Return to Campus (RTC): COVID Related Updates

Guiding Principles   

Olin continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic using the following principles:

  • Our plans and actions are based on the science of COVID-19 and may continue to evolve as we learn 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. 

Quick Reference

Health and Safety Protocols 

Testing

  • Asymptomatic COVID testing will not be available on campus during the summer.
  • Olin students should utilize Babson Health Services for COVID testing if they have symptoms. Babson Health Services is open Monday through Friday from 8:30AM-4:30PM, and appointments can be made by calling 781-239-6363.
  • If you are living on campus but graduated in May or are not an Olin student, you are not eligible to be seen at Babson Health Services. You can find local care options here.
  • Employees should consult their healthcare provider if they need a test.
  • All community members can search for testing locations here.
  • Olin has a limited supply of rapid antigen tests available for community members. Students living on campus this summer may contact the Summer R2 On Call at 781-953-0061 to request a rapid antigen test if Health Services is not accessible.  Employees may request a rapid antigen test during business hours by contacting chrt@olin.edu.

Exposure and Quarantine

If you have been exposed to COVID-19, please follow the protocols below:

  • Based on your vaccination status, please do the following:
    • If you are up-to-date on vaccination for COVID-19 (you have had all doses for which you are eligible, including boosters), OR if you had COVID-19 in the last 90 days, you do not need to quarantine unless you develop symptoms of illness (see below).
    • The CDC recommends that people who are not up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination or have an approved exemption quarantine at home for 5 days following an exposure. If you need to quarantine at home due to an exposure, you are responsible for notifying your supervisor.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, all exposed people should wear a mask around others for 10 days following an exposure, monitor themselves for symptoms, and get tested on or after day 5 and/or at any time if they develop symptoms.
  • You can find a helpful infographic here that explains quarantine recommendations.

Illness and Isolation

If you test positive for COVID-19 or if you develop symptoms (see the CDC list here), please do the following:

  • If you test positive for COVID-19 on an at-home test, please notify CHRT@olin.edu.
  • The CDC recommends that people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms should isolate for a minimum of 5 days, longer if you are still symptomatic at day 5. You can find a helpful infographic here that explains isolation recommendations.
    • If possible, it is best to isolate until you test negative on an at-home rapid test.
    • Failing that, you should isolate until 24 hours after your fever stops without using fever-reducing medication and your symptoms have improved.
    • After you feel completely better, keep wearing a mask around other people at home and in public through day 10.
  • Learn about treatment options.
  • You are responsible for notifying your supervisor that you are in isolation.
  • You are responsible for notifying any close contacts of their exposure.
  • Regardless, please take the time you need to recover well!
  • For students: 
    • Isolation space will be very limited this summer. If you are living in a single room (standalone or within a suite) and test positive for COVID-19, you will isolate in your own room. Students sharing a double room will be moved to an isolation space if capacity allows.
    • Given there are no meal plans during the summer, there will be no food delivery for students in isolation. Should you need to isolate, you can utilize meal/grocery delivery services or ask friends to pick up needed items for you. A few suggested resources nearby:

When to seek emergency medical attention

Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If you are showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

Vaccination

Olin will continue to require that employees and students remain up to date with COVID vaccination through the 2022-2023 academic year. The medical and religious exemption process will remain in place as well for the small number of individuals who need to seek those.

Being Proactive about COVID-19

All of us can make choices that help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and Olin is a prevention-friendly environment. Please consider the choices below:

  • 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: 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
  • Be prepared! It’s a good idea to keep the following things on hand so that if you do have to stay home, you don’t have to worry about getting necessities right away:
    • A 1-2 day supply of your preferred foods and beverages
    • Over-the-counter medications (pain reliever/fever reducer, cold medicines that treat congestion and cough, etc.)
    • A thermometer

RTC Messages to the Community

Greetings Olin Community,  

We are writing with some information to help you plan for the end of the semester. 

Two weeks ago, we instituted a mask advisory in response to an uptick in cases of COVID-19 on campus. The college continues to recommend wearing a mask when indoors or at large events.  

As the end of the semester approaches, we would like to remind you of some ways you can minimize your chances of being exposed to/contracting/passing on COVID-19, including: 

Testing. Unobserved PCR Testing will continue following the established schedule until Thursday, May 12th, with one exception related to Inauguration.  Testing hours on Thursday, May 5 will be reduced to 1:30-4:45PM.  If you can’t test on Thursday afternoon, please be sure to test on Wednesday instead. 

