August 4, 2020

Dear Olin Community,

The countdown is on! We have just one month to go until move in and can’t wait to begin our fall semester, whether we will welcome students both in person and online. 

The largest group we will have together on campus this fall is first year students. Particularly for this cohort, the adjustment to Olin's learning culture—emphasis on self-direction and on learning for learning’s sake—is important. We’re glad that the high numbers of first year students will aid in their adjustment to Olin and the benefits of the peer learning aspect of our culture. 

The Olin Ahead Coordinating Team would like to note again that while we hope we will be able to proceed with these plans, we also acknowledge that the public health situation across the United States continues to change rapidly. Massachusetts remains in a cautiously reopened Phase 3 state. We will continue to vigilantly monitor the state of public health locally, regionally, and broadly, and recognize that we must be prepared to pivot away from our present plans if a residential fall semester cannot be safely achieved. 

A few updates for you this week: 

1. Supporting Remote Work. Following up on last week’s guide for faculty and staff and the conversation at last week’s office hours, we want to emphasize that all faculty and staff who will be working remotely may request additional equipment to support effective work. If there is something that you need, please email Human Resources at hr@olin.edu to submit a request. HR will coordinate with the other necessary groups (such as IT or Facilities) and get back to you. 

2. Mechanical Systems Updates. We have been asked frequently about what changes we plan to make to Olin’s mechanical systems to support a safer campus environment. The Campus Reopening Working Group recently approved a slate of changes proposed by the Facilities team. Our plans include: 

  • Reprogramming the HVAC system to maximize our outside air intake while maintaining acceptable indoor conditions 
  • Upgrading campus air filters in the main units to the MERV 13 standard 
  • Installing UV disinfection in campus air systems that recycle any amount of indoor air 
  • Conducting a daily flush of the air at the beginning and/or the end of each day 
  • Adding touchless faucets to public restrooms 
  • Replacing water fountains with bottle-filling stations 
  • Flushing and conducting water quality testing on our domestic water lines 

These plans are based on guidance from the CDC, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers). The CRWG thanks Claire and Tom for putting together this comprehensive program. 

3. Campus Update. The Campus Reopening Working Group is busy preparing the campus for students. Two of those initiatives, which were mentioned in last week’s update, are wiring the Oval for Wi-Fi and setting up a tent in the Oval so people can gather while keeping socially distanced. We anticipate that this combination will enable more and safer interaction during what we hope will be a glorious New England autumn. 

4. Course re-registration. On Friday, July 31, the Registrar’s office provided returning students (Class of 2021, 2022 and 2023) the Revised Course information for Fall 2020. Registration information for the Class of 2024 will be available at a later date (either before or during Orientation). 

5. Student Housing. We anticipate Housing assignments and household groups to be completed and distributed by Thursday, August 6th. When students receive their housing assignment, they will also be given access to select their arrival time and day. For move in, StAR is preparing procedures for a socially distanced check in with a completely no-contact option available. 

The OACT will hold Zoom Office Hours for students and families this week on Thursday from 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET, which faculty and staff are welcome to attend. Please also continue sending your questions to OlinAhead@olin.edu

Thank you to those who participated in last week’s Olin Ahead Office Hours for faculty and staff and to those who caught up with the replay afterward. We had a productive conversation and there were a lot of good questions raised. We hope that each week we provide more clarity for you as the Working Groups continue to make progress. 

We also want to extend our continued appreciation to all Olin Ahead Working Group members and collaborators. You are doing an extraordinary job moving us toward the fall and we are grateful for your hard work on behalf of our Olin community. 

Sincerely, 

Jeremy Goodman and Lynn Andrea Stein 
on behalf of the OACT