COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions by Parents

This FAQ for parents has been developed from questions asked during the interactive forum with parents on Thursday, March 12. During the forum, questions were answered by President Maria Klawe, VP for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Anna Gonzalez, and Dean of the Faculty Lisa Sullivan. This information is accurate as of Friday, March 13, but we ask to you keep in mind that we will be updating information constantly in the coming days and weeks. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

How long do we have before we have to get our children home?

We are hoping that as many students who can leave relatively quickly will do so. But, we know that many students were not intending to go home over spring break. As a result we have not set an absolute deadline. Our advice is that students go home as soon as they can, but if for some reason they have to wait for four or five days, we will manage with that. They should contact the Division of Student Affairs to inform them of their plans. 

How are you handling Study Abroad?

We have been reaching out to study abroad students. Our current message is that it’s not mandatory to return home, but we’re encouraging as many students as possible to return home. We will be working over the next couple of weeks to try and figure out the academic credit situation. We are trying to ensure our students can get credit for the work they have completed so far. Depending on the course, we also are looking at the possibility of allowing students to work with individual faculty members on campus to complete any unfinished coursework. Rhonda Chiles in our Study Abroad Office is working individually with students to try to help them make the arrangements that they need to make with their provider to exit their program. 

What is the recommendation for international students?

Our recommendation for international students depends on what country the student is from. There are certain countries that we do not recommend our students return home to such as Italy, South Korea, or China, primarily because the students might not be able to return.

If international students need to stay on campus, we will do our very best to take good care of them. However, the reality is that it is probably safer for them if they have relatives someplace in the United States to go stay with them for the rest of the semester. We also have a number of parents who have offered to host international students. If parents have space and are willing to host international students in their homes for the rest of the semester, that would be helpful. We encourage international students to speak with Evelyn Real or Dr. Jennifer Alanis.

My daughter is planning to come home on the 21st. Does it make sense to leave at that time? Do you expect students to come back this semester?

March 21 is quite a bit later than when we would like students to leave. Ideally, we would like most students to leave by March 14, but we will work students to assist with later move-outs. What is critical is to have your student complete the form and let us know about their plans as soon as possible. Based on the advice of medical experts, there is little chance that we’ll be able to return to in-person classes before the end of the semester. So, students should go home and expect to stay home. 

How will labs and research work as far as credit goes?

That’s a great question. Essentially, what’s happening is that every faculty member is working to figure out how to make this work as best as possible. There’s absolutely no question that the kind of learning you will get from an online experience compared to physically being in a lab is not equivalent. But given the health crisis, we really don’t have any choice. We expect that every student who is either doing research for credit or doing a thesis will get credit for that course, if they do what the instructor says needs to be done.

More details will be forthcoming during the two weeks of spring break. Students can expect to hear from their instructors directly. 

How are grades and grading impacted?

Students have been sent a notice from the registrars of the seven colleges. Our hope is that as many courses as possible will be able to be delivered in a way that makes a letter grade suitable at the end. But we have given faculty the discretion of converting letter graded courses to pass fail courses where appropriate. We have also waived requirements that link letter grades with prerequisites for graduation. Where we can, we want to deliver an equivalent experience that is letter grade worthy. We will make sure that students receive credit for work done this semester so that their progress toward graduation is not interrupted.

What is happening with Commencement?

It’s highly unlikely that we’ll be able to have a face-to-face ceremony. It is likely that we will be doing something online. We are very disappointed about this. We love commencement. We love the experience for our seniors. We’ve had a suggestion that if it is feasible, we try to do a face-to-face ceremony in fall at the beginning of the academic year. We will look into options in the coming weeks and will communicate about that once plans are finalized.  

What is available for students in terms of storage options and pods?

We are being flexible with pod storage. Students will be able to indicate whether they will be coming back for summer research or early return in the fall, so we can ensure that those items are accessible before the start of the fall semester. There are also questions about seniors shipping freight to wherever they’re going next, and the student government is providing funding for that. We are accommodating all of those things. Your students also receive specific instructions about pods and storage.

Where are the pods? Have they arrived?

The pods have arrived. About 180 students are already picking up their boxes. Some students have already moved items into the pods. We’re urging students to pack as soon as they can so that they can have their space in the pod. 

