RTC: Frequently Asked Questions
Updated FAQ for Being on Campus and Remote Learning
Q: What do students need to do upon arrival?
A: All students will be asked to check-in and get an individual COVID test. Please schedule your test before you come to campus using your Project Beacon account. Testing will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday each week from 9:10AM-4:45PM (with a break from 12:30-1:30). It is very important that you make and keep appointments for your tests for the spring semester. Walk-in tests will only be available between 4:00 and 4:45 pm and availability of walk-in appointments is not guaranteed. Walk-ins will be first come, first served.
Q: What should students bring?
A: You should bring everything you need for the first week with you. In particular, please review the updated masking requirements (below) and bring a supply of appropriate masks if you are able.
Q: Given that visitors to campus are not allowed through February 7th, are family members allowed to assist with move-in?
A: If at all possible, family members helping students return to the residence halls should stay outside. If a student needs assistance bringing their belongings in, one family member may accompany them. Anyone assisting must remain masked at all times and should fill out the visitor form.
Q: What if a student can’t make it to campus in time?
A: In order for our public safety approach to be effective, students must arrive on campus by January 20. A student may apply to the Dean of the College, Alisha Sarang-Sieminski, for a late arrival in extenuating circumstances. Examples of extenuating circumstances include documented flight cancellations or required isolation after testing positive. Personal preference is not an extenuating circumstance.
Q: What if my very specific situation is not addressed by these answers?
A: Students should contact Alisha Sarang-Sieminski (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Beth Grampetro (email@example.com) with questions about arrival or being on campus that are specific to their unique details and not answered here.
Being on Campus
Q: Are students being asked to quarantining?
A: Students are not being asked to strictly quarantine or isolate unless specifically directed to do so because of a positive COVID test. We are asking you to use extreme caution during the first week back on campus by masking and avoiding groups in order to minimize potential exposures at Olin (see below for more details).
Q: What masks are acceptable on campus?
A: As a reminder, cloth masks alone are no longer allowed, and all community members are required to wear one of the following options:
- A double mask (a cloth mask over a disposable mask)
- A disposable surgical/medical-grade mask
- A higher rated disposable mask, such as N95, KN95, or KF94
This post (courtesy of the College of the Holy Cross) does a great job of illustrating which masks to wear and how to wear them properly. Note that neck gaiters are never allowed.
Olin has a limited supply of appropriate masks that we will make available to community members who need them and do not have access to them. If you need masks, please use this link to request a supply. As noted below, please acquire any supplies you will need for the first few weeks of the semester before you arrive.
Q: Where should I be wearing a mask?
A: The requirements for when and where to mask on campus have not changed. As a reminder, students should be masking in all indoor areas except their assigned residence hall rooms. We strongly encourage masking in rooms when students visit each others’ rooms for the first week (or more) of the semester.
As with last semester, we rely on the whole community to both comply with masking requirements and to help others comply with masking requirements. Please take these safety measures seriously so that we may quickly return to, and continue with, in-person learning and maintain a relative degree of freedom of movement on campus. Concerns about students should be reported to Student Affairs. Concerns about employees should be reported to Human Resources."
Q: Are masks with valves allowed on campus?
A: Masks with exhalation valves or vents allow unfiltered virus particles to escape from the wearer’s mouth. According to the CDC, masks with valves or ventilation are not recommended and Olin College does not allow these types of masks on campus.
Q: What if my roommate tests positive for COVID-19?
A: The answer depends on the specifics of your rooming situation. In many cases, students who test positive will be moved to isolation spaces, with priority given to students who live in double or triple rooms. Students who test positive who live in single rooms (standalone or within suites) will isolate in place. In the event that all residents of a room test positive, they may be asked to isolate together. In the event that no isolation rooms are available, we will pursue other options (i.e. temporarily housing non-positive roommates off campus).
Q: Can we go outside?
A: Yes! Absolutely! This is a great way to get out and about and see people. Given that the Omicron variant is more transmissible than other variants, wear masks when gathering outdoors if you are in close proximity to others.
Q: Can I leave campus?
