Weekly mandatory tests out, vending machine in: a look at this fall’s COVID-19 guidelines

(Gerrit Punt • The Student Life)

COVID-19 case counts weren’t the only thing to fluctuate last year — administrative policies and access to testing across the 5Cs did as well.

TSL compiled an overview of guidelines for the fall semester, which kicked off Monday, marking the second consecutive year of in-person learning since the pandemic sent students home in March 2020.

With another academic year during a pandemic, policies at the 5Cs are again subject to change pending cases on campus, as well as updates from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

What will testing look like?

Each of the 5Cs required students to test within the first two to three days upon arrival to Claremont. Additionally, a 5C-wide weekly test mandate has been put in place for the first two weeks of classes.

Pomona College’s Dean of Students Avis Hinkson told TSL via email that, as of Monday, a decision regarding an extension of the testing mandate has not yet been made.

Hinkson added that the college may consider implementing a weekly test quota later in the semester if a certain test rate hasn’t been met.

“If the College decides to implement an optional COVID-19 testing program for students at a later point in the semester, we will set a floor for the percent of students we expect to test each week,” Hinkson said. “If that percentage of the student population is not reached, a cohort of students will be required to test. That cohort will likely be a class of students such as: first years, sophomores, juniors or seniors.”

This fall, testing for all 5C students will take place through Student Health Services at the Tranquada Student Services Center. Faculty and staff who opt to get tested will also test at SHS.

Each campus and the Honnold-Mudd Library has added a ShieldT3 Health vending machine stocked with saliva-based PCR tests to provide further testing options.

Following the first two weeks of classes, SHS spokesperson Laura Muna-Landa confirmed via email that free testing will continue at the Tranquada Center and throughout the remainder of the academic year.

While the number of unvaccinated students remains low at the 5Cs, anyone not up-to-date with COVID vaccines must test throughout the semester.

What if I got COVID over summer break?

PCR tests may display a positive result within 90 days of infection, even long after symptoms and contagiousness have passed, according to the CDC.

So, if you tested positive over the summer, let your school know — you could be exempt from testing for the beginning of the semester.

Harvey Mudd students have an online form available to upload proof of a positive COVID-19 result from the summer. Pomona students should upload test results from a doctor’s office or medical lab to their SHS health portal.

Pitzer, Scripps and CMC ask for students to reach out to administration or Hamilton Health Box.

What’s the deal with masking this year?

All five of the colleges strongly recommend masking indoors but do not require it, in adherence with LACDPH’s latest guidelines.

Although masks are generally optional indoors, faculty at each of the colleges have discretion to decide whether to mandate their usage in the classroom.

Areas where masks continue to be required indoors include SHS, Monsour Counseling Services and Malott Dining Commons.

The 5Cs require the use of masks for any students who test positive, with Pomona, Pitzer, Scripps and Harvey Mudd also mandating masks for those experiencing symptoms.CMC’s current guidance does not clarify the college’s policy.

What if I am experiencing symptoms?

If a student starts experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, they should get tested as soon as possible.

In accordance with LACDPH’s current guidance, anyone who tests positive will be required to isolate for up to ten days. However, if the student is negative on a Student Health Services administered rapid antigen test on day six, they may be able to end their quarantine early.

Those exposed to the virus are asked to monitor symptoms and test within 3-5 days of exposure, according to county guidelines.

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