Faculty and Teaching Specific FAQs Related to Coronavirus Measures

The FAQ covering general questions and information specific to students and parents is here. The FAQ covering questions for staff (with a number of relevant FAQs for faculty as well) is here.

Update: March 19, 2020

How are we approaching people who work for Olin at Aramark/Facilities?

We have committed to pay the Rebecca’s staff their full salaries for now. Rebecca’s staff that continue to work on campus to provide food service will take precautions with social distancing. Our facilities staff are also taking precautions. Their team meetings are now held in larger spaces that allow social distancing and their work flow is such that they do not often have to work side by side. The campus does need regular maintenance and we need a small group of people to continue to do that work. But we are doing our utmost to make sure they are taking precautions and remaining healthy.  All of the Aramark staff have reported that they do not use public transportation to travel to and from Olin and we are working with the Rebecca’s staff to a similar end.

Is there anything we as a community can be doing to help people who may need it?

We are looking into that and will advise as soon as we know.

I need to be on campus for deliveries. What should I do?

Normal mail and package service is continuing. If there are things you need to send out please email the mailroom a day in advance. For other kinds of deliveries you can reach out to facilities and they will help you.

Do we know how much money from the Student Emergency Fund has been used?

The Student Emergency Fund is for student emergencies such as plane rides home, Uber rides, gas money and other things students need. There continues to be adequate money in this fund. As well, at the last student  government meeting, the students voted to use a lot of their leftover funds for student emergencies.

Can we continue to use course assistants?

Faculty can continue to use them. They will continue to get paid. The process may not be exactly the same but we will figure that out in the coming days. To the extent you can use them please do.

Are there any online events planned for emotional support?

Yes, we plan to offer online activities in the coming days and weeks. If you can help with that please reach out to Jeremy Goodman. We are a community and will continue to be so. We will need to find a way for people who are seeking connection. For the short term use the connections and channels you have and we will have more for you soon.

Will summer research happen?

Any research that can be done remotely we are on board to do. It is premature, however, to think about how we might plan for on-campus summer research. We are imagining it might not be happening but we have not made that decision.

What might a return to campus look like?

We have not even begun to tackle that yet.

Update: March 18, 2020

A few updates on resources for online teaching:

  1. We ran a one hour Q&A on online learning with Dr. Joan Gilpin of Northeastern University on Wednesday. You’ve all been invited to a Canvas course site she set up especially for us with some advice, resources, guidance, and links. Check your email for that link and let me or Kristin know if you didn’t receive it. Other resources:
    1. Recorded Q&A Zoom session with Dr. Gilpin
    2. Notes (compiled by Jessica and Caitrin) on the session
  1. We also have a growing google doc of resources that various folks are adding to, and a list of faculty FAQS. I’m working to get these organized and am adding information every day as we get more clarification or information. You can email directly with new questions or comment on the FAQ with new or clarifying questions.
    1. Olin-compiled list of online teaching guides and resources
    2. Faculty FAQs
    3. Reminder – we also have employee FAQS and students/parent/general FAQs
  2. Thanks so much to Jeff Dusek (Canvas) and Callan Bignoli (Zoom) for their crash courses yesterday and Friday.
    1. Jeff’s Canvas crash course Zoom recording (and a previous tutorial he put together).
    2. Callan’s Zoom crash course Zoom recording

Update: March 17, 2020

Campus Security

  • Effective at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, March 18, all external building doors will be locked 24/7.  Faculty and staff will need to use their ID cards to swipe in. 
  • Public Safety will also be stepping up their patrols of the campus.  Please carry your ID card at all times if you are present, as an officer may ask to see it if they don’t know you by sight.  
  • Please also bring the key to your space, as you may find that internal doors have been locked, too.

We are taking these actions to ensure the safety of the few employees whose duties require them to be on campus and the security of all of our equipment. 

Information Technology

  • The physical Help Desk in Milas Hall is closed and IT staff are working remotely.
  • For the quickest support, please contact us via email at helpdesk@olin.edu, and include detailed information and a call-back number. We will respond as promptly as possible during regular hours.
  • If you have technology questions, please check the IT Documentation Wiki, and in particular our focused Working Remotely section where we are collecting information about VPN, Zoom, voicemail, Office 365, and other topics.
  • Want to experiment with Microsoft Teams collaboration? We have created a public Olin College space in Teams, where you can create your own channels for collaboration


  • The Facilities staff will continue to work on campus, keeping it ready for us all to return.
  • Beginning on Thursday, we will be changing the settings on heating and cooling systems to save energy on most of the campus.  If it is critical that you be on campus, please bring layers so that you can adjust to warmer or cooler temperatures than you may be used to.
  • The team will continue to respond to requests submitted through workorders.olin.edu.

Human Resources

  • For assistance with HR questions, email hr@olin.edu.
  • For changes to benefits or payroll information, complete the proper forms from the HR section of the portal and email either a scan or a clear photograph (do not include your social security number or date of birth).
  • Please continue to submit your Summer 2020 Student Employment and research stipend requests by Wednesday, April 1.
  • Boot Camp and Yoga are cancelled until further notice; Boot Camp payments will carry forward.

Are we still running co-curriculars?

  • If it works you can continue your co-curricular remotely. We’re asking all faculty to reach out to Vivien (registrar@olin.edu) to let her know whether you plan to (a) continue meeting with students remotely, (b) consider the meetings already held to be sufficient for the CC grade and submit grades now; or (c) cancel the CC for the semester and we’ll take it off the students’ records. Vivien is happy to assist with entering grades if that helps. Please let her know who on your co-curricular list should not receive credit if you opt for (a) or (b).

