ObieSafe: Fall 2021 Policies and FAQ

New FAQ Published December 21

For the latest information about COVID policies and procedures, see the Winter 2021-22 FAQ.

Updated November 19, 2021

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.

Are students required to sign an ObieSafe Community Agreement for the 2021-22 academic year?

All students are required to sign an ObieSafe Community Agreement demonstrating their commitment to responsible participation in a residential educational experience that supports the health, wellness, and safety of all community members. Students arriving on campus for the first time in an academic year must sign the agreement prior to their arrival.

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 where 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.

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

Students, faculty and staff can email obiesafe@oberlin.edu so that the ObieSafe team can discuss your concerns with you. Students should also contact Student Health (health@oberlin.edu or 440-775-8180) to receive a health evaluation and determine the need for testing if medically necessary.

Do I need to stay home if I have symptoms?

Yes! Stay home if you have a fever or other significant illness symptoms. When you do leave your residence, make sure that you wear a mask, maintain distance from others and wash your hands frequently.  

  • Students: please contact Student Health (440-775-8180 or health@oberlin.edu) for a health evaluation.
  • Faculty and staff: please first contact your supervisor, and as necessary Human Resources, regarding your need to stay home, then contact obiesafe@oberlin.edu. Please contact obiesafe@oberlin.edu to let the ObieSafe team know that you have symptoms. Additionally, contact your healthcare provider as you deem appropriate. 
    • If you are tested for COVID-19, we ask that you forward a copy of your test result to obiesafe@oberlin.edu as well.

What about management of other viruses and illnesses?

“Viral season” will begin soon with many common viral and bacterial infections becoming possible on campus. It’s important to use simple strategies to prevent the spread of any 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 documentation 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 or  if you have a fever or other significant symptoms.
  • Always wear a mask when you’re with others to protect them.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Students: contact Student Health (440-775-8180 or health@oberlin.edu) for guidance.
  • Employees: contact your healthcare provider for guidance.
  • There are many tests that detect common illnesses: COVID-19, influenza, strep, RSV and others. Student Health will evaluate students to determine if testing is medically necessary.

Does the Conservatory have any additional COVID protocols?

In addition to the policies noted in this FAQ, a separate FAQ for Conservatory students covers modified policies related to activities required for education purposes.

Where do I upload my required COVID vaccine card or seek an exemption?

Upload a vaccine card immediately upon receiving the final dose of a vaccine so you don’t forget!

To request a COVID-19 vaccination exemption, please follow the below instructions.

If I plan to enroll for spring semester 2022, where can I obtain a COVID vaccine?

If you are not on campus for fall 2021, but plan to enroll for spring 2022, please begin the vaccination process immediately to ensure sufficient time to receive all doses prior to your arrival on campus. Thankfully, local health departments and retail stores have an adequate supply of vaccines!

What if I received a COVID vaccine in another country?

If you are not on campus for fall 2021, but plan to enroll for spring 2022, and received a vaccine other than those produced by Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson you must still upload a vaccination card to the Student Health Portal.

  • Vaccinations that are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) will be accepted.
  • If you received a vaccination card that is not approved by WHO please submit an exemption: Student COVID-19 Immunization Exemption Request form.
  • Please review the policies for testing and quarantine of international arrivals.

Are COVID-19 booster vaccines available for all adults?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded availability of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all adults, ages 18 or older.

Oberlin encourages all students, faculty and staff to receive a COVID booster as a way to enhance personal, as well as campus, health and safety. Vaccines have proven to be the most effective way to prevent serious illness and hospitalization.  As students, faculty and staff travel for upcoming breaks, a booster will provide additional protection that may be needed due to waning immunity.

When should I get a COVID-19 booster?

It depends on which vaccine you originally received.

  • At least six months after the second dose of a two dose COVID-19 vaccine.
  • At least two months after the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Where can I obtain a COVID-19 booster near Oberlin?

Where can I upload my COVID-19 booster vaccine card?

Will Oberlin host a COVID-19 booster clinic?

We are working with the Lorain Public Health Department to determine a date for a campus booster vaccination clinic. More information will be forthcoming.

Do visitors have to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine?

