.
  • Fall sport student-athletes will report to campus mid-August for preseason; please communicate with your head coach for further details.
  • Spring sport student-athletes, along with the swimming and diving team, will report to campus mid-September to begin their training activities; please communicate with your head coach for further details.
  • Winter sport student-athletes (men's and women's basketball, indoor track & field) will arrive on campus on the set-date for the entire student body (October 1-3); please communicate with your head coach for further details.

Will athletic and recreational facilities remain open to the campus community?

Athletic and recreational facilities will remain open to the campus community with masking requirements enforced indoors. Masks do not need to be worn outdoors. Hand washing remains among the top public health measures people can employ.

Can fans attend athletic competitions?

Fans may attend competitions and must abide by the visitor policies of mask wearing, trying to maintain physical distancing if unvaccinated, and not attending if feeling unwell.

Will athletes be permitted to travel and if so, under what circumstances?

Athletes are permitted to travel and must adhere to athletic competition protocols and with consideration of the NCAA guidelines.

Will locker rooms be open to teams and patrons?

Locker rooms will be open to teams and patrons. All users of locker rooms and all athletic facilities must follow mask guidelines and ObieSafe policies.

Will the equipment room be open?

The equipment room will be open and available for use.

Will theatrical performances be allowed to continue and can an audience attend?

Performances will be allowed to continue with audiences in attendance. For audience members, masks are required to be worn at all times, indoors or outdoors.

Am I permitted to travel?

Students are permitted to travel off campus. Unvaccinated students should have a COVID test 3-5 days after returning to campus. Unvaccinated athletes may travel for competition and must follow all athletic traveling protocols.

Can I obtain a COVID test for travel in Student Health?

COVID testing for approved and verified academic purposes (study abroad or course-related experience) can be scheduled in Student Health.

COVID testing prior to elective travel is not available on campus. Area retail pharmacies offer testing.

Can students participate in off-campus work or educational activities?

Students can participate in off-campus work or educational activities. While off-campus, students are expected to at least follow all ObieSafe guidelines as if they were on campus (masking indoors, etc.) in addition to other guidelines and requirements set forth by the work site.

While off-campus, students are expected to at least follow all ObieSafe guidelines as if they were on campus (masking, dining, etc.)

Can college-sponsored travel continue?

College-sponsored travel may continue. While off-campus, faculty and staff are expected to at least follow all ObieSafe guidelines as if they were on campus (masking, dining, etc.) in addition to other guidelines and requirements set forth by their destination.

Can the college host off-campus events for alumni and/or parents?

College sponsored off-campus events may continue. All attendees, including faculty, staff, students, and guests are expected to at least follow all ObieSafe guidelines as if they were on campus (masking indoors, dining, etc.) in addition to other guidelines and requirements set forth by their destination or venue.

Can I shift back to working from home?

Although the Delta variant is concerning, there is still very low risk of infection on campus. It is unnecessary for individuals without approved accommodations to work from home on a continual basis. Accommodations to work from home must be processed through Human Resources.

Can we de-densify the office and implement a work-from-home rotation?

Employees should work with their managers to identify ways that spaces may need modification due to policies enacted by the college.

Are in-person activities like meetings Zoom-only?

Meetings can continue to take place indoors and in person with all individuals wearing masks.

Is there a 6-feet distance between people rule again?

It is recommended that unvaccinated and immunocompromised people be mindful of physical distance from others at this time for their own safety and protection. Dining halls will return to 6-foot physical distancing between diners to add an additional level of safety for shared spaces where mask removal is imminent.