Claremont Colleges cancel in-person classes, tell students to go home

A student carries a mattress while moving out, following the announcement that the 5Cs are moving classes online after spring break and asking students to leave campus. (HuxleyAnn Huefner • The Student Life)

The undergraduate Claremont Colleges have canceled in-person classes after spring break for the foreseeable future in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The changes were announced in a series of emails to the schools’ student bodies. The move comes after a week of escalating changes on campus in response to the virus, including Pomona College and Scripps College canceling all public events.

The schools are also extending spring break by a week, and canceling classes from March 22 to 28. Classes will begin online on March 30.

While the five undergraduate schools are going online, Keck Graduate Institute and Claremont Graduate University will continue in-person classes.

The 5Cs join schools nationwide, including Harvard and Columbia, in moving their classes online and asking students to leave campus.

Los Angeles County experienced its first death due to coronavirus, the public health department said Wednesday. There are currently 27 cases reported in the county.

Scripps College

Scripps President Lara Tiedens asked students not to return to campus after spring break, at least until April 18 when more information becomes available. The school is allowing students to petition to stay on campus if they feel they cannot leave — the petitions will be accepted until Friday, March 13 at 11:59 p.m.

All courses will continue online, Tiedens said via email, and faculty will communicate directly with students regarding specifics. Classes will be held on video conferencing software Zoom.

Additionally, Scripps’ Malott Dining Commons will no longer permit self-serve options or outside food containers, including the green clamshell takeout boxes. Malott will provide paper to-go containers instead, Tiedens said.

Scripps also posted an FAQ on its website with additional information.

The college said it has not yet confirmed if students’ financial aid packages will be affected by learning remotely. 

Students who have already left for spring break should contact the Office of Residential Life to discuss options. After the dorms close, anyone who has left will not be allowed back.

Students remaining on campus will be consolidated into fewer residence facilities. Any students who leave campus will be refunded a portion of room and board costs.

Students who do not have access to Wi-Fi or computers for their remote classes should contact their primary contact dean. Zoom has a phone-in audio-only option available as well.

All students were also instructed to participate in courses at their scheduled times regardless of their home time zone.

The school will also pay students on federal work-study their expected wage for the remainder of the semester, based on their average earnings in the February pay periods. Students with other on-campus jobs will not be paid for the rest of the semester.

The Student Health Insurance Plan will continue to cover Scripps students off campus, and students currently enrolled in the off-campus therapy program will be able to continue to see their therapists. 

The school will have further updates for students planning to work or research on campus during the summer in April.

“Circumstances continue to evolve, and like many higher education institutions, we are making the best possible decisions with limited information and opportunities to prepare,” Tiedens said. “Please know that we are approaching these decisions deliberately, based on the latest information from local, state and national public health agencies, and that we are consulting with experts in epidemiology and our colleagues at other institutions of higher education who are grappling with similar uncertainty.”

Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College is canceling in-person instruction and transitioning to online classes for all courses beginning March 13, HMC President Maria Klawe announced in an email to students Wednesday. 

Faculty will not provide in-classroom instruction or in-person office hours, but will offer them virtually, even for students who must remain on campus, Klawe said. There will be no in-person meetings between faculty and students. 

While Mudd is not mandating their students leave campus, Klawe strongly recommended that students go home if possible. If Mudd students leave for spring break, they cannot return to their dorms, Mudd Vice President for Student Affairs Anna Gonzalez said in an email to students.

Students who choose not to leave will be allowed to remain on campus, although a mandatory evacuation is possible later in the semester, Gonzalez said. Students who remain on campus will be consolidated into fewer residence halls.

All college-sponsored events have been canceled, and the college asked students to limit in-person gatherings to a maximum of eight people. Students will be banned from having visitors in residence halls, including other 7C students.

Students who have already left campus for break but want to return to move out can request an exception via an online form. Students will be asked to disclose where they have traveled, and will be permitted to access their rooms “for a very short window of time,” she said.

The college expects to cancel Alumni Weekend, Presentation Days and many other events scheduled for later in the spring semester, but will re-evaluate in mid-April, Klawe said. 

The college will be providing a pro-rated refund for board to those students who complete the semester from home, Klawe added. 

Faculty will choose between working from their offices on campus, from home or elsewhere depending on their circumstances.

“We would like to thank everyone for their amazing efforts and help to ensure the College can continue to educate our students during these challenging circumstances,” Klawe said.

Pomona College

A sign on cardboard in a window that says
A Pomona student hung a sign in their window encouraging others to use their Flex before they have to leave campus. (Amy Best • The Student Life)

Pomona students have been asked to leave campus by March 18, college administrators said in an email to students.

If students are unable to go home, they can petition to stay on campus. The petitions will be accepted until March 12 at 11:59 p.m. If they are unable to afford to travel home, they can request financial assistance

While Pomona will remain open, all classes will shift online without exception, the email said. 

“The second week [of break], 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,” the email said.