Our child wants to stay. What do we do?

We are doing our very best to persuade any student who can go home to go home. I have found one of the most effective approaches in persuading students is simply to tell them how many people are in the compromised category. I have also asked our students to think about our mission statement, to think about the impact of your work on society, and then consider whether it really makes sense for you to be staying on this campus and increasing the risk for everybody who could be exposed.

Will there be financial assistance for the cost to travel home domestically or internationally on such short notice?

We are working with students directly and ask that you have them come to the Division of Student Affairs so that we can provide emergency loans or grants. We will work with them on an individual, case-by-case basis.

Any information on summer math or future updates for classes?

We don’t know yet. We will be considering doing summer math online; it seems highly unlikely we would be able to do it face-to-face at this point. We will be thinking about the other summer session courses, and we will send out updates as we make decisions. 

Will grutors continue to be grutors?

We can certainly have grutors who live in the state of California continue to grutor. The issue is that there are restrictions on paying people who live in other states since we’re incorporated in California.  

My student is a senior working on Clinic. What will happen to that program?

This will be decided by the clinic advisor and sponsors who will work with each team. Since most clinic projects were very close to completion, we anticipate most will be able to have some type of deliverable.

For international students, is their F1 Visa status likely to be affected if they travel back home and then attend online classes?  

We have worked with the government to allow online classes for international students, however each case is different. Each international student should see Evelyn Real or Dean Jennifer Alanis so they know the requirements they need to file. 

How will classes like physical education work when they switch to pass/fail? And will classes with pass/fail credit impact graduate school?

We don’t have an answer for the PE question yet. We will update students once information becomes available. We are in the same position that many other undergraduate institutions are in, looking at contingency grading in some circumstances this semester. Our faculty are prepared to write letters to supplement the information provided by a pass grade, and we think that will become the norm for some students applying to grad school who have gone through this semester.

How, specifically, will classes be offered online?

Our faculty are very adept at choosing tools that work for their students. They have already begun working together, passing around tips about how best to use which tools. Videoconferencing (such as Zoom, Meet, Teams, etc.) is available for synchronous delivery of instruction, but many instructors will also undertake asynchronous modes of instructional delivery. Rest assured that each instructor will choose the best solution for their course. 

Is the College overreacting by sending students home early?

We do not believe we are overreacting. Our decision is based on recommendations from leading epidemiologists, and we have been sending CDC recommendations to our community. Unfortunately, the CDC has been slow in terms of enabling widespread testing. Anything you can do to help us persuade our students that they should go home is appreciated. At this point, all of the undergraduate Claremont Colleges and CGU have made the decision to go online, and the undergraduate colleges are encouraging as many of their students as possible to go home. 

My student has classes at the other colleges; will they have similar policies and solutions?

We are working hard to try to align what we’re doing with the other colleges to make things less confusing for our students and families.

Will my student be allowed to move most of their belongings home now and return later to pick up the remainder of their belongings and finalize move out?

We’re asking students to do as much of their move-out as possible at one time and submit their key to DSA. However, if they want to come back to pick up a few larger items, they can make arrangements with DSA.  

Are faculty relaxing deadlines on assignments or providing leniency for students who have to pack and leave?

Yes. Our faculty have been asked to be as generous as possible in allowing for extensions, given that we are all dealing with a crisis situation.

When or if the pods fill, what will happen?

We are ordering pods based on students letting us know they need them to go home. Students are encouraged to fill out the form informing us of their plans as soon as possible so we know when they are leaving. Please urge them to do so right away. 

How will online learning address the different time zones in which students will be living?

Each instructor will decide whether they will use synchronous or asynchronous learning. For synchronous learning we are planning to stick to the existing class schedule. Some of our faculty are thinking about moving to an asynchronous approach (where students can access course lectures and materials at a time of their choosing). The disadvantage of moving to asynchronous learning is that it suppresses interactivity. In some classes, such as our Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts courses, in-class discussion is a large component of the course. That is why we are leaving it up to the individual instructor to determine which approach will work best for their particular class.

If a student decides to stay on campus, is there supervision in the halls such as a proctor, or is there someone living on site?