A: Once students arrive on campus they should not leave campus between 1/18 and 1/26 unless they absolutely need to. If you know you will need groceries, prescriptions, or other supplies before January 27, please get them before you come or have them delivered. If you have medical or other appointments, please attend them remotely if possible. If you do need to leave campus to go somewhere indoors where there are other people, adhere to strict masking procedures and remain distanced from others. Leaving campus for outdoor recreation is acceptable, but students should avoid using public transportation if possible and mask where appropriate (such as in shared vehicles). If you have questions about this, please contact Olin Ahead or Alisha Sarang-Sieminski.
Q: Where can we congregate on campus?
A: For the first week (through January 26th) on campus, we expect that you will not congregate in groups. We understand that this challenging and that many students are excited to see their friends. This step is critical and very much aligned with our guiding principles as referenced in President Barabino’s message from January 6, 2022. We value “deep connections” and believe “face to face instruction best facilitates this.” In order to return to in person instruction, we all must persist through this opening week and adhere to these guidelines.
We recognize that there will be times you will want to be out of your assigned residence hall room to work or attend remote classes. This may be done in various places on campus, but only while masked and only with one person per table in each space. The dining hall, the library, and open classrooms in the MAC are available for this purpose. During this period, you may not eat in these spaces. If you want to congregate socially, we advise you to do this outdoors.
Q: Can we use the shop or LPB?
A: The shop and LPB will be closed for walk-in and after hours use through January 26th. If you need something fabricated or need to access supplies, please contact Daniela Faas to inquire about options.
Q: Can we use the library before 1/26?
A: People should avoid congregating in the library. However, it will be open for use, especially for classes. Priority should be given to students who are looking for an opportunity to remotely attend classes held at the same time as their roommates. Students can use study rooms as well as the open spaces so long as they remain masked and seated one per table.
Q: Can clubs and orgs meet during the first week?
A: You can meet but we are asking you to either meet virtually or outside.
Q: Can we use the athletic center at Babson?
A: You should be able to resume use of the Babson athletic center after January 26th. We will follow communications from Babson carefully and inform the community of any changes to their policies about space usage.
Q: Is there a chance that Olin will go fully remote and close the residence halls?
A: While the last two years have taught us to “never say never,” we also know that we are in a very different place than we were in the spring of 2020. With virtually all of our community vaccinated and boosted, a wealth of knowledge about how COVID spreads, a track record of preventing community spread, and high compliance with safety measures on campus, we do not anticipate needing to go fully remote.
Testing, Isolation, and Quarantine
Q: What’s the difference between isolation and quarantine?
A: We’re so glad you asked- here is a great explainer. In short, ISOLATION separates people who are sick from others. QUARANTINE separates people who may have been exposed to an illness from others.
Q: What are current isolation protocols?
A: Current guidance from the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health is that individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for a minimum of 5 days or until they are not symptomatic, whichever is longer. This should be followed by 5 days of rigorous masking, which at Olin should not represent a change in protocol with the possible exception of masking around roommates. Please note that the reduced isolation time depends on the subsequent masking compliance and we may need to increase isolation times if it becomes clear that positive individuals are not maintaining masking compliance. Students should follow the guidance of Babson Health and employees should follow the guidance of Krista Chavez for specifics to their situation.
Q: Who needs to quarantine?
A: Current guidance from the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health states that if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, and:
- You have had a booster dose or completed your primary vaccination series less than 5 months ago:
- Wear a mask around others for 10 days.
- Test on day 5, if possible.
- If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home.
- You have completed your primary vaccination series more than 5 months ago and have not yet had a booster, or you have an approved vaccine waiver:
- Stay home for 5 days. After that continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
- If you can’t quarantine you must wear a mask for 10 days.
- Test on day 5, if possible.
- If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home.
Q: What should I do if I test positive for COVID?
A: You must follow the isolation and masking requirements outlined above. If you test positive outside of Olin’s testing process, please alert Beth Grampetro (students) or Krista Chavez (employees). Please note that currently, the CDC recommends that individuals who test positive for COVID do not participate in asymptomatic PCR testing for 90 days following their positive test because of the increased likelihood of a false positive result. You can find some suggestions here for caring for yourself at home if you test positive, including some supplies you may want to have on hand.
