ObieSafe: Winter 2021–22 FAQ

Updated January 18, 2022

Oberlin’s COVID-19 policies have been developed after review of Oberlin College and county data and in consultation with Lorain County Public Health and University Hospitals. Policies are subject to change based on the evolving recommendations of public health entities.

What testing will be required or available upon return to campus?

All students, faculty, and staff will be required to test for COVID within 24 hours of their return to campus, whenever they happen to return. If you never left the area or are back early, you should plan to get tested Sunday, January 2, if possible, to avoid lines and waiting.

Walk-in asymptomatic testing will be available at Hales Gym beginning at 1 p.m. on January 2, and continue January 3-11 from 8 a.m. - noon and 1 - 6 p.m. daily. Weekly PCR testing is required for those unvaccinated students, faculty, staff, and vendors who have a vaccination exemption. Beginning in mid-January, optional walk-in PCR testing will be available seven days a week for asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff. 

What if I have COVID symptoms? How do I get tested?

To avoid gathering those who have COVID symptoms, testing for symptomatic students, faculty, and staff will be by appointment only. For a same-day appointment, text 440- 308-6193 before 5 p.m. In your text, please include your name, whether you are a student or employee, and your T-Number. Those who text after hours will be scheduled for the following day. 

Has Oberlin updated quarantine and isolation protocols based on new CDC guidance?

Per the guidance of Lorain County Public Health, the Ohio Department of Health, and the CDC, we are adopting new isolation and quarantine protocols.

If you test positive for COVID-19

  • Isolate for five days regardless of symptoms or vaccination status.
  • If after five days you do not have a fever, and other symptoms are getting better, you can end isolation and resume activities. Wear a mask for the next five days.
  • If you still have a fever or other symptoms after five days, stay in isolation until your fever is gone and other symptoms are better. If you live on campus and still have any symptoms, reach out to student health for assistance evaluating whether you need to extend your isolation. When your isolation ends, wear a mask for the next five days.

If you were exposed to someone who has COVID-19 and your vaccinations are up to date (if you received a booster, if you had your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna less than six months ago, or if you had your first dose of Johnson & Johnson less than two months ago)

  • Wear a mask around others for 10 days after your last exposure.
  • Test on day five (do not test if you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the 90 days prior to your exposure)
  • Isolate if you develop symptoms or test positive.

If you were exposed to someone who has COVID-19 and your vaccinations are not up to date (see criteria above)

  • Quarantine for five days after your last exposure, then wear a mask around others for the next five days.
  • Test on day five.
  • Isolate if you develop symptoms or test positive.

For your convenience, you can also find a visual guide to these protocols from the Ohio Department of Health.

Can I travel if I test positive for COVID?

Students who test positive need to isolate themselves on campus. Travel should not occur until you have completed 10 days of isolation, no longer have a fever, and have improving symptoms. For those who live on campus, we will be sure you have adequate food and support from the college’s staff. 

What if I am a close contact of someone with COVID?

If you are fully vaccinated, the CDC does not recommend that you quarantine because of a close contact, unless you are symptomatic. You should wear a mask, monitor your symptoms, and obtain a PCR test in five to seven days. If you choose to obtain a rapid test and test negative, we still recommend a PCR test in five to seven days.

What happens if I test positive for COVID?

If we are already aware of your positive test results, you will receive an email from the ObieSafe team. Please follow the instructions in the email to help us help you. You will also receive a follow-up phone call from one of our staff. If you have not let the ObieSafe team know of your positive test result, please reach out to them at as soon as possible so we can arrange for the resources you need.

For those students isolating in college housing, you will receive three meals per day while in isolation. It is crucial for students entering isolation  to immediately text the AVI manager’s line (440-577-5304) with their name, T#, residence, and any specific dietary requests. This line is for text messaging only and will not receive phone calls. 

If per chance, you do not receive a meal or the incorrect meal, please text the AVI manager's line immediately so they can correct this situation.

What is the new booster requirement?

We are requiring all students, faculty, and staff to obtain booster shots by the start of the spring semester on February 18. This requirement also applies to high school students who are taking classes at Oberlin. Ideally, each of us will have received the shot by the beginning of February, to ensure that we have time to develop maximum immunity by the start of the semester.

