CMC and Pomona cancel events as case spike unsettles end of semester

CMC buildings stand in the foreground against a purple sky
Event cancelations and preliminary concerns about next semester are following an uptick in 5C cases and larger projections of a national winter surge. (Anna Choi • The Student Life)

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is now consulting with 5C administrators after two clusters and at least 32 new cases of COVID-19 emerged this week. As the final week of classes unfolded, the schools placed new restrictions on gatherings and asked community members to be vigilant against further transmission.

Claremont McKenna College has seen 14 new student cases as of Friday, officials said in a community update. According to a Tuesday message from the school’s Covid Compliance Committee, at least five were linked to one of CMC’s five new student cases last week and a pregaming event.

“The outbreak involved vaccinated individuals in close contact, indoors, for more than 15 minutes, without masks, eating and drinking together at a private gathering before attending a larger event,” the committee said.

CMC postponed its faculty holiday reception as a result of the surge and said faculty were assessing if changes to in-person final exams were necessary.

In a Friday afternoon update, Pomona College Dean of Students Avis Hinkson said 11 students have tested positive this week — an increase from seven as of Wednesday afternoon — “with at least some likely tied to a social gathering last weekend.”

Scripps College had three cases, as of a Friday morning email from interim Dean of Students Adriana di Bartolo-Beckman. Pitzer College found three cases Wednesday and Thursday, its dashboard said, while Harvey Mudd College has one, according to a community notification Friday.

Pomona’s Seaver Theatre cancelled non-essential student events and gatherings as a result of the uptick, including this weekend’s Spotlight Musical Theater production “The Winner Takes It All,” the department told theater students in a Thursday email, although the show was cleared to livestream its performance Friday night.

The Pomona Events Committee also announced its “Euphoria” party, originally scheduled for Friday, would be postponed until next semester, citing the surge in cases.

On Friday, Hinkson canceled all Pomona social gatherings and student events through the end of the semester. “Please avoid unnecessary trips to our neighboring campuses,” she added.

In a Wednesday note, Pomona administrators told faculty and staff to be mindful of health and safety guidelines for end-of-year events, encouraging outside gatherings whenever possible and keeping indoor spaces to 50 percent capacity.

Heeding signs of a winter surge in California and around the country, administrators also emphasized caution in developing policies for students’ January return to Claremont.

No in-person 5C events will be held from the beginning of the semester through Feb. 7, the Pomona employee message said. 

And the return of cross-campus dining, a passionate topic among students, will be predicated on low positivity rates for the first three weeks of the semester, Pomona Dean of Students Avis Hinkson and COO Rob Goldberg told 5C students in a Wednesday email. Hinkson and Goldberg also noted the issue of staffing shortages and supply chain constraints in bringing back 5C dining.

We are mindful of your interest in this aspect of returning to ‘pre-pandemic normalcy’ and will provide you with more details on the status of our plans for 5C dining no later than the week of February 7,” they said.

This is a developing story and will be updated as details become available.

This story was last updated Dec. 10 at 11:03 p.m.

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