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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

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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.