Q: Will we still be able to use the wooden waterfall space for activities and hang-outs outside of COVID testing hours?
A: Yes. It is both possible and safe to use this space. While we recommend a full hour of air exchange for closed rooms like classrooms, an open area does not require unoccupied time for air exchange. Students and other community members can absolutely continue using the wooden waterfall space outside of the Tuesday-Thursday 9:10AM-4:45PM (with a break from 12:30-1:30) testing times. Note that the testing area will be situated such that the elevators will remain accessible, though we encourage you to avoid the testing area unless necessary.
Q: Will Olin provide rapid tests for students, so we don’t have to go Babson Health every time we have a mild symptom?
A: We will have a limited number of rapid tests available (not enough for the entire community to have a supply), which we will utilize on an as-needed basis. Babson Health is still the primary care provider for the student community and will still provide testing for symptomatic students.
Q: Why is testing remaining at once a week for vaccinated individuals? Should we consider increased testing given how quickly Omicron spreads? What about prolonging individual testing?
A: There are many factors involved in setting the testing schedule. At this time, we believe that maintaining weekly testing is the appropriate choice for our community. Similarly, resuming pooled testing is the appropriate choice at this time. As with all COVID-related policies and practices, we will be monitoring the public health situation and guidance and will make modifications as warranted.
Q: When will these safety measures be lifted?
A: Know that we are as ready as you for us to be able to lift safety measures and return to “normal” socializing and congregating. We will continue to monitor guidance and best practices from many sources and will remove measures as soon as we are able.
Dining and Eating
Q: What will grab and go food look like? How long will it last? What if I have dietary restrictions or accommodations?
A: The dining hall will be open and to-go containers will be available for all meals. We plan to have take-out only through the 26th and return to normal operations on January 27th. Students with dietary restrictions or accommodations should continue to work with Chef Sam. Please mask the entire time you are in the dining hall and maintain as much distance between each other as is possible. Eating is not allowed in the dining hall or other shared spaces during this period. As a reminder, students who are isolating because of a positive COVID test will receive meal delivery.
Q: Where can we eat?
A: Please restrict eating to your rooms (or outdoors if the weather permits).
Q: How will we all eat during the half hour between classes if we don't want to be unmasked close together?
A: Since you will be attending classes remotely, one option is to eat in your room during class.
Q: What if faculty need to provide materials to students for use during the first week of classes?
A: Faculty may leave supplies in a central location (classroom, MAC vestibule) for student pick-up. Cross-registered students may come to campus for the purposes of picking up course supplies (they are not considered visitors). We strongly encourage leaving materials for cross registered students in the MAC vestibule nearest the parking lot, so the students don’t have to wander around campus to find a less obvious location.
Q: What is the plan for courses after January 26th?
A: The plan is to return to in-person classes as of January 27th. Of course, Olin Ahead and College leadership will continue to monitor the situation both inside and outside of Olin and will make adjustments as needed.
Q: Are students who have been asked to isolate required to attend class?
A: Students who are symptomatic and feeling sick should absolutely feel free to not attend class and work with their professor to understand what was missed on the day(s) they did not attend, as has always been the case with any illness. As was the case last semester, if students are asked to isolate by Babson Health or Beth Grampetro, they should work with their individual courses in order to understand what options are available. Please note that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to hybrid and remote learning at Olin because there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to learning.
Q: What if my roommate(s) and I have class at the same time?
A: We understand that this may be an issue and you should work with them to find an appropriate solution. Please see Question above “Where can we congregate on campus?” about campus spaces for possible solutions. Headphones may also be helpful in some situations.
Q: Has anything changed with BOW interactions? Will cross-registration resume in person after January 26th provided all goes well?
A: There are not currently any changes to BOW policies and practices (other than remote semester starts below) and we will keep the community updated should anything change.
Cross registration: All three institutions (Babson, Brandeis, and Wellesley) have amended their semester starts in similar ways to Olin; beginning in a remote instructional mode. We anticipate that students will be able to travel to their host school once the host campus is open to having in person classes AND the home campus has finished their remote start up (e.g., Babson goes in person January 24, and Olin does on January 27; this means an Olin student cannot go in-person to a Babson class until Olin has also ended its remote period). In cases where this requires the student to be remote for an in person cross-reg class, the student will work with the instructor to identify a course-appropriate solution. Please note that this varies per institution (see chart below) and is subject to change.
