We’ve received a number of questions from you asking if our request that students leave campus is optional or mandatory. We really need all students who have homes and are able to leave to do so as soon as possible. Yesterday, the Inland Empire (where the Claremont Colleges are located in Southern California) had its first confirmed death from the COVID-19 virus at one of our local hospitals. We believe that it is only a matter of time before the virus is more widespread in our local community. We are asking all students who are able to return home to do so as quickly as possible. Our sister colleges in the consortium are moving (or have already moved) to make this a mandatory requirement—our hope is that we can get enough parents to help us get their students home so that we are not forced to take this step. We are attempting to make the move out as orderly as possible given these challenging circumstances.
We have stressed to our students the importance of reporting to us when they are ill, self-quarantining if they believe they have been exposed to the virus, etc. That said, we simply are not equipped to impose quarantines or to force self-isolation through social distancing. Students have begun—or are planning to begin—Spring Break trips across the country and elsewhere and could decide to return to campus putting their friends, faculty and staff at risk, despite our best efforts.
Many of our residence halls share vents and have intimate spaces. Our dining hall, much like other colleges and universities, provides buffet-style service. These may make it impossible for us to contain the spread within our community once it begins or to provide care that families may be able to give their student should that student become infected.
We understand the difficulty in which this decision places some of our families. The Division of Student Affairs is working with students on an individual basis to extend loans to make emergency travel arrangements and to help students secure tickets. Many families have already begun picking up their children and some have offered space to house other students who cannot return home. We are very grateful to everyone for their ongoing support and assistance during this time. We will get through this together.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students