Any person, including prospective students or enrolled students’ guests, who spend the night on a college property (ex: dorm rooms) are required to be vaccinated. High school students who are enrolled for Oberlin classes are required to be vaccinated. It is highly recommended that any visitor on campus have a COVID-19 vaccine for their own safety. Indoor mask policies must be followed by all visitors.

Anyone with symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, should refrain from attending campus events, indoors or outdoors.

Am I required to have an influenza vaccine?

Students are required to have an influenza vaccine. The flu vaccine is highly recommended for faculty and staff. Public health officials predict that due to reduced flu virus activity in 2020, flu activity in 2021-22 could mean an early, and possibly severe, flu season.

Am I required to wear a mask?

The College requires that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear a mask indoors. Currently, Lorain County is considered an area of substantial or high transmission per the CDC. We will continue to monitor the risk and adjust policies based on public health guidance. 

  • Masks are required indoors for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals 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 6 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.
  • All visitors to campus are required to wear masks indoors.

Is indoor dining permitted? What about events where food is served?

Yes, with a few modifications to ensure everyone’s health and safety. 

  • Dining halls are open with reduced capacity to allow for 6 feet of distancing when masks are removed for eating.
  • Masks should be worn at all times indoors when not actively eating or drinking.
  • Grab-and-go meals will be available for the academic year.
  • Anyone sponsoring campus events where food is served must follow dining hall protocols.

Is social distancing required?

Generally, no. However, the health department advises that unvaccinated and immunocompromised individuals maintain as much distance as possible.

Do I need to monitor my symptoms?

Students, faculty, and staff should monitor their symptoms on a daily basis and wash their hands frequently.

  • The CDC offers an online, mobile-friendly CDC Coronavirus Self-Checker. The tool asks a series of questions, and based on the user’s responses, provides recommended actions and resources.
  • If you’re sick or experiencing symptoms, stay home. If you must be out in public, wear a mask and maintain distance from others.
  • If symptomatic, students should contact Student Health by calling (440) 775-8180 or emailing health@oberlin.edu. Employees should contact a healthcare provider for an assessment.

What is the college’s testing protocol?  

  • Unvaccinated students, faculty, staff, dining and/or custodial vendors are required to participate in weekly COVID testing at Hale’s Gym through Harness Health/Mercy Hospital until they are “fully” vaccinated (see the testing hours).
    • Individuals are considered fully vaccinated when they are 2 weeks past the final dose of a vaccine series or single dose vaccine. 
  • Symptomatic students should be evaluated at Student Health to determine if testing is needed (health@oberlin.edu; 440-775-8180). Student Health uses public health criteria to determine the need for testing and there will be times in which testing is not medically necessary.
  • Symptomatic employees should contact their primary care provider or be tested at regional COVID-19 test locations if they feel a test is necessary. Please contact obiesafe@oberlin.edu to let the contact tracing team know that you have symptoms. We ask that you forward a copy of your test result as well.
  • Anyone who is concerned that they have been exposed to a person who is COVID positive should email obiesafe@oberlin.edu. Please provide a phone number. The ObieSafe team can help you determine if there is an actual exposure, based on CDC definitions, and if testing is needed. Testing is not needed in every situation.
  • Students, faculty or staff who have approved travel for education or work purposes may test if required for travel through Harness Health/Mercy Hospital. The Oberlin employee who coordinates approved travel MUST notify obiesafe@oberlin.edu of those who are approved to test. Students, faculty or staff will be given a designated date and time for testing by the ObieSafe team.
  • Testing is not provided for personal travel at Oberlin. See the “Travel” section for potential resources.
  • Arrival from international destinations requires testing. Please review the section on “International Arrivals”.
  • 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.

What type of test should I have?

An antigen or “rapid” test  provides immediate results, and is generally reliable for someone who has symptoms specific to COVID-19. However, false positives do occur. Negative results in a symptomatic person are often confirmed with a PCR test, if Student Health determines this as 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 test results take longer to come back, typically 48 hours or longer as they are sent to an external lab for analysis, 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.

What are the requirements for anyone arriving from an international destination?

*Please note that these policies may change based on updated CDC guidelines in effect in January 2022.

If you are a student arriving from an international destination, you will test in Student Health regardless of vaccination status. Schedule all required tests through Student Health prior to returning to campus.

