Occidental College announced the continuation of remote instruction and limited on-campus housing protocols for the upcoming spring semester in an email Nov. 30 to the campus community from President Harry J. Elam Jr. Occidental’s spring semester will begin Jan. 19 with a spring break March 8–12. The college will continue to offer limited housing to international students and those with housing hardships.
“Certainly for all of us who were hoping to be back on campus, we understand this news is extremely disappointing on top of what has already been an incredibly challenging year,” Elam wrote. “We have planned diligently for multiple scenarios, including those that would have returned more students to campus.”
The announcement from Occidental comes as other higher education institutions await an official update to guidelines from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health (LADPH) expected to be released in early December according to an Oct. 16 email from Elam.
In the announcement, Elam cited information from Los Angeles County public health officials that the county would not be permitting institutions of higher education, including Occidental, to “resume in-person instruction, or regular on-campus housing, by January.”
Cases of COVID-19 have spiked throughout the state and particularly in Los Angeles. As of Dec. 1, the cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in LA County passed 400,000. In the last seven days, officials in the county have reported 30,679 new cases of COVID-19, according to data from the Los Angeles Times. The county remains in Tier 1, the most restrictive, of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reopening regime.
Occidental peer institutions including Pomona College, Scripps College and Pitzer College will announce plans for the spring semester by mid-December. The LA Community College District and the California State University system both previously announced the intention to continue remote instruction this spring.
Occidental moved all instruction online in response to coronavirus March 12, announced a hybrid-instruction model for the Fall 2020 semester June 15 and then reversed its decision by shifting back online July 15.
The Nov. 30 announcement stated the college will remain ready to adapt and scale up operations when and if public health guidelines permit.