CMC final 5C to signal a remote start to spring 2021 semester

Two buildings are covered by sunshine, one says Benson Hall on it and the other says Marks Hall.
Claremont McKenna College will not reopen its campus for the start of the spring semester in January, President Hiram Chodosh wrote in an email to students Wednesday. (Alex Smith • The Student Life)

Claremont McKenna College will not reopen its campus for the start of the spring semester but will try to return students mid-semester if conditions and Los Angeles County guidance allow, President Hiram Chodosh wrote in an email to students Wednesday.

The email follows a Dec. 3 announcement from Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver that said all 5Cs would begin the spring semester remotely and reinstate the traditional week-long spring break. 

Pomona College confirmed Friday that it would begin the spring semester remotely. Harvey Mudd College said Monday that it expects the same. Scripps College also confirmed that it would start remotely in an email Tuesday. 

All three colleges confirmed a week-long spring break March 8-12. 

Chodosh also confirmed the spring break, saying it would either allow students to recharge if the online format continues for the entire semester, or serve as a move-in period if the college is allowed to reopen later in the semester. 

CMC may attempt to bring back students later in the semester under a potential waiver program for institutions of higher education in LA County. For this to happen, Chodosh said, COVID-19 conditions in the county must improve.

“We may have a very limited opportunity mid-semester if conditions improve rapidly and significantly,” Chodosh said. 

LA County may introduce a limited reopening program that would allow a maximum of 10 approved schools to each bring back a maximum of 500 students or 50 percent of its student body, whichever is less. Under this plan, students would reside on campus in a restrictive, “bubble-like” environment, Chodosh said. 

The program would only be available if COVID-19 cases in LA County drop below 10 per 100,000 residents per day for two consecutive weeks, Oliver announced last week. CMC will “immediately” apply for a waiver if the program launches.  

CMC has also expanded virtual, hybrid and potential in-person academic and community opportunities, Chodosh said. These include changes to course designs, an “adapted residential program” in London for international students, an online platform mentorship platform and networking opportunities.  

Chodosh also said there is a “preservation of the chance” for a late spring season of varsity SCIAC athletics, but only if LA County COVID-19 case counts improve. Previously, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps administration told TSL it would try to run all 21 sports in the spring if allowed to return; however, in a Dec. 1 news release, the SCIAC canceled all fall and winter sports. 

CMC has partnered with Hamilton Health Box, a workplace healthcare company, to provide on-campus testing and care for students, faculty and staff on campus, according to the email. The college has also implemented twice-weekly testing protocols and created a student agreement as part of its CMC Returns campus plan, Chodosh said. 

As the college announced in October, it will implement part and full-time furloughs for 127 staff members. The college will continue to extend health and other benefits to furloughed employees, Chodosh said, but did not specify for how long.

Trustees, alumni and parents as part of an assistance fund have raised over $700,000 for furloughed staff who meet the standards for financial hardship. Part and full-time furloughed staff will have an opportunity to apply for a $3,000 tax-free cash grant to be distributed in January. Full-time, eligible furloughed staff will also be able to apply for an additional $3,000 grant in April.  

Chodosh said CMC is “exploring options” for an in-person commencement for the Class of 2021.

Jaimie Ding SC ’21 and Donnie Denome CG ’21 contributed reporting.

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