UPDATE: Claremont McKenna College has decided to move all courses, academic support, and student services online for the remainder of the semester beginning March 30, and require students to move out by March 23. Pomona College is requiring students to move out by March 18 and remain off-campus for the remainder of the semester. The week of March 23 “will serve as a period of transition to online instruction.”
The President of Scripps College, Lara Tidens, sent out an email to the Scripps College community today, March 11, announcing that all classes at the small liberal arts college—and those of the Claremont Colleges Consortium—will be suspended. Tiedens attributed the major decision to the elevated risk of the coronavirus COVID-19 spreading in the Claremont Colleges, affecting the safety of students, faculty and staff. This news comes after Pomona College, another member of the Consortium, elected to cancel all public events through April 18th implemented from March 9th. Classes will be conducted online for the final half of the spring semester. The Claremont Colleges include Pomona, Harvey Mudd, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges.
Tieden’s email reads below:
“The following protocols will remain in place until at least April 18. The College will provide information about plans for the remainder of the semester prior to that date.
Residential Life: To reduce the risk of transmission in residence halls, students are asked not to return to campus after spring break. Academic requirements will be met remotely during this period. Students who believe they need to remain on campus must submit information regarding their circumstances through a written request process. Students whose requests are approved to stay on campus will receive instruction remotely and must prepare for severely limited on-campus activities and interactions. Students will receive additional, specific information regarding move-out procedures from the Dean of Students office.
Academic Instruction: All course work, senior thesis advising, and academic advising will be delivered in a virtual environment, mainly via the Zoom videoconferencing platform and Sakai. Students will hear directly from their faculty members regarding specific instructions for classes. We recognize that the online approach is not ideal, but we are confident that faculty will do their best to provide optimal conditions for learning under the circumstances. To facilitate a smooth transition, spring break will be extended by one week and virtual classes will begin March 30.”
Claremont Colleges students cross-enroll in classes, meaning that if one college cancels classes, the rest effectively do so as well.
This news comes as the pandemic surges around the world, including over 1,000 cases in the United States, a figure that is rapidly increasing. Many other elite colleges across the country, such as Harvard, Amherst and Stanford University, have already taken similar steps to limit coronavirus’ spread. Countries such as the People’s Republic of China and Italy, both hit very hard by COVID-19, have also experienced widespread school and university closure.
Professors at at least Claremont McKenna College have already emailed students announcing a transition of classes to the Zoom online platform.
Online classes are a potential problem for international students who, if sent home, may have to wake up to attend lectures in the middle of the night due to time zone differences. None of the Claremont Colleges have clarified whether it would subsidize travel costs for low-income students due to the short notice of campus closure given by the Claremont Colleges. Travel to certain countries, with international students returning home, may also come with an elevated risk of exposure to the virus, something the Claremont Colleges’ decision fails to address.
Pending further decision-making as COVID-19 continues to spread, the Claremont Colleges may remain closed until September of this year, upon the start of the Fall Semester 2020.
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