Fall 2020

Why is the College only allowing online instruction for fall 2020?

Providing remote instruction is the best way to keep the Pomona community safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus continues to spread rapidly in the U.S. and in Southern California, as a hoped-for summer slowdown in transmissions has not materialized. Instead, the number of cases continues to rise, nationally, statewide and here in Los Angeles County.

Last week, the governor shut down beaches and other areas where people can congregate and neither the state nor LA County has yet to issue guidance governing how institutions of higher education should plan to operate nor have they approved higher education institutions to move to phase 3 of general reopening plans. What we do know is that any reopening will be accompanied by strict rules to limit density on campus and adherence to strict public health protocols.

For these reasons and our concern that any on-campus experience for students would be necessarily restrictive led us to pursue an entirely remote mode of instruction for the fall semester.

Will students be allowed on campus for the spring 2021?

Our hope is that the public health situation in California and across the U.S., and the globe will permit us to invite students, faculty and staff back to campus in the spring. We will closely monitor the health situation and update the community in the fall.

Last spring, the College housed a small number of students who were unable to leave campus for various reasons. Will the College permit some students to live on campus in the fall?

For public health reasons, the College does not intend to house students on campus for the fall semester. 

We recognize that moving to a remote mode of instruction creates additional hardships for some students. With this in mind, we plan to:

  • Increase the amount of financial aid available to students to cover their off-campus cost of attendance including for housing and food.  Students with specific needs or questions should work individually with their financial aid counselor
  • Convert a portion of the fall student employment contribution into grants for students with the greatest financial need;
  • Various campus offices will hire student workers to work remotely. Beginning Aug. 10, students may apply for jobs via Handshake software hosted by the Career Development Office (CDO). New students will be able to access training information for Handshake in early August so that they will be knowledgeable about the software prior to the recruiting period.

What are the starting and ending dates for fall 2020?

The first day of instruction will be Aug. 24, one week ahead of the traditional start date.

Under the new schedule, undergraduates will complete all coursework by Nov. 24. Final exams and assessments will be completed by Dec. 4.

Why is the semester starting and ending early?

The Claremont Colleges agreed to change the academic calendar under the presumption that students would return to campus. This early start and early end by Thanksgiving was intended to allow those students who travel for Thanksgiving to do so and not have to travel immediately back to campus and thus minimizing the impact of COVID-19 and the flu season on our community during the winter months.

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases in California and elsewhere around the country has led us to pursue remote instruction for the fall semester. We will still follow the revised academic calendar.

How did the College arrive at this decision?

The College did not arrive at its decision to move to an all-online mode of instruction easily. The College’s Executive Staff, in consultation with the Board of Trustees, made this decision in July in response to the rapidly declining public health situation in Southern California and elsewhere.

Who is coordinating the planning for fall 2020?

The College established a Fall Planning Group, chaired by Bob Robinson, the assistant vice president for campus services, comprising representatives from across the College, including:

  • David Tanenbaum, associate dean of the College and professor, physics and astronomy
    Elisa Alban, registrar
  • Brenda Rushforth, assistant vice president for human resources and chief human capital officer
  • Josh Eisenberg, dean of campus life
  • Tracy Arwari, senior associate dean of students for academic and personal success
  • Patricia Vest, director of news and strategic content
  • Joseph Brennan, director of support services, ITS
  • Karen Fagan, director of public programming and community relations
  • Katherine Stephens, environmental health and safety officer
  • Brandon Johnson, director of intramurals, club sports and recreation

Pomona College officials also participated in 10 working groups across the consortium established to coordinate efforts in key areas, such as testing, contact tracing, quarantining and isolation, preparing for physical distancing and developing community norms and housing density, among other issues.

What will campus life look like?

For the most part, campus will be closed for the fall 2020 semester. We will maintain buildings and grounds as necessary and will support the faculty’s efforts to teach online, but the campus will be considered closed due to public health concerns.

Will there be athletic competition? 

Intercollegiate athletic participation is a highly valued aspect of the educational experience at Pomona, as it provides tangible learning opportunities outside of the classroom.  Unfortunately, we will not be competing this fall. The decision to cancel athletic competition was not taken lightly, nor was the decision made swiftly. We will remain committed to the continued growth and development of our student athletes and will support them by providing educational, team building and wellness programming. A few examples include:

  • Leadership programming 
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives
  • Mental health initiatives

College Finances

How does the decision to be fully online impact the College’s finances?

Moving to a fully online semester does present financial challenges. The College will lose room and board revenue and potentially tuition revenue if students choose not to return. At the same time, the College will continue to incur costs to make the campus ready to receive students, faculty and staff at some point in the future.

The College could see an annual budget shortfall ranging from $21 million to $35 million depending on final enrollment. The College is working on financial plans to make up this shortfall that will include deep reductions to the budgets of departments and offices, deferral of maintenance and renovation of our facilities and use of reserves, among other means.

Does the College plan to discount tuition?

No. In May we announced that we were freezing tuition for the coming academic year at 2019-2020 levels.

Facilities and Campus Operations

What is the College doing to prepare the campus for a responsible return in the future?  

The College is continuing with our planning for a responsible and safe to return to in-person, on-campus instruction, in compliance and coordination with federal, state, and local orders and guidance.

