In an email to the student body sent on Monday evening, Pomona College President G. Gabrielle Starr confirmed that Pomona students will almost certainly not be returning to campus in March. Starr also followed up on her statement from a previous email that Pomona will be bringing students back for in-person learning in the fall of 2021. According to Starr, Pomona and the other Claremont Colleges have been approved to dispense vaccines through the Claremont Colleges’ Student Health Services (SHS).
According to Starr, Pomona “will continue to support ongoing public health efforts. Vaccination will be an important part of getting [its] students back to campus. The campaign in [its] region is accelerating and The Claremont College’s Student Health Services has been approved to dispense COVID-19 vaccines. In the weeks ahead, [Pomona] will be holding a series of town hall Zoom meetings for students, families, faculty and staff on the issues involved in vaccination, which brings great promise for progress in fighting the pandemic. (Again, we urge everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they become eligible and not to wait for SHS to receive a supply.)”
In her email, Starr explained that “Los Angeles County, in response to a devastating surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, had placed on hold plans to allow some students to return to college campuses in spring as part of a planned waiver/pilot program – a program [Pomona] had sought in the urgent work to resume in-person education. While the situation is now starting to improve in our county, case counts remain very high, and the county has let us know it is unlikely a pilot program could be in place by March.” In light of this decision, Starr said, “[t]here simply was no longer a path on the county’s current timeframe, and [Pomona] will remain in the remote environment for spring.”
Despite the decision to remain online for the rest of the spring, Starr claimed that, with “vaccines now a reality, and Pomona prepped and ready, I am happy to say the resumption of campus life is now in sight as we look to the fall, and with it, a full return to our beautiful Claremont.” Starr explained that Pomona needs “[LA] county’s powerful governing body – the Board of Supervisors – to provide a clear and responsible path for college students to return to their campuses.” According to Starr’s email, in the meantime Pomona will continue to find “new partners and accelerate the campaign of advocacy both for [its] students and those across the county.”
Starr also pointed out that “neighboring counties have been able to re-open college campuses, as have most other governmental entities in the U.S. [Starr] believe[s] it can be done here as well, but so far, attention in [LA] county has been focused elsewhere. Indoor malls, to take one example, are open, with continuing adjustments to occupancy levels, while colleges like Pomona are not even permitted to hold classes outside with social distancing and other precautions. There is no scientific rationale for this variation and, though well-intentioned, it indicates a troubling lack of priority for young people.”
Starr concluded by informing students that “[i]n the weeks ahead, we will ask for your help in making our voices heard as we continue to build a coalition to push for the balanced approach that upholds our young people and the future of our region. I will work tirelessly to advocate for the most vulnerable students who face the greatest hurdles in this temporary online environment.”