We are releasing our proctors (who are students as well) from their duties to give them the opportunity to go home and be safe with their families. We have a limited number of staff members who live on campus, so we anticipate that our on-call services and programs will look very different. That is a key reason we’re hoping to have as few students remain on campus as possible so that we can provide adequate support for students who cannot go home.

My daughter and her friends have decided they want to rent a home in Pasadena and move there next week. I’m torn on whether to support this or not, what are your thoughts?

If it’s a small group that’s going to rent the house, let’s say four or fewer, I think doing that is probably reasonable if they also have access to medical care. What I would really worry about is if 10 students want to live together and want to have “a senior experience” that includes lots of partying and those kinds of things. That’s the worst thing they could choose given the current situation. California’s governor and public health officials have said that social distancing is going to be the norm for the state as well as other states. Thus it is unlikely that socializing and gathering in groups will be possible.

Will online classes be recorded for people who live in faraway time zones like international students?

That will be up to the instructor. There are some courses for which in class participation is a huge part of making the course successful. That’s not going to be something you can just watch from a recording. We are leaving it up to the individual instructors to determine the best approach given the educational needs of the course.

How can parents motivate students to study online with minimal social interaction?

We expect that we will find that there’s a lot of social interaction online. We’ve been doing some testing with this, and, particularly because our students are so used to working together in groups, we expect online courses will be just as interactive as the face-to-face experience. Of course, the one thing they will not have is a physical experiential learning experience of working on a hardware project or in the lab. 

If students are on campus, will there be access to a nurse or a doctor at the Student Health Services?

Yes. But we have to remember that there are already a lot of people who have “flu-like symptoms,” potentially exceeding our capacity. Our goal is to get the number of students who stay to be as low as possible to help make sure that they will have adequate access to health services when needed.

As HMC and faculty develop protocols for online and instruction, will there be more forums like this for families to know and ask questions about the kind and quality of facilities, including internet, internet connections, facilities and internet reliability and speeds, and also quiet spaces that families will need to provide for students?

Yes.

What is the process for my child to return for summer research and meet her 10-week requirement? Is she supposed to start in May?

At this point, we do not know whether we will be able to have on-site summer research. If we were able to have a shorter summer research session, say four to six weeks, we would fully pay the students what they would earn. Given the current situation, there’s no guarantee right now.

Are you modifying academic policies regarding dropping courses and withdrawals?

Yes. A message went out to faculty and students from the registrars of the five undergraduate colleges with the details.

How can I help my child experience less stress about surviving online without face-to-face peer and faculty support?

I think our students will find that they will have lots of access to our faculty through online office hours and even individual calls with students. Also, the students themselves will undoubtedly be doing the homework assignments together as they always do. After March 22, the Division of Student Affairs staff is going to be talking about how to provide other online services for students, offering some of our sessions and workshops online, with topics including how to cope with the changes happening right now and stress relief. We will communicate these offerings with students and families.

Are students able to stay on campus until they fly out over the next few days?

Yes.

Will students be able to leave their belongings in their dorm room?

We are allowing students to store couches and bikes on campus. They should label them and also let DSA staff know at the Pod sign up and packing materials pick up site, which is in the LAC. Please make sure their refrigerators are clean, and they should label those, too, and put them in their storage.

Will financial aid be prorated? And if so, how?

We are working to determine the implications for financial aid. We will communicate additional information about this once it becomes available.  

If there’s an order to evacuate, how will you handle the students who decide to stay throughout the semester?

This is one of the reasons we are trying to have as few students as possible on campus. The larger the group that remains, the more difficult it will be for us to handle an evacuation. If there is an evacuation it is likely that the relevant government body will tell us where we must evacuate to. It really depends on when the order comes and what our instructions are at the time.  

How is Mudd providing financial assistance to students with last-minute travel?

They should contact the DSA office. We are handling those requests as emergency loans and grants, so please have them come see us.

If I have an international student who is going to stay with a relative, does the student need to report where they are going?

Yes. All international students have been asked to please go see Evelyn Real or Dean Jennifer Alanis so we can keep record of where they are during this time. 

Are we anticipating a fall start?

