As LA County eases indoor mask mandate, the 5Cs’ guidelines largely remain intact

Many students wearing masks stand in line.
While Los Angeles County guidelines ease its mask guidelines, the 5Cs will largely keep the indoor mandate intact. (Lillian Visaya • The Student Life)

Los Angeles County recently amended its public health guidelines to relax its indoor mask mandate, but in an email to students Friday morning, several of the Claremont Colleges announced they will largely continue to hold on to mask mandates. 

Effective March 4, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health no longer requires indoor masking for either vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals, except with “mega events,”  that host more than one thousand people indoors or ten thousand in outdoor settings. The department still strongly recommends the use of masks, however. 

Citing “the nature of living, teaching and working on our campus,” Pomona College’s COVID-19 Planning and Response Group said that it will mostly maintain the indoor mask mandate in public settings as to “continue to take a measured approach,” while announcing some easing up of restrictions. 

Pomona will still require masks in most public settings and those who are up to date with vaccinations will have the option to eliminate mask usage in a few scenarios. 

As of Friday, fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear a mask indoors when working alone or in office cubicles and when walking through campus buildings.

Additionally, masks are no longer required for indoor one-on-one meetings between faculty, students and staff, as long as both participants consent to the removal of masks and are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination.

Masks will continue to be required in residence halls and in indoor settings where there are three or more people. Individuals who are not vaccinated are required to continue wearing masks in all indoor settings.

In regards to outdoor events and meetings, the college will maintain the mandates for ‘passive’ events, which Dean of Students Avis Hinkson defined as those where attendees are seated and not directly interacting with each other.

‘Active’ events, where dancing, singing or shouting may take place in gatherings of over 50 people will continue to be masked regardless of whether the event is held outside.

Hinkson added that compliance will rest on the honor system, although added that “event planners may elect to require documentation of vaccination status.”

Pomona’s COVID-19 Planning and Response Group will assess the college’s indoor and outdoor mask policy two weeks after spring break, on April 4. 

Pitzer College also announced some changes to its mask requirements in a Friday afternoon community message.

Masks will no longer be required outdoors at Pitzer unless instructed by faculty, Campus Life, employee supervisors or other offices managing large events and programs, according ot the email.

While Pomona and Pitzer announced changes to their masking policies, Scripps College and Harvey Mudd College said it will maintain their current guidelines, administrators said.

At Harvey Mudd, masking will continue to be required indoors or when taking a class in an outdoor classroom. 

“The College will continue to evaluate the new LACDPH Health Officer Order and determine if additional changes are needed to our COVID-19 guidance,” members of the president’s cabinet said Friday.

The use of surgical-grade masks at a minimum will continue to be required in all indoor settings, Scripps College interim Vice President for Student Affairs Adriana di Bartolo-Beckman said in a community message.

LA County’s guidance, she added, “is primarily intended for single site venues such as restaurants, retail, and performance venues. It is not workable in a campus setting with multiple buildings as each building is treated as a separate indoor space that requires vaccination and photo ID verification.”

Claremont McKenna College has not yet announced if there will be changes following LACDPH’s updated guidelines.

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