July 28, 2020

UPDATED HEALTH & SAFETY FAQs

Testing, Contact Tracing and PPE

Q: Will a negative Covid-19 test be required for students prior to coming to campus? 
A: No. Because testing is not uniformly available, we are not assuming that all students will have access to testing, nor are we requiring testing prior to arrival. However, if students are tested within 72 hours prior to arrival and you have your results, please bring confirmation of a negative test result with you. 

Q:  Will testing be required for students on campus? How about faculty and staff? 
A: Olin will be requiring regular testing of all who are on campus – including all faculty and staff as well as our facilities and dining services staff. 

Q: Can you provide more information about this testing? 
A: Olin, along with several dozen other colleges and universities in the area, has contracted with the Broad Institute through its Safe for School testing program.  Details on the Broad’s program are provided at that link.  This program, and our participation in it, follow the recommendations of the Massachusetts Higher Education Testing Group chaired by our neighbor, President Paula Johnson, MD, of Wellesley College.

Q:  Who is paying for this testing? 
A: Olin will be paying for campus-based testing of all our community members. 

Q: Where will testing be conducted? 
A: We are working out the details of where testing will be conducted.

Q: How often will we be tested?  Will students be tested as soon as they arrive on campus? Will there be recurrent periodic testing of the entire Olin population?  
A:  Students living on campus will be tested twice per week, starting when they arrive on campus.  Faculty and staff who work on campus will be tested on a regular schedule depending on how frequently they are present, up to twice per week. 

Q: What form will this frequent testing take? 
A: The testing that Olin will use collects samples via a shallow nasal (anterior nares) swab, which is much less invasive than early tests. These samples are then tested using real-time PCR. Details of the test procedure may be found in the “How does COVID-19 testing work?” section of the Broad’s Safe for School page. The “surveillance” testing that Olin will conduct will allow us to identify individuals who are currently infected with the COVID-19-causing SARS-CoV-2 virus, whether symptomatic or not.  We will not conduct antibody testing to determine who may have had (and recovered from) COVID-19.

Q: Is there a big difference in the efficacy of the less- and more- "unpleasant" covid tests? 
A: According to the Broad Institute, their test is very slightly less accurate – 90% accuracy – of the “brain tickling” approach.  This is one reason why we will conduct frequent testing. 

Q: How long does it take for test results to become available? 
A: We expect test results to be available within 24 hours of testing. 

Q: What has Olin decided about contact tracing?
 
A: The state of Massachusetts has been clear that contact tracing is the responsibility of the local Public Health department.  The Needham Board of Health will take the lead for Olin, and we will assist them in their work.

Q. If a student tests positive, will other members of that student’s residential “household” be quarantined? 
A: The household group of a confirmed COVID-19 positive student will be quarantined for two weeks. 

Q:  What Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will those on campus need? 
A:  For most members of our community, the primary PPE required will be a cloth or disposable mask.  Some members of our community – especially those whose activities require higher contact with sensitive materials and areas – will require additional PPE.

Q: Will Olin be supplying PPE? 
A: Many members of our community, especially those in the local area, have already acquired multiple cloth masks with which they are comfortable.  In those cases, we encourage individuals to continue using their own PPE. For those who may not have, or have access to, adequate PPE, we will be collecting information to identify the best way for Olin to provide what you need to be safe on campus. 

Olin will continue to provide PPE for those – like the staff members who work in our dining hall – whose job responsibilities require additional PPE. 

Q:  Why are you recommending cloth masks and not something more robust, like N95 masks?  Cloth masks are not as effective as N95 masks, and they must be washed daily. 
A: Guidance from multiple agencies, including the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, indicates that cloth masks are adequate for most people.  They are made even more effective in combination with other measures we will be taking, such as maintaining physical distance, enhanced cleaning protocols, and testing. In contrast to professional-grade PPE such as N95 masks, cloth masks are also reasonably comfortable for most wearers, which increases the likelihood of compliance. Cloth masks are also highly reusable, provided that they are washed before the next day of use. [See, for example, the discussion at the University of California San Francisco “Still Confused About Masks? Here’s the Science Behind How Face Masks Prevent Coronavirus.”]

