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Brief Update for Students in Advance of Spring Semester (1/14/21)

Dear Pomona College Students,

With a new semester drawing near, I hope you have been able to get some rest over the break. I know many individuals and families are going through very difficult times, and the troubling events of recent days add to the tense atmosphere in the nation, even as we look hopefully for progress in vaccinations and getting the pandemic under greater control in the months ahead.

To begin, I need to let you know some information about the situation here in Los Angeles County, where COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to escalate into a crisis that is overwhelming the medical system. In just over a month, the number of cases has doubled from 400,000 to nearly 1 million, with tremendous strain on hospital ICUs and steps taken to ration oxygen supplies, as officials expect very high demand for medical care to continue. For students and all members of our community living in the region, I urge you to keep up your guard and follow public health practices.

The county remains under a regional stay-at-home-order, and the Department of Public Health now requires that “persons arriving in the County of Los Angeles from anywhere outside of the Southern California Region on or from non-essential travel, including returning County of Los Angeles residents, must self-quarantine for 10 days after arrival.”

The spring semester will start Jan. 25 with remote instruction, and I know that faculty and student affairs staff are eager to engage in the days ahead as we continue to find ways to build community in our temporary online environment.

County public health officials have informed us that plans for a pilot program, which would allow some colleges to return up to 500 students to campus in spring, are on hold right now due to the worsening crisis in our region. If the situation improves enough, the county will revisit the issue and, in early February, we will provide an application for those who are interested in being considered for a spot to live on campus if that option becomes available.

Right now, California is moving to ramp-up the massive vaccination effort, with our county setting up large sites capable of administering thousands of doses daily, and I’m hopeful for a turning point in the months ahead.

To get there, it’s important that we all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 — thank you for the sacrifices you have been making to contribute to this global effort. A more detailed campus update will be coming later this month from President Starr, but I felt it was important to touch base this week as there has been so much happening in the nation.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at avis.hinkson@pomona.edu as we move forward together as a community. 

 

Respectfully,

Dean Hinkson