With the departure of students after Commencement, Olin will end weekly PCR testing. Olin employees who are experiencing symptoms should use an at-home test or see your healthcare provider for a test. For students returning to campus for summer work or research, you should utilize Babson Health Services in the event you are not feeling well. There will also be a limited supply of rapid antigen tests available for community members if you are unable to get one on your own. You can request one by contacting CHRT@olin.edu. Any positive result on an at-home rapid test or PCR test conducted outside Olin should be reported to CHRT@olin.edu

Planning your Olin Departure (for Students).  You should not travel if you have pending PCR test results, so please plan accordingly and make sure to test at least two or three days before you depart.  

  • Students may not remain in the residence halls past closing. Please keep the following in mind: 
  • Move-out day for students not participating in Commencement is May 13th.  
  • Move out day for graduates is May 16th.  

If you test positive for COVID after May 6th, your isolation period will extend past move-out day (for those not participating in Commencement), and a positive test after May 8th will put you in isolation for Commencement. Nobody wants this to happen. Please do everything you can to avoid this scenario. 

Exposures. As a reminder, even those who are considered close contacts but are also fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine under current CDC guidelines as long as they are free of symptoms.  Close contacts are advised to monitor themselves for symptoms, seek help if symptoms develop, and to test approximately five days after their exposure. If you are notified that you are close contact either by Olin or by an outside contact tracer, please follow the instructions you are given. 

It’s important to remember that our masking, testing and tracing protocols have been effective at minimizing the number of cases on campus. We must continue to embrace those protocols, especially masking and testing, to ensure ongoing success.  We will continue to update the testing dashboard with new information when it is available so that you all may keep yourselves informed about COVID’s presence in our community. We will not be maintaining the dashboard after the asymptomatic testing program ends. 

Thank you to each of you for continuing to partner with Olin Ahead in keeping the Olin community healthy. 

-The Olin Ahead team (Alisha, Beth, Jeremy, Joanne, Linda, Meg)

Greetings Olin Community, 

We are writing to provide an update on some changes to asymptomatic COVID testing for this week and beyond. As a reminder, testing continues to be required for all community members. Fully vaccinated individuals must test once per week, and those with approved vaccine exemptions must test twice per week.  

Testing this Week 

Testing is available this week today and tomorrow from 9:10AM-4:45PM with a break from 12:30-1:30PM. During this week, all community members will receive an individual PCR test. If you have already made an appointment for a pooled test, please come to the testing site for that appointment and you will receive an individual test.  If you have not made an appointment, please come for a walk-in test today or tomorrow (based on availability).  

Testing for the Weeks of March 14 and March 21 

Due to the low demand expected during Spring Break, testing will be available on Thursday, 3/17 from 9:30AM-4PM only, with a break from 12:30-1:30. Following the break, the regular testing schedule will resume. Appointments will be available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9:10AM-4:45PM, with a break from 12:30-1:30PM. Please remember the number of tests we can send daily is limited, so appointments are strongly preferred. As we make this transition, we will be cancelling all existing appointments for pooled testing.  For March 17th and the week of March 21st, you can make appointments for these dates by going to https://crsp-testing.broadinstitute.org/ and choosing “Olin- Reflex PCR Testing” for either Employees or Students.  

Testing for the Week of March 28 and Beyond 

Beginning the week of March 28th, our testing process will shift to unobserved individual PCR testing. This means that instead of conducting your test at a central site with supervision, you will pick up a testing kit consisting of a swab, a tube, and an instruction sheet. Kits for the week of March 28th will be distributed the week prior at your testing appointment. You will conduct the test on your own in a private space (your room/home, a restroom) where you can wash or sanitize your hands and bring it back to the testing desk.  

Unobserved Testing Process 

The following steps provide more detail on the unobserved testing process: 

1. Starting the week of March 28th, make an appointment at https://crsp-testing.broadinstitute.org/ by choosing “Olin - Unobserved PCR Testing.” 

2. You will conduct the test on your own using the testing kit you received at your appointment the week before. The kit will contain a swab, test tube, and instructions for collecting your sample. The procedure of gently swabbing each nostril before placing the cotton swab in the collection tube is the same process you have followed when doing observed tests. Instructions in the kit show how to collect the sample.  

3. You should take the kit to a private space (a restroom, your residence hall room, your office) to collect your sample. You should ONLY collect your sample on the day it will be submitted, NOT before. Please note the time you swabbed, as this will be needed when your sample is checked in. 

4. When you have collected your sample, bring it to the testing desk. David or another testing staff member will collect your sample tube and give you a new testing kit to use for your next sample collection (to be done prior to arriving at the testing site).  