Quarantining

Q: Will students need to quarantine upon arrival/after move-in? 
A:  Based both on the recently revised requirements in Massachusetts and on our expectations about what is likely in September, students may be required to quarantine after arrival. Anyone who travels to Massachusetts, including students, is subject to a 14 day quarantine upon arrival. The quarantine may be waived for students who can present a negative COVID-19 test result, as long as the test sample was taken within 72 hours prior to traveling to Massachusetts and is a PCR-based test (not an antibody test). The student may also be released from quarantine upon receiving a negative test result once on campus.

Q: How will you handle students who are experiencing symptoms or have tested positive for COVID? 
A: We will have a set of isolation spaces on campus that have private bathrooms. We will move students into these rooms if they have symptoms or a positive test. We will provide meal deliveries, medical deliveries, tele-health, and get them additional help should they require it. We will ask all students to pack an isolation bag in case they do need to be quarantined. 

Q: How are students from across the country supposed to get there safely? 
A: We will not require students to live on campus. This is a big change for Olin and we made this decision because we know each student needs to do what’s right for them and for their families. Students and their families should seek information about safe travel (such as this information from the CDC). Frequent testing will let us know if we have people on campus who are at risk of spreading the virus if they were to leave. 

Q: Who will cover the costs of additional treatment? 
A: General community testing will be covered by Olin. Health insurance would support any students who need to be hospitalized (either through the Olin student plan or through the personal/parental plan that is required if Olin’s plan has been waived).

Other Health & Safety Questions

Q: Babson Health Services and Babson Public Safety also take care of the Olin community. Since Babson will close on November 18 for the last several weeks of fall semester, how will the Olin community receive these services? 
A: We have been in close contact with Babson Health Services. They will support us in the ways they have always supported us, though delivery of services will look different. They will transition to an appointment-only model after November 18th and will be using more telehealth methods (in some cases, initial intakes via telehealth followed by in-person visits). They will be our first line medical partners should we have a student who becomes ill and will help us to support a student that might need to be isolated. They will also facilitate prescription deliveries. Access to local hospitals remains the same. 

Babson Public Safety remains available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Q: Will the school install ultraviolet filtering systems into the HVAC?
 Have you thought about using MERV filters in your HVAC? 
A: We are looking at everything, including ultraviolet filtering, and anything else we can do. Because our facilities are not that old, we have more sophisticated HVAC systems than many other schools. We are looking at how to bring in additional outside air. We’ll be changing our cleaning routines. We have a project currently going on to replace every filter in our HVAC system with a higher-grade filter recommended by the CDC.

Q: Will packages be allowed?  What about contactless delivery (such as food)? 
A:  Packages that normally come to the mailroom, such as Amazon deliveries or packages from home, will continue to come to the mailroom for pickup by students. If students want to order delivery from an off campus vendor, contact delivery to the front of the residence hall should be used. Masks must be worn while retrieving the delivery. 

Q: Can parents visit?

A: No. Visitors will not be allowed on campus until further notice, including parents/family and students living off campus.

Q: How are you keeping faculty/staff/people who need to be on campus safe? 
A: Faculty and staff who do not need to be on campus are being asked to continue to work from home. Others will limit their time on campus to only times when they need to be on campus, with minimal interpersonal contact. 

Q: Can students live OFF campus and commute? 
A: No. If students choose to live off campus they cannot come to campus. They will conduct their course work remotely. 

Q: How will Olin help students maintain quality of life beyond online learning, especially if cooking and making are off limits and structured activity lessened? There will be a need for generating much more engaging activities or purposeful activity that is more hands-on. Maybe morning Tai-chi? Mindfulness meditation? 
A: Yes, all of this! We will work on extracurriculars in partnership with students. 

Q: Can students leave campus? 
A: Students are strongly encouraged to remain on campus and leave only for necessary business, and to do so sparingly. For example, you may need to leave campus to shop for groceries and supplies, attend medical appointments that cannot be conducted remotely, or to participate in outdoor exercise (walking/running off campus). If you must leave campus, you are expected to follow physical distancing guidelines and wear a face covering. Whenever possible, it is best to conduct business remotely and have items delivered.

