Community Health

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, Joanne Pratt and Krista Chavez. 


Quick Reference

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.  Olin’s current strategies for COVID-19 reflect this reality. 

Vaccination. Olin will continue to require that employees and students remain up to date with COVID vaccination through the 2022-2023 academic year. “Up to date” means you have had all doses and boosters of vaccine that you are currently eligible for.  The medical and religious exemption process will remain in place as well for the small number of individuals who need to seek those. 

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).  Masking is encouraged for the first few weeks of the semester in group settings. 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.  The college also maintains a stock of rapid antigen tests for use as needed; email chrt@olin.edu for more information. 

For the voluntary, asymptomatic testing program, we are using a self-service system called Color to register your test.  Thank you for your patience as we’ve worked with Color to get the system up and running. Your test will be processed at the Broad Institute and results will be returned to you by text and/or email via Color.  Under this system, you register each individual test through your Color account.

Here’s how the program works:

  1. Go to the testing pickup and drop off station located in the Campus Center in the corridor outside the Dining Hall.
  2. Pick up a test kit and bring it back to your room or another private location, but please don’t test in the hallway.  Please only take one kit at a time.
  3. Open the kit, remove the contents, and follow the instruction sheet provided to register your kit’s unique ID using your mobile device or computer.  Follow the prompts in the Color system.  When asked to enter your address, students should enter their Olin address (not home!) and employees should enter their home address.
  4. Swab your nose per the instructions, place the swab in the tube provided, and place the sealed tube only back into the kit bag.
  5. Seal the bag and return it to the marked drop off box at the testing station in the Campus Center by 5:45 pm, Monday through Friday.

Results will typically come back within 24-48 hours.  If you have any difficulties using Color, please email us at chrt@olin.edu.

If you want to get your Color account set up prior to testing for the first time, follow these steps:

  1. Go to home.color.com/sso.
  2. Log in using your Olin sign on and password.
  3. Complete any requested information.  (Note:  the Color system provides other services, but Olin is only providing COVID-19 testing.)

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 be 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 the college at chrt@olin.edu, including a photo of the test result if an at-home test 
  • 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 
    • If a rapid antigen test shows a negative result (no visible result at all for the test line) on day 5 or later, you may release yourself from isolation (please send a photo of the result to chrt@olin.edu for confirmation) 
    • If a rapid antigen test shows a positive result (any visible result for the test line, no matter how faint), you must continue to isolate until you get a fully negative result. 
    • Regardless of test results, you must isolate until any symptoms improve, including 24 hours fever free without the use of fever-reducing medication. 
  • 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 
  • If you experience any symptoms after your release from isolation, please immediately retest and email chrt@olin.edu for instructions in case of rebound infection 

Students will isolate in place this year – we do not have separate isolation rooms available. Roommates of students in isolation should assume they are exposed and follow the exposure guidelines above. Meals will be delivered by Dining Services for students who are isolating. 

Treatment with Paxlovid. Paxlovid is a new antiviral medication that is under FDA emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19.  It that slows 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, 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. 
  • Utilize at-home testing before and after events/gatherings 
  • 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 chrt@olin.edu 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/.