Vaccine Policy Information

Are students required to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
Following advice from Franklin County Public Health, the University will now require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Are employees required to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
Following advice from Franklin County Public Health, the University will now require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why is the university requiring COVID-19 vaccination?
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Otterbein has followed the advice of public health officials to make decisions in the best interest of the health and safety of our community. Franklin County Public Health has advised us to require the vaccination because:

  • The Delta variant is more transmissible and is spreading rapidly among unvaccinated individuals. Hospitalizations are surging — and young and otherwise healthy patients are being admitted in higher numbers than ever before.
  • A growing body of evidence tells us the available vaccines are safe and effective in preventing severe illness or death from COVID-19. That’s why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday, Aug. 23.

The vaccine requirement, combined with our current mask mandate, will offer the highest level of protection to our community and allow us to continue to offer in-person classes and activities.

Which COVID-19 vaccines qualify for this requirement?
To be considered fully vaccinated, you must receive two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Are there any exemptions from the vaccine requirement?
To request an exemption, students must contact covid@otterbein.edu and faculty and staff must contact sfitzgerald@otterbein.edu. For a medical exemption, students, faculty, and staff will be required to provide documentation from their licensed healthcare provider. For a religious exemption, students and employees will be asked to complete a separate religious exemption form.

Will I need to be vaccinated prior to registering for spring semester 2022 classes?
Students who are not fully vaccinated (two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) will not be able to register for spring semester classes. Registration for spring semester opens Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. If you are applying for a medical or religious exemption, you must complete the process before registering. Contact covid@otterbein.edu to start the process.

Will I be able to finish fall semester if I don’t get vaccinated or receive an exemption?
If you do not get vaccinated and do not qualify for an exemption, you will be able to finish fall semester, but will not be able to register for spring semester.

Can I take classes online if I don’t want to get the vaccine?
We are not able to offer fully online alternatives to our in-person or hybrid courses.

I have already been vaccinated. How do I report my vaccine information?
STUDENTS: If you are vaccinated and have not already done so, please report your status by sending a copy of your vaccination card to covid@otterbein.edu.

FACULTY AND STAFF: More information will be forthcoming on how to share proof of vaccination with the Otterbein Office of Human Resources.

I reported my vaccine information before the requirement was announced. Do I have to do it again?
STUDENTS: If you have already sent a copy of your vaccination card to covid@otterbein.edu, we have your information on file and you do not need to resubmit it.

FACULTY AND STAFF: All faculty and staff, including those who responded to the previous status survey, will receive information on how to share proof of vaccination with the Otterbein Office of Human Resources.

Do students or employees who were vaccinated on campus need to submit copies of their vaccination cards?
Yes, if you haven’t already submitted it. We do not have the vaccination records of students or employees who were vaccinated on campus.

Mask Policy Information

Will the mask mandate be lifted once all students, faculty, and staff are vaccinated?
Franklin County Public Health advises indoor masking for all people, regardless of vaccine status. Therefore, we will continue to require all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to wear masks in common spaces indoors, including classrooms, all building hallways and stairwells, the library, and residence halls.

What is the mask policy on campus?
Effective Aug. 4, 2021, all students, faculty, staff, and visitors are required to wear masks indoors in common spaces, including classrooms, the library, hallways, stairwells, and residence halls.* To be effective, a mask must cover your nose AND mouth. Franklin County Public Health has advised that 6 feet of social distancing is not required for individuals who are wearing masks.

*If you cannot wear a mask due to health reasons, students should contact Kristy Drobney, kdrobney@otterbein.edu, or Kera Manley, kmanley@otterbein.edu, in the Academic Support Center. Employees should contact Scott Fitzgerald in Human Resources at 614-823-1130, 614-716-8632 or sfitzgerald@otterbein.edu. If a mask would create a safety hazard for employees, contact Tara Chinn at tchinn@otterbein.edu.

Why do I have to wear a mask?
The CDC released guidance on July 27, 2021, stating that ALL people (including vaccinated people) should return to wearing masks indoors if they live in a county with moderate or high spread. As of July 30, 2021, the CDC is recommending everyone in Franklin County to wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Do students have to wear masks while doing athletic activities?
No. Student-athletes and students using the athletic facilities are not required to wear masks while working out or practicing.

Will a mask be required at the Equine Center, in the barn or while riding?
Students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to wear masks in common spaces at all times, including facilities at the Equine Center. Students will not be required to wear a mask while riding a horse or other athletic activities.

Can face shields be worn as a mask?
Face shields are meant to be used along with a cloth mask. People wearing a face shield will also be required to wear a cloth mask as long as it is safe for them to do so. If individuals who have received an exemption from wearing a cloth mask would like to wear a face shield, they can do so.