5. When it is time to submit the next sample, follow the instructions in the kit and collect your sample shortly before your appointment. Samples must be brought back to the testing site during testing hours. Please schedule a drop-off appointment, as we are still limited to how many tests we can ship daily. 

6. The testing staff will inspect the tube, affix a label to it and give you a new testing kit for next time. 

7. All collected samples will still be delivered to the Broad Institute in Cambridge, where they are tested for the presence of COVID-19. 

8. You will receive an email and/or text message when your results are ready (which is a changed from pooled testing).  

Over the next few weeks, testing results will be a critical part of understanding the success of the changes to our masking program.  We thank you in advance for your continued participation.  If you have questions about these changes, students should reach out to Beth and employees to Jeremy. 

-Beth and Jeremy 

Please note that an error in this message was corrected on March 28

Greetings, Olin Community,

We are writing with some good news. A few weeks ago, we shared with you that if we continued to have high testing participation and low positivity rates, we would be able to relax some of our COVID-19 protocols. Based on the data we have seen since then and recent updates to CDC guidelines, we are pleased to share that we are making some changes.  

The following changes will go into effect as noted below:

  • Masks: Beginning on March 14, masks are optional and no longer required for all community members who are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations (meaning you have had all recommended doses for which you are eligible). There are several exceptions: 
    • 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).
    • Individuals who have traveled on a trip that included an overnight stay must mask for 5 days upon their return (this includes spring break travel).
    • Individuals with symptoms of illness must isolate for at least 5 days or until symptoms improve/negative rapid, whichever is later, and then mask for 5 days upon return.
    • Individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 (e.g., someone in your household is ill) must mask for 10 days.
  • Please continue to carry a mask at all times and engage in thoughtful discussions with each other about whether or not masks are worn in groups and situations not noted above.
  • Testing: Weekly testing continues to be required for all community members until further notice. You will notice one difference this week: we are returning to individual observed testing. This will give us a solid baseline before the masking changes go into effect. After this week, we will be utilizing individual, unobserved testing. Details will be shared in the next few days on the testing program beyond this week.
  • Visitors: Visitors must continue to wear masks and complete the visitor registration form until further notice.

Over the past year and a half, we have all worked together to minimize the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic on campus. We could not have done so without the cooperation and flexibility of the Olin community. As we continue to make changes to reflect new stages of the pandemic, we ask that everyone at Olin exhibit kindness and understanding toward one another. We recognize that some community members will greet these changes with joy and others with ambivalence – and a mixture of both for many. Please respect one another’s personal decisions regarding whether to continue wearing a mask.

As always, the Olin Ahead team will continue to monitor our situation to determine any further actions Olin can take to ensure our collective wellness. Please email us at OlinAhead@olin.edu if you have any questions.

– The Olin Ahead team (Alisha, Beth, Jeremy, Joanne, Linda, and Meg)

Greetings, Olin Community:  

We want to share with you some good news regarding the success of Olin’s COVID prevention measures. The number of cases of COVID at Olin has dropped dramatically in the past two weeks. In fact, our testing program has not recorded a positive case since February 1.   

The asymptomatic COVID testing program on campus has always served a dual purpose. It has given us the capacity to directly detect and interrupt the spread of COVID and it has also allowed us the opportunity to understand the effectiveness of other measures, like masking and vaccination requirements.

The data from the testing program is what we will rely on to make decisions about modifying our COVID-related protocols, such as when and where masks must be worn. It is crucial, then, that everyone at Olin continues to regularly participate in our testing program, as required.

Last week (January 31-February 4), both students and employees achieved 90% participation in testing. Thank you to everyone who tested. We are encouraged by these numbers, but we would like to see consistent participation above 97%.

As a reminder: 

  • Please remember to make your testing appointments at https://crsp-testing.broadinstitute.org/login by choosing the Pooled Testing option for Students or Employees. You can make recurring appointments through March to make it easier to remember and keep your appointments.  
  • Testing takes place in the lower level of the Campus Center on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Testing is available from 9:10AM to 4:45PM, with a break from 12:30 to 1:30PM.  
  • We can only send a limited number of tests daily, so appointments are strongly preferred.  
  • Reminder: Individuals who are fully vaccinated must test once per week, and individuals with an approved vaccine waiver must test twice per week.  

If we can boost our weekly testing numbers to 97% or better and maintain that rate with low or no COVID positive case counts, we expect to be able to relax some of our COVID protocols in the coming weeks.   

Help us work toward these goals by continuing to test and continuing to mask.  

