Good News to Share on Initial Steps for Reopening our Campus (2/24/21)

Dear Pomona College Community,

We are writing with hopeful news.

After a devastating surge, COVID-19 case counts have now dropped dramatically here in Los Angeles County, and the pace of vaccination is accelerating. As Pomona and partner institutions call on our county to work with us to bring back in-person higher education, officials have now agreed to first steps toward a limited reopening of some campus facilities.

For students in the area living off-campus, we are now able to open outdoor facilities for recreational sports activities and physical conditioning. Haldeman Pool, the Pauley Tennis Complex and Strehle Track will open for current students, faculty and staff in coming weeks under a reservation system.

Outdoor sessions for groups of 10 or fewer people to provide academic or social support are now permitted as well. We also are addressing with the Claremont Colleges consortium the process for re-opening the library at limited capacity for current students, faculty and staff.

Additional details on implementation will follow in the days ahead, but we wanted to share the positive news now. Please note we do not have approval to bring students back to campus for spring, and remote learning will continue for this semester.

Looking to the months ahead, we are planning for the full return of students in fall, with in-person instruction and on-campus living. The campus is ready. We are ready.

While we deeply appreciate the ongoing work of county officials in the face of the pandemic, Pomona will continue to take the lead in advocating for Los Angeles County to quickly provide details on the path for returning students to campus for fall. In its approach to higher education, our county has become increasingly out of sync with neighboring counties, the rest of the nation and, most importantly, the science of the pandemic. We seek to work together for the right course.

We recognize life on campus in the fall will be different from the way it was pre-pandemic, and we will all need to keep at required safety measures, but it is time for students countywide to get back to in-person education. The young people who will build our shared future need to be given greater priority.

Vaccines will help us move forward, and we are seeing positive developments in this area.

As Pomona and other institutions had sought, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has officially affirmed that higher education employees, both faculty and staff, do fall within Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan, as noted in updated guidelines issued recently.

Last week, in another positive development, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced that people working in the education sector will be eligible for vaccination starting March 1.

That news, however, came against the backdrop of continuing vaccine supply shortages in the region. In the months ahead, vaccine supply is expected to grow and, as we have previously reported, The Claremont Colleges’ Student Health Services has been approved to dispense COVID-19 vaccines. We do not know yet when SHS will receive a supply.

Please note: We urge everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they become eligible and not to wait for SHS to receive a supply. This is something we can all do to move toward the goal of returning students to campus and advancing our vital academic mission.

In this hopeful moment, we also recognize the many ongoing challenges of this pandemic, as well as the brutal winter conditions affecting so much of the U.S. in recent days. We know our students, whether a first-year student who has never set foot on campus, or a graduating senior who has not had the chance to return, have seen their lives turned upside down in so many ways.

We are working on a plan for Commencement that celebrates the accomplishments of our seniors at the end of the semester, while others are continuing to explore opportunities for gathering a bit further into the future. Senior class officers are representing their class in the decision-making process.

For all Sagehens, we salute your endurance and ingenuity in the face of this global emergency, and we are deeply grateful for the commitment shown by our extended community spanning the globe.

 

Sincerely,

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 vice president and chief information officer
Maria Watson, vice president for advancement