Additional COVID-19 Information

Will asymptomatic surveillance testing continue once all students have been vaccinated?
No. Franklin County Public Health has advised that we do not need to continue our asymptomatic testing once all students have been vaccinated. We will continue to provide COVID-19 testing for symptomatic students.

What is the daily self-assessment?
All members of our campus community must perform a daily self-assessment before coming to campus. Don’t come to campus if you have two or more of the following symptoms not associated with a chronic health issue: fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell. Download the self-assessment guide from our Protect the Nest website.

What do campus spaces look like this fall?
Classrooms, elevators, dining spaces, lounges, hallways, and other campus spaces have returned to their normal configurations, capacities, and traffic flows.

Are student organizations and other campus activities taking place?
Yes! All campus activities are returning to typical operation this fall. In-person meetings and events will take place.

Are offices open for in-person visits?
Yes. All offices are open and staffed to serve you in person during normal operating hours.

Are students and employees permitted to travel abroad for classes or work?
Fully vaccinated individuals may be permitted to travel abroad on Otterbein-sponsored trips, including class, work, and alumni trips, depending on conditions in the country to be visited. Students can request a waiver of Otterbein travel regulations to countries with a U.S. State Department Level 4 travel warning if the cause for the warning is due to Covid-19. See the Study Abroad office for more information. Unvaccinated individuals cannot participate in Otterbein-sponsored trips abroad. This decision has been made for the safety of our community due to the risks of unvaccinated individuals contracting COVID-19 while abroad and the changing rules in many countries regarding unvaccinated tourists. Please note, other travel restrictions could be imposed as cases increase in some parts of the U.S.

Who do I contact if I have questions, concerns or symptoms?
The COVID Support Team is available at covid@otterbein.edu for students to ask questions and report information related to COVID-19. Students must contact the COVID Support Team if they have tested positive, have been exposed to someone with COVID, or have COVID symptoms.

How do I report violations of campus protocols related to COVID-19?
You can report violations or concerns to the COVID-19 Support Team at covid@otterbein.edu or the Otterbein Police at (614) 823-1222 (for concerns that need immediate attention). When reporting a concern, include all information necessary to investigate the concern. That may include date, time and location.

How does Otterbein determine its COVID-19 protocols?
Otterbein’s COVID-19 protocols are developed in consultation with Franklin County Public Health and OhioHealth (Otterbein’s campus healthcare provider) and adhere to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Ohio Department of Health.

Do students have to be vaccinated to participate in an internship or clinical program?
Some off-site hosts of internships or clinical programs require their employees, including student employees, to be vaccinated. Check with the host of your off-site experiential learning program about any vaccination requirements.

Residence Life

What is campus housing like this fall?
Residential spaces on campus have returned to pre-COVID set-ups. Rooms are set up for their normal occupancy, and lounges will be open.

Do I have to wear a mask in my residence hall?
As in other buildings on campus, all individuals are required to wear masks within the residence halls unless they are in in their own rooms or using the shower, brushing teeth, washing their face, etc. Students will be expected to ensure their guests are wearing masks, as well.

Academics

If I must isolate or quarantine, how will that affect my class attendance?
All classes will be taught in the modality indicated in the course schedule. Instructors of in-person courses may choose to offer synchronous instruction along with in-person instruction to accommodate students who are unable to attend class due to illness but are not required to do so. COVID-19 will be treated like any other illness in regard to attendance requirements and making up classwork and exams.

Who will teach classes if my professor gets sick?
We have processes to continue classes if, for any reason, a faculty member is unable to continue teaching. We implement that protocol at least once during most semesters. We will use the same process in the event a faculty member becomes ill with COVID-19.

Health & Wellness

Is the Student Health Center available for my non-COVID needs?
Yes. The Student Health Center is available by appointment only for non-COVID needs. Call 614-823-1345 to make your appointment.

How do I care for my physical and mental health?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some people are neglecting their physical and mental health needs. Don’t forget to keep your routine medical appointments and maintain your routine healthcare practices. For your mental health needs, Otterbein counselors are available to provide a supportive, therapeutic relationship and safe space for students to address and work through challenging situations, grow in their relationships, and realize their potential as active members of their communities. The Counseling Center information is below:

Location: 146 W. Home St.
Hours: Monday – Friday (8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
Phone: 614-823-1333
Email: counseling@otterbein.edu

Quarantine v. Isolation: What’s the difference?
You will see the terms quarantine and isolation used in many of our communications. So what’s the difference?

  • You isolate if you test positive for COVID-19.
  • You quarantine if you may have been exposed or might be sick, and you are not fully vaccinated.

In other words, if your friend is in quarantine, they haven’t tested positive for COVID-19. Instead, they are not fully vaccinated and may have been exposed to a person who is positive for COVID-19 (on or off campus) and are waiting to see if they develop symptoms — and staying away from others just in case. Or they may have been tested for COVID-19 and haven’t received their test results yet. A majority of the time, a person in quarantine will not test positive or become sick.

