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December 10, 2020
Dear Pitzer Community,
I write to provide the latest information on Pitzer’s plans for the spring semester as they relate to the current public health situation.
Los Angeles County is experiencing an unprecedented increase in COVID-19 cases that is expected to continue well into January, if not later. Hospitalizations and deaths due to the coronavirus, both locally and nationally, have reached staggering levels this week. More than 10,000 daily cases were reported in the county on December 6, and the state recently issued a stay-at-home order for Southern California.
As I indicated in my message of November 24, and reiterated in my comments at the College Council meeting on December 3, given the ongoing grim public health outlook for the next few months Pitzer, along with the other undergraduate Claremont Colleges, will begin the spring 2021 semester online. Starting the semester remotely is the safest and most prudent action at this time.
We persist in our efforts to safely bring students to campus at some point during the spring semester. The College will continue to work with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) to investigate the possibility of returning a limited number of students to campus with appropriate protocols in place at some point in the spring semester. While the details and timing of this scenario have yet to be announced, LACDPH has indicated that it will only consider this possibility if the county’s adjusted coronavirus case count drops to a much lower level (10 in 100,000 people) for two consecutive weeks and a “bubble” is created and maintained on campus.
We have been working closely with Student Health Services and contracted with an outside vendor to provide on-site medical advice and support, including regular testing and other necessary health and wellness services that will permit students to live on campus prior to widespread vaccinations.
The undergraduate colleges have adopted a revised academic calendar for the semester that includes a full week for Spring Break, March 8-12. More details on the spring 2021 academic calendar will be forthcoming from the Academic Deans Committee soon and will be posted on the website. The five Claremont undergraduate colleges have agreed that if students are able to return to campus it will not be until after the conclusion of Spring Break, subject to approval from public health authorities.
As I shared recently, I understand that a fully online academic program is tiring and stressful. We continue to assess and revise our academic policies and co-curricular programming to provide the best possible environment, support, and resources for students. An example is the recently announced 3+1 enrollment option that will give students more flexibility with their course load next semester.
Our commitment to a high quality and student-centered educational experience for all of our students is strong and unwavering, and Pitzer faculty and staff are continuing to adapt and innovate to better meet the demands of remote education.
Beyond the spring semester, I look forward to next fall. With the prospect of an effective vaccine on the horizon, along with new national leadership and a serious commitment to combating the virus, I am eager to welcome the entire Pitzer community back to campus in 2021.
Melvin L. Oliver