A plan for students to move out is still developing and will be communicated to students soon, the administrators said. They added that the college has not yet decided if it will host commencement.

The school will be providing refunds to students for a portion of spring 2020 room and board payments, according to a frequently asked questions webpage.

Students are also being asked to participate in classes at their regularly scheduled times regardless of what time zone they will be living in, according to the FAQ, and the school will not be providing refunds for tuition and course fees to students who complete their courses.

Pomona previously also canceled its Alumni Weekend, and said it would be conducted online-only. 

Claremont McKenna College

Claremont McKenna College’s courses will be moved online beginning March 30 through the end of the semester, CMC President Hiram Chodosh said in an email to students. Students are required to return home or find other off-campus housing by March 23, and Chodosh urged them to “avoid non-essential travel” over break.

Students who cannot return home will be allowed to remain on campus “as long as merited, pending the outcome of a strict approval process,” Chodosh said.

All students on campus through March 23 will be given a meal plan. Frary Dining Hall at Pomona will be open through March 22 and Collins through March 23, according to Chodosh.

For any students remaining on campus, attendance at events will be limited, and all college-sponsored events are canceled until further notice.

CMC also distributed a survey with questions about spring break plans and technology concerns, as well as a petition to remain on campus.

The college will reimburse room and board costs for all students who have left campus by March 23.

Faculty and staff are being asked to come to campus as usual, until further notice.

The SCIAC will make a decision on athletics on Friday, but CMS has canceled all team flights except for NCAA championships, Chodosh said.

The school has not yet decided to cancel its commencement or alumni weekend, Chodosh said, but will reevaluate its plans soon. 

CMC’s Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley Programs will also have an extended spring break, and the program directors will communicate further with students.

“Even though we have no affirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Claremont Colleges or our local area, public health experts expect the expansion of testing to disclose many new cases and anticipate that the novel virus will spread,” Chodosh said. “Thus, we each have a shared responsibility to do whatever we can to impede any exponential contagion of COVID-19.”

Following the announcement students gathered in outside spaces, with some jumping in the fountains outside of the Hub.

Students embrace each other as they stand in a shallow fountain.
Students jump in the fountains outside the Hub at Claremont McKenna College following the announcement March 11 that classes are going online. (Hank Snowdon • The Student Life)

Pitzer College

All of Pitzer College’s residence halls, including the off-campus collegiate apartments, are closing on March 18 and students are being asked to leave campus, according to an FAQ the school posted Wednesday, unless they submit a request online by Friday.

Any students who leave campus overnight for spring break will be prohibited from returning to campus.

All students are being asked to complete an emergency checkout form.

Any students remaining on campus will be consolidated into fewer residence halls. The school did not forbid visitors but did “discourage any overnight guests.”

The college instructed students to pack expecting not to return to campus, and is facilitating storage for some items students are unable to take home. Any items students are unable to take can be left in their rooms in labeled boxes, with labels available at the Residence Life Office.

The college will provide refunds for a portion of room and board fees.

Campus events, including Kohoutek and Rockabilly music festivals, have been canceled. All admissions tours and other events have been canceled through mid-April, including Admitted Students Day, beginning on March 16, President Melvin Oliver said in an email to students.

Alumni weekend has also been postponed.

Students on a meal plan will have access to Mudd and Pomona dining halls until March 18, when meal plans will be discontinued. McConnell Dining Hall will be closed after dinner on March 13.

Students not returning in the fall or graduating cannot store items on campus.

Pitzer’s resident assistants will no longer work “for the time being,” but professional residential staff will remain on call.

Staff will continue to work on site until notified otherwise. 

Study abroad programs will continue subject to new developments, Oliver said, and the study abroad office is evaluating the viability of summer and fall programs.

Oliver’s email, the first direct communication to students from the college about the change, was not sent until more than two and a half hours after the first announcement of changes at the colleges. Spokesperson Anna Chang said the school was having issues with its email listservs.

Claremont Graduate University and Keck Graduate Institute

CGU President Len Jessup and KGI President Sheldon Schuster said they are not moving courses at this time due to the graduate students’ different circumstances.

“Our students at CGU and KGI are older than those at the undergraduate institutions and have very different lifestyles; all students commute or live in graduate apartments,” they said. “As a result, we do not believe that a complete switch to online delivery is warranted at this time.”

The schools are prepared to offer all courses online, however.

CGU is also restricting university-sponsored international travel and recommending that community members cancel or postpone non-essential domestic travel until May 1, according to the CGU website.

It is also asking anyone who is planning to travel to register their trips with the university.

The college also said events with over 100 attendees or including participants traveling from foreign countries should be canceled.

KGI said on its website that campus events will continue as planned “as long as the virus does not pose a threat to the KGI community.”

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

This article was last updated March 11, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. It was previously updated March 11, 2020 at 2:19 p.m. and 1:37 p.m.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said that Anna Gonzalez works for Scripps College. She is a Harvey Mudd College dean. TSL regrets this error.
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