“Go the Distance” Campaign Encourages Students to Follow COVID Safety Measures


Courtesy of Debra Herzog

“Go the Distance” is a new campaign launched by the Office of the Dean of Students to encourage students to continue social distancing through the coming months.

New ObieSafe posters and signage will appear around campus in the coming days as part of the College’s “Go the Distance” campaign. Administrators created the campaign to remind students of the need to continue social distancing, even though recent developments may have many feeling like the pandemic’s dangers are starting to wane. 

“We have lived with pandemic restrictions for one year and everyone is tired, desperately wanting to return to a more normal life,” wrote COVID-19 Campus Health Coordinator Katie Gravens in an email to the Review. “The end is in sight but we all need to do our part to reach the goal line. …  If we can continue to follow those guidelines, it will help keep spread to a minimum and would help as we consider adjustments to our COVID-related policies in the future.”

On Tuesday, the College was approved to be a vaccine distribution center by the state, and Governor Mike DeWine announced that all Ohioans 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the month. Additionally, Oberlin is currently on its fourth consecutive week of zero cases. Still, distancing and observing safety regulations remain important.

Executive Assistant to the Vice President & Dean of Students Debra Herzog hopes the posters will remind students that, even if the pandemic seems to be in its final stretch, students need to continue social distancing and wearing masks. According to Herzog, the College also plans to make buttons for students to wear, which will be passed out at events such as TGIF. 

While some students might feel that four weeks of zero cases on campus means they can let their guard down, many College administrators hope that students will not take this as an excuse to act recklessly.

“The numbers are great but the situation is still fragile — just this week, Duke [University] quarantined its entire undergraduate population after an outbreak,” wrote Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo in an email to the Review. “I see ‘Go the Distance’ as a way of celebrating how far Obies have come in preventing COVID transmission on campus, and a promise to each other as a community that we will continue to hold fast until we are all safer.”

According to Raimondo, the main source of Community Agreement violations is students not scheduling or taking their monthly test. Herzog said that another big concern is the way students utilize spaces in Wilder Hall. 

“We see a lot of students here in Wilder who are struggling with maintaining the distance of six feet and/or wearing masks,” Herzog said. “We love to see students come together in this building to socialize. We just want everybody to understand we’re not done yet. We need to see this through.”

Still, some students say that they are forced into close contact in Wilder Hall when studying or eating because the College has closed or limited access to many other spaces on campus. Mary Church Terrell Main Library is open for students to study by appointment only, and the Clarence Ward Art Library and Conservatory Library have similar restrictions.

“At this time, the current ObieSafe policies still stand and no additional spaces are open,” Raimondo wrote. “People are encouraged to eat in their private spaces for the greatest level of community protection.”

On Tuesday, President Carmen Twillie Ambar sent a video message to students in the ObieSafe weekly update reminding them to continue following COVID-19 safety policies during the upcoming four-day weekend.

“You all have just done an incredible job of keeping our campus safe,” President Ambar said in her video. “So here’s the deal: We only have a few more months of this, it seems. And I just want to make sure that we are prepared to go the distance. So getting ready to take a couple of days’ break — and I want you to unplug, unwind, relax, rejuvenate — but I don’t want you to lose sight of the things we still have to do. We need to stay six feet apart and wear our mask. Remember our travel policy is still in effect, so no going well off campus and that sort of thing, unless you’ve gotten permission beforehand. We can do this. We can do this. You’ve proven it.”

Students who are traveling outside of the Greater Cleveland area are required to submit the Temporary Travel Approval Form and may be required to quarantine upon returning.