Pomona, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer require post-break COVID-19 testing; Scripps institutes random testing

Around 30 COVID testing kits lie on a white table.
5C implement divergent policies on post-break COVID-19 testing requirements. (Anna Choi • The Student Life)

As 5C students made a return to Claremont following fall break, some colleges also brought back temporary COVID-19 testing requirements.

Students at Pomona College, Harvey Mudd College and Pitzer College are required to test for COVID-19 upon returning from fall break, according to emails from each college. 

All Pomona students must test once between Oct. 19 and 21 and again next week from Oct. 24-28, Pomona Dean of Students Avis Hinkson said in an Oct. 19 email to students. 

Harvey Mudd juniors and seniors were required to test Oct. 19, while sophomores and first years tested Oct. 20. 

“For the safety of our community, it is crucial that students follow through with their testing this week. If you fail to do so, we will ask you to self-report,” Marco Valenzuela, Harvey Mudd’s dean of students, said in an Oct. 18 email to students. 

Pitzer students are also required to test this week, according to an Oct. 14 email from Vince Greer, Pitzer’s dean of students.

On Oct. 13, Scripps College instituted a 15 percent weekly testing threshold among its student body, which if not met through voluntary testing would elicit random mandatory testing until enough students test. 

Leading up to and following fall break, the threshold was not met, prompting some students to receive notices to test. Students are given 72 hours to test after receiving a notice. 

Scripps added that if cases significantly rise at the college, some or all students may be required to engage in screenings at random, according to the Oct. 13 update.

With Scripps falling short of the minimum, Shawnice Ross, Scripps’ COVID-19 coordinator in the dean of students office, sent out emails on Oct. 14 and 18 to students who had been selected to test with a deadline of Oct. 21.

“Please note that students who fail to follow the testing guidelines may be subjected to conduct process,” Ross said. 

In an Oct. 14 update, Scripps announced the end of mandatory masking inside Malott Commons, making Scripps the last of the 5Cs to end its mask mandate in the dining halls. The Motley Coffeehouse, however, continues to require masks while ordering. 

All medical facilities at the 5Cs continue to require masks, including the 240 House Testing Center and Student Health Services. 

Although Claremont McKenna College’s COVID-19 website states that mandatory testing may be implemented after each major break, testing is optional but strongly encouraged for students returning from fall break, according to an Oct. 13 email to students.

In the email, the college’s COVID Compliance Committee said students were able to pick up antigen tests from the dean of students office prior to fall break so that they could test before and after returning to campus. 

“Looking at our own relatively low case numbers here at CMC, as well as encouraging trends reported by the LA County Department of Public Health, the local COVID positivity rate is currently quite low,” the Committee said.

Claremont McKenna students who are symptomatic and have a known exposure can contact Hamilton Health Box to arrange a rapid CUE test. 

The COVID Compliance Committee said CMC’s full COVID-19 dashboard will not make a return this year, although the college will continue to report positive cases on its website on Mondays. CMC’s current data does not distinguish whether positive cases are students, faculty or staff.  

“We do not think reporting a positivity rate is meaningful without a change in policy that restores systematic, frequent surveillance testing,” the email said. “We continue to encourage you to keep abreast of the reported case numbers on campus in order to inform your decisions and behaviors about what precautions you choose to take, or not take, for your own personal health, as well as for any vulnerable family or household members.”

Despite a varying approach to post-fall break testing policies, each of the 5Cs continue to require student testing within 48 hours of experiencing COVID-like symptoms, according to the colleges’ websites.

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