Updated Coronavirus Precautions: Public Events Canceled, New Planning Steps (3/9/20)

Dear Pomona College Community,

We are writing to inform our community of additional steps we are taking regarding the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

While we do not have any reported cases of the coronavirus at The Claremont Colleges at this time, we must continue to implement precautions and support wider public health efforts. For updates and additional information, please visit Pomona College's Coronavirus (COVID-19) website.

Effective Tuesday, March 10: No Public Events Through April 18

In this extraordinary situation, we are taking steps to promote social distancing to reduce the potential for spread of the coronavirus. Effective Tuesday, March 10, we are canceling public events through April 18, and we will provide more information on dates beyond that by April 1. Until then:

  • There will be no public events of any size.
  • Academic or other internal meetings or performances with 100 people or less can occur as scheduled, and attendees will need to have Claremont Colleges ID. The same goes for athletic events.
  • For admissions, Spring POP and Admitted Student Weekend programs scheduled for April 18-20 are canceled. Student-guided admissions tours also are discontinued, and once-a-day information sessions will be discontinued after Friday, March 13. The Admissions and Financial Aid offices will be closed to the general public but will remain open for current students. Only self-guided tours will be available for visitors.
  • Event organizers are encouraged to make the most appropriate use of technology to allow for a wider audience when feasible.
  • Alumni Weekend will be shifting to an online-only format; full information will be sent out shortly
  • A decision on Commencement will be made soon.

We recognize these temporary measures will bring inconvenience; we are taking them as an important community health precaution. For further clarification, we have posted an FAQ regarding this interim events suspension policy.

Travel Restrictions Update

Last week, the College announced we would not sponsor or reimburse travel to countries designated at a U.S. State Department level two or higher travel advisory for coronavirus risk. We also discontinued support for all other non-essential travel for faculty and staff, whether that travel is domestic or international.

As a further measure, we are eliminating any college sponsorship of non-essential student travel over spring break.

If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other federal agencies, the state of California and/or Los Angeles County at some point issue domestic travel advisories for particular regions or locations, we will evaluate them and take appropriate steps.

We urge all members of our community to consider the potential consequences of personal spring break travel, including:

  • Airlines may cancel/limit flights in or out of a country or region.
  • Additional quarantine measures may be applied by the U.S. and other countries.
  • Countries you visit may decide to implement travel restrictions with very little notice, impacting your ability to return to campus
  • Re-entry to the U.S. could be restricted.
  • Prior to your return to campus, CDC guidelines may require you to self-isolate depending on your travel.
  • International students and foreign nationals should check their immigration documents before leaving the U.S. If you are unable to return to the U.S. for the start of the semester, your visa status may be impacted.

Planning for the Possibility of Holding Classes Online

We are planning and preparing for holding classes online if it becomes necessary.  We plan to test our online capabilities this week in the hopes of being ready to move in this direction. Staff in ITS have been working to ensure that faculty and students have the appropriate information technology resources and training to maintain instructional continuity.

Planning for the Possibility of Remote Work

Finally, we are planning for the possibility of having staff, where appropriate, work remotely. To this end, we have developed an emergency telecommuting policy that the College may activate should public health officials mandate measures to have employees work from home to slow the spread of the virus. To prepare, vice presidents and deans will be working with their department heads and others in the next day or two to identify staff who can carry out their responsibilities off-site.

Of course, as Pomona is a residential college, there are a variety of reasons some employees can only perform their functions on-site. The goal would be to reduce the number of staff on campus for the benefit of students, faculty, staff and the entire community, while maintaining operations.

Additional Steps

We have increased the frequency of cleaning in areas such as dining halls and residence halls, and there are stations set up for all to sanitize their hands before entering dining halls. We also have identified locations and procedures to quarantine ill students should such steps become necessary.

For our students, Student Health Services at The Claremont Colleges Services (TCCS) is providing information about the outbreak, resources and medical assistance. Students can reach the health center at (909) 621-8222, or after hours or weekends, call Campus Safety at (909) 607-2000.

Everyone can take these important additional steps:

  • Avoid contact with others if feeling ill and symptomatic.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

In each step we take, we will work closely with and seek guidance from public health officials as we support the wider community in effectively reducing the harm and reach of the virus. We also will work to quell rumors and fight discrimination. This is a time to be considerate and kind.

We need everyone’s help to reduce the risk for one another, and we will continue to update you on our planning and precautions on campus.

Sincerely,

G. Gabrielle Starr, president
Seth Allen, vice president for strategy & dean of admissions and financial aid
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