5Cs to start fall semester one week early, cancel fall break

The walkway outside Scripps' Toll residence hall
The Claremont Colleges will start the fall semester one week earlier than planned. (Courtesy: Sondra Abruzzo)

In a move to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 during the winter months, the undergraduate Claremont Colleges will start the fall semester one week earlier than planned, cancel fall break and end classes before the start of Thanksgiving break.

The first day of classes will be Aug. 24, college officials told students via email Thursday. Students will be expected to finish all coursework by Nov. 24, while finals will be conducted remotely and completed by Dec. 4 regardless of whether students return to campus.

Though the Presidents’ Council of The Claremont Colleges approved the new academic calendar, it has not yet made decisions on whether instruction will be delivered in-person, online or in a hybrid format during the fall semester, Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe told students via email Thursday. 

If students return to campus, “instruction will likely be a hybrid of in-person and online education for a time,” Pomona College officials said.

A final decision on whether students can return to campus for the fall semester is expected in July, Pomona and Scripps College officials told students. 

This altered schedule allows students to leave the colleges for Thanksgiving and finish the semester off-campus. At Harvey Mudd and Claremont McKenna College, students will not be allowed to return if they leave, college officials said. 

The remaining colleges did not provide details on whether students would be barred from returning after Thanksgiving. 

“Thanksgiving is one the busiest times for travel in the U.S., and the risk of students potentially being exposed to COVID-19 while traveling back and forth to campus is too great for us to allow them to return after they leave,” Klawe said. “We encourage our students to consider remaining on campus for the holiday if at all possible.”

The two days students would normally have off for fall break in October will be used as days of instruction to help end the semester early, officials said. Additionally, Scripps President Lara Tiedens said classes at the college would meet on some Saturdays during the semester.

“This calendar will allow us to maximize our time on campus while minimizing the potential for disruption and/or virus spread due to travel,” Tiedens said. “Although many aspects of the upcoming academic year remain under discussion, this joint decision reflects the presidents’ shared goal to welcome students back to campus and to deliver the consortial experience as fully as possible and as soon as we are able.”

Pomona’s orientation and first-year advising dates will be re-adjusted according to the new schedule, college officials said. 

If students return to campus for in-person instruction, they will be expected to wear face coverings, physically distance and monitor their own health and symptoms. Campus will likely be closed to visitors from outside the colleges, Pomona officials said.

Dining halls will offer more to-go options, many classes will meet outside and there will be restrictions on gatherings, Tiedens said. There will also be new protocols for screening, testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine.

Keck Graduate Institute and Claremont Graduate University will maintain their regular academic calendars. KGI’s first day of instruction will be Aug. 31 and CGU will begin classes Sept. 1, the Presidents’ Council said in another statement Thursday.

This is a breaking story and will be updated as new information becomes available.

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