Dear CMC Community: I write to update you on several decisive steps CMC has taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus). Even though we have no affirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Claremont Colleges or our local area, public health experts expect the expansion of testing to disclose many new cases and anticipate that the novel virus will spread.
Thus, we each have a shared responsibility to do whatever we can to impede any exponential contagion of COVID-19.
In this, we face an unprecedented challenge: how to ensure the health and safety of our communities and maintain the continuity of our academic mission.
This means taking immediate, responsible action to reduce the closeness of our social interactions now in order to limit the risk of devastating spread and harm later. These actions require hard sacrifices for each of us, especially our seniors and the entire student body. We are all dedicated to doing whatever we can to take care of one another and mitigate that individual and shared sense of loss.
After careful thought and broad consultation with public health experts, and in coordination with our peers in The Claremont Colleges, we have decided to:
- Move all courses, academic support, and student services online or into an alternative distance format, beginning March 30 until the end of the semester;
- Extend spring break by one week, from March 16 through March 27 to provide time for faculty to virtualize their courses, with the semester to conclude on May 15, as scheduled;
- Require students to remain home or find another off-campus location by March 23 and urge them to avoid non-essential travel over the break;
- Exempt some students (who for good cause cannot return home) and allow them to stay on campus as long as merited, pending the outcome of a strict approval process;
- Implement rules of social distancing for the limited number of students who must remain on campus and for all other CMC events;
- Postpone or cancel all college-sponsored in-person events until further notice;
- Faculty and Staff should continue to report to campus as usual for the time being; revised guidelines will be shared with employees on Friday, March 13;
- Restrict travel to essential travel only and require everyone to monitor both State Department travel advisories and news about all affected areas before traveling; and
- Urge staff and faculty who feel unwell or are concerned about their personal health to remain home and communicate directly with their supervisor or the dean of the faculty.
We believe that these immediate steps will decrease the risk and consequences of an avoidable spread of COVID-19 for our community, our country, and the world beyond.
We are fully aware of the short-term challenges of this anticipated disruption, social discontinuity, and loss of on-campus experience.
However, we also believe these consequences are well worth the long-term health and safety benefits of acting sooner than later.
Many thanks to each and every one of you. You demonstrate the responsible leadership, resilience, flexibility, and spirit of collaboration that are critical to the effectiveness of our collective response to keep our communities safe.
Take great care, and
Hiram E. Chodosh
Claremont McKenna College
p.s., (Please note that these policy determinations will be in effect until further notice and reviewed periodically for any significant need to amend or adapt them. Please also review below the detailed explanations of each decision. We will continue to assess and adapt to any change in conditions on a continuous basis, resolve issues as they arise, and remain in continuous touch.)
Virtualization: Classes will resume in an online format on March 30. The Dean of the Faculty will remain in touch with students and faculty about online platforms and other approaches to academic continuity. Faculty will inform their students to explain the specific, alternative format for each course. It is imperative that students take course materials with them when they leave campus. We will also move academic advising, Soll Center advising, success consultants, peer tutoring, Center for Writing and Public Discourse and Murty Sunak QCL meetings, and other programs on-line or to an alternative distance format. All undergraduate Claremont Colleges are moving their courses to virtual formats as well.
Extending spring break: There will be no classes from March 16 through March 27. This time will allow faculty and students to prepare for the move to online courses. The semester will still conclude on May 15 as scheduled. Many students have already cancelled their spring break travel plans. CMC will extend the meal plan to all students who will be on campus for any part of next week, including those in the student apartments. Frary Dining Hall (Pomona) will be open for Claremont Colleges students through March 22, 2020. Collins – closing Saturday March 14 and closed for spring break. Re-opening March 23, to serve the students who have gotten exception to stay on campus. CMC residence halls and the student apartments are open through March 23, 2020 at 5 PM. Our expectation is that all students will make arrangements to move out of their on-campus rooms and vacate campus for this academic year by that day at the latest.
Returning home: Students will be required to depart campus for home or another off-campus location as soon as possible and no later than March 23. We realize there are students for whom returning home at this time is not possible or could put them at increased risk. All students will receive a "move-out email" with instructions that will include a link to a COVID-19 Response Student Registry, which must be submitted by 5:00 PM on Saturday, March 15. The Registry will allow students to indicate their spring break plans, dates of campus departure, and any technology concerns they may have relative to moving online. They will also be able to identify personal circumstances that require support from the Dean of Students or Financial Aid offices. There is a section in the Registry for students to petition to remain on campus for an extended period if they:
- have a home address in a country with a level 2, 3, or 4 U.S. travel advisory;
- have a documented health condition that puts them at risk for travel;
- live in a home community that poses a serious health risk; or
- have another compelling reason (considered case by case)
Again, please note that social-distancing practices will be in effect; thus, activities such as parties, club events, etc. will be restricted for those few who remain on campus.
Student Accounts: The College will be reimbursing Room and Board costs on a fair and proportionate basis for all students who have left campus by March 23. The offices of Financial Aid and Student Accounts will contact each student by the end of April with specific information about adjustments to their account. For those on the installment plan, we are also deferring the last installment until May 20, 2020.
Events: We have canceled or postponed events in Claremont as well as large metropolitan areas including Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington D.C., and Chicago. We are also imposing restrictions on campus tours and admissions events this spring. We will be moving to virtual formats for as many of these engagements as possible. For any staff or faculty who were planning an event, please contact the Events Office for more information.
There are currently no plans to cancel alumni weekend or commencement; however, we will be in continuous contact as we monitor conditions and reevaluate plans in the coming weeks.
Travel restrictions: We are asking members of our community (staff, faculty, students) to restrict their personal activities and travel to what they deem to be essential and to monitor both State Department travel advisories and news about affected areas before traveling. Beyond the health concerns, public travel restrictions may make it difficult to leave an affected country or area and return home. We will not sponsor travel for students to any country with a level 3 or 4 travel advisory and urge them to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 through travel. Faculty and staff must consult with their supervisors before traveling to any country with a travel advisory. We are also asking each of you to exercise sound judgment and self-report if you’ve been to an area that is now or later found to be widely affected.
Athletics: A decision related to athletics will be made on Friday by the presidents and athletic administrators of the SCIAC schools. Currently, CMS has cancelled all flight travel for teams, except for NCAA championships.
Study Abroad, The Washington Program, and the Silicon Valley Program: None of our students in off-campus study programs have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The situation in numerous countries is changing on a near-daily basis, and we remain in regular contact with CMC students abroad and their program providers. We have approved online courses and early departures when possible for students as their programs respond to the situation on site. Both CMC and the program providers are prepared to make accommodations for students as necessary.
The Washington DC program and the Silicon Valley Program will also have an extended spring break and will move to online teaching. Students will work with their Program Directors for guidance and support.
Business continuity: We are concerned about the health and safety of our dedicated staff and faculty. Normal business operations will continue for the time being; however, any employee who feels unwell or is concerned about their personal risk should remain home and communicate directly with their supervisor. Faculty will have access to their offices and classrooms after break, so they can record or teach their classes from there if they wish. We are dedicated to supporting the financial, health, and safety interests of all employees, in all ways, during this time. Guidelines with additional details will be shared with staff and faculty by Friday, March 13.