More Claremont Colleges prepare for possibility of modified fall semester

Due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, more of the Claremont Colleges are preparing for an altered semester. Some possibilities include a delayed start or continuing with online classes. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

As uncertainty due to COVID-19 continues to threaten students’ return to campus, more of the Claremont Colleges are preparing alternative plans for the fall semester.

Previously, the consortium — which will make the final decision together — said it remained “committed” to the best-case scenario of students coming back in the fall, but Harvey Mudd College and Scripps College had already started forming backup plans to potentially delay the start of the semester or continue some classes online. Since then, Pomona College and Claremont McKenna College have also begun exploring different options.

Pomona said it’s considering starting the semester late or having a “blended start” with the first unit online followed by students’ return in the later months, according to President G. Gabrielle Starr. But everything is still up in the air.

“My magic 8 ball still says ‘ask again later,’ but all the planning is so that when we get to various inflections points, like announcements from the governor or public health authorities, we can do the responsible thing that jives with what is most important — supporting the education of incredible kids,” she told TSL.

CMC told students via email that it cannot completely return to its residential program “until the most restrictive public physical distancing restrictions are relaxed” and acknowledged that it was unrealistic for that to happen by mid-to-late August. 

President Hiram Chodosh said the school is planning for the likely scenario of most students coming back yet still having to face some physical distancing requirements. In practice, this may mean having classes in larger rooms or outside and spacing out students in residence halls.

An additional problem: Many international students who left the country face a variety of travel restrictions and may struggle to return to the U.S. As a result, hybrid classes are also being developed for students who can’t return to Claremont in the fall, Chodosh said.

Last week, HMC said its “most likely” scenario might be a combination of in-person and online classes. However, in an email sent to students Thursday, President Maria Klawe said the school is now also considering exclusively offering online classes for the fall. HMC also previously discussed possibly delaying the start of the semester.

Scripps President Lara Tiedens has likewise said the school must consider scenarios that include delaying or disrupting the fall semester, but didn’t go into detail in an email sent to students last week.

The situation at Pitzer College is fluid and has not definitively been decided one way or the other yet, according to Vice President for Academic Affairs Allen Omoto. The school has not released any information on alternative plans.

“Currently, we are assuming that we will return to campus in the fall, although a final decision will be made later this summer,” Omoto said in an email to students last week. “You will be informed of that decision as soon as it is made.”

The 5Cs hope to be able to make a decision by July 1, according to information on HMC’s website. However, if they decide to delay the start of the semester, further decisions may be made as late as August.

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