Fall 2021 Protect the Nest Frequently Asked Questions (Version 1, Archived August 26, 2021)

General Information for Fall 2021 Return to Campus

Are students required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to return to campus?
We strongly encourage students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but we currently do not require it. However, we do expect all members of our campus community to be responsible and not come to campus, classes, or activities if they are feeling unwell, whether they are unvaccinated or vaccinated.

Are employees required to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
We strongly encourage employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but we do not require it. Employee positive rates were very low during the 2020-21 academic year and did not result in any documented transmissions on campus. However, we do expect all members of our campus community to be responsible and not come to campus, classes, or activities if they are feeling unwell, whether they are unvaccinated or vaccinated.

Will students have to be tested to return to campus in the fall?
Otterbein will require all unvaccinated students to be tested for COVID-19 when they return to campus this fall. This aligns with our spring semester testing protocol, which helped us achieve very low numbers of positive cases on campus. Students can get their Covid-19 test on campus or off campus. Should students get tested prior to arrival, a negative test result should be dated within three days of your move-in date or the first date of class for non-residential students. The test result should be sent to covid@otterbein.edu. Students who are fully vaccinated can opt out of return-to-campus testing and random asymptomatic testing by sending a photo or scan of their vaccination card to covid@otterbein.edu.

What testing will Otterbein conduct this fall?
In addition to return-to-campus testing, we will continue to conduct asymptomatic testing of unvaccinated undergraduate, graduate, residential, and commuter students during fall semester. Students who are fully vaccinated can opt out of return-to-campus testing and random asymptomatic testing by sending a photo or scan of their vaccination card to covid@otterbein.edu.

What are the exemption criteria for testing?
Students will NOT need a COVID test if:

  • They tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days and have emailed proof of the positive test result to covid@otterbein.edu.
  • They have completed your full COVID-19 vaccine and have emailed proof of the vaccine to covid@otterbein.edu.
  • They will not be on campus for any reason during the 2021 fall semester. This means they will not have any in-person classes, work, or involvement in on-campus activities.

What if I have received an antibody test that says I’ve had COVID?
We do not accept antibody test results, because while they can determine if you were infected in the past, they cannot accurately determine when you were infected.

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.

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, 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.

Additionally, we recommend that unvaccinated people wear masks outdoors when they cannot maintain 6 feet of social distancing, like at crowded outdoor events.

*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.

What will 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.

Will student organizations and other campus activities be permitted to take place?
Yes! All campus activities are planning to return to typical operation this fall. In-person meetings and events will take place.

Will offices be open for in-person visits?
Yes. All offices will be available and staffed to serve you in person during normal operating hours.

Will students and employees be permitted to travel abroad for classes or work?
Fully vaccinated individuals will be permitted to travel abroad fall semester on Otterbein-sponsored trips, including class, work, and alumni trips. 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.

If we are testing students, why are we not testing our employees for COVID-19?
Since the onset of the pandemic, Otterbein has been working closely with and following directives from FCPH.  FCPH determined that our employees did not share the same COVID-19 risk factors that our students have such as congregate living.  FCPH did not recommend employee testing.  Our low number of employee positive cases and the fact that we did not have one case of on campus employee transmission supports this position.   As we enter the new academic year, our employees are in an even stronger position because of our high vaccination rate.  As of 8/10/21, 83% of our employees are vaccinated.  This rate will increase as we have our 50 employees that must still complete the survey.  Vaccinations are the strongest defense we have against COVID-19.  FCPH recently provided the following statistics of how effective the vaccinations are against COVID-19:

  • Less than 1% of vaccinated people have tested positive for COVD-19.
  • Less than .004% of vaccinated people have been hospitalized for COVID-19.
  • Less than .001% of vaccinated people have died due to COVD-19.
  • 99.999% fully vaccinated people have not had a deadly COVID-19 breakthrough case.

We will continue following FCPH’s recommendation that we do not test our employees.

Why are we only testing unvaccinated students?
Hospitals are reporting that of their recently hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 99% are unvaccinated.  The CDC has stated that our current COVID-19 situation, “is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”   FCPH and CDC recommend focus on the unvaccinated.   We are putting our testing resources to where the most likely positive tests will be.  Like many schools and businesses, we are also providing the extra line of defense of, currently, requiring masks for all students and employees.  We have reviewed our approach with FCPH and FCPH has approved.

Residence Life

What is the move-in process this year?
There will NOT be a phased move-in this year, but we will require students to reserve their check-in times. Unvaccinated students will be tested for COVID-19 at check-in, before moving into their residence halls.

What will campus housing be like this fall?
Residential spaces on campus are returning to pre-COVID set-ups. Rooms will be 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 students are required to wear masks within the residence halls unless a student in in their own room 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 faculty get sick?
We have processes to continue classes if, for any reason, a faculty member is unable to continue teaching it. We implement it 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 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. If you are not fully vaccinated and you think you have been exposed or if you begin to exhibit symptoms, you should contact the COVID Support Team at covid@otterbein.edu.

What do I do if I feel sick?
Both unvaccinated and vaccinated 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.

If it is determined 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, both unvaccinated and vaccinated, 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.

The unvaccinated 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 and vaccine status of 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.