Campus events canceled after six Pomona students test positive for COVID-19

A big building sits at the end of a very green quad.
Pomona College canceled events after 6 students tested positive for COVID-19 this week. (Lilly Haave • The Student Life)

Pomona College went a month without reporting a single positive COVID-19 test among students — but that achievement ended this week when six students tested positive. 

Three of the cases may be connected to a social gathering which took place last weekend, Dean of Students Avis Hinkson and Treasurer Robert Goldberg said in a Thursday email

Students who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic but have been in close contact with a student who tested positive have been placed in modified quarantine, which restricts them to “attending class and academic activities” until testing is completed five days after exposure.

The Pomona-Pitzer football home game this Saturday vs. Cal Lutheran has been canceled, the email said, “due to the requirements of modified quarantine.” 

Due to the positive cases, a 2000s themed party planned by the Pomona Events Committee for Saturday has been postponed to Oct. 22, according to an email from Timi Adelakun PO ’24, ASPC’s commissioner of campus events.

“Six positive results would amount to a roughly 0.3 percent positivity rate at our typical number of weekly tests,” Hinkson and Goldberg said. “However, the test results at this point in the week underscore the urgent need to remain vigilant with our ongoing safety measures.” 

In light of the uptick, Pomona is carrying out additional targeted testing while positive individuals are in isolation following county guidelines.

The announcement emphasized the importance of continued masking, testing and symptom monitoring. 

“We urge students to remember to wear masks when gathering in residence halls and over meals while not actively eating,” Hinkson and Goldberg said. “Going into the weekend, we ask that everyone stay committed to community safety.”

While more than 99 percent of Pomona students are fully vaccinated, breakthrough cases still occur, especially from the delta variant, the email said. 

“Our medical experts note that cases at colleges often are connected to indoor social gatherings, not the controlled setting of the classroom,” Hinkson and Goldberg said.

But it’s not clear how the students currently in modified quarantine were exposed.

“It would be unfair to assume modified quarantine for any student is always a result of a social gathering, as Dean Hinkson did not connect all six COVID positive cases to a social gathering,” Director of Pomona-Pitzer Athletics Miriam Merrill said in an email.

Los Angeles County has “some of the nation’s most extensive COVID-19 safety protocols and the college is adhering to them closely,” the email added. The county requires colleges to report clusters of “three or more confirmed cases” so public health officials can determine if they constitute an outbreak, according to its most recent guidelines.

This story was updated Oct. 8 at 11:25 a.m.

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