A Letter from
Spring 2021 Community Announcement
At this conclusion of an exceptionally demanding semester, I hope you can each find the time to reflect and build on the many ways you have persevered this past fall.
Today, I write with an update on the spring semester.
Outstanding challenges. Expanding opportunities.
Here are the key points.
We will not be allowed to reopen campus in late January.
Given the record COVID-19 numbers in California, with 54 of the 58 counties in the most infectious purple (widespread) tier, we will have to resume a virtual program for the start of our spring semester. New daily cases in L.A. County are currently at an adjusted rate of 27 per 100,000 people, roughly four times the adjusted rate of 7 per 100,000 people required to move out of the purple tier the County has been in since March.
We may have a very limited opportunity mid-semester if conditions improve rapidly and significantly.
Our recent, concerted advocacy with State and County leadership is making a difference. Specifically, L.A. County may introduce a limited pilot reopening program that would be available to 10 schools, with a cap of 500 students per school permitted to reside on campus in a very restrictive “bubble-like” environment. If this pilot program launches, CMC will immediately submit an application. This opportunity would be available only if the County experiences, and maintains for at least two weeks, a sharp reduction in current daily rates. More information on the pilot program is expected from the County this month.
Alternatively, if transmission rates improve unexpectedly and advance the County into the red (substantial) tier, higher education could be allowed to open more broadly. Such extraordinary circumstances might permit us to reopen later in spring with the strong health and safety commitments we have already implemented.
The spring calendar now has a one-week break from March 8-12, 2021.
The Presidents Council has approved a spring semester calendar with a full, contiguous week of break. The full week was approved for two reasons. First, if we have to be online for the entire spring, students and faculty will have time to recharge in the middle of the semester. Second, if we have the opportunity to return some students to campus (under the less likely scenarios above), the spring break provides a critically important move-in period. The Cesar Chavez holiday weekend in late March offers an additional, later opportunity in the spring schedule for a safe return, if circumstances and public authorities allow. We encourage you all to review the amended spring calendar.
We have expanded opportunities for strong academic and community engagement.
Our faculty, staff, and alumni are committed to expanding virtual, hybrid, and in-person options to students (if and when health conditions allow) throughout the semester. These include:
- a new, flexible course design for small groups of three to six students to work with faculty on independent projects or special issues;
- an adapted residential program in London for our international students who are struggling with time zone challenges in CMC coursework;
- a new Engage CMC multipurpose platform that will feature an expanded alumni directory, career networking and mentorship opportunities, and collaborative tools for student support and community-wide interest;
- an administrative team and fund dedicated to the development of creative community engagement so students can remain in connection with each other and CMC. This staff team, led by Dianna Turner Graves ’98 and Devon MacIver in the Dean of Students office and Beth Milev ’05 of the Soll Center for Student Opportunity, will work collaboratively with students on program development; and
- preservation of the chance for a late spring season of varsity SCIAC athletics, but only, again, if local conditions turn around quickly.
We have created a community furlough relief fund.
Staff have remained fully employed and paid over the past nine months. However, as we indicated in October, the protracted closure of our residential program triggers part- and full-time furloughs for 127 staff members. We will continue to provide health and other benefits for our furloughed staff. Staff are also eligible to apply for state unemployment compensation benefits.
To mitigate further the economic impact on staff and their families, we have raised over $700,000 from our generous trustees, alumni, and parents as part of a CMC Employee Assistance Fund (the “Fund”) administered by America’s Charities. Both fully and partially furloughed staff who complete a simple application process, and who meet the criteria for demonstrated financial hardship, will receive a tax-free cash grant of $3,000 in January. All eligible, full-time furloughed staff may apply for an additional $3,000 in a second round of grant funding in April. CMC community members may make additional contributions to the Fund.
We are ready to return as soon as health conditions and public authorities allow.
Like you, we all remain disappointed that we cannot be together in late January. However, as soon as conditions and public authorities allow, we are ready to return. Throughout the fall, we built even stronger health and safety capabilities into our CMC Returns campus plan, including reduced density, twice-a-week testing, prompt results, on-site medical support, and the CMC student agreement to ensure compliance with public safety protocols. In partnership with Hamilton Health Box, we established a state-of-the-art, private COVID-19 Response Clinic that provides students, faculty, and staff with direct access to onsite medical advice, telehealth appointments, COVID-19 testing, and personalized follow-up care, including support for quarantine and isolation when necessary. We are optimistically tracking the accelerated availability of both vaccines and rapid testing and their impact on our ability to bring students back to campus as soon as possible. Finally, we are exploring options with student leadership and families for an in-person commencement for the Class of 2021.
Until then, we encourage you to attend an upcoming information forum (all times PST and invitations forthcoming):
• Student Forums – Friday, December 11th at 8:00am and 5:00pm
• All Staff Q&A Drop-In – Friday, December 11th at 10:00am
• Faculty Meeting – Friday, December 11th at 1:00pm
• Family Forum – Friday, December 18th at 12:30pm
• Senior Students Meetings – Friday, December 18th at 8:00am and 5:00pm
Thank you again for your patience and persistence, your support of one another, and your shared commitment to our special mission. For more information on the details of our spring semester plan, please visit our CMC Returns website or email us at email@example.com.
Our very best to you and yours in advance of a warm, restful, and healthy holiday season.