What does “exposure” mean?
The CDC defines exposure as being within 6 feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period — with or without a facial covering. If you pass a friend in the hallway who later tests positive for COVID-19, that is NOT an exposure. If you have a long dinner at the same table as a friend who later tests positive for COVID-19, that would be an exposure. That DOES NOT mean you will get COVID-19, but it does mean you must quarantine for 10 days if you are not fully vaccinated.

I’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Do I need to quarantine?
If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine unless you feel sick. If a person is not fully vaccinated, the Ohio Department of Health recommends they quarantine for 10 days if they have been within 6 feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period — with or without a facial covering. Any student who thinks they have been exposed and begins to exhibit symptoms should contact the COVID Support Team at covid@otterbein.edu.

What do I do if I feel sick?
All students should pay attention to signs of illness. Common symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever of 100 degrees or higher, new cough and shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. If you have two or more of these symptoms not associated with a chronic health issue, follow the steps below:

  • IF YOUR SYMPTOMS ARE SERIOUS AND NEED IMMEDIATE ATTENTION, CALL 9-1-1.
  • Do not attend your classes, leave your room, or come to campus.
  • Contact the COVID Support Team at covid@otterbein.edu if you have symptoms and/or test positive for COVID-19.
  • Include your name, student ID number, and phone number for a call back within 24 hours.
  • You will be prompted to answer questions related to symptoms and current living situation.

A team of Student Affairs staff will contact you with information about next steps for medical assistance, testing, and possible isolation or quarantine.

How will medical care be provided?
After a student contacts the COVID Support Team at covid@otterbein.edu, a team of Student Affairs staff will advise the student on next steps for medical assistance, testing, and possible isolation or quarantine.

Student Affairs staff will contact students with the following information:

  • How to be tested on campus. (Testing will be managed by OhioHealth)
  • A waiver that allows OhioHealth to inform the Dean of Students of Covid test results.
  • The importance of going home, if possible.
  • OhioHealth medical follow-up, if needed.
  • Coordination of medical information for students who are tested off campus.
  • Otterbein assistance regarding classes, if needed.
  • Residence Life and Food Service information for residential students.
  • Discussion of a quarantine/isolation plan if needed.
  • Communication with Franklin County Public Health.
  • Whether a student should receive a free, on-campus COVID-19 test. If a student tests positive, an OhioHealth case manager will provide ongoing medical assistance.

If a student feels symptomatic when the Campus Health Center is closed, what should the student do?
All students must contact the COVID Support Team at covid@otterbein.edu if they have symptoms and/or test positive for COVID-19. They should include their name, student ID number, and phone number for a call back within 24 hours about next steps. Students experiencing severe symptoms (shortness of breath, high fever) should go to an urgent care facility or an emergency room for immediate attention. If a student receives a positive test result from an off-campus testing facility, they must inform the COVID Support Team at covid@otterbein.edu.

What happens when a student tests positive?
A student who tests positive must isolate for a minimum of 10 days. We encourage them to isolate at home. Those isolating on campus may be moved to a designated space, or if they are in a room with a private bathroom, may be asked to isolate in place. Student Affairs will arrange for food delivery and other needs. The student will be assigned an OhioHealth case manager to guide them through the process. Students in isolation can be released after 10 days if they have been fever-free for 24 hours, have improved symptoms, and have been given a release letter from their medical provider or case manager. At that time, they can resume normal participation on campus, including class and residence life.

Any unvaccinated (exempt from vaccine requirement) roommates of a student who tests positive must quarantine for 14 days and will be referred to testing if they develop symptoms during their quarantine period. A primary care physician must release/provide permission for student to leave isolation/quarantine. Additionally, contact tracing and cleaning protocols for spaces where the student has been while contagious will be implemented.

Where does a student isolate or quarantine?
If a student tests positive or needs to isolate or quarantine, we encourage them to do so at their permanent residence. If that is not possible or ideal, spaces have been set aside for students to isolate or quarantine.

If a resident in a Commons apartment tests positive, will all of the residents of the apartment be able to quarantine in their apartment?
This will depend on the number of residents and whether there are unvaccinated (exempt from vaccine requirement) residents in the apartment. Each person in isolation due to a positive test needs to have their own bathroom. Students who cannot go home to isolate/quarantine will be offered other housing to do so.

How should Commons residents get food if they are quarantined and do not have a meal plan?
A quarantined resident of the Commons apartments can have a friend or family member shop for them and leave the shopping bags outside the apartment, or order food from an establishment using contactless delivery. If a student has nobody to shop for them, they can contact the COVID Support Team at covid@otterbein.edu and arrangements will be made to assist them.

Will Otterbein communicate with parents to let them know that someone in their student’s residence hall/suite has COVID?
To protect private student information, we do not inform parents.