Classes Start Remote
Last Day of Remote Period*
Home Campus Students Begin to attend in-person classes at home*
January 20, 2022
January 26, 2022
January 27, 2022
January 18, 2022
January 23, 2022
January 24, 2022
January 18, 2022
January 31, 2022
February 1, 2022
January 24, 2022
January 28, 2022
January 31, 2022
*Dates are subject to change based on home campus decisions
Q: Can cameras be installed in classrooms to support hybrid learning setups following the remote period?
A: We are unable to install additional cameras at this time. We recommend that students who are isolating and are unable to attend class in person attend through a Zoom window or Facetime with a friend during a class period or work with the instructor to determine another appropriate course of action.
FAQs - Updated April 4, 2022
COVID-19 Symptoms and Illness
Q: What is considered a COVID symptom? What should I do if I experience COVID symptoms?
A: A list of common symptoms of COVID-19 can be found here. Some of these symptoms are also common signs of other illnesses, such as the common cold, influenza, etc. It is important to call a healthcare provider for advice if you experience any of these symptoms and they are new to you (e.g., you do not recognize the symptom as a sign of a chronic/non-communicable condition such as migraines or allergies) so that COVID-19 can either be confirmed or ruled out as the cause of your symptoms. Students should call Babson Health Services at 781-239-6363. If Health Services is closed, after-hours care options can be found here. Employees may contact their own healthcare provider or Krista Chavez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What if an employee or student needs to miss work or class because of illness or quarantine / isolation?
A: Neither students nor employees will be penalized in these situations. Employees who are able to (both in terms of their job responsibilities and how they are feeling) may work remotely but should use accrued sick time if they need to miss work due to illness.
In the event that instructors are not able to attend class in-person, but can meet remotely, we encourage them to temporarily use virtual course delivery practices to advance student learning and minimize disruption.
In the event that a student needs to miss class, they should reach out to their professor(s) to ask about appropriate options for engagement or make-up, as each class will have different options and needs.
We encourage anyone who is ill to take the appropriate time they need to recover.
Contract Tracing and Close Contacts
Q: Who is considered a close contact? What do I do if I am a close contact?
A: A close contact is defined as someone who was within 6 feet of the affected person indoors for a total of 15 minutes or more during the 48 hours prior to their positive test. If the College determines you meet these criteria, you will be notified and told how to proceed based on your vaccination status.
Close contacts of people who are notified of exposure are not considered to be exposed until and unless the exposed person develops symptoms or tests positive.
A: Yes, if the student has been in your classroom within 72 hours of their positive test or onset of symptoms, a member of the Olin Ahead team will contact you. Instructors may be asked about the configuration of their classroom engagement in order to identify potential close contacts.
Q: If I need to mask, what type of mask should I wear?
- Is made of two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
- Completely covers your nose and mouth comfortably
- Fits snugly against the sides of your face
- Has a nose wire
Olin does not allow neck gaiters or face shields in lieu of a mask.
Students participating in Olin Conductorless Orchestra (OCO) or Wired Ensemble who are required to mask will be provided with specialized PPE if they are playing a woodwind instrument. Students participating in other musical clubs and activities should purchase their own PPE if they are required to mask.
Mobility On/Off Campus: What is Allowed
Q: Can students leave campus?
A: There are no restrictions on leaving campus. However, out of consideration for the rest of the Olin community, especially those who are immunocompromised, unable to get vaccinated, or have loved ones at home who are unable to get vaccinated (many employees have children under 5, for example), we ask that you continue to exercise caution.
Q: Can we go to Wellesley and Babson? How will any of this impact BOW interactions such as cross-registration, events, and the shuttle?
A: Community members should be aware of each college’s guidance and follow the guidance of the campus they are on. Details from Wellesley are here and from Babson are here. Masks are required on the shuttle at all times.
Q: How can I find out what the Olin Ahead team is up to?
A: Community members can view our meeting agendas at: 2021-22 OACT Agendas.docx