Thank you, 

The Olin Ahead Team (Alisha, Beth, Jeremy, Joanne, Linda, and Meg)

Dear Olin community,

We are writing to follow up on President Barabino’s email from January 6, which explained our adapted plans for the beginning of the spring semester.

Those plans included beginning the semester with one week of remote work and classes to allow us to complete a first round of testing, limit any viral spread and reduce the possibility of an increase in COVID cases. In addition to the planned PCR testing, we were also able to provide rapid antigen testing for all students returning to campus.

We are pleased to report that based on test results from this week—during which most students returned to campus and many faculty and staff tested on campus as well—we are continuing with our plan to return to in-person learning on January 27.

The rapid antigen tests for students revealed nine positive cases, with two more student cases discovered through PCR testing. We have also identified seven COVID cases among employees. Overall, this is a positivity rate of 3% based on those who have returned to campus. This is considered a low positivity rate by the CDC and in line with the current average for higher ed reported on the state dashboard.

The decision to return to in-person learning is based on this testing pattern continuing—or improving—next week. You have shown us repeatedly that our isolation protocols work effectively to prevent spread on campus.

Over the past 17 months, we have all done our part to help stop the spread of COVID on campus. We are urging everyone to continue to help keep the Olin community safe by maintaining good masking practices, testing on a regular schedule, maintaining social distancing when needed and washing your hands. These health practices apply across campus—whether in the MAC or in a residence hall or anywhere in between—and beyond.

If the situation changes and we see a significant increase in positive COVID cases on campus, we may have to reassess the return to in-person learning. If that happens, we will communicate with you as quickly as possible.

Employees may continue to teach and work virtually through January 26 as their duties permit. Some faculty may choose to extend remote learning in their classes for a brief time (up to one additional week) for a variety of reasons. They will communicate directly to students in their classes about when they will resume in-person learning. Employees who choose to work on campus next week may do so.

Thank you all for your patience, teamwork, good humor and flexibility as we continue to navigate and adapt to changing circumstances together.

Sincerely,

The Olin Ahead Team

Dear Olin community, 

I am writing to share with you how Olin is planning to adapt the beginning of the spring 2022 semester in response to the current omicron surge. I had hoped one of my first communications to you in the New Year would be different, but as with so many things during this pandemic, our plans must adjust to reflect changing conditions. 

If we think back to March 2020 and all we have endured together since then, it’s clear that change and adaptability will continue to be constants for the foreseeable future. I, along with College leadership and the Olin Ahead working group, am committed to making the best possible choices for Olin’s students, faculty and staff.

Fortunately, at Olin, we are able to make these small adjustments to our plans now because of our size, the deep level of care and commitment we have for each other, and our collective desire to do what is best for our students amid the seemingly never ending challenges of the pandemic.

Before I explain these measures, I want to make sure you understand the guiding principles I am using to make these decisions:

  • We have a transformative educational model and we value deep connections above all else, and believe that face to face instruction best facilitates this.
  • We care about the health and welfare of our community.

The following plans for the start of the spring semester have been made with input and guidance from the Olin Ahead team:

  • Students will arrive on campus on January 18 (and no later than January 20) and must take a COVID test on January 18, 19 or 20.
  • Classes will be virtual from January 20-26.
  • Employees should teach and work virtually from January 18-26 as their duties permit to avoid the potential of exposure as more of our community returns to campus. Employees who choose to work from campus may do so.

Beginning the semester with one week of remote classes and work will allow Olin to complete a first round of asymptomatic PCR testing and give our on-campus community a chance to avoid viral spread and case surge. Should further adjustment be necessary we will advise you at the earliest opportunity.

I invite you to keep reading below for more comprehensive details and answers to the questions I’m sure you have. This information will also be posted to Olin.edu. The Olin Ahead team will share further guidance as it becomes available. As always if you have questions please reach out to olinahead@olin.edu.

Thank you for your patience and teamwork as we prepare to start the spring semester safely.

Warmly,

Gilda

 *****

Background on omicron and the latest guidance:

Before arrival on / return to campus:

We ask that all community members test prior to arrival if possible so that you are aware of your own COVID status. PCR or antigen tests are both acceptable, although we recognize that both testing appointments and home testing kits are currently in short supply.

If you are sick or have tested positive without symptoms, please do not come to campus.

Students, if you are symptomatic and cannot return to campus before January 20th, please contact Alisha Sarang-Sieminski. Employees, if you are sick, please inform Krista Chavez.