Unvaccinated students and students who are 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 health@oberlin.edu.
  • Schedule a PCR test with Student Health (440) 775-8180 or health@oberlin.edu 3-5 days after arrival. You must quarantine for the full 7 days even if the PCR result is negative.

Fully vaccinated students arriving from international destinations:

  • No quarantine is required.
  • Schedule a rapid test for the day of your arrival at Student Health (440) 775-8180 or health@oberlin.edu.
  • Schedule a PCR test with Student Health (440) 775-8180 3-5 days after arrival.

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID through testing at Oberlin, Student Health or a Mercy Health physician will inform individuals of the positive test results. Contact tracing will be performed to identify close contacts.

Employees who receive a positive test outside of Oberlin are asked to send their test results to the ObieSafe team (obiesafe@oberlin.edu) to conduct contact tracing.

Positive test results will require students or employees to isolate.

  • Students who test positive will be directed to isolate in your room or off-campus residence.
  • Faculty and staff will remain at home.
  • Isolation will last for 10 days from symptom onset or test date as determined by Student Health for students or the ObieSafe team for employees.
  • If students are on a meal plan, food will be delivered to you.
  • Students should only leave their room to use the restroom facilities. Masks must be worn when leaving the room.
  • The College will provide disinfection materials that should be used with each use of the restroom.
  • Coursework will be managed on an individual basis between the student and faculty member. The student is responsible for contacting each faculty member.
  • The roommate of a positive student can choose to remain in the room if they’re fully vaccinated as the risk of infection or serious illness is low. If the roommate chooses to leave the residence, the College will provide temporary housing at the Hotel at Oberlin if a room is available. The roommate will be tested prior to entering the hotel as well as on day 5 to monitor for infection. The contact tracer will coordinate the move to the hotel.

Do I need to quarantine if I’m exposed to a positive person?

Oberlin contact tracers will interview the positive person to determine potential close contacts, following CDC definitions.

Fully vaccinated students and faculty/staff who have been identified as a close contact, based on CDC criteria, should:

  • Continue attending in-person classes, go to work and continue participating in sports and extra-curricular activities unless symptoms develop.
  • Wear a mask indoors in all public settings and with family and friends.  
  • Follow the recommendation of contact tracers regarding the need for testing.
  • Monitor your symptoms for 14 days from the last exposure.
    • If a student begins feeling ill following an exposure, please isolate in your residence and contact Student Health for evaluation. (440-775-8967 or health@oberlin.edu). 
    • An employee who feels ill following an exposure should contact obiesafe@oberlin.edu for further discussion.

Unvaccinated close contacts will work with contact tracers to determine the need for testing and quarantine based on the type of contact. If masks were worn during exposure, testing and quarantine may not be required.

If quarantine and testing are required:

  • Students and employees will quarantine in their residence.
  • Quarantine will last for 7 days.
  • Student Health will test students with a rapid antigen test upon entry to quarantine.
  • Student Health will test students with a PCR test on day 5 of quarantine. A negative test result does not change the length of the 7-day quarantine. If the test is positive the person will begin isolation.
  • Employees will obtain a PCR test on day 5 of quarantine at a local testing center.  Results should be reported to obiesafe@oberlin.edu.
  • Students may leave quarantine to use the restroom facilities and to pick up grab-and-go meals, which must be eaten in the residence. Masks must be worn when leaving the room.
  • Coursework will be managed on an individual basis between the student and faculty member.
  • There are some situations, such as in a classroom setting where 100% of people are masked, in which quarantine and testing is not needed. Wearing masks is highly protective, so please continue to follow the policy especially in social settings.

Can you explain Oberlin’s contact tracing process?

If you test positive for COVID through testing at Oberlin, Student Health or a Mercy Health physician will inform individuals of the positive test results, based on the test administration location. The Oberlin contact tracing team will be notified of the positive result and will call the person who tests positive to identify close contacts, based on CDC criteria. The positive person may 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 completed by the Oberlin contact tracing team.

Oberlin contact tracers will verify the vaccination status of any identified close contacts to determine if quarantine is required. Vaccinated close contacts do NOT need to quarantine. Vaccinated close contacts will receive an email notifying them of the contact and precautions that should be taken.  

The need for quarantine and testing for unvaccinated contacts will be determined based on the type of contact as determined through a contact tracing interview. Unvaccinated close contacts will be called to discuss the type of contact and next steps.

