Olin Ahead Update of Frequently Asked Questions - Updated December 21, 2021

Quick Reference

COVID-19 Symptoms and Illness

Q: What is considered a COVID symptom? What should I do if I experience COVID symptoms?

A: 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 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 may contact their own healthcare provider or Krista Chavez at kchavez@olin.edu.

Q: What if an employee or student needs to miss work or class because of illness or quarantine / isolation?

A: Neither students nor employees will be penalized in these situations. Instructors will be anticipating (and planning for) an increase in student absences this fall due to COVID-related test results and symptoms. Employees who are able to (both in terms of their job responsibilities and how they are feeling) may work remotely but should use accrued sick time if they need to miss work due to illness. We encourage anyone who is ill to take the appropriate time they need to recover.

In the event that instructors are not able to attend class in-person, but can meet remotely, we encourage them to temporarily use virtual course delivery practices to advance student learning and minimize disruption. In the event that a student needs to miss class, they should reach out to their professor(s) to ask about appropriate options for engagement or make-up, as each class will have different options and needs.


Q: We opened this fall as a “fully vaccinated campus.” Is it true that we are 100% in compliance with vaccinations or approved exemptions according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health?

A: Yes, as of October 18th, 2021, 100% of students and 100% of employees are in compliance with the vaccine requirement and over 99% of the Olin community is fully vaccinated.

Q: Will Olin be requiring flu vaccines?

A: No, we will not be requiring flu shots at this time; however, we strongly encourage everyone to get a flu shot this year. Flu shots have been made available on campus. You can also get flu shots from local pharmacies or at your doctor’s office. Students may contact Babson Health Services at 781-239-6363 to schedule an appointment for a flu shot.

Q: Do I need to get a vaccine booster dose?

A:  Yes. 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. (Updated 12/21/21)


Q: Is there a requirement for regular on-campus testing at Olin? 

A: Yes, testing began again on August 23rd, 2021. Ongoing pooled asymptomatic testing for both students and employees began on September 1st, 2021. Vaccinated people must test weekly and people with approved vaccine exemptions must test 2 times per week. Employee and student samples will be placed in separate pools. If someone isn't on campus at least once per week, they must test when they come to campus.

For those who must miss testing because they will be away from campus for a week or more, it is helpful to inform Krista Chavez (employees) or Beth Grampetro (students) proactively.

Q: What happens if a pooled test is positive? 

A: In the event that a pooled test returns a positive result, all individuals in the pool will be contacted and given instructions for follow-up testing. Typically, individuals in a positive pool will be given a rapid antigen test and an individual PCR test to follow up on a positive pool. This follow-up testing should identify which member(s) of the pool are positive. Individuals in a positive pool whose follow-up tests come back negative can resume pooled testing. If and when an individual’s test comes back positive, they will be instructed to isolate for ten days and will be given appropriate assistance and supports to do so.

Q: What is the difference between quarantine and isolation? Who must quarantine? Who must isolate? 

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

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least ten days, regardless of vaccination status. In addition, you may be told to isolate yourself temporarily if you have symptoms, until a test can determine the cause of your symptoms. We also recommend that community members who are ill for any reason do not attend class/work and limit their contact with others.

Individuals who are not fully vaccinated are expected to quarantine if they have been notified to do so by an appropriate authority. Fully vaccinated individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 are not required to quarantine. If you are fully vaccinated and are exposed, you must monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days following the exposure and receive a PCR test between 3-5 days after the exposure.

If you develop symptoms, you must contact a medical provider (Babson Health Services for students, Krista Chavez/your own provider for employees).

When members of the Olin community need to quarantine or isolate, they will receive instructions from a member of Olin Ahead, Krista Chavez, Babson Health Services, or the Needham Board of Health.

[See the section on Contact Tracing and Close Contacts for information on what to do if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.]

Q: If I am a student and I feel sick and I decide to stay home from class, can I get meal delivery?

A: Meal delivery is set up only when students are directed to isolate or quarantine for a period of many days by Olin Ahead, Babson Health Services, Krista Chavez, or the Needham Board of Health. If you decide to isolate on your own or if you are directed to briefly limit your contact with others until a test result comes back, we recommend that you ask a friend/roommate/or suitemate to bring you food to go or pick up food to go from the Dining Hall while wearing a mask. This is consistent with the college’s pre-COVID practice on meals for sick students.