Q: Do students need to set up an independent healthcare provider for ourselves? 
A: No. Babson Health Services can meet student medical needs and assist in referring students to other providers when necessary. You are welcome to seek your own provider, but it is not necessary. 

July 15, 2020

HEALTH & SAFETY FAQs

Testing, Contact Tracing and PPE

Q: Will a negative Covid-19 test be required for students prior to coming to campus?
A: No. Because testing is not uniformly available, we are not assuming that all students will have access to testing, nor are we requiring testing prior to arrival.

Q: Will testing be required for students on campus? How about faculty and staff?
A: Olin will be requiring regular testing of all who are on campus – including all faculty and staff as well as our facilities and dining services staff.

Q: Can you provide more information about this testing?
A:Olin, along with several dozen other colleges and universities in the area, has contracted with the Broad Institute through its Safe for School testing program.  Details on the Broad’s program are provided at that link.  This program, and our participation in it, follow the recommendations of the Massachusetts Higher Education Testing Group chaired by our neighbor, President Paula Johnson, MD, of Wellesley College.

Q:  Who is paying for this testing?
A: Olin will be paying for campus-based testing of all our community members. 

Q: Where will testing be conducted?
A: We expect to conduct testing on the Olin campus.

Q: How often will we be tested?  Will students be tested as soon as they arrive on campus? Will there be recurrent periodic testing of the entire Olin population? 
A: While we are working out the precise details of when and how frequently testing will be conducted, students should expect regular testing starting in early September and continuing throughout the fall. Other members of the community should expect testing frequency correlated with their scheduled presence on campus.

Q: What form will this frequent testing take?
A: The testing that Olin will use collects samples via a shallow nasal (anterior nares) swab, which is much less invasive than early tests. These samples are then tested using real-time PCR. Details of the test procedure may be found in the “How does COVID-19 testing work?” section of the Broad’s Safe for School page. The “surveillance” testing that Olin will conduct will allow us to identify individuals who are currently infected with the COVID-19-causing SARS-CoV-2 virus, whether symptomatic or not.  We will not conduct antibody testing to determine who may have had (and recovered from) COVID-19.

Q: Is there a big difference in the efficacy of the less- and more- "unpleasant" covid tests?
A: According the to Broad Institute, their test is very slightly less accurate – 90% accuracy – of the “brain tickling” approach.  This is why we will conduct frequent testing.

Q: How long does it take for test results to become available?
A: We expect test results to be available within 24 hours of testing.

Q: What has Olin decided about contact tracing?

A: The state of MA has been clear that contact tracing is the responsibility of the local Public Health department.  The Needham Public Health department will take the lead for Olin, and we will assist them in their work.

Q. If a student tests positive, will other members of that student’s residential “household” be quarantined?
A: The household group of a confirmed COVID-19 positive student will be quarantined for two weeks.

Q:  What Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will those on campus need?
A:  For most members of our community, the primary PPE required will be a cloth mask.  Some members of our community – especially those whose activities require higher contact with sensitive materials and areas – will require additional PPE.

Q: Will Olin be supplying PPE?
A: Many members of our community, especially those in the local area, have already acquired multiple cloth masks with which they are comfortable.  In those cases, we encourage individuals to continue using their own PPE. For those who may not have, or have access to, adequate PPE, we will be collecting information to identify the best way for Olin to provide what you need to be safe on campus. 

Olin will continue to provide PPE for those – like the staff members who work in our dining hall – whose job responsibilities requires additional PPE.

Q:  Why are you recommending cloth masks and not something more robust, like N95 masks?  Cloth masks are not as effective as N95 masks, and they must be washed daily.
A: In general, all the guidance we’ve seen indicates that cloth masks are adequate for the vast majority of people.  They are made even more effective in combination with other measures we will be taking, such as maintaining physical distance, enhanced cleaning protocols, and testing.  In contrast to professional-grade PPE such as N95 masks, cloth masks are also reasonably comfortable for most wearers, which increases the likelihood of compliance.  Cloth masks are also highly reusable, provided that they are washed before the next day of use. [See, for example, the discussion at the University of California San Francisco “Still Confused About Masks? Here’s the Science Behind How Face Masks Prevent Coronavirus.”]

