Recent updates from L.A. County health officials and related updates for College operations, including information on Commencement, vaccinations and facilities reopening.

To the Oxy Community:

On behalf of the COVID Operations Group, we want to share with