Arrival period and beginning of classes: 

With move-in beginning on January 18, students are required to arrive on campus no later than January 20 and must test on January 18, 19 or 20. Students must take a “hardened bubble” approach upon arrival. Students are asked to remain on campus during this period and to limit their contact with others. Meals from the Dining Hall will be available for takeout only. Please stay tuned for additional communication from Student Affairs and Resources and Olin Ahead for details.

All classes from January 20 through January 26 will be virtual. (Faculty may provide supplies that students can pick up at an appropriate location.) 

In order for this 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.

Testing: 

The asymptomatic testing program will continue for Spring 2022 in a new location. Testing will now take place in the Campus Center lower level near the Wooden Waterfall. Fully vaccinated community members will continue to test once weekly and the small number of individuals exempt from vaccination in our community will continue to test twice a week.

College-sponsored testing will resume on January 11 for employees and January 18 for students. We will conduct individual tests (not pooled) through January 20. Pooled testing will resume the following week.

More information about the testing schedule, making appointments and logistics will follow in a separate email.

Masks: 

Olin’s masking policy remains in effect with changes in the requirements for the masks themselves.  Masks must continue to be worn in shared spaces.  All individuals 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

Cloth masks or disposable masks that are not surgical grade or better are no longer allowed until further notice, unless used as part of double masking.  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. Please complete this form to request a supply.

Employees sharing workspaces should mask through at least January 26. In the residence halls, students rooming together are strongly encouraged to mask as much as possible. Visitors to rooms should mask through at least January 26th.

Visitors:

We have decided to limit outside visitors to our campus until February 7.

Quarantine and Isolation:

The Olin Ahead team is evaluating the state’s new quarantine and isolation guidance and will share any changes to Olin’s requirements in that regard in a future communication.

Dear Olin Community, 

As we head into the holiday break, the Olin Ahead team remains focused on the health and wellness of our campus community.

Throughout the fall semester, thanks to the high level of vaccinations in our community, and adherence to our masking and testing guidelines we have had very low levels of COVID infection in our community—and no community transmission.  

We continue to closely monitor local, national and Olin community public health conditions, including the latest data and concerns related to the new omicron variant. 

To support a healthier return to campus in January we are taking several proactive steps: 

  • We are requiring all members of the Olin community to get a booster shot by January 31 or within two weeks of eligibility if later. A COVID booster has been shown to be effective against the omicron variant. You can find additional details about this requirement here.  We have tentatively planned a second on-campus clinic for January 21.  If you are interested in an on-campus booster clinic in January, please complete this quick form as soon as possible so we can plan appropriately.
  • In January we will reinstitute individual testing for arrival for all members of the community, after which we will resume pooled testing. Individual testing will allow us to quickly respond to any COVID infections resulting from the holiday break. 

The Olin Ahead team will meet regularly in the New Year and continue to communicate regularly with the Olin community about what, if any, new actions need to be taken to safeguard the well-being of our students, faculty, and staff.

We also plan to hold an information session on Zoom in January, so please stay tuned for the day and time. This session will be recorded for those unable to attend. 

As always, we encourage our community to visit the Return to Campus section on Olin.edu for up-to-date information. If you have any additional questions, please email us at OlinAhead@olin.edu. 

We also want to share with you that testing nurse Isa Sánchez has informed us she will not be returning to Olin this spring. When she informed us of her decision, Isa emphasized that she has been grateful to have been a part of the Olin community, as we are immensely grateful to have had her good humor and deep caring to help us through the ups and downs of testing. We know that many of you would have liked an opportunity to thank Isa for the important role that she has played at Olin during the past 16 months and to have an opportunity to say goodbye.  We will collect any notes you would like to share with Isa here. 

We are looking forward to returning in 2022 and enjoying a strong and healthy start to the year.

Best regards,

The Olin Ahead team (Alisha, Beth, Jeremy, Joanne, Linda, and Meg)

 

Dear Olin Community, 
 
In response to the continuing spread of COVID-19, the rise of new variants, and the availability of booster vaccinations to our entire community, Olin has determined that all community members are required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster by January 31st or within two weeks of becoming eligible for a booster, whichever is later. Community members with an approved medical or religious exemption will retain their exemptions. 
 
Scientific evidence has shown that immunity to COVID-19 wanes over time. Early data suggest that the Omicron variant is more transmissible than Delta, but that booster shots have been shown to restore and strengthen immunity. Adding a booster to the original dose will help slow the spread of COVID in the spring semester. It’s important for all those who are eligible to get a booster to protect themselves and each other. You can read more about why boosters are important here.  
 