How do students, faculty, and staff submit their booster vaccination cards?

Does the booster requirement include the union groups?

Yes. The college will work closely with bargaining units to implement this requirement.

If an employee doesn’t qualify for the booster, will they receive an extension of time to obtain a booster?

Yes. Employees who do not currently qualify for the booster because of the date of vaccination or a recent COVID infection will be expected to receive the booster when eligible. We ask that employees who are unable to receive a booster by the February 18 deadline inform human resources of the date on which they will be able to receive the shot.

I would like to request an exemption from the vaccination or booster requirement. What should I do?

  • Those with an approved COVID vaccination exemption do not need an additional exemption for the booster.
  • Students who were not enrolled in fall 2021 classes but are enrolled in spring 2022 and who wish to request a medical or religious exemption to the required COVID-19 vaccination or booster must fill out the Student COVID-19 Immunization Exemption Request form.
  • Faculty and staff who wish to request a medical or religious exemption to the vaccination or booster requirements must fill out a Faculty/Staff COVID-19 Immunization Exemption Request form.

If I initially received a vaccine outside the U.S. other than Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J, do I need to get a booster? Is it safe for me to get a booster in the U.S.?

In general, those who have received any of the major international vaccines (AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Sputnik, etc.) have shown additional immunity from a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). This is the recommended course for most in this situation, although those with compromised immune systems or other related health issues should consult a medical professional.

Will facilities (AMAM, Libraries, etc.) be closed for visitors?

No, the campus is not closed to visitors. We do, however, strongly encourage all visitors—including those for admissions events, recitals and performances, and more—to be vaccinated and have a booster.

As a reminder, vaccination is required for visitors who wish to engage in certain activities (e.g., prospective students auditioning in certain disciplinary areas in the conservatory). Scheduled visitors for whom a vaccination requirement is in effect will receive more information as appropriate.

Will Shanks Wellness Center and Philips Gym be open? 

These facilities are closed until January 3, 2022. Upon reopening, only Oberlin College students, staff, and faculty will be able to access the facilities.

Will any fall semester classes finish up in person?

Oberlin is allowing the option of in-person classes in early January, as long as a remote option is available to students who wish to be remote. Faculty who were planning to finish teaching in person and are now planning to be fully remote in January will inform their students as soon as possible. Additionally, we encourage all students to inform their instructors of their plans to finish the semester remotely or in person.

If instructors require different classroom facilities to accommodate remote and in-person instruction, with whom should they make arrangements? 

If at all possible, remote classes should be taught via Zoom from the instructor’s office or home. If needed, submit a request for classroom changes or AV support. Faculty in the conservatory should contact Conservatory Concert Production ( or Michael Straus with questions regarding scheduling, equipment for remote lessons or ensemble coachings, or more.

Will I still be able to travel for my Winter Term project?

Oberlin has canceled all college-sponsored group travel by air, as well as extended group travel by car or bus (four or more hours) during Winter Term. Individual projects where students are traveling domestically, or to international locations where they are a citizen, national, or permanent resident, may continue, but students are strongly advised to have contingency plans and support in place.

Will students have the opportunity to propose alternate Winter Term projects if their group projects are canceled or cannot include a remote option?

Yes. Students should reach out to the appropriate faculty and staff to facilitate this process. Faculty and staff members are asked to  make themselves available to sponsor individual projects to help offset any necessary cancellations. 

By what date should Winter Term group project sponsors decide on a change in the method of participation? Whom should they inform?

We recommend that group project sponsors begin contingency planning for remote or hybrid versions of their projects in the event that in-person gathering isn’t possible, or if participation needs to be staggered to de-densify classroom space. The Office of Winter Term is available to help faculty and staff sponsors strategize alternatives. 

In the conservatory, faculty sponsoring on-campus Winter Term group projects should contact Deanna Bergdorf (Director, Office of Winter Term) and the Conservatory Dean’s Office as soon as possible to discuss potential changes to the project.

Will on-campus group Winter Term projects take place?

