President Starr's Weekly Update (10/26/21)

Dear Pomona College Community,

I’m writing to share news directly related to the pandemic and regarding larger issues of health and wellness for our community.

On the COVID-19 front, our case rates remain low, as we had one student and one staff/faculty case last week, for a positivity rate of 0.1 percent out of more than 1,900 tests.

Late last week, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced the end of modified quarantine, which had placed restrictions on asymptomatic, fully vaccinated students identified as close contacts of someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Under this now-defunct guidance, students could only attend class and academic activities for at least five days if they went through a testing regimen (and longer if not).

Now the guidance is simpler, calling for fully vaccinated, asymptomatic students to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days and be tested three to five days after the close contact but not restricting their activities. The shift was driven by data gathered as the semester progressed, and our own Student Health Services contributed to the conversation with public health officials on this matter. (Symptomatic students and those few students with exemptions who are not fully vaccinated will still have to be placed in standard quarantine.)

Officials do remain concerned about containing any winter surge in the months ahead, however – let’s keep up the use of masks, testing and other safety steps for our community. And let me offer my thanks to our students for remaining diligent and flexible in testing as routines changed over fall break.

Please note that at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is offering a public townhall with information on vaccine boosters, youth vaccination and other topics. Watch on L.A. County Public Health’s YouTube.

As we address health and wellness on a wider level, I want to recognize some very visible progress on own campus – something you can’t miss as you stroll Marston Quad or make your way to class. The steel framing for the new athletics, recreation and wellness center is nearly complete and for this milestone, we’ve compiled a project update on this facility that will serve our entire community.

In our Strategic Vision, we recognize the essential nature of wellness – physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual – as a foundation for true community. Let’s continue to work together to strengthen that foundation.

Let’s also be careful in continuing to take steps to protect one another in the ongoing pandemic.


All the best,