Some important points for you to know: 

  • We know that some community members were not able to be vaccinated before the fall semester and are not yet eligible for a booster. Once someone becomes eligible for the booster – six months after their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months after the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine – they will have two weeks to provide documentation of their booster vaccination. 
  • If you received a WHO-authorized vaccine (that’s not been approved by the FDA), you will need to get a booster 6 months after your last dose. According to CDC guidance, individuals 16 years of age and older who have received a non-FDA approved vaccine should receive a Pfizer booster dose. Contact your healthcare provider for additional guidance. 
  • Students should upload booster documentation to the Student Health Portal. 
  • Employees should upload their booster documentation to the Employee Vaccination Status Form.
  • We strongly recommend that you obtain a booster over the break if possible. Booster appointments are available at pharmacies, clinics and hospitals throughout the U.S., so please get the shot as soon as you can. We know that might not be possible everywhere, so we are looking into the possibility of a second booster clinic on campus in late January. If interested in an on-campus clinic, please complete this quick form to help us plan. 
  • Remember, you do not need to get the same vaccine as you did the first time. You can receive any vaccine booster that is available.

As stated above, approved religious or medical exemptions will carry over to this requirement; those with existing exemptions do not need to reapply. 
 
We wish you a successful end to the semester and a restorative, enjoyable and safe break. 

-The Olin Ahead team (Alisha, Beth, Jeremy, Joanne, Linda, and Meg)

 

Dear Olin Community, 

As we approach the Thanksgiving break and end of the semester Olin Ahead would like to provide some updates on the Olin Ahead team, Thanksgiving Break, and a policy change at Babson College. 

Student Representation 

We are pleased to welcome Megan Ku to Olin Ahead as our student representative. Meg was selected by CORe and joined the Olin Ahead team on November 2nd. Students are encouraged to share questions and suggestions for Olin Ahead with Meg or any other member of the Olin Ahead team. 

Thanksgiving Break 

There will be no classes from November 22nd-26th, and the College will be closed on Thursday and Friday of that week for Thanksgiving. Please remember that the Dining Hall will close after brunch on November 20th and will reopen for dinner on November 28th.    

Testing during Thanksgiving Break 

Because we are expecting a low campus population during break week, asymptomatic, pooled COVID testing will take place on Monday, November 22nd ONLY during the holiday week, from 10AM-2:45PM. If you are not able to test on Monday, simply resume testing the following week. Although this may extend your testing interval beyond the typical weekly testing, you will not be considered in violation of our testing protocols as long as you test both the week prior to Thanksgiving break and the week after. 

Testing after the Break 

Because many members of our community plan to travel and spend time with family and friends for the holiday, we will conduct individual PCR testing the week after Thanksgiving, from November 29th-December 2nd. Appointments for testing November 29th-December 2nd are required- select “Olin - Reflex PCR Testing” for Students or Employees to make an individual testing appointment. 

Please plan accordingly. Note that all pooled testing appointments for that week will be cancelled.  

We will resume all pooled testing on Monday, December 6th. 

Babson Mask Policy Update 

Effective Monday, November 8th, Babson College has designated “Mask Optional” zones where fully vaccinated community members can choose whether to wear a mask. In addition to their residence halls, these designated larger open spaces are Reynolds Campus Center, Olin Hall’s Markey Commons on the ground floor, Trim Dining Room, Babson Commons, Horn Library, and BRAC. Note: administrative offices, conference rooms, study rooms and private workspaces in these spaces are excluded from this new policy and masks remain mandatory.  

Masks remain required in all other indoor campus spaces. Non-vaccinated individuals and all visitors must continue to be masked at all times indoors when on a Babson campus. Additional information about this update can be found here. Olin is not making any changes to our mask policy at this time. 

Winter (Break) is Coming 

Additional information about asymptomatic COVID testing at the end of the semester will be forthcoming. Students are asked to complete the Thanksgiving and Winter Break Plans Survey by Friday, November 12th to assist us in our planning.  

-- The Olin Ahead team (Alisha, Beth, Jeremy, Joanne, Linda, and Meg) 

Dear Olin Community,

The semester is well and truly underway, and we are pleased at how successful the transition has been from an Olin Ahead perspective.  There are currently no known cases of COVID-19 on the Olin campus – something very few other colleges can say right now.

Community Forum. We hope you will join us on Zoom on Tuesday, September 21 at 11:00-11:45 a.m. (iCal attached) for an Olin Ahead community forum.  The meeting will be recorded for those who are unable to attend. The panel will include the Olin Ahead team (Linda Canavan, Jeremy Goodman, Beth Grampetro, Joanne Pratt, and Alisha Sarang-Sieminski) and nurse practitioner Krista Chavez.  We look forward to your questions – if you would like to submit a question in advance you may do so here.

