Claremont McKenna College will announce whether students will return to campus for the spring 2021 semester by Dec. 9, CMC President Hiram Chodosh said in an email to students Monday.
The college is “aggressively” planning for both on campus and remote scenarios while pushing to reopen in the spring, Chodosh said. But, the college has not yet received authorization from the state and Los Angeles County to allow students to return to campus.
Currently, in-person classes and residential life are not allowed under state and county rules until public health conditions improve, Chodosh said. To have any in-person experiences, Los Angeles County’s daily new COVID-19 case rate would have to decrease from its current “widespread” tier — the highest tier — to the “substantial” tier, one tier below, he said.
But even then, Chodosh said it “still remains unclear which lower tier will be satisfactory for the county to allow us to reopen our residential campus.”
The college has been in contact with public health officials to determine how it can reopen in the spring based on the “strength of our comprehensive plan,” according to Chodosh. CMC also plans to ask students to share their “stories and perspectives through letters to the county in order to deliver the strongest advocacy for our community.”
“With many college re-openings from across the country to learn from, we feel even more confident in our approach,” Chodosh said.
If students don’t return, CMC will begin implementing temporary staff furloughs despite preventing furloughs in the fall semester, according to Chodosh.
“As we communicated at the beginning of the fall semester, if we cannot open our residential campus for the spring, we will need to implement temporary furloughs in December,” he said.
Chodosh outlined the financial challenges the college is facing but said it is committed to limiting negative effects on staff. The college has already reduced operational budgets, executive salaries and retirement benefits while drawing money from other financial resources to fill in the “significant funding gaps,” Chodosh said.
The college is asking for student feedback about the online fall semester and thoughts on a possible spring semester on-campus as it prepares for both possibilities. College administrators will solicit input during a series of forums for students, families, faculty and staff during the week of Oct. 26. The college also has an email address that students can send questions and comments to.
If students are allowed on campus in the spring, CMC plans to enforce strict social distancing measures. Chodosh promised “rigorous screening, frequent testing, smart tracing, and diligent cleaning capabilities; single-room residential capacity; expanded, smart dining options; ample isolation and quarantine housing; and on-site medical support” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Students will be expected to commit to the safety guidelines in a signed agreement and “follow behavioral practices to protect one another and the broader community.”
“The world has thrown a lot our way, and I am tremendously proud of your adaptability, ingenuity, and mutual support,” Chodosh said.
Siena Swift PO ’22 is intending to major in politics. She is from Kailua, Hawai’i and is a news staff writer.