Q: If I have symptoms, can I get tested at Milas Hall?

A: Testing on Olin’s campus is designed for asymptomatic community members. If you have symptoms, you should contact Babson Health Services (students) or Krista Chavez/your own provider (employees).

Babson Health Services: 781-239-6363 or healthservices@babson.edu

Krista Chavez: kchavez@olin.edu

In some cases, Health Services or Krista may direct you to test at Milas Hall during regular testing hours.  Because our site is set up for asymptomatic testing, please report to the side door of Milas Hall (that is typically the exit for individuals being tested) and not to the testing check-in desk.  Please only come to Milas Hall if directly instructed to under this scenario.

Q: What happens if a community member is not in compliance with regular testing? 

A: Compliance with Olin’s testing policy will be audited weekly, consistent with the expectation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that colleges will monitor compliance with COVID-19 prevention protocols

Students not in compliance with the requirement will first receive a written warning from Beth Grampetro. Upon additional failure to test, students will be required to meet with Dean of the College, Alisha Sarang-Sieminski, to make a plan to address barriers to regular testing. Ongoing non-compliance may result in disciplinary action, up to and including administrative withdrawal.

Employees not in compliance with the requirement will receive a reminder from Krista Chavez.  Upon additional failure to test, the employee’s supervisor and Human Resources will be notified of non-compliance. Ongoing non-compliance may result in disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay or termination of employment.

For those who must miss testing because they will be away from campus for a week or more, it is helpful to inform Krista Chavez (employees) or Beth Grampetro (students) proactively.

Q: Why don’t I receive results for all my tests? Why is my status in the testing platform “Not Cleared?” 

A: For pooled testing, “no news is good news.” If you are not contacted, this means your test returned a negative result. Anyone whose sample is part of a pool that returns a positive result will be contacted directly. If you receive an individual test, you will get an e-mail and/or text message notifying you that your individual test result is available. At any time, you can check your badge/status in the platform. If you are cleared, that means your most recent test was negative. 

If you are not cleared, this can mean that your test results have not been returned yet, or that you are overdue for a test based on your required testing frequency. If you receive a test elsewhere because you are symptomatic (at Babson Health or somewhere off campus), please notify Krista Chavez (employees) or Beth Grampetro (students) so that they can clear your status.

Please note that testing cadences in the platform are set to allow time for results to come back, so you may notice that your cleared status lasts longer than 7 or 4 days. We still recommend that you test the same day(s) each week or as close to it as possible.

Q: What do I do if I want a rapid test? 

A: Olin will typically only offer rapid tests to those individuals in a testing pool that returns a positive result. Students who are experiencing symptoms should contact Babson Health Services for an appointment, during which a clinician may administer rapid and/or PCR tests based on their clinical judgment. Rapid at-home tests may be purchased at local stores such as CVS or Walgreens, or online. It is our understanding that employees with FSA or HSA accounts may use those funds to purchase rapid tests.

Contract Tracing and Close Contacts

Q: How does Contact Tracing work at Olin?

A: Contact tracing is a collaborative effort between the Needham Board of Health and Olin College. In the event of a positive case, the infected individual will be contacted by the Board of Health staff and/or a member of the Olin Ahead team. Community members are required to cooperate fully and completely with contact tracing efforts. Should a student or employee test positive for COVID at a site off campus, they are expected to notify Krista Chavez (employees) or Beth Grampetro (students).

If a student or instructor tests positive and has been in a classroom within 72 hours prior to their positive test, a member of the Olin Ahead team will conduct contact tracing for the classroom setting and determine who meets the criteria for close contact.

Q: Who is considered a close contact? What do I do if I am a close contact? 

A: A close contact is defined as someone who was within 6 feet of the affected person indoors for a total of 15 minutes or more during the 48 hours prior to their positive test. If you meet these criteria, you will be notified and told how to proceed. Vaccinated individuals will be asked to monitor themselves for symptoms and be tested individually 3-5 days after exposure. Unvaccinated individuals will be directed to quarantine. In some instances, the College may put additional requirements on exposed individuals. 