Finding Information. We have received many questions, both to the Olin Ahead email or to Olin Ahead team members individually.  We are happy to answer them, but we ask that you please start with the Return to Campus section of the Olin website, where many of them are already answered. We add and update content on the site as needed; we will also continue to send community emails should there be any major changes in policy or practice.

Community Concerns. A comment we have heard frequently in the last two weeks has been “I would behave differently if I heard there were positive cases on campus.”  For the time being, we ask all community members to behave as if there are positive cases on campus (even when there are not). Each of us must embrace the responsibility for our role in keeping the Olin campus safer in order to continue our success in preventing on-campus transmission.

Testing Dashboard. We are pleased to share that the dashboard is back!  You can find it here.  Please note that the dashboard only includes results from the asymptomatic testing program.  It does not include symptomatic testing conducted at Health Services or elsewhere. The dashboard will typically be updated twice per week.

Classroom Air Exchange. Please do not forget to promptly exit classrooms after the end of a class and to come to class no more than five minutes ahead of the scheduled start time.  This break allows for a full air exchange in classrooms.

If you have questions that weren’t answered here and aren’t answered on the website, please reach out to OlinAhead@olin.edu, as always.

Stay well,
The Olin Ahead team

***

Hello Olin Community,

As part of our ongoing COVID-19 prevention efforts, we will be continuing to require asymptomatic COVID testing on campus this semester. Many of you participated in testing during the last academic year and/or in the last week as you returned to campus. This year’s testing program will be similar in some ways to last year’s, and there will also be some differences. Please read this message carefully for details. 

How does the testing work?

Olin is continuing to work with the Broad Institute’s Safe for School Program to provide testing this year. A change from last year is that we will be utilizing their pooled testing program. Pooled testing means combining the same type of specimen from several people and conducting one laboratory test on the combined pool of specimens to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

The process will be the same for the person being tested – you will come to the testing site and will self-administer an anterior nasal swab (just inside your nostrils, no uncomfortable deep swabs!). The difference is that your swab will be placed in a tube with up to 9 others, and all will be tested together. If the tube is negative, everyone whose sample was in that tube has a negative result. If the tube is positive, everyone whose sample was in that tube will be contacted and have an individual follow-up test administered. 

We have made the decision to switch to this type of testing given our high vaccination rate, small community size, and successful history of low transmission rates. This strategy was used successfully in K-12 schools across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts during the 2020-21 academic year and is now available to colleges as well. 

When and where do I get tested? 

Asymptomatic testing is currently scheduled for the Milas Hall Lobby. The schedule will be as follows:

Monday 10:05AM-2:45PM

Tuesday 1:05-5:45PM

Wednesday 10:05AM-2:45PM

Thursday 1:05-5:45PM 

There will be no testing on Labor Day (9/6) or Indigenous People’s Day (10/11). Information about the testing schedule during Thanksgiving week and at semester’s end will be forthcoming. 

How often should I get tested? 

If you are fully vaccinated (two weeks have passed since your dose of a single-dose vaccine or since your second dose of a 2-dose vaccine) you must test once per week. If you are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated or you have an approved exemption from vaccination, you must test twice per week, preferably on Monday and Thursday. Community members who are on campus less than once per week must test when they come to campus. 

How do I make an appointment to be tested? Where can I view my test results? 

Before your first test, you will need to register in our new testing software and agree to the online consent form (even if you’ve already completed a paper consent form).  To do so, please go to:

Once your account is created, you will be able to sign in and schedule your tests at https://crsp-testing.broadinstitute.org/login.  Scheduling tests is critical to helping us manage the flow of people through the testing center.  However, if no appointments are available on the day you need to test, you may request a walk-in test if there is not a line at the check-in desk. 

When you schedule your test, you will see several options. 

  • Students should choose Olin College of Engineering – Pooled Testing (Students)
  • Employees should choose Olin College of Engineering – Pooled Testing (Employees)

Similar to individual testing, pooled testing usually takes about 24 hours to process.  There is one significant difference – with pooled testing, no news is good news.  You will not receive a notification by email.  If a pool comes back with a positive result, you will be contacted with directions for follow-up testing. 

Whose samples will be in a “pool” together? 

Samples will be pooled based on when people arrive at the testing center. Employees and students will be pooled separately- tubes will either contain all employee samples or all student samples. 

