Pomona says expect decision on spring semester in mid-December

A Friday email from Pomona College administrators offered a window to what school may look like in the spring 2020 semester. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

Pomona College will release a final decision on whether students can return to campus for the spring semester in mid-December, officials said Friday.

The email to students, sent by Pomona President G. Gabrielle Starr, also gave a peek into what the spring semester might look like, with the caveat that all plans depend on guidance from the state and county.

Pomona’s announcement follows similar ones from Scripps College and Pitzer College earlier this week, though the two colleges did not provide a likely scenario for the mode of instruction. Claremont McKenna College and Harvey Mudd College have not yet announced when students should expect a decision.

Starr said instruction for Pomona students is likely to continue online even if they do return to campus, with many social distancing requirements and students taking classes from their dorms. 

The email also indicated that public health guidance will make it unlikely that the entire student body could return in the spring, in order to keep population density low in residence halls with one person per room, a lower bathroom to student ratio and space set aside for quarantine. 

The public health guidelines from Los Angeles County that effectively bar in-person instruction currently remain in effect. An update from the county is not expected until the end of November or early December, according to the email. 

Pomona will seek input from faculty, staff and students as the decision making process moves forward, according to the email. The college will also study colleges that have returned students to campus to ensure best practices if some students do return in the spring.

“We know members of our community are wondering about spring semester. We know how much it matters for those students who are eager to return to campus,” Starr said in the email. “We also know it deeply matters for those students who need or prefer to continue remote education at this time.”

“I am deeply grateful to all of you for your commitment to our community, and I so look forward to the time when we can all be together on our campus again.”

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