CMC unveils campus reopening plan, final decision to come later in July

Claremont McKenna College’s final decision on returning to campus this fall will come July 24 at the latest. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

Citing the recent surge in Southern California’s coronavirus cases, Claremont McKenna College will hold off on deciding whether students will return to campus until July 24 at the latest.

In the meantime, President Hiram Chodosh released “CMC Returns,” a website which details plans that will be enacted if the college does bring students back to campus. 

The decision will ultimately be dependent on state and county guidelines as well as a “favorable, independent assessment” of CMC’s health and safety capabilities, Chodosh said.

If students do return, they’ll be required to move in early, download a contact tracing app, limit off-campus movement and face dining hall changes and less access to buildings, according to the website.

Students must decide by July 8 whether they’re going to live on or off campus or take a leave of absence. Incoming students and those eligible for deferral also have until the same date to defer enrollment to fall 2021.

If students do return to campus, they’ll be required to sign “The Agreement,” which outlines the rules for the semester. Students are also encouraged to report concerning behavior using CMCListens, an anonymous reporting platform run by a third party.

Students found violating the policies and student code of conduct could face “immediate loss of on-campus housing without refund of room or board,” as well as suspension or expulsion from the college depending on the severity of the incident, according to the website.


Three types of courses will be offered this fall: online only, online mainly and primarily in-person while accessible online. Each model will make up about one-third of the total courses available.

The listing of all courses and their instructional modality will be released in late July, according to the website. There will be a month-long extension of the deadline to request credit/no credit grading for the fall semester, the website said. 

Most classrooms will accommodate fewer than 10 students while auditorium-style classrooms will accommodate no more than 30 students. The website also said some classes will take place outdoors, under tents. 

Additionally, CMC has proposed cohort models to reduce density, which include smaller subsection meetings combined with asynchronous content, alternating in-person classes and asynchronous delivery and fully synchronous courses with on-campus and remote students participating together.

Contact tracing app

All students on campus at any point in the fall will also be required to download the Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ “Automatic Contact Tracing” app and demonstrate to CMC that the app is properly installed and working. Students will be required to keep their mobile device on them whenever possible. 

The contact tracing app offers a “secure digital tracing platform through which Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals are exchanged between devices, creating a series of electronic fingerprints,” according to the website. When a device owner is diagnosed with COVID-19, an administrator at CMC is notified and a report is created that lists all people with whom their device has exchanged signals with for a given time period and within a certain proximity.

Exposed individuals will be notified if they’re at risk based on a low, medium or high proximity score, and a medical professional will advise them accordingly.

Move-in process and housing

Move-in will be during the week of Aug. 17 and students will only be allowed to bring one person to campus to assist them. Students are being asked to limit the quantity of personal belongings they bring to campus “to allow for greater ease in moving out should the deterioration of health conditions require the rapid closure of the residential campus,” according to the website.

Returning students will re-register for classes from Aug. 3 to 7. This will not be a “fresh re-registration” where everyone must register from scratch, but rather an opportunity for students to make adjustments in their schedules since some courses may have a different instructional method now.

First-year students will register for courses between Aug. 10 and 13 and orientation will be held virtually at the end of the summer, the website says.

CMC also announced that first-year and senior students will be prioritized for on-campus housing during the 2020-2021 academic year, while sophomores and juniors will receive priority to live on campus for at least one semester through a random lottery process. International students will be allowed to arrive up until Sept. 6 before their room is released to students on the housing waitlist.

To reduce “risk of exposure to infection in residential spaces,” CMC students’ ID cards will only permit access to their assigned residence hall for the fall semester. For students living at the Alexan Kendry off-campus apartments, a shuttle service will be provided.

Maximum occupancy for a double residence hall room at any time will be limited to four people, up to two people will be permitted in a single room and occupancy in the senior apartments may not exceed eight people. Outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people will be permitted if masks are worn, physical distancing is adhered to and there is no alcohol present. 

Alcohol will not be permitted at any gathering that exceeds the housing occupancy and drinking games of any kind are banned. There will be no 5C or ASCMC parties hosted in the fall, the website says.

Additional safety measures

Students seeking special exception for the brief visit of a family member must receive permission from the Dean of Students’ office. This marks a departure from Harvey Mudd College’s plan, wherein no visitors will be allowed except for a single person to assist with moving in. 

Off-campus travel for CMC students will be allowed for essential reasons only and must be approved. 

CMC’s new website seemed to indicate that some clubs will be allowed to meet in-person, and that “lounges can also be used in the evening for registered student club and organization meetings,” with reservations and social distancing required. 

Students from the other 5Cs will be allowed on campus and have access to restroom facilities as well as to the common spaces at CMC, a departure from Harvey Mudd College’s plan to close its in-person classes to other 5C students. 

CMC students may be assigned to a particular time slot to eat at various locations, including daily lunch and dinner served from a campus food truck, the Hub, Collins Dining Hall, McKenna Auditorium or the Athenaeum. Cross-campus dining will not be available for the fall semester, according to the website.

Students may be required to pick up food from these locations. New “high-quality, fresh vending options” will be available in every residence hall and new “snack swipes” will be provided to access the vending machines as a substitute for flex dollars and nightly snack.

CMC previously announced there will be no increase in tuition, room and board or fees for the 2020-2021 academic year. If students take a leave of absence for the fall semester, their family contribution will remain the same for the academic year and will be applied to the cost of attendance for the spring semester — “in some cases, it can completely eliminate eligibility for need-based aid,” according to the website.

Los Angeles County has not currently met the state or local gating criteria recommended to resume intercollegiate athletics, according to the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athletics website. Fall and winter sports — basketball, football, soccer, volleyball and water polo — will not be permitted to compete this fall. Club sports will also not be permitted in the fall semester.

CMC said it will establish an on-campus medical office or “micro clinic” to provide and oversee testing, case management, monitor symptoms, coordinate contract tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, and to clear employees and students to return to campus activities.

Harvey Mudd College was the only member of the 5Cs to announce Wednesday that it intended to return to campus, although its decision is also dependent on public health guidance. Scripps College, Pitzer College and Pomona College said their decisions will come later in July in emails to students.

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