As the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly throughout the U.S., several Claremont Colleges sent emails to their students regarding plans for Spring Semester. Scripps, Harvey Mudd, and Claremont McKenna College (CMC) have announced that they “will require all employees and students” to receive booster shots. The colleges also announced several other safety measures, such as holding classes online at the beginning of the semester, which may be implemented to combat the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
According to Scripps’ email, as “Los Angeles County is currently reporting over 20,000 new coronavirus cases per day, and the rampant sure of the Omicron variant is requiring us to rethink how we approach the new year and beginning of the spring semester. Scripps is taking action to minimize an outbreak on campus prior to our students’ arrival by de-densifying the campus. The vice presidents are working with their divisions to limit work on campus to essential work only from January 4-14. Those employees who are able to do so will work remotely.”
Scripps also mentioned that “Employees will NOT be able to work on campus until they receive their negative test results.
CMC states in its email that, “[a]lthough COVID-19 cases in LA county have and are expected to continue to increase over the next 4 weeks, the Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that it has no plans to advise colleges to move online.” All the 5Cs are currently planning on starting the spring semester on time as planned.
Restrictions on social gatherings are likely in the first few weeks as baseline negative rates are established. [CMC] “may also require twice weekly testing if recommended by [its] medical team in mid-January.” Moreover, “the presidents of the Claremont Colleges will be meeting this week to discuss the possibility of beginning the semester with courses being taught remotely to best protect the health and safety of our community.” Harvey Mudd already canceled its “Joy Term” and “Camp Mudd”, which required students to arrive early on campus. As such, flexibility in travel plans would be critical, especially for those “who are navigating airline cancellations and coronavirus infections and/or exposure.”
Other colleges across the country have already decided to hold the first several weeks of classes online. Harvard, the University of Chicago, and other prominent institutions hope the move will “get them past the peak of the nationwide spike driven by the highly contagious omicron variant.”