Dear Pomona College Community,
After challenging days for our campus and, truly, the world, and with more such days ahead, we are writing with an update on Pomona’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Pomona is meeting these challenges with urgency, collective strength and Sagehen commitment.
First, thanks to our students, faculty and staff for your compassion and ongoing support for one another in the face of worldwide events. Students’ families and our alumni around the world also are facing severe difficulties, and we offer our deep gratitude to the many members of our extended community working to save lives in the medical and public health fields.
In this moment of tumult, we are all called to work together. In that spirit, let us share more about Pomona’s ongoing focus in the midst of a very human and fast-moving emergency.
With spring break extending for a second week, faculty members and our ITS Department are busy carrying out the shift to online courses, with the academic program officially resuming the week of March 30.
Beyond coursework, we will continue to find new ways to connect as a community even as we temporarily maintain physical distance. College leaders, for example, soon will be offering open office hours via Zoom to stay in touch with students around the globe.
As we separate physically for a time to fight the spread of the virus, our community can pull together in other ways. In our long history, Pomona College has overcome many great challenges and we will do so again to meet the current emergency.
Information on assistance for students can be found on our FAQ.
The necessities of this moment are real, and we recognize that, for students, having to move off campus two months ahead of schedule has turned their lives upside down.
To our students, please know that we continue to provide financial and other support to each student who has asked. Beyond covering travel costs for all who request help, we will continue to offer support for those who need it, by:
- paying all student employees through the end of the semester, regardless of whether they are able to continue working.
- providing prorated refunds of room and board to all students moving off campus.
- providing free laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots for all students who requested technology support as we move to online classes.
- storing students’ belongings until the fall at no cost.
To our broader community, we want to share that as of today, most students have now moved off campus.
By Tuesday morning, the remaining on-campus students will move into Oldenborg, allowing every student to have a single, which supports essential public health distance requirements. Oldenborg also offers an appropriate ratio of students per bathroom, a location closer to the mailroom and Residence Life Office, and an industrial kitchen should we need to move dining operations into the building.
We are now working to sustain a smaller campus population as we feel the impact on College staffing as we comply with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide stay-at-home order, issued Thursday evening.
This is a challenge Pomona will rise to meet in the many ways it affects faculty, staff and students. Starting last week, many members of our community were unable to come to work, as public schools in the area have been closed since Monday, and individuals and families face challenges ranging from lack of childcare options to grocery store lines. We are committed to supporting our community. We will continue to pay all of our staff, and have extended unlimited sick leave during this period. We will work closely in line with state and regional efforts to enable employees to telecommute and support social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.
Moving forward, we will, no doubt, face new and unexpected challenges. The creative and steadfast engagement of faculty and staff as we push ahead to provide the best education possible has been inspiring to see. Pomona remains a community of brilliant teachers, scholars and students.
We are truly encouraged by the way Sagehens are finding ways to innovate, adjust and support one another in this global crisis. We will keep the community up to date on new developments, and we look forward to the day when we can be together again in our usual manner on our beloved campus. Until then, we deeply appreciate your help, love, support and patience in an extraordinary emergency.
G. Gabrielle Starr, president
Robert Gaines, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college
Avis Hinkson, vice president for student affairs and dean of students