We are anticipating resuming in-person instruction in the fall, but it will depend on how  the infection develops. Right now, we don’t know those things.

What happens if a student contracts this virus and has trouble staying on top of their work?

Our first priority is that students take care of themselves, and we will make the appropriate academic accommodations. If the student is on campus, we—along with the other Claremont Colleges—have been looking at different housing options within the Claremont Consortium or off-campus safe spaces where we can put them. If that doesn’t work, we will put them in one of the empty residence halls for their safety and to prevent the spread of the virus to the other students who are staying here.

How are professors being trained to teach online so that they can be held accountable for delivering world-class curriculum?

In my entire career, I’ve never met faculty members who are more committed to delivering world-class learning opportunities to their students. We have a lot of training going on for our faculty. Many faculty are creating resources for other faculty to use. One of the reasons we’re extending Spring Break by an extra week is to give faculty, particularly those who are teaching labs, a chance to produce new materials that would work online.

During spring break, will professors be available to answer student’s questions on class assignments?

I would expect so. There are very few people who are going to be traveling, so I would expect that our faculty will be answering email.

Do seniors have to figure out their own storage and how they will be accommodated?

Thanks to ASHMC support, we are providing storage for seniors. They should have received an email from the ASHMC president about that. We’re still working on logistics, but have them refer to the email for information.

If my student stays on campus, will they be shuffled around various times during their stay due to cleaning needs by the college and to meet health code requirements?

Yes—in part because if we have someone who becomes infected, we might have to empty out one of the residence halls. We will need our students on campus to move quickly during this situation. We are telling students who do decide to stay on campus to please be prepared in case we need to move them right away. 

What about orchestra classes and the ceramics studio? How will those courses be offered online and how will class credit be handled?

It depends on the instructor. All of the presidents, academic deans and student deans have been collaborating over the last week to try to make sure we can continue to provide good academic experiences.  

What happens if my child gets sick before their flight and gets denied access at the airport?

They would come back here, and we will cope with it. Again, that is why we’re trying to get our students out sooner rather than later.

Is there transportation for students to the airports?

Students are working together to do shared rides. We’re encouraging them to do that, in large part because the Super Shuttle is no longer running. We will send them other recommendations that are doing van pickups and drop-offs.  

Do we anticipate additional equipment being needed other than the computer and internet access for the remote learning?

No, though it is possible. There’s at least one faculty member who’s thinking about giving each student a kit to enable them to do an engineering project, but that would be something that was provided by the faculty member. If students do not have access to internet or a computer at home, they should contact DSA as soon as possible so we can help them make arrangements. 

What are the policies for students who already live off campus as far as storage and pods?

At this point, they have not asked for that. There are only seven students who live off campus. If they contact DSA, we will work with them. But they should contact us right away.

Do we know how rented books can be returned?

Students should contact the company from which they rented the books to determine how best to return them.

If summer research is shortened, will they still get a full course credit?

Summer research does not count as academic credit—it’s a paid work opportunity.  

How will updates be transmitted as new information is acquired and new plans are made?

We will share updates via email and on the College’s website. There also is a Facebook page for parents.

Is there a plan for an online career fair?

That is a great question. We’ll consider that and see what we might be able to do. Thank you for the suggestion.

I’m coming to town to take my daughter home this Monday. Can she stay with us on Sunday night before leaving on Monday or must she stay in the dorm?

She can stay with you, but we will be imposing a limited time of four hours for her to pack up her room. If you check with DSA staff in advance, we can work with you. 

Have you shared information with students from experts so that they can be convinced about social distancing?

Yes.

If my child returns home, it will be to the epicenter in Seattle. Do you consider it reasonable for them to stay at Mudd for the time being?

We are encouraging students to return home to Seattle. Seattle is far ahead of most parts of the country in terms of social distancing and testing.

Do we have any word from any companies about whether they’re still hosting summer internships?

I have not heard anything from any company at this point. I do know that all of the big tech companies are encouraging their employees to work from home. I would expect that they will offer virtual internships, but we don’t know yet.

Do you know the status of the CMS athletic seasons?

Yes. SCIAC competitions will end as of Friday. It is my understanding that this has been communicated to the athletes.

