Urgent Update: Pomona Shifting to Online Courses as Coronavirus Precaution (3/11/20)

Dear Pomona College Community,

Amid the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we all must take urgent measures to promote social distancing, avoid sizeable gatherings and slow the spread of the virus. This public health necessity means we cannot carry forward the semester in our standard manner.

In consultation with public health experts, and in conjunction with our partners in the five undergraduate institutions in The Claremont Colleges, we have made a difficult decision:

With spring break near, students will be required to leave campus by March 18 and should not expect to return to campus this semester. Classes will continue online, and Pomona will remain open.

Here’s how it will work: Students should plan to leave campus for home sometime between their last class this week and 5 p.m. on March 18.

Spring break, which begins March 16, will be extended an extra week. The second week, starting March 23, will serve as a period of transition to online instruction and students will be expected to engage with their coursework as we pilot the remote academic program.

We recognize that some students will need to stay on campus because they have no other option. If you are in that situation, please fill out this brief form by midnight tomorrow (Thursday, March 12). If you face financial issues in affording the travel, please fill out this brief form by the same deadline, midnight Thursday, March 12.

There will be no in-person classes – the curriculum will be shifted online for all.

We will send out additional information as soon as possible with details of the move-out plan, including instructions on packing/storing belongings.

We do not make this decision lightly. In alignment with wider public health efforts, our aim is to temporarily limit face-to-face gatherings to help slow the spread of the virus. While no cases have been reported at The Claremont Colleges at this time, we need to take proactive measures amid an extraordinary public health situation. The approach of spring break added urgency to our decision process, as we did not want some students to travel home or elsewhere, return to campus and then be asked to quickly depart again.

Decisions regarding Commencement will be made at a later date.

For our entire community, we recognize the changes in social and academic life these steps will bring. The neighboring undergraduate members of The Claremont Colleges (Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer and Scripps colleges), and institutions around the nation and world, are taking the same or similar measures and experiencing the same changes.

The College will remain open. Any employee who is ill should stay home and if you run out of sick leave, we will take steps to provide more. Otherwise, employees should report to work as usual unless instructed otherwise by their supervisor.

We have developed an emergency telecommuting policy (posted in the HR document library in the portal) that the College may activate in coming weeks after we’ve made the transition to remote learning. Of course, for a variety of reasons some employees can only perform their functions on site. To promote public health, the goal would be to reduce the number of employees working on campus while maintaining operations.

In this fast-moving situation, we know you will have many questions, and we have begun to answer them at our FAQ. We will continue to provide additional details as soon as we have them.

For over 133 years, the Pomona College community has faced times of challenge ranging from the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 to World War II to the political and social turmoil of the 1960s. We are confident Sagehens will work together to reduce risk and protect one another and the wider community during this unusual time. We also want to thank the many medical and public health professionals in our extended community who are tirelessly working on the front lines amid this global outbreak.


G. Gabrielle Starr, president
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