We are looking at each on-campus winter term project to determine whether it can take place safely. Some may need to be cancelled or modified. Winter Term activities that involve close proximity or higher-than-normal aerosol production are being evaluated for modification and risk reduction. In some cases, for example, N95 or KN95 masks may be required for these activities. 

In the conservatory, faculty sponsoring on-campus Winter Term group projects should contact Deanna Bergdorf (Director, Office of Winter Term) and the Conservatory Dean’s Office as soon as possible to discuss potential changes to the project.

What dining options are available to students?

All dining is grab-and-go until the beginning of the spring semester. While eating on campus, we ask that you maintain six feet of distance at all times.

Will the libraries be open?

Yes, the libraries will remain open. Library resources will also be available remotely. Please see the libraries website for hours and remote services.

What’s happening with intercollegiate athletics?

It is the institutional goal to play and compete this winter and spring. Additional protocols may be put into place to provide teams with the best opportunities for competition. Student-athletes and staff are expected to wear masks at all times when not actively participating in their sport. Masks must be worn in the weightroom, in team locker rooms, during indoor team meetings, and in other gatherings when distancing and an outdoor venue are not possible. During practice and competition, student-athletes are exempt from wearing masks. All Oberlin College student-athletes and staff will be strongly urged to get their boosters prior to any team trips.

Will club sports, intramurals, and YeoFit occur? 

We will look to resume club sports and intramural activities this spring. We will plan for YeoFit classes to resume February 21, 2022.

Will concerts and athletics events still be allowed to have audiences?

Further information about programs in January will be posted as this information becomes available.

Is there any restriction on college-sponsored travel?

Oberlin has canceled all college-sponsored group travel by air and extended group travel by car or bus (four or more hours) during Winter Term. Individual projects where students are traveling domestically, or to international locations where they are a citizen, national, or permanent resident, may continue, but students are strongly advised to have contingency plans and support in place.

Will I still be able to participate in study away this spring?

Spring study away is proceeding as planned, with the acknowledgement that many non-Oberlin program partners are performing their own risk assessments, and it is likely that some programs may be canceled.

Students and their families should carefully consider their own risk tolerance, and ensure that their program has appropriate contingency plans in place. Students are also advised to be sure their travel insurance covers COVID-related matters.

Are students, faculty, and staff participating in Community-Based Learning courses or community engagement projects off campus permitted to continue these activities? 

At this time, the college does not plan to restrict students’ work with local and regional community organizations, though the Bonner Center has paused off-campus programs in the local community as of December 21 and will reassess with our partners on January 3. Students are still expected to maintain campus guidelines for masking, social distancing, and vaccinations and follow state and local public health guidelines during any off-campus engagement opportunities. If anything has changed with respect to an organization’s willingness to have students, faculty, or staff onsite in their facilities, Bonner Center staff would be happy to strategize with you about shifting projects to a remote format, if that’s possible and desirable to you and your collaborators. For questions about the Community Music School, please contact Louise Zeitlin (Director) or the Conservatory Dean’s Office.

Upon return to campus in January, should students wait to resume community engagement projects until they have a negative COVID test?


Will there be programming on campus for students who are on campus in January?

Yes! However, in-person programming will be continuously adjusted to ensure that activities are safe for all involved. Events will be advertised via the Campus Digest and the Oberlin Online Calendar.

Is mask-wearing required?

The college requires that both vaccinated and unvaccinated students, staff, faculty, and visitors wear masks indoors unless in their residence or office with the door shut. 

Masks do not need to be worn by roommates/housemates but should be worn when others enter the space. 

Masks are not required outdoors for vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals, including visitors. 

Vaccinated faculty or guest speakers may remove their masks when speaking to a class or group as long as they maintain six feet of distance from the class/audience. Masks must be worn prior to and immediately upon completion of the presentation. Unvaccinated faculty or guest speakers are asked to remain masked while presenting. 

Additionally, faculty and students may remove masks in certain settings while engaged in certain pre-approved activities related to the academic program (e.g., playing a wind instrument or singing), provided they reposition their mask whenever practicable. (For more information on masking and distancing policies in the conservatory, please refer to the conservatory guidelines.)

Student-athletes and staff are expected to wear masks at all times when not actively participating in their sport. Masks must be worn in the weightroom, in team locker rooms, during indoor team meetings, and in other gatherings when distancing and an outdoor venue are not possible. During practice and competition, student-athletes are exempt from wearing masks.

