President’s Update for COVID-19

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Dear Pitzer College Community,

In my March 10 message, I shared with you Pitzer College’s efforts to address the growing public health threat from COVID-19 to our entire community – the colleges and our close Claremont neighbors.

While there are no confirmed cases in The Claremont Colleges, it is clear that this situation is changing rapidly; we are faced with trying to mitigate the possible effects of COVID-19, not only on Pitzer’s campus, but in The Claremont Colleges and the broader Claremont community.

Students traveling during spring break may travel to areas already impacted by the virus and unknowingly on their return to campus, significantly increase the potential of infection.

Since Saturday, the presidents of The Claremont Colleges have been meeting daily, and with input from the student deans, the treasurers, IT and the academic deans, have determined that spring break is both a potential danger to our campuses and an opportunity for us to institute some clear mitigation strategies that will enhance our health and safety. The best way to mitigate this risk, according to public health experts, is to abide by careful social distancing practices.

In collaboration with our 5C undergraduate colleges, I am announcing the following proactive measures:

Transition to Remote Learning

  • All of The Claremont Colleges have agreed to extend spring break by an additional week. This means that classes are cancelled the week of March 22-28.
  • During this additional spring break week, faculty at all of the colleges will be reworking their courses and accessing trainings in order to transition to a remote learning environment for the remainder of the semester, beginning Monday, March 30.
  • For a number of our curricular offerings, this transition will be especially challenging and I understand that online education is not the experience that you sought when you chose Pitzer as the place to pursue your studies or your career. We will all have to be patient and understanding as we work through the challenges in this transition and make the best of these difficult circumstances.
  • The Dean of Faculty’s office and IT are assisting with online course delivery, including instructional strategies, available tools and recommended best practices. Relevant information will be regularly updated at the following link:  guidance and recommendations. Specific faculty questions and concerns can be directed to Dean_Faculty@pitzer.edu.
  • Students will receive further communication prior to the resumption of online classes. Our expectation is that this information will be provided through the Sakai site for each course.

Residence Halls

  • Given the likelihood of significant disruptions to life on campus, students are asked to make plans to move out of their main campus and Claremont Collegiate Apartments (CCA).  All students should complete their “COVID-19 Checkout/Emergency Housing” application on their Residence homepage in order to communicate your plans with Residence Life staff. https://pitzer-residence.symplicity.com/.  
  • Moving Out of the Residence Halls, Claremont Collegiate Apartments (CCA) & the Grove House
    • Students should plan to depart campus no later than Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 5pm. 
  • Requesting Emergency Housing to Stay On-Campus
    • We understand that some students may need to remain in Claremont due to international travel restrictions, medical considerations that would be impacted by travel, and/or housing insecurity issues.  
    • The deadline to apply to remain on campus is Friday, March 13, 2020 at noon.
  • Visit Student Housing & Dining page for more detailed information.

Dining Services

  • Pitzer’s McConnell Dining Hall will cease regular hours and operations on Friday, March 13 after dinner service.
  • All students with a meal plan will be able to access limited consortium dining services starting Saturday, March 14 until Wednesday, March 18 for dinner. 
  • More information regarding dining services after March 18 will be shared with those approved for Emergency Housing.

Event Cancellations

  • On-campus events such as Kohoutek Music & Arts Festival and the Rockabilly Festival have been canceled to avoid increased risk of transmission in the crowds these events typically draw to campus. Other public campus events scheduled for this semester should be canceled, postponed or transitioned to a virtual environment if at all possible.
  • Beginning Monday, March 16, Admission and Financial Aid Office events (Admitted Students Day, the Diversity Program, Day and Overnight visits, student-guided tours and group visits) are cancelled through mid-April or will be remade as virtual events, including live feeds with faculty and staff. The office will remain open and counselors will be available to answer questions, schedule phone appointments and visit with admitted students at designated times. The office will share specific information with the appropriate constituents as plans solidify.
  • Alumni Weekend will be postponed.
  • We recognize that commencement is an especially cherished tradition at Pitzer College. Please be patient as we evaluate our options.

Ongoing Campus Operations

  • Campus will remain open through spring break and beyond. All staff should expect to continue work on site until they receive instructions about remote or other work arrangements from their vice president in the coming days.
  • As mentioned above, the Dean of Faculty’s office has announced training sessions for distance learning technology and best practices. Faculty should feel free to work on or off campus as their particular circumstances suggest is appropriate. Please consult the Dean’s office for further guidance as plans take shape.
  • The Offices of Human Resources, Financial Aid and Student Affairs are working together to bring you and supervisors all the information necessary. Updates will be made available on this COVID-19 page

Study Abroad

  • The Office of Study Abroad and International Programs (SAIP) continues to monitor the conditions at all of Pitzer’s study abroad sites on a daily basis by reviewing health advisories and communicating with program partners and on-site staff. SAIP has been meeting regularly with other campus offices to discuss potential issues and is responding to any concerns raised by participating students or their families.
  • At this point, spring semester study abroad programming will continue, subject to any new concerns that develop.
  • SAIP is also evaluating the viability of summer and fall study abroad programs. Expect to receive additional information about these programs as we approach key decision dates. If you have questions, please contact SAIP at 909.621.8104 or StudyAbroad@pitzer.edu.  

College-Sponsored Travel

  • Given the public health risks, we are only approving essential College-sponsored staff travel, either international or domestic. For staff, please consult with your vice president about your business travel plans.
  • Faculty were previously asked to share information about business travel plans with the Dean of Faculty’s office. We ask that you please cooperate with that request. At this time, we are not approving new business travel requests. If you choose to cancel a planned business trip, please work with the Dean of Faculty’s office on reimbursement.
  • Personal travel – please check CDC and State Department advisories before making new travel plans.

To our students, we encourage you to rededicate yourselves to your studies. As you work remotely, please approach your courses with new energy and creativity. We are working to find ways to make the most of your Pitzer experience this semester.

To our parents, I rededicate myself, our staff and faculty to the health, safety and continued growth of your student. We cherish your trust and will do everything in our power to advance your student’s transformative education at Pitzer.

To our faculty, thank you for your commitment to your students and your sense of adventure in tackling the challenge of remote instruction. Pitzer is committed to your success this semester and we are going to support you in every way we can.

I thank Pitzer’s staff for their unceasing dedication to our students and faculty. We will keep you informed in the coming days and weeks about Pitzer’s remote work policy for eligible employees.

Thank you all for your understanding and partnering with Pitzer during this challenging time. Going forward, I expect to continue to work with the recently appointed Pitzer COVID-19 Task Force and our consortial partners in making decisions and leading the College response to this public health threat. I am confident that with your help and support we will meet these extraordinary challenges in the coming days and months.

Provida Futuri,
Melvin L. Oliver

President

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