Pomona, Harvey Mudd announce some COVID-19 guidelines for fall move-in, amid a summer surge in cases

A long, white building with a tall clock tower and wooden doors are behind a sign that tells visitors that Pomona College is closed due to the pandemic.
Pomona College reported 60 positive COVID-19 cases among faculty, staff and visitors last week. The spike mirrors regional trends that are likely fueled by the highly contagious BA.5 subvariant. (Mia Celeste • The Student Life)

This is a developing story and may be updated as information becomes available. Updated: 9:24 p.m. PDT.

With just over five weeks until students return to campus, Pomona College and Harvey Mudd College announced preliminary testing requirements and COVID-19 guidelines for the upcoming fall semester. The announcement follows a recent surge in positive cases among the colleges’ faculty and staff, echoing similar trends across Los Angeles County.

At Pomona, students are required to test two days after their arrival to campus. Weekly testing will be required through the second week of classes, according to a July 25 email from Dean of Students Josh Eisenberg. 

Students are strongly urged, but not required, to take a COVID-19 test within two days leading up to their return to campus.

Masks are currently required at Pomona for those working in or entering the dining halls on campus, but Eisenberg did not add what the college’s masking policy will look like in the fall. 

Unvaccinated faculty and staff are required to test weekly with the Hamilton HealthBox clinic, while vaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to do the same. 

As for students, unvaccinated individuals will continue to test twice weekly in the fall, according to Eisenberg.

Throughout the semester, students must test within 48 hours of becoming symptomatic, Eisenberg said. Students who test positive will continue to isolate.

In a shift away from last year’s policy, families will be allowed inside residence halls during move-in, the email said. Masking requirements for move-in will be determined by the latest LA County guidelines. 

Harvey Mudd students are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test at least 72 hours before arriving on campus, according to a July 20 email sent to faculty, staff and students. 

The email added that the college’s decision to mandate weekly tests during the first two weeks of classes was made in conjunction with the other 5Cs. After two weeks, Harvey Mudd students will have access to optional free testing at Student Health Services.

According to the email, Harvey Mudd anticipates cross-campus dining will resume in the fall.

On July 15,  Robert Robinson, Pomona’s assistant vice president of campus services, announced that indoor masking requirements could return to Los Angeles County due to a regional uptick in cases. 

If the county remains at this high transmission level for two weeks, indoor masking requirements will go into place, with July 29 the expected date as this time,” the announcement said. 

On July 22, Robinson said that 26 staff members and five faculty members at Pomona had tested positive since July 18. 

As of Monday, Pomona’s COVID-19 dashboard added three more positive cases for faculty and staff, culminating in a test positivity rate of 11 percent between July 17 and July 23. Last week saw 306 tests completed by college staff and faculty members. 

Additionally, 26 campus visitors attending last week’s Western Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Management School tested positive, according to Robinson. 

During the surge, Robinson said indoor masking is recommended. Students currently on campus will also have more grab-and-go dining hall options as a result of the increase in cases.

Harvey Mudd saw six faculty and staff cases and three student cases from July 17 to July 24, according to its COVID-19 dashboard. Nine positive test results out of 67 conducted tests resulted in a 13 percent positivity rate.  

Claremont McKenna College had one positive case on-campus for the week of July 18 and did not report specific testing numbers. Pitzer College reported zero cases while Scripps College has not updated its COVID-19 dashboard since May.

Marcella Todd contributed reporting. 

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