Fall Return Update

A Letter from President Chodosh, August 11, 2021

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

With COVID-19 infection numbers increasing here and nationwide, the spread of the Delta variant poses a new round of challenges for us all. In response, last Friday, August 6, Los Angeles County released new guidance for Institutions of Higher Education.

We want to share this with you, highlight the most significant provisions, and clarify our current approach. We continue to work daily through this dynamic situation in making a full, safe return to campus.

Vaccinations are still the most important preventive measure. To combat the Delta variant, this imperative has become even more pressing. To date, our vaccination campaign has been successful. Reported community vaccination rates, both full and partial, have surpassed 93% (with students at 98%, staff at 81%, and faculty at 92%.) However, the remaining gap continues to pose serious health and operational concerns. The exposure risks, health consequences, and additional quarantine requirements for unvaccinated persons are a significant threat to those individuals and our community. To close the gap, we are working to ensure that everyone who is not entitled to an exemption gets fully vaccinated as soon as possible. We are closely monitoring the expected FDA vaccination approval and will make a final determination on the requirement of vaccinations for any remaining unvaccinated staff or faculty at that time.

Testing also remains a critical component in reducing transmission.

  • All students, regardless of vaccination status, are required to bring a negative PCR test result to campus upon arrival, beginning August 21. The test should have been performed within 72 hours of arrival. Students are encouraged to identify a nearby testing center immediately and to contact the Dean of Students office for guidance if obtaining a PCR test is not possible where they live.
  • All unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff must complete a PCR test twice a week, and the College will closely monitor compliance.
  • All vaccinated students will be tested twice within their first two weeks on campus and once per week until public health conditions improve.
  • The necessity and frequency of surveillance testing—regular testing for individuals who are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms—will be adjusted to respond to risks of significant community transmission.
  • All vaccinated faculty and staff are encouraged to have a surveillance test once a week. Surveillance testing is offered Monday through Thursday, 8 am to noon, via appointments scheduled in Qualtrics.
  • If you do not feel well, or have been exposed to a known case, you should not attend surveillance testing. Please call or email Hamilton Health Box for a private assessment and appointment; 909-607-2301 or covid19@cmc.edu.

Daily symptom screening is also required for anyone unvaccinated through Qualtrics; vaccinated members of our community are encouraged to self-screen each day before leaving their residence. Anyone feeling ill must self-quarantine (stay at your residence) and report symptoms to Hamilton Health Box in Qualtrics, and they will schedule a test for you.

Face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, are required for all students, faculty, and staff when in any indoor setting, including our classrooms. Students may unmask when alone or with their roommates in their residences. Faculty and staff may unmask when alone in a private office with the door closed. Unvaccinated persons must also wear masks in outdoor settings. If you are in a crowded outdoor gathering, masking is recommended, and may at times be required, regardless of vaccination status. Eating and drinking exceptions still apply in both indoor and outdoor settings.

Isolation is required for anyone who is symptomatic and receives a positive PCR test. The County has just released a modified quarantine policy that we are evaluating for vaccinated students who are exposed to COVID-19 and are asymptomatic.

Classes will be in-person. We will use Zoom, as needed, if a faculty member feels ill (but is well enough to teach), must care for someone for a short period of time, or is in temporary quarantine or isolation from COVID-related exposure or symptoms. Faculty and staff with verified medical reasons that affect them or a family member needing care may request an accommodation to work remotely through Human Resources. Students are encouraged to work with their academic advisors, faculty members, and the Dean of Students office if they are ill or otherwise not able to attend class; students who are well enough to attend class virtually should be given the opportunity to do so.

We encourage flexibility in scheduling office hours, meetings, and events, including use of outdoor and Zoom meetings, as appropriate. Welcome Back Orientation events will be in Roberts Pavilion with a dispersed seating arrangement. Convocation will be outside in Gann Quadrangle, and we will relax cap and gown requirements to make sure everyone is comfortable. The Athenaeum has an adaptable plan for in-person events that combines both outdoor and indoor programming elements. Large gatherings of over 40, which cannot be physically distanced or moved outdoors, must be approved by the College. (Please email any requests to events@cmc.edu so we can direct your message for an appropriate response.)

Outdoor dining options have been expanded around campus and are encouraged when practicable. Again, face coverings are required indoors, other than while eating or drinking.

We are not restricting school sponsored travel at this time. However, if you are considering travel, we require that you complete the survey in Qualtrics to assist in the best health and safety practices for your plans.

As we continue to work through these guidelines and our own policies and practices in effective and adaptable ways, we will make updates to our comprehensive FAQs for students/familiesfaculty, and staff. Please review for the latest guidance.

Next week, the College will also host several virtual forums to discuss and refine our collective approach to these evolving conditions and responsive policies and practices. Please join us for the following (click the session hyperlinks for Zoom access, all times Pacific):

  • Student Sessions – Monday, 8/16, at 4 pm, and Tuesday, 8/17, at 8 am
    – Meeting ID: 837 3289 8188
    – Passcode: 1946
  • Staff Session – Tuesday, 8/17, at 9 am
    – Meeting ID: 879 9961 8225
    – Passcode: 1946
  • Faculty Session – Thursday, 8/19, at 1 pm
    – Meeting ID: 891 5549 6800
    – No Passcode
  • Spanish Session – Thursday, 8/19, at 2:30 pm
    – Meeting ID: 857 0061 2119
    – Passcode: 1946

We thank you for your continued commitment, patience, and persistence in our efforts to get back to campus fully and safely together.

Very best,