Close contacts of people who are notified of exposure are not considered to be exposed until and unless the exposed person develops symptoms or tests positive.

Q: As an instructor, will I be notified by Olin if a student in my class tests positive? 

A: Yes, if the student has been in your classroom within 72 hours of their positive test or onset of symptoms, a member of the Olin Ahead team will contact you. Instructors may be asked about the configuration of their classroom engagement in order to identify potential close contacts.


Q: What is the masking requirement on campus? 

A: Members of the Olin community and guests must be masked while indoors and in a common space. Some specific exceptions are provided below.

Q: What type of mask should I wear?

A: You can find more information about effective masks here and here. Masks must cover both the nose and mouth. If using a reusable cloth mask, Olin requires a mask that: 

  • Is made of two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric 

  • Completely covers your nose and mouth comfortably 

  • Fits snugly against the sides of your face 

  • Has a nose wire 

Olin does not allow neck gaiters or face shields in lieu of a mask.

Q: What are the requirements for masking in the residence halls?

A: Masks are not required for students within rooms or suites if all occupants agree to this. Masks are required in all common areas. In the event that a staff member needs to enter a room or suite, all occupants will need to mask.

Q: How do the masking requirements impact classes and use of shared spaces like shops, LPB, etc.?

A: The mask requirement applies to all indoor public campus spaces, including classrooms, shops, and the LPB. Classes will be in-person as planned, with instructors and students all masked. Class sizes will remain unchanged. All members of the community are encouraged to discuss how they organize themselves within shared space to meet a shared comfort level. Similarly, fabrication, shop, and LPB spaces will be open for use; as these are common spaces, all users are required to mask.

Q: How does the masking policy impact eating in the dining hall? 

A: While unmasking will be necessary during mealtimes, we ask that community members sit as distanced as is practical and re-mask when finished with their meal. 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.

Q: How long will the masking requirement be in effect?

A: While we cannot offer a date, Olin Ahead will continue to monitor the public health situation and all relevant guidance and regulations. We will modify the requirements and guidance as indicated and hope that conditions allow us to reduce masking relatively soon. The safety and well-being of our whole community is always the highest priority.

Q: If I am an employee who shares an office, do we need to mask?

A: You should discuss your comfort level with your office mate(s) and can choose to unmask within your office if you are all comfortable doing so. All parties should still be masked if someone who is not your office mate(s) enters your office.

Q: What can I do to follow the mask requirements if I am a musician with a wind instrument or singer?

A: Students participating in Olin Conductorless Orchestra (OCO) or Wired Ensemble will be provided with specialized PPE if they are playing a woodwind instrument.  Students participating in other musical clubs and activities should purchase their own PPE. Options recommended by Diana Dabby are: 

Occupancy Limits & Social Distancing

Q: Will there be reduced occupancy limits or will we resume social distancing indoors?

A: All shared spaces (such as classrooms and conference rooms) have been returned to their pre-COVID occupancy limits this year. There is no requirement for distancing if you are fully vaccinated, although it is always a good idea to socially distance if you can. Unvaccinated individuals, even those with approved exemptions, should continue to distance as possible. Groups should communicate about how to arrange themselves to create desired distance as needed. In the residence halls, there is an occupancy limit of 2, 4, and 6 people for singles, doubles, and triples, respectively.

Locating Employees Given Flexible Work Environment

Q: How should I find employees? Will people be on or off campus?

A: Olin is encouraging a new level of flexibility for employees, based on what we have learned since March 2020 and the needs of their roles and responsibilities. Therefore, some employees may not be on campus five days a week and/or may work different schedules than they used to. All employees should clearly communicate about in person and virtual availability via email signatures, door signage, and other methods. If you cannot find someone on campus whose assistance you need, please contact them via email or chat, as they may be working remotely.

Thanksgiving Break

Q: Will there be any special guidelines regarding travel for Thanksgiving break?

A: There are no restrictions on travel during Thanksgiving break, other than Olin Ahead’s general advice to remain cautious about the potential for exposure to COVID and to limit your number of close contacts. If you are leaving during Thanksgiving break, please ensure that you are in compliance with the testing requirement when you leave and that you participate in testing promptly upon return. It is generally not recommended to travel with outstanding test results, so if you plan to travel, you should test at least 2 days prior to your planned departure date.