If a pool tests positive, those in the pool will be re-tested individually. Re-testing will happen as soon as possible after pooled results are received (the next day). If your pool tests positive, you will be expected to report for a re-test immediately. Because this may take you out of work or class for some time (usually one day or less), we recommend that employees from the same departments/teaching teams do NOT go to the testing center together so that they can avoid being in a pool together. 

What if I develop symptoms of COVID-19? 

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 stay home and 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 should consult their healthcare provider. 

In what situations will people be expected to quarantine or isolate? 

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

  • Per current CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19. If you are fully vaccinated and are exposed, you will be expected to monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days and wear a mask around others as a precaution. If you develop symptoms during this time, you should notify your healthcare provider immediately.
  • If you are unvaccinated and are exposed to COVID-19, you will be expected to quarantine. Student quarantine will be managed by Babson Health Services. Employees should consult their healthcare provider for guidelines.

Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. 

If you test positive for COVID-19, you must isolate for ten days, regardless of vaccination status or whether you have symptoms.

The Needham Board of Health has primary responsibility for contact tracing for Olin. You may be contacted by any of the following parties for contact tracing and related purposes:

  • Needham Board of Health
  • Babson Health Services
  • Krista Chavez
  • Beth Grampetro
  • Jeremy Goodman 

Please be responsive to communication from any of these parties. A limited number of spaces on campus have been set aside for the purpose of student quarantine/isolation.  You can find more information about quarantine and isolation here. Employees who are directed to quarantine or isolate should do so from home and will receive instructions from Krista Chavez.

Will there be a testing dashboard this year? 

We hope to bring the testing dashboard back once we have a better understanding of the data that will be produced through the new testing method.  Please stay tuned.  We are pleased to share, though, that all test results so far have been negative.

Should you have questions about any of this information, please reach out to Beth (students) or Jeremy (employees). Please keep in mind that this is a new process, so changes could be made as we settle into the semester. We will keep the community informed as things develop. 

Take care, 

Jeremy and Beth, for Olin Ahead

***

Dear Olin Community,

As you may know, the CDC has recently recommended that those living in regions that have “substantial” or “high” coronavirus transmission should wear a mask when indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Currently, Norfolk County is at “substantial’ risk. Therefore, Olin College will implement an indoor masking requirement on campus until the public health situation indicates that masking is no longer needed.

Individuals on campus should generally wear masks in all indoor areas where other people may be present. You can find more information about effective masks here and here.

Some special cases for consideration are below. Stay tuned for more detailed information and please share any questions you have with OlinAhead@olin.edu.

Thank you,

Olin Ahead

Preliminary Guidance for Specific Cases (additional details will be shared soon)

Alone in a room

If you are the sole occupant of an office, classroom, etc. you may choose to unmask.  Please note that it takes 20 minutes for complete air exchange in a typical Olin room. You are always welcome to mask even when it’s not required (in a room alone, outdoors when distant, etc.).

Outdoors

While masks are not required outdoors, we encourage masking if you are not able to socially distance. A tent will be up in the Oval through the end of November to extend our outdoor gathering space.

Residence Halls

Students living in shared rooms or suites can be unmasked when in their assigned room; if a guest is present, everyone needs to mask. Occupancy of rooms is limited to no more than twice the assigned occupancy of a room including the assigned student(s) (i.e. 2 people in a single, 4 people in a double, and 6 people in a triple). Of course, if you wish to gather with larger groups, the lounges on each floor of both East and West Hall as well as the tent in the Oval are available. Team rooms will also be available; occupancy in team rooms will be limited as a result of the size of rooms and the speed of air exchange compared to other spaces on campus. Individuals will need to determine their comfort level with gathering in team rooms.  Masks are required in all residential common areas at all times including hallways, music practice rooms, laundry rooms, lounges, team rooms, the fitness room, kitchens, and study spaces.

Dining

While unmasking will be necessary during mealtimes, we ask that community members who do not share rooms/suites sit as distanced as possible and re-mask when finished. Masks are required while picking up food and walking to and from seating. Use of the first floor, mezzanine, and Crescent rooms, as well as outdoor spaces when the weather is favorable for seating during meals will allow people to find adequate space. Reusable to-go boxes will be available for those wishing to eat outside the dining hall.

Musical Activities

Masking is required for students gathering to play music. Specialized PPE will be provided to students participating in OCO and Wired Ensemble whose instruments are not amenable to typical masking (i.e. wind instruments). Students otherwise engaging in musical activities requiring specialized PPE can contact Diana Dabby for ordering information.

***