About the Community Health Response Team
The purpose of the Community Health Response Team (CHRT) is to monitor situations that may impact the health of the Olin community and recommend any actions to Olin’s leadership as needed. Initially a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CHRT will continue to advise the college on community health more broadly going forward. The CHRT operates by the following principles in any situation:
- Our plans and actions are based on the best knowledge and science available and will evolve as science learns more.
- Olin is designed as a living-learning-working environment that thrives best when we are together.
- The decisions we make must consider and promote equity for community members whenever possible.
- Our working environment should match the vibrancy of our learning environment.
- Olin must adhere to public health guidance.
The CHRT currently includes Jeremy Goodman, Alisha Sarang-Sieminski, and Frances Mantak.
Current Health and Safety Advisories
COVID-19 appears to be headed toward endemic status, meaning that, like other endemic illnesses such as the common cold, measles and influenza, it will be generally present in our society as something we live with and must remain cautious about. As of May 11, 2023, federal and state authorities have ended public health emergencies related to COVID-19.
Vaccination. Olin will continue to strongly recommend that employees and students remain up to date with COVID vaccination. “Up to date” means you have had all doses and boosters of vaccine that you are currently eligible for.
Masking. Olin remains a mask-friendly environment. Any individual who prefers to wear a mask in shared spaces is always welcome to do so and we expect all members of the community to respect the choice of any individual to wear a mask. Some spaces may continue to require masks based on individual discretion (e.g., a faculty member may require that masks be worn in their classes, a staff member may require that masks be worn in their office, or a student may require that masks be worn in their room). We also encourage community members to normalize checking in with each other about masking preferences when meeting in groups indoors. Masking requirements remain in place for those who have recently tested positive, are currently experiencing symptoms of any respiratory illness or have been exposed to COVID (see below).
Testing.Community members who test positive for COVID-19 should follow the instructions for illness and isolation below. Symptomatic testing continues to be available for students through Health Services. Please call 781-239-6363 for assistance. For employees, the college recommends that you contact your health care provider for symptomatic testing. Due to widespread vaccination and low levels of new cases, the asymptomatic testing program ended as of March 11, 2023.
Exposure and Quarantine. As noted in the recent CDC updated guidelines, anyone exposed to COVID or with a close contact who is positive is no longer required to quarantine. Olin requires the following:
- You must wear a mask when around others as a precaution through day 10 (the day you were exposed is day 0)
- Consider testing on day 5
- If after day 10 you have neither developed symptoms nor tested positive, you are free to unmask
- If you develop symptoms or test positive during this period, you must follow the Illness and Isolation guidelines below.
Illness and Isolation. If you develop symptoms of a respiratory illness or test positive for COVID-19, Olin requires the following:
- Inform any close contacts whom you may have exposed
- Begin wearing a well fitted mask immediately to avoid infecting others
- The day you test positive is day 0 (zero)
- Isolate yourself from others through at least day 5
- Leave isolation on day 6 if symptoms have improved and you have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
- Remain in isolation until you have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
- You are required to continue masking around anyone else through at least day 10
- If you have been prescribed Paxlovid or another antiviral medication, we encourage you to mask for 2 full weeks and re-test if ANY symptoms reoccur
Students will isolate in place. Roommates of students in isolation should assume they are exposed and follow the exposure guidelines above. Students can get their own to-go meals from the dining hall while wearing a mask or ask friends to deliver their meals.
Treatment with Paxlovid. Paxlovid is a new antiviral medication that is under FDA emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19. It can slow the replication of virus in a person's body. It is given to people who are at risk of developing severe covid disease. There are strict guidelines for providers on who qualifies for the medication. Most people who qualify for treatment are over the age of 65 or have other medical conditions that can make them more prone to hospitalization. If you test positive for COVID-19, you may wish to discuss with your medical provider whether Paxlovid is an appropriate option for your treatment.
After taking Paxlovid, there is a risk of what is called rebound infection, a term used when viruses begin to replicate again in one’s body after the initial infection has appeared to pass. During this rebound, a person is again contagious to others and must follow isolation guidelines. Due to the novelty of Paxlovid and COVID, there is little evidence regarding the rate of this occurrence yet. Please reach out to your provider or to the CHRT if you have questions regarding rebound infection. We will continue to recommend close monitoring of symptoms and immediate re-testing if there is any question of a rebound infection.
Visitors. Olin currently has no restrictions on visitors, other than visitors may not come to campus if they are experiencing symptoms of illness or have been diagnosed with a communicable illness. However, the CHRT is happy to consult with groups hosting large events to determine if some restrictions or requirements may be appropriate to support community health. This is especially true if the event will be mixing large numbers of people who wouldn’t normally be together on our campus.
Be Prepared! It’s always a good idea to keep the following items on hand in case you do need to isolate:
- A 1-2 day supply of your preferred foods and beverages
- A supply of over-the-counter medications (pain reliever/fever reducer, cold medicines that treat congestion and cough, etc.) and a supply of any prescription medications that you take
- A thermometer to be able to take your temperature
Being Proactive about COVID-19. Olin is a prevention-friendly environment where all of us can make choices that help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable illnesses. Please consider the choices below to reduce your risk of infection:
- Stay up to date on vaccination
- Olin remains a mask friendly environment! Wear a mask in shared public spaces or any time where you are more comfortable doing so
- Respect the choices of others to wear a mask even if you are not
- Choose lower risk activities when possible: outdoors, with fewer people, in highly ventilated spaces, etc.
- If you are sick, keep your distance from others
- If you have invited visitors to campus, ask them not to come if they are experiencing symptoms of illness
Monkeypox is a rare disease that often presents with flu-like symptoms and a rash (which may look like pimples or blisters) anywhere on the body. A monkeypox infection typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close personal contact, such as through skin to skin contact or exposure to bodily fluids or respiratory secretions. Often this is through intimate skin-to-skin contact, breathing at very close range, sharing clothing, or sleeping in the same bed with an infected person. While it is not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection (STI), intimate contact is a common mode of transmission in the current outbreak.
If you are exposed to or experience symptoms of monkeypox, please contact your healthcare provider. If you are exposed, your healthcare provider may direct you to get vaccinated for monkeypox immediately to help prevent infection (vaccination is not widely available at this time). Students should contact Health Services at 781-239-6363. To learn more about monkeypox, visit the CDC’s monkeypox page. The city of San Francisco has also published a helpful guide. We ask that any community member diagnosed with monkeypox report this to the CHRT by emailing email@example.com to assist Olin with taking any appropriate community health actions. At this time, we do not know of any cases of monkeypox in the Olin community, but we will continue to monitor this situation and update the community as needed.
Influenza (flu) season is almost here. Olin strongly recommends that all community members receive a flu vaccine annually to help stop the spread and mitigate the impacts of this virus. Like the COVID-19 vaccine, the flu vaccine won’t always stop you from getting the flu, but it will typically shorten the severity and duration of your infection. Stay tuned for information about an on-campus flu vaccine clinic this fall! Learn more at https://www.cdc.gov/Flu/.