Follow-up on Spring Planning and Last Week's Town Hall Meetings (11/2/20)

Dear Pomona College Community:

We are writing to thank everyone who attended the town hall meetings last week for students, families, faculty and staff. We recognize this is a time of great strain and challenge, and we are grateful for your patience and commitment to our community.

We also recognize some people were unable to attend due to other commitments, so we have attached the presentation slides (please see campus email) and we will also summarize key points here.   

  • Pomona is moving forward with plans for a phased reopening in the spring, on the path to a full reopening in the fall. To do so, we will need approval from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and we expect updated guidance by December. (Under the current guidelines, students are not able to return to campus.)
  • Building a coalition with other institutions, we are publicly advocating for a responsible reopening of higher education in Los Angeles County and meeting with health officials to make the case. On the state level, President Starr is working on this issue as chair of the reopening task force for AICCU, the main group for private colleges in California.  
  • With no single national standard for reopening higher education, what is permitted in, say, Vermont or Tennessee may not be in California, or vice versa. The situation also varies between counties within California. We are applying practices and lessons learned from success stories elsewhere while moving forward within our own county’s regulatory and public health environment.   
  • For our campus, multiple planning groups are implementing our protocols for contact tracing and testing, as well as physical preparations—upgrading air filtering systems, installing plastic barriers and automatic door openers along with many other steps—for residence halls and other facilities.  
  • If the county does permit reopening for spring, we know that not all students would be able to return due to expected requirements for lower population density on campus to hinder spread of the virus. We also recognize that some students are not able to return for health and other reasons: Please note that students will not be mandated or required to return to campus for spring.  
  • Under county guidelines, we also know students who do return will face restrictions and requirements for social distancing (more details are found in the most recent community message).   
  • While the majority of classes will be online, with the possibility of select in-person physical education courses, we also are exploring options for which types of academic, community or social interactions may be possible for those on campus while still supporting public health.

We are still seeking your input through the survey we sent out last week on this and other matters, such as which groups of students should be considered for priority in returning to campus. If you have not done so yet, please fill it out to help shape our plans in the areas where we have some control.

In addition, the College will convene a new phased restart planning group, made up of faculty, students and staff, which will advise and work collaboratively across the active campus and consortium planning groups to guide decisions as we move forward. Additional details will be coming in the days ahead.

We value your insights and suggestions and, in the spirit of shared governance, once again, we are grateful for your commitment to our extended Sagehen community during this global crisis.


G. Gabrielle Starr, president
Seth Allen, vice president for strategy & dean of admissions and financial aid
Christina Ciambriello, chief of staff and secretary to the Board of Trustees
Robert Gaines, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college
Robert Goldberg, vice president, COO and treasurer
Avis Hinkson, vice president for student affairs and dean of students
Mark Kendall, assistant vice president for communications & strategic content
Janet Russell, interim chief information officer
Maria Watson, vice president for advancement