Any vaccinated or unvaccinated close contact who was exposed during class will not be required to quarantine or test as long as the mask policy was adhered to. Faculty are contacted as part of contact tracing to ensure that protocols were followed in the classroom.  The name of the person who tested positive is never disclosed.

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. Oberlin recommends that all visitors also 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 all COVID policies, including wearing masks. Oberlin recommends that all visitors also be vaccinated. Hand washing remains among the top public health measures people can employ.

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

Yes, dining and custodial employees and vendors have been notified of the updated mask policy and will adhere to these requirements. 

Will unvaccinated dining and cleaning employees be vaccinated or required to test?

Oberlin recommends vaccination for all of our campus vendors and contractors. Since the college does not directly employ these individuals, we cannot enforce a vaccine mandate. Unvaccinated vendors participate in weekly COVID testing and all, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask indoors.

Can I request a roommate who’s vaccinated?

The College’s goal is to reduce health risks and facilitate a traditional college experience. High vaccination rates on campus, current indoor masking when not in your residence, and continually low infection rates on campus reflect a very low risk to one’s health. A high vaccination rate on campus allows students, faculty, and staff to benefit from a low risk of infection. Full occupancy will occur in all residence halls with no differentiation in vaccination status.

Will students be able to host parties?

Students are permitted to host gatherings in their space, provided that they follow all ObieSafe guidelines, including current mask mandates. We encourage students to utilize on-campus resources to help guide safe socialization, including but not limited to, Office of Student Activities at student.union@oberlin.edu 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 tend to be mild, rarely resulting 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 health@oberlin.edu or (440) 775-8180 for a health assessment.

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 for the 2021-2022 academic year. 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 2021-2022 academic year?

Remote learning sessions are not being planned for the 2021-2022 academic year.

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.

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 an individual student, masks should be worn. Unvaccinated faculty or class speakers/guests must remain masked at all times.

Do athletes have any specific COVID requirements?

Athletes are to adhere to institutional athletic competition protocols with consideration of the NCAA guidelines. There will be times when required activities for athletes permit the removal of masks indoors in shared spaces. Examples include swimming and diving.

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 distance 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 for indoors events.

Am I permitted to travel?

Students are permitted to travel off campus for education or personal purposes. 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. COVID testing is only available with prior approval for travel related to educational or business purposes. Prior approval is required through obiesafe@oberlin.edu. Testing for personal travel must be done on one’s own at a local retailer or health care provider. 

Can I obtain a COVID test for travel on campus?

COVID testing is available for approved and verified academic purposes (study abroad or course-related experience), or for employees who travel for college business. The Oberlin faculty or staff member coordinating such travel must send a list of participants to obiesafe@oberlin.edu, who will arrange testing times for the travelers. The staff member coordinating the travel will notify participants when they are eligible to test. Be aware that testing days and times are limited so you will need to arrange your schedule accordingly. 

COVID testing prior to elective travel is not available on campus. We realize that you may be interested in testing because of travel requirements, or because of personal or family circumstances; however, Oberlin cannot accommodate elective travel testing.

If you do need or wish to be tested due to personal travel, here are some tips:

  • For those travelling by air – especially if travelling internationally – do your research in advance. Every airline and country has different testing requirements (e.g. PCR vs antigen tests). We recommend you contact the country’s embassy or the airline directly to obtain this information.
  • There are a number of COVID testing options within walking and driving distance of campus. CVS Pharmacy and Mercy Hospital Urgent Care are both within walking distance. 
  • Contact each testing site to inquire about testing availability and turnaround time for test results if you must have a test within 48-72 hours of travel.
  • The following at-home kits are mailed directly to you. Each has a unique process for returning the test and different turnaround times. Oberlin does not endorse any product but wanted to provide alternative options for you to explore:

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

Yes! Students can participate in off-campus work or educational activities. While off-campus, students are expected to 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.

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?

It is unnecessary for individuals without approved accommodations to work from home on a continual basis in relation to COVID-19. High vaccination rates on campus, current indoor masking, and continually low infection rates on campus reflect a very low risk to one’s health in the workplace. However, any accommodations requests to work from home must be processed through Human Resources. 

Are in-person activities like meetings Zoom-only?

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