What are the social distancing requirements?

We strongly encourage six feet of social distance whenever feasible. We have not, however, reintroduced strict distancing mandates.

May students still host friends in residential spaces? 

If you are hosting students in your assigned residential space, you must follow the “you-plus-two” rule (i.e. a single room may have a total of three people, a double may have a total of six people, a triple may have a total of nine people). This is with the exception of a four-person space, which should not exceed a total of 10 people. Those in attendance must follow all ObieSafe policies, including masking and distancing.

Will Residential Education’s Village Housing Party Registration process continue?

No. The Village Housing Party Registration process will be suspended until these gatherings can occur safely. 

If I have a roommate, do we need to wear masks in our room?

You do not need to wear a mask when you are alone with your roommate(s) in your assigned space. If a guest comes in, all those in attendance must wear masks.

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?
Faculty, staff, and students who wish to issue comments regarding instances where they believe members of the campus community are/were not following the college’s ObieSafe Protocols should use the ObieSafe Non-Compliance Comment Form to document concerns.

If a student is reported to have violated ObieSafe policies, what will happen?
Students who have been reported to have violated an ObieSafe policy will be subject to an ObieSafe Non-Compliance process as detailed in the “Procedures for Supporting Compliance with the 2021-2022 Community Agreement”. Please note that serious failures to abide by COVID-19 policies can result in a suspension or dismissal from the institution.

Are visitors allowed on Oberlin’s campus?

Yes, visitors are welcome at Oberlin. We strongly encourage all visitors to be vaccinated with a booster if they are six months or more past their initial course of mRNA vaccination (Pfizer, Moderna) or two or more months past their initial dose of Johnson & Johnson. We also require all visitors to remain masked and observe six feet of social distance while indoors.

Are admissions-related events taking place? Will in-person auditions take place in January?

At present, all admissions-related events are expected to proceed as scheduled. Prospective students and admissions visitors should monitor ObieSafe and contact college and conservatory admissions staff regularly for updates. In the conservatory, information about on-campus auditions (dates, applicable vaccination requirements, and more) will be sent in early January.

Do all staff need to continue reporting to work in person? Can I work remotely?

Employees are expected to report to campus for work. If you are concerned about your ability to take appropriate COVID precautions in your work area, please speak with your supervisor or human resources.

Will there be adequate college staffing during the shut-down period? 

Yes! The Office of Campus Safety and on-call staff will be available 24/7 during shut-down. You may reach both by calling 440-775-8444. The college will also have dining staff, custodial staff, and other essential staff on campus.

If I have tested positive and am isolating on campus, may I leave for break once I clear COVID protocols?

If you have cleared your isolation period, you are welcome to leave campus. If you do leave campus, please let us know by sending an email to Residential Education ( and ObieSafe (

Will on-campus dining be available to students during the shut-down period? Does this include students who are part of OSCA?

Yes, Stevenson Hall will serve three meals per day for students who are approved to stay.

Stevenson Hall Operating Hours

Thursday, December 23 to Saturday, January 1 

  • Breakfast: 8–9:30 a.m.

  • Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

  • Dinner: 5–6:30 p.m.

Please note that hours are modified on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (December 24–25) 

  • Breakfast: 10 a.m. to noon

  • Holiday Meal: 1–4 p.m.

Sunday, January 2

  • Normal hours resume

Students who are members of OSCA may purchase meals at Stevenson during winter shut-down while OSCA kitchens are not in operation. 

Will on-campus students be able to receive mail during the shut-down period?

Wilder Hall and the mailroom are closed beginning at 5:30 p.m. on December 23 and will not reopen until January 2 at 7:30 a.m. If you have an essential or emergency item in the mailroom, please contact Campus Safety at 440-775-8444.

What student support resources will be available during the shut-down period? 

The Office of Campus Safety will be open 24/7. You may reach them by calling 440-775-8444.

The Oberlin College Counseling Center’s After-Hours Telephone Line will be available during shutdown. You may reach a counselor at any time by calling 855-256-7160.

Student Health Services will be open from December 27 to December 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.