Julia Cox ’23
Since in-person classes were cancelled at Scripps College in July, students have been finding creative ways to simulate their college environment. While some did online classes from home or took a leave of absence, others moved in with friends across the country — in particular to Claremont, California. With this sudden influx of college-aged students in a suburb of 36,484, there has been worry about a rise in COVID-19 cases, the reason for the suspension of in-person activities at Scripps in the first place.
While data for Claremont specifically is not available, the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department has detailed information about the changing rates of infections and cases over time. In July, Los Angeles County had a large increase in cases of 76,307, while in August and September, increases in cases went down significantly, with upticks of 39,828 and 25,542, respectively. Though this is a promising trend, it must be maintained until the County reevaluates in-person proceedings in mid-November.
The County of Los Angeles Public Health Department provides rates of infection for Claremont and Los Angeles County adjusted “for differences in the distribution of age in the underlying population” (County of Los Angeles Public Health Department). While Los Angeles County has 2,740 cases per 100,000 people, Claremont has 1,210. Though this is a stark difference, unfortunately it may not matter much, as Los Angeles County’s guidelines are what dictate the Claremont Consortium’s (5C) return to campus. In mid-March, when the campuses were originally shut down, there were significantly less cases per capita, with 12.95 cases per 100,000 residents. However, an increase in cases does not necessarily mean campus will not reopen.
As students move to Claremont and the surrounding areas in spite of the fact that classes are remote, there is worry about how this will affect COVID-19 cases. One anonymous Claremont local expressed their concern over this increase in student activity. “I think that if people are quarantining for two weeks when they move in and respecting the locals and nearby BIPOC communities they can come in,” one student said.
However, students have their reasons for moving to Claremont. One student details their choice to move to Claremont as a combination of a desire for independence and a wish to spend time away from their “dysfunctional” family. Another’s decision to move out was based in their work ethic, stating that they found it difficult to work at home while both their parents were also working full-time from home.
Though some students have expressed acknowledgement of following COVID-19 restrictions, social life has not completely stopped among 5C students in Claremont. One anonymous student reports seeing many 5C students active on dating apps such as Tinder who are more than willing to meet up. Another reports hearing of large groups of students living together, some as big as ten, though this could decrease the temptation to socialize with outside groups. Student organizing group Nobody Fails At Scripps posted an infographic in August providing suggestions for students considering moving to Claremont, recommending being mindful of populations already in Claremont and the possibility of putting them at risk by socializing and the potential of removing housing opportunities for students in need of housing or with roots to Claremont such as a job or family member. Nobody Fails At Scripps has recommended making a plan with your roommates to appropriately social distance while in Claremont to decrease the likelihood of harming other populations through spread of the virus. The safety of the community is most important, and though living in Claremont is as replicable of 5C college life as one can get, the temptations to completely resort to habits of meeting new people can be difficult to break in such a familiar environment.
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