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March 20, 2020
Pitzer College COVID-19 Update
On Thursday, March 19, 2020, the County of Los Angeles and State of California issued similar orders calling for all residents to stay at home with certain qualified exceptions. The County of Los Angeles Public Health Officer’s “Safer at Home” public order to increase social distancing in L.A. County went into effect at midnight Thursday and ends April 19, 2020. This Order requires that most people stay home, unless they are engaged in certain “essential activities.”
In this message from the Pitzer College campus, President Oliver provides updates from the Office of Student Affairs on recent milestones accomplished in providing for the travel of departing students as well as the care (and room and board) of a small contingent of students who have remained on campus. We also hear from the Dean of Faculty about preparations to resume classes online on March 30.
STUDENT MOVE-OUT AND HOUSING TRANSITION
Here are a few updates about Pitzer students’ departure from campus and some behind the scenes insights about those who received approval based on their exceptional need to remain on campus, at least temporarily.
- As of Wednesday, March 18, Pitzer’s residence halls were closed as all but 49 students had completed their move out. The remaining students are now housed with meals being delivered daily to their doorsteps. Because of these unique circumstances, Student Affairs is storing an unusually high number of personal belongings left behind by students when they departed for spring break. We look forward to the day residents return to retrieve their belongs and move back into their rooms. Thanks to the extraordinary work of Residence Life and Facilities staff and the residents, the transition went thoughtfully, smoothly and efficiently.
- Forty-four students were assisted in their travel arrangements to return home by Student Affairs staff who booked their flights, provided ground transportation to the airport and covered baggage fees. Financial support as needed was provided from students’ financial aid packages, the Dean of Students Emergency Fund and donations from a handful of student organizations. Nine laptop computers, many provided by admission and prepped by IT, were distributed to students who needed these tools to complete their academic work.
- Career Services staff will continue to be available to students on-line.
– Mike Segawa, Vice President for Student Affairs
As outlined below, faculty and staff in academic affairs are modifying courses and gearing up to teach classes using online and remote formats. There have also been some changes in select academic policies for this semester only; these changes are to help minimize disruptions from the abrupt change to online courses and to facilitate student progress.
- Faculty members have been participating in training sessions led by Pitzer’s IT team on how to use Zoom as well as Sakai for the resumption of their classes in online formats beginning March 30. Individual faculty members have been collaborating with each other and within field groups during spring break to modify current courses, develop plans for completion of major requirements, and consider different ways of helping to ensure fulfilling student experiences in the new online learning environment.
- In addition to training sessions this week, new training workshops and online forums will be offered to faculty next week. A schedule for those sessions will be released separately to faculty members.
Students are not expected to be engaged in academic coursework until March 30. In advance of that date, however, they are encouraged to explore the Student’s Guide to Online Learning. From that webpage, students will be able to familiarize themselves with Zoom and other online resources that will be used to complete their spring semester courses. Students are encouraged to test their devices to be sure that they are ready to join their classes on Zoom. From this test site, students can click “Join” to do a test run of a Zoom meeting.
- A few academic policies have been modified for this semester in order to create greater flexibility for students and faculty; these modifications have been adopted by all of the Claremont undergraduate colleges and can be found here. For example, the Drop deadline for classes has been extended. In addition, faculty can now elect credit/no credit grading for students who request it and if appropriate for their course. Changes to other academic policies are under consideration and will be announced after they are finalized. Many of these policy modifications are being developed in coordination with the other Claremont undergraduate colleges as well as Pitzer’s existing governance committees.
- Nearly all Pitzer students who were studying abroad are now home or on their way home. For students in Pitzer-run programs, we are working to ensure that students will be able to complete scheduled coursework using remote learning technologies (just as is being done for on-campus classes). For students enrolled in study abroad programs sponsored by other institutions, many of them will complete their programs from their homes and through online coursework. Some specific academic work is also being developed when needed to ensure that students are able to make progress even though their study abroad experiences were cut short. We hope to have plans in place for all study abroad students by the time on-campus classes resume.
– Allen Omoto, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty
Please see updates available at Pitzer College’s COVID-19 Emergency web page, including CA Governor Gavin Newsom’s “Stay At Home” Executive Order N-33-20 and the County of Los Angeles Safer At Home Order for Control of COVID-19.
When a crisis is upon us, it takes incredible effort to meet its challenges. I believe that Pitzer College has clearly shown its mettle. All of you have stepped up to meet those challenges with conviction and grace. The residential transition took the cooperation of students and staff. Mike Segawa and his superb professionals in Student Affairs worked seamlessly with Mark Crawbuck and his fantastic team of facilities members to support over 700 students in an all too quick move out of their dorm rooms and on their way home. Our faculty is approaching the challenge of remote teaching with determination and the same commitment that they bring to their outstanding face-to-face instruction. I am humbled by the dedication you have demonstrated to make this semester work out for our students, faculty and staff. Stay safe and practice “social distancing” as we all look forward to the time we will be together again.
Melvin L. Oliver