To facilitate good public health practice, the College is investing in changes and upgrade to its facilities. These changes include:

  • Cleaning all duct work/coils within central systems
  • Upgrading all air filters to MERV 11/13 and replacing more frequently as determined by building usage and manufacturers recommendations
  • Revising system controls to produce a 100 percent outside air where possible to facilitate multiple air exchanges through the day        
  • Increasing humidity range within buildings to 40-60%
  • Installing plexi-glass or plastic sheeting barriers at all high traffic, front facing service areas
  • Installing one automatic door opener in 23 high use buildings
  • Installing 230 “hands free” door openers at entry doors to residence halls, classroom buildings and restrooms
  • Reconfiguring select manual light switches to occupancy sensors
  • Installing centrally located hand sanitizer stations within the common areas of residential, academic and support buildings
  • Installing soap dispensers in all residence hall bathroom facilities. 

Are there special cleaning products or procedures being employed across campus?

The College is following cleaning guidelines and protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additional attention is being given to high touch areas such as door handles, handrails and push bars on doors across campus.

The College is working to ensure that necessary supplies are on hand in the event that guidelines are expanded in the coming weeks. The College has also deployed a number of hand sanitizing stations throughout campus.

What is the College's policy about providing and wearing face coverings? 

The College is requiring all members of the community and vendors to wear face coverings in indoor campus settings. The College is also recommending the use of face coverings when outdoors on campus when physical distancing isn’t possible.

The College will develop procedures to distribute reusable face coverings to members of the campus community.

The current face covering policy may evolve based on new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Los Angeles County Public Health.

What are we doing to ensure the safety and health of our service workers, particularly housekeeping, grounds and maintenance employees?

All members of the Facilities and Campus Services staff are screened on a daily basis and provided all required personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies necessary for the performance of their duties in a safe and responsible manner

How can employees access campus and what measures are in place to secure campus buildings?

Building access is limited, 24 hours a day, to those with card or key access. Many interior spaces, such as classrooms, will remain locked.

Does mail services still do mail pickups and deliveries?

The College’s Campus Mail Services will continue to operate Monday through Friday 8 a.m. through noon. Departments are currently required to pick up and drop off all mail at the mail services office in the lower level of Sumner Hall. The campus mail delivery schedule will be reviewed weekly and adjusted as required.

Will there be any on campus dining or catering options?

At this time, we do not anticipate that dining and catering services will be available.

What is the College doing about campus construction projects?

All contractors currently working on projects at Pomona College have been directed to follow all federal, state and local requirements and guidelines with regards to COVID-19. That includes guidelines on social distancing, additional hand washing stations and disinfecting of surfaces and objects.

Per federal and state directives, all contractors are expected to implement the appropriate protocols to address a potential situation where an employee reports that they have tested positive to COVID-19.

The Arts

What will be going on at the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College?

Due to the pandemic, we do not plan to fully open the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College as we had hoped to this fall. Our work continues apace, however, with behind-the-scenes preparations and through new ways of reaching students remotely.

We have completed the move of our permanent collection into our new facility, and we are developing our inaugural season of exhibitions. These projects include three monographic exhibitions featuring the work of Alia Ali, Helen Pashgian and Alison Saar as well as three thematic exhibitions showcasing work from our permanent collections. In the fall semester, these installations will support undergraduate teaching through remote viewing sessions, digital gallery talks, live panel discussions and more informal student-centered programs.


Are in-person events canceled at Pomona College?

All in-person Pomona College events are canceled.

To promote social distancing as recommended by public health professionals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the College has canceled all internal and public events on campus.

We recognize these temporary measures will bring inconvenience; we are taking them as an important community health precaution.

Can I visit the Skyspace?

Pomona College’s campus is closed until further notice and therefore there is no public access to the Skyspace.

What qualifies as a public event?

A public event is any event which is open to attendees from outside The Claremont Colleges. These events typically take place outside of the regularly scheduled classroom time. Examples: Admissions information sessions or tours, orchestra concerts, faculty-invited guest speakers taking place outside of a classroom visit, publicly advertised lecture series.

What qualifies as a community event?

A community event is an event that will be attended only by Claremont Colleges students, faculty and/or staff. Examples: Speaking events, parties or concerts that are limited to 7C students/faculty/staff.

What qualifies as an internal event?

An internal event is an activity or performance happening within the context of a regularly scheduled class or within the normal operations of an academic or administrative department, and which does not include participants from outside The Claremont Colleges. Examples: guest speakers in classes, peer mentor gatherings, weekly seminars, writing groups, academic counseling or support activities, regularly-scheduled on-site tutoring activities.

How does this affect admissions events?

We are not encouraging visitors to campus at this time in order to ensure everyone’s health and well-being. Instead, please enjoy our campus tour video and contact us with any questions at admissions@pomona.edu.

When will in-person Commencement take place for the Class of 2020?

Pomona College is committed to holding in-person Commencement exercises for the Class of 2020. Current public health guidelines still do not permit large gatherings, and these restrictions directly impact planning for Commencement. As soon as large gatherings are permitted, we will work with the class leadership to select a date.

Can I start or continue planning for 2020-21 academic year events?

Pomona College will not be holding any public or community events on campus in Fall 2020 (see definitions above). A decision regarding Spring 2021 events will be based on public health guidelines at the time.

Internal Events and Meetings

Am I still able to hold meetings for my department?

All faculty and staff are encouraged to make use of remote technologies for meetings. Please contact ITS for more information regarding the available tools for your needs.