Quarantining

Q: Will students need to quarantine upon arrival/after move-in?
A: Based both on current requirements in Massachusetts and on our expectations about what is likely in September, we anticipate that all students may be required to quarantine after arrival.  Students should plan for 14 days, beginning the night of their arrival.  It is possible that sufficient negative testing would allow us to shorten some quarantine periods.

Q: How will you handle students who are experiencing symptoms or have tested positive for COVID?
A: We will have a set of isolation spaces on campus that have private bathrooms. We will move students into these rooms if they have symptoms or a positive test. We will provide meal deliveries, medical deliveries, tele-health, and get them additional help should they require it. We will ask all students to pack an isolation bag in case they do need to be quarantined.

Q: How are students from across the country supposed to get there safely?
A: We will not require students to live on campus. This is a big change for Olin and we made this decision because we know each student needs to do what’s right for them and for their families. We can share information on safe travel, etc. (for example, wearing a mask, this was not something that was happening in March). Traveling should less risky than it was last spring because of all of the precautions that are in place. Also, frequent testing will let us know if we have people on campus who are at risk of spreading the virus if they were to leave.

Q: Who will cover the costs of additional treatment?
A: General community testing will be covered by Olin. Health insurance would support any students who need to be hospitalized (either through the Olin student plan or through the personal/parental plan that is required if Olin’s plan has been waived).

Other Health & Safety Questions

Q: Babson Health Services and Babson Security also take care of the Olin community. Since Babson will close on November 18 for the last several weeks of fall semester, how will the Olin community receive these services?
A: We have been in close contact with Babson Health services. They will support us in the ways they have always supported us, however delivery will look different. They will go to an appointment only model and they will be using more telehealth methods (initial intakes via telehealth but then in-person visits can be done) and they are well set up for handling patients. They will be our first line medical partners should we have a student that becomes ill and will help us to support a student that might need to be isolated, etc. They will also do prescription deliveries. Access to local hospitals is still the same.

Q: Will the school install ultraviolet filtering systems into the HVAC?
 Have you thought about using MERV filters in your HVAC?
A: We are looking at everything, including ultraviolet filtering, and anything else we can do. Because our facilities are not that old, we have more sophisticated HVAC systems than many other schools. We are looking at how to bring in additional outside air. We’ll be changing our cleaning routines. We have a project currently going on to replace every filter in our HVAC system with a higher-grade filter recommended by the CDC.

Q: Will packages be allowed?  What about contactless delivery (such as food)?
A:  Packages that normally come to the mailroom, such as Amazon deliveries or packages from home, will continue to come to the mailroom for pickup by students. We are exploring processes for contactless delivery. We anticipate that this will be allowed, within guidelines, and will have additional information to share July 21. 

Q: Can parents visit?

A: Not right now. This includes parents and students who chose to live off campus.

Q: How are you keeping faculty/staff/people who need to be on campus safe?
A: Faculty and staff who do not need to be on campus are being asked to continue to work from home. Others will limit their time on campus to only times when they need to be on campus, with minimal interpersonal contact.

Q: Can students live OFF campus and commute?
A: No. If students choose to live off campus they cannot come to campus. They will take their course work remotely.

Q: How will Olin help students maintain quality of life beyond online learning? Especially if cooking and making are off limits and structured activity lessened? There will be a need for generating much more engaging activities or purposeful activity that is more hands-on. Maybe morning Tai-chi? Mindfulness meditation?
A: Yes, all of this! We will work on extracurriculars in partnership with students.

Q: Can students leave campus?
A: We are currently re-examining this question in the face of much conflicting information. We will provide clarification in the July 21 information packet.

Q: Do students need to set up an independent healthcare provider for ourselves?
A: No students do not need to set up an independent heathcare provider Babson Health services can meet your needs. However if you are seeking choices then you are welcome to seek out an independent heathcare provider.