What happens to international student visas in the case of remote instruction during the semester? 

  • The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has made an accommodation for international students on F-1 visas to continue their studies remotely for the remainder of the semester. Our International Programs Coordinator is in close contact with all international students and those students have been asked to keep the Coordinator updated on their location.

Posted March 16, 2020

Will our course assistants and tutors still be able to offer office hours and support virtually? What about other forms of student employment for the spring semester?

  • Yes, if your course assistants can provide virtual support they should do so, and we will continue to pay them. The current structure for submitting and approving hours currently remains in place. We have encouraged all students who have some form of campus employment to check with their supervisors to see how and whether their employment could continue virtually.

What are we doing to support faculty in the transition to a virtual learning environment?

  • We are compiling a list of resources from other institutions, social media, and other organizations here. Feel free to share resources you have on this document as well.

Do we have enough Zoom licenses for every class to have one? How can I get some quick training on Zoom?

  • Olin College now has a campus site license, giving every community member access to Zoom Pro. Documentation on Zoom from IT is here. Zoom Pro features include whiteboards, polls, file sharing, file transfers, recording, and more. Here are Zoom guides on Getting Starting with Breakout Rooms, and Managing Video Breakout Rooms. To login to Olin Zoom: (https://olin.zoom.us/), use your username@olin.edu Olin username and Olin password. Other Zoom instructional videos and documentation can be found at https://support.zoom.us/.

  • Callan provided a Zoom training on Friday 3-13-2020 which we captured here.

  • Also note that Zoom has private and group chat functionality similar to Slack, including native apps for iOS and Android, so you can use it for asynchronous communication (e.g., with teaching teams) as well as synchronous meetings.

What is the most recent official information we’ve shared with students? What do they know?

  • Students and parents took part in a webinar that included Joanne Pratt’s presentation on coronavirus and Q&A with Rae-Anne Butera, Jeremy Goodman, and Mark Somerville  during the webinars that happened on Thursday, March 12. The March 12 2:00 pm webinar (mostly parents) can be found here. The March 4 5:30 pm webinar (mostly students) can be found here. Joanne’s presentation is here. The college also continues to provide frequent email updates.

Will the basic operations of the college continue at some level so we can support the students who will be here?

  • Yes, we will make sure that students remaining on campus are fed and supported.

Will admin support be available as needed for classes?

  • Yes, admin support is still available. For unusual or large requests, please keep Holly Bennett and Susan Mihailidis in the loop as well so they can triage the admin’s time.

Can materials and supplies be sent directly to students?

  • Yes, students can directly order materials and supplies as needed and approved by faculty to support classes. If you are planning to use admin support to have materials sent to students in your class, please let Holly or Susan know so they can triage large requests that might be coming. It is fine to have your students purchase materials and submit receipts through the normal student reimbursement process as well.

What about licensing for software that students will need that don’t run well or are challenging with VPN?

  • We will work with Student Affairs to make sure we get the appropriate information in a survey to students about their access to systems they need to effectively engage in the online curriculum.

Do we have enough Solidworks licenses to support students?

  • Olin has 100 SolidWorks licenses that can be checked out for use without VPN. After that, there is more capacity available if people VPN in. Remind folks to check the license back in when they are done and consider using VPN for smaller files. More info here: http://wikis.olin.edu/it/doku.php?id=solidworks.

Do we know if summer research is going to happen? What do I do about my summer research students?

  • Right now, we don’t know when the college will re-open to students. Our hope is that face-to-face summer research will be possible. If not, and your summer research student could work on their project virtually, we will strongly support that option. We’ll share more as the situation becomes more clear.

Can faculty travel on college business? Does the college have a position on my personal travel?

  • No, the current policy is that all college international and domestic travel (via any mode) is suspended. The college is discouraging international personal travel, and urging caution for domestic personal travel.

  • If you have already purchased airline tickets for travel before May 15, please coordinate with your admin assistant who can help with cancellations.

Is course registration happening for fall?

  • Yes, course registration will happen. The systems students use are already online, and faculty can meet with their advisees virtually to prepare for fall registration as appropriate. We’ll share more information later this month.

Are we still having Academic Life meetings?

  • We will still be having Academic Life meetings virtually. The form and agenda of those meetings is still to be determined, but it feels important for us to maintain contact and a sense of community.

Will the shop be open for students remaining on campus to use? Will the shop be accepting any jobs from students who are remote?

  • Currently the shop is closed. 

  • As soon as is feasible, the Lab and Shop spaces will open. If your classes are dependent on either Shop or Lab facilities, please connect with the staff responsible in those areas. Now would be a good time to coordinate lab experiments and other needs for your classes as you shift your classes online. For example, if your course requires certain lab setups that you would like to show virtually, there might be ways to support that through Zoom and/or others. We hope to support your classes and research as we work together to make the best of an unfortunate situation.  Our goal is to support classes like SCOPE and ADE first, but we will be operating on a limited capacity and may not be able to accommodate every request. As this situation is evolving, we will assess day-by-day and follow overall guidance from the college and the CDC including hand washing and social distancing. Note that the Shop and Lab spaces are high touch areas and this might not be the best place to be if you are considered high risk. The Lab and Shop spaces will be closed to students starting this weekend. If you have any questions or concerns, please let Daniela know.