Currently, we plan to have testing available on the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving Break.  Updates to the guidelines around Thanksgiving Break may become necessary depending on the public health situation on campus.

Q: I heard Wellesley College will be remote during the three days following Thanksgiving break (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday). Will I be able to attend my classes on Wellesley’s campus?

A: Wellesley College has announced plans for three days of remote classes after the break.  Students should connect with their Wellesley instructor and join class remotely as instructed.

Mobility On/Off Campus: What is Allowed

Q: Can students leave campus?

A: There are no restrictions on leaving campus. However, out of consideration for the rest of the Olin community, especially those who are immunocompromised, unable to get vaccinated, or have loved ones at home who are unable to get vaccinated (many employees have children under 12, for example), we ask that you mask when indoors off campus and avoid crowded indoor spaces.

Q: Where can students hang out on campus?

A: All of the public spaces that were previously available are open. In the residence halls this includes common rooms on each floor of the dorms, kitchens, fitness rooms, team rooms, music practice rooms, study annexes, antelounges. Of course, the Library and the Dining Hall are available as well.

Q: Can we go to Wellesley and Babson? How will any of this impact BOW interactions such as cross-registration, events, and the shuttle?

A: As of this writing (10-15), all three colleges have similar requirements for masking and testing. Where there are variations, the local institution’s guidance should be followed (i.e., if you are on the Wellesley campus, follow their guidance). Details from Wellesley are  here  and from Babson are  here. Masks are required on the shuttle at all times. Some cross-BOW activities have resumed this academic year, including dining and cross-registration. We expect these to continue and increase during the spring semester.


Visitors and Guests

Q: Can we have guests on campus?

A: There are no restrictions on visitors or guests on campus, other than a requirement that all are registered using  this form. This includes guests to the residence halls. All guests and visitors are required to follow masking requirements. Larger all-campus events may hold gatherings outdoors as the weather and scheduling permits. If planning a larger event, please contact Olin Ahead to discuss whether any additional safety measures are needed and if a separate registration form should be used.

Q: Are guests allowed for overnight stays?

A: While we do allow guests to visit students the residence halls while masked, we strongly advise against overnight stays. This restriction is intended for the comfort and safety of our residents and the entire Olin community.

Events, Food, Dining

Q: Can we offer refreshments at events?

A: If you are planning an event and want to serve refreshments and food you can. As with the dining hall, participants at an event offering refreshments should only unmask while eating and drinking and create physical space between each other. Creating options to eat/drink outside or offering to-go options should be considered. Unvaccinated individuals should distance when eating indoors. Each individual can choose whether they feel comfortable attending the event and/or partaking in refreshments.

Q: Can we eat lunch in common spaces? (i.e. the Library)

A: As with the dining hall, people can unmask while eating and should try to maintain distance from others.  

Olin Class Meeting Time Blocks

Q: The Olin Ahead email mentioned 30 minutes between class blocks but I don’t have 30 minutes between my classes.

A: The 30 minutes has to do with spaces not people. There are 30 minutes between classes in each classroom to allow for air exchange. If you have a quick transition between classes, please be in touch with your professors.

Note that courses have been scheduled to allow 30 minutes for air exchange between courses in the MAC. Please evacuate rooms promptly at the end of class to allow for this exchange.

Q: Will the same time block schedule be used in the spring semester? 

A: As of this writing (10/18), we anticipate using the same time patterns as we are currently using. This is out of caution to allow for full air exchange in the Miller Academic Center (MAC) and to space out lunch blocks. If the COVID-19 situation greatly subsides, we will return to 100-minute blocks of instruction as opposed to our current, pandemic blocks of 90-minute patterns.

Olin Ahead Community Sessions

Q: Will Olin Ahead be resuming the Zoom Q&A sessions that they had last summer?

A: We will hold community check-in sessions for employees and students as needed. This will help us evaluate how things are going, and identify any adjustments or clarifications needed to our procedures. We encourage community members to continue to send us questions to help us understand where the community desires more clarification or guidance. Additionally, community members can view our meeting agendas at: ​docx icon 2021-22 OACT Agendas.docx