Planning for Spring Semester at Pomona (10/26/20)

Dear Pomona College Community:

As we look forward to our next steps as a College in this time of COVID-19, Pomona is committed to bringing our students back to campus safely and quickly. This will require a phased reopening, and we are confident in our ability to do so – once we receive approval from the county. The outstanding questions now revolve around timeline and process.

While most employees are working remotely, we’ve put in place a series of Pomona Safe protocols for faculty and staff who currently must come to campus for teaching and other essential operations. This system is already helping us anticipate issues and prepare for the phased return of students.

Testing and tracing plans are falling into place. We are in continuous contact with medical experts and have been carrying on conversations with other higher education institutions that have re-opened while still successfully tending to public health in the pandemic.

Under Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidelines, we currently are not permitted to bring students back to campus beyond some very limited circumstances. With responsibility for the nation’s most populous county, home to more than 10 million people, health officials here have taken a cautious approach in a very difficult and complex situation, and higher education institutions have worked with them in a cooperative manner.

We will continue to work closely with public health officials, and we also believe Pomona and other institutions have reached a point of preparation and knowledge where a phased and responsible re-opening of higher education campuses should begin. President Starr, chair of the AICCU’s Council for Independent Higher Education Reopening, is speaking out and reaching out. She will be meeting with public health officials in the days ahead to discuss potential pathways for institutions such as Pomona, where we see the potential to create a “bubble” to support public health and protect the wider community.

We need input from students, families, staff and faculty on ways to make this work, and we encourage everyone to take this short survey (link can be found in campus email) to help guide our work.

Public health guidance is very likely to require lower population density in residence halls, with one person per room, and space set aside for quarantine and isolation purposes. So, our survey will seek your input on issues such as which groups of students most need priority for first return to campus and why. (All students approved must be enrolled full time – minimum three credits.) We are drawing on the knowledge and experience of our community while also recognizing that all plans depend on the county’s public health decisions.

As we prepare for the first phase of reopening, groups such as the 7C Student Deans, COVID-19 Planning Committee and the COVID-19 Student Advisory Group have been addressing what student life is likely to look like, keeping in mind that we will be seeking to create a “bubble” to support public health. Here is what we, at Pomona, are expecting at this point:

Academic Classes  

  • The majority of classes will be online, with the possibility of select in-person physical education courses.  

Housing   

  • Students will live in single rooms.  
  • Bathroom maximum ratio will be four students to one bathroom.  
  • Students will only have access to the residence hall they are assigned. No guests will be allowed in residence halls.  

Move-in Process  

  • Students will be given an appointment for their arrival times.   
  • Family members and guests will not be allowed into the residence halls.   
  • Students will only be allowed to bring three bags. In case we must evacuate campus, students will be required to take all their belongings with them. 

Testing/ Quarantine/ Isolation Protocols  

  • Students may be encouraged to quarantine in advance of moving to campus.   
  • All students will be tested for COVID-19 on arrival followed by a quarantined period on campus.   
  • Following the initial quarantine, students will be subjected to surveillance testing. 
  • Students who test positive for COVID-19 must immediately move from their residence hall room and into a room designated for isolation. Students will be allowed to move back to their residence hall room when they are cleared by Student Health Services.  

Gathering and Social spaces  

  • Most student gathering spaces will be outside. Additional chairs and tables will be set up on campus for student use.  
  • We are still trying to determine what if any gathering spaces will exist in residence halls. If so, they will be limited.   
  • Some spaces, such as the pool, tennis courts and track, will be available by appointment for exercise.

Dining  

  • All students will be on a meal plan with extended hours.   
  • Students will not have access to kitchens in residence halls.   
  • Dining halls will provide grab-and-go food, and seating areas will be outside. 

Community Commitments  

  • All students will be required to sign an agreement which outlines all policies related to public health. Students who jeopardize their health and potentially, the health of others, will be sanctioned.   
  • The sanctioning process will include warnings and will escalate to being required to leave campus within 24 hours depending on the nature of the incident. (We have no desire to be unnecessarily rigid about policies, but we do intend to keep the campus as safe as possible for everyone.)  
  • Students will be required to wear masks at all times except when they are alone in their single room or are eating.  
  • Students will not be allowed to have cars on campus as travel to and from campus will be limited. 

This list is just a beginning, as there are many details still to be determined based on guidance from the county and state, and we are providing it as a glimpse of possible restrictions on “traditional” student life. We seek the input of our entire community in our brief survey (link can be found in campus email), and we will continue to keep you up to date on next steps as we prepare for a responsible reopening in compliance with county guidelines.

 

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 chief information officer
Maria Watson, vice president for advancement