Update on Return to Campus, Vaccination Progress & Safety Steps (8/10/21)

Overview

  • Pomona’s full student population returns to campus this month.
  • Our vaccination rate now exceeds 90 percent.
  • Routine testing for COVID-19 will be an additional safety step.
  • Masks are required for indoor public spaces.
  • The campus is ready with key safety upgrades.
  • COVID-19 cases will occur, and we have plans to help contain them.

Dear Pomona College Community,

We are writing with important updates on our COVID-19 preparations and safety steps as fall semester draws near and our community returns to campus after so many months away.

Student athletes already have been arriving at Pomona to prepare for fall sports. By the end of this month, our full student population will be back in Claremont to resume on-campus education and residential life, aspects of the liberal arts experience we value so deeply.

Pomona’s Vaccination Rate Now Exceeds 90 Percent

As the delta variant of COVID-19 brings a surge in cases nationwide, vaccination is central to promoting safety for our community in the weeks and months ahead.

As soon as doses became available last winter, we launched an extensive and ongoing vaccination campaign. In spring, we mandated vaccination for all students, with exemptions for medical reasons or religious beliefs, and we have since extended the requirement to faculty and staff.

Today, more than 90 percent of our students, faculty and staff members are fully vaccinated.

We are grateful for the strong cooperation of our community: More people upload their vaccination information each day, and our aim is to get as close to 100 percent as possible. Student Health Services will continue to offer vaccination clinics to serve those who still need them.

Though there are breakthrough cases, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials emphasize the powerful effectiveness of vaccines in preventing serious illness and hospitalization. Their expectation is that highly-vaccinated communities will have much lower rates of transmission. However, it is important to recognize that we will have cases of COVID-19 on campus and we have plans in place to help contain them.

Routine testing for COVID-19 Is an Additional Safety Measure

Testing for COVID-19 will be another important part of those plans. We will test the small number of unvaccinated students twice per week, and vaccinated students once per week.

For faculty and staff, the small number of unvaccinated individuals also will be tested twice weekly, and we will offer vaccinated faculty and staff the option of being routinely tested or tested upon request. (If warranted at some point by the public health situation, we will shift to implementing required weekly testing for this group as well.)

In response to the unfolding public health situation, additional information on student testing will be coming in the days ahead, as we assess new protocols and recommendations for testing when students arrive on campus. We will follow up with more information specifically for students and families later this week.

Masks Are Required in Indoor Public Spaces Under County Regulations

Masks will be an additional line of defense. Under Los Angeles County’s public health rules, face masks must be worn in indoor public spaces, including in classrooms.

The Campus is Prepared with Safety Upgrades

Quarantine living spaces have been set aside for students who must be isolated due to infection or exposure, and dining halls will be open for longer hours, with grab-and-go options available as well.

We also have prepared eight outdoor classroom spaces, with priority for use going to classes where masks may pose instructional challenges.

For interior spaces, we have taken steps such as upgrading all air filters and replacing them more frequently. At the same time, we have revised system controls to maximize outside air to facilitate multiple air exchanges through the day.

The purpose of all these measures is to promote safety and support the resumption of important in-person elements of our liberal arts education.

After months of preparation, we are so excited to see the return of students to campus and the residential life that lies at the heart of the Pomona experience. We are confident our community will work together, innovate and adapt in this changing environment, and we are grateful for your care and commitment at this much-anticipated moment.

 

With care,

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, chief communications officer
Janet Russell, interim vice president and chief information officer
Maria Watson, vice president for advancement