Occidental community eyes July 15 announcement as others abandon hybrid model

Branca Family Patio at Occidental College. Sarah Hofmann/The Occidental

Since the beginning of July as the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to surge nationally and in Los Angeles, local and peer institutions have announced exclusively online instruction for the upcoming semester, changing course from their original plans. Occidental will announce a comprehensive update on its plans for the fall July 15 according to a July 2 email from President Harry J. Elam, Jr.

Occidental announced June 15 it would welcome back students and work to provide a hybrid model of both in-person and online instruction. The University of Southern California (USC) and Pomona College announced similar hybrid models June 2 and May 7 respectively. In a May 15 update Scripps College said it was working to bring students back in the fall. Since the beginning of July, all three institutions have announced they will offer exclusively remote learning, citing the rise of COVID-19 cases in LA County. 

USC, Pomona and Scripps announced their updates July 1 and July 8 as Elam acknowledged earlier in the week the worsening crisis, stating the college is reevaluating its plans for the fall in a campus-wide email.

“Our fundamental commitment is to maintaining the health and well-being of our community. Accordingly, we understand well the importance of the decisions ahead of us, and are committed to being timely and transparent in our actions,” Elam wrote. 

With the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state, LA County has yet to approve on-campus instruction and residential life for institutions of higher education, according to statements from multiple institutions. In the last two weeks LA County has confirmed 33,429 more cases of COVID-19 bringing the cumulative total to 127,439 as of July 11. 

Of the member institutions in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Chapman University, University of La Verne and Whittier College are planning for in-person instruction; Harvey Mudd College, Redlands University and Occidental have announced hybrid models; Pomona and Scripps have announced online instruction; and California Lutheran University, California Institute of Technology, Claremont McKenna College and Pitzer College have yet to announce their plans as of July 11.

Over the past week Occidental staff and administrators have cited the July 15 update in response to questions from The Occidental editors regarding the details of the current hybrid plan. Elam is expected to provide the Occidental community with the college’s update via email Wednesday, July 15.