Can you provide more information about refunds for students who choose to leave campus?

Harvey Mudd College has committed to continuing the spring semester by offering courses online.  As long as instruction continues, tuition will not be refunded. Our faculty is dedicated to student learning and makes this a high priority. Even though the instructional delivery method has changed because of the coronavirus pandemic, faculty and staff remain committed to supporting students during this challenging time.

Consistent with our established refund policies, we plan to provide a partial refund for board. For students who choose to leave campus, we do expect to realize some savings in food costs.  However, there also are fixed dining-related costs (labor) that we will continue to incur since the College has made the decision to continue to pay our hourly staff.  The partial board refund will be based on unused meals from March 20, 2020 (end of spring break), through May 17, 2020.

We are not providing a refund for room for students who choose to return home (in keeping with current policy). It is expected that there will continue to be fixed costs throughout the spring semester related to the cleaning, maintenance and the repair of rooms. Our decision to not refund room charges is based on the current projection that there will be no net savings in our combined dining and residential facilities operations. However, the College will reassess this decision after the end of the spring semester. At that time, we will determine if there have been savings in both the dining and residential facilities operations, caused by potential decreases in utilities or other costs and we will reassess what, if any, additional refunds may be issued. Our priority continues to be ensuring the safety, health and well-being of all members of our community. We appreciate your patience as we navigate through these critical decisions as quickly as possible. We will continue to update you as additional decisions related to potential refunds are made.

What are my student’s health care options?

Effective March 24, students on SHIP have access to the following resources:

Aetna will waive co-pays for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. This policy will cover the test kit for patients who meet CDC guidelines for testing, which can be done in any approved laboratory location. Aetna will waive the member costs associated with diagnostic testing at any authorized location for all Commercial, Medicare and Medicaid lines of business. Self-insured plan sponsors will be able to opt-out of this program at their discretion.

For the next 90 days, Aetna will offer zero co-pay telemedicine visits for any reason. Aetna members should use telemedicine as their first line of defense in order to limit potential exposure in physician offices. Cost sharing will be waived for all video visits through the CVS MinuteClinic app, Aetna-covered Teladoc offerings and in-network providers delivering synchronous virtual care (live video-conferencing) for all Commercial plan designs. Self-insured plan sponsors will be able to opt-out of this program at their discretion.

Through Aetna’s Healing Better program, members who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive a care package containing CVS over-the-counter medications to help relieve symptoms. The package will also include personal and household cleaning supplies to help keep others in the home protected from potential exposure.

Through existing care management programs, Aetna will proactively reach out to members most at-risk for COVID-19. Care managers will walk members through what they can do to protect themselves, where to get information on the virus, and where to go to get tested.

Effective March 25, New Campus Health Service:

The Claremont Colleges have contracted with TimelyMD (https://www.timely.md/campushealth-faqs/), a provider of online medical and counseling services, to offer a telehealth option to all HMC students to expand and supplement services currently available at Student Health Services and Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services. Campus.Health makes it easy for students to get quality medical and mental health care online or from their phone, anytime they need it.

Students now have access to Campus.Health, which provides 24/7 medical and mental telehealth care for all students, at no cost. To get started, visit Campus.Health. Register now and use the service when you need it.

Campus.Health offers the following unlimited free visits with student-focused, licensed physicians and counselors:

  • 24/7 access to on-demand medical care
  • 24/7 access to TalkNow emotional support
  • Accessible from any location within the United States on any smartphone or web-enabled device
  • This is a pilot project that will be available to students until mid-June 2020

To use Campus.Health services, students should:

  • Visit the Campus.Health website or
  • Visit the Apple or Android stores to download the free TimelyMD app
  • Set up profile and at checkout, enter institution’s customized coupon code HMC2020

Other notes and features:

  • Students will see the name, picture, location (by state) and credentials of the provider
  • An average medical visit will have a 5 minute wait to speak with a provider; the consultation will average 5-10 minutes
  • An average TalkNow counseling visit may have a 5 minute wait time; 30 minute consultation
  • Students may invite a parent or trusted advisor to participate
  • Follow up notes will be sent by the provider to the student when the visit is complete
  • This service is live now, and students may access it at any time.