Students at Scripps College and Pitzer College can expect to know their college’s spring semester plans by mid-December, according to emails sent to students by presidents Lara Tiedens and Melvin Oliver respectively.
Both presidents said they will announce the format of the spring 2020 semester after receiving guidance from the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, which will convene after Thanksgiving to reassess whether institutions of higher education can safely bring students back to campus, the emails said. Currently, the LACPHD does not permit institutes of higher education to hold in-person activities or house students on-campus.
“The college’s decision will be guided by our commitment to the health and safety of our campus and surrounding community, our educational mission, and the holistic student experience,” Tiedens said in an email to students Oct. 5.
Several California colleges have already announced their spring plans. The California State University system and Los Angeles Community College district will remain online only during the spring semester. The University of California, Berkeley will offer “limited in-person instruction” with the option for all students to take classes online.
Over the next two months, Scripps will monitor the status of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County and participate in regular briefings with county health officials and higher education peers, the email said.
“Meanwhile, we are actively learning from those institutions across the nation whose students have returned to campus, tracking progress in testing, treatment, and vaccine innovations, and making plans for how to operate so that as soon as it is possible, we are ready,” Tiedens said.
Oliver echoed a similar sentiment in his email to students Oct. 6, saying Pitzer is “preparing to meet the existing public health protocols and safety requirements” and anticipates possible future requirements for on-campus living and in-person instruction.
“Returning to a residential academic experience safely is my priority,” Oliver said. “We expect to make a determination about the spring semester in early December at the soonest due to our dependence on LACDPH.”
Pitzer’s COVID-19 Task Force has “identified and discussed principles for re-opening in-person,” which they will discuss in their meeting with the board of trustees later this week. The Task Force, which has active representation of faculty, staff and students, has convened regularly thus far and will continue to meet throughout fall semester, he said.
Tiedens expressed her gratitude to the working groups exploring multiple scenarios for testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine protocols, facilities modifications and community guidelines in the hopes of resuming on-campus operations in the spring.
Scripps has also requested its students to fill out a survey by Oct. 12 to assess students’ perspectives on returning to campus in the spring. The college seeks input on potential academic, residential and campus life scenarios and has “benefitted from previous community input” that has guided their planning and decision making, the email said.
The other Claremont Colleges have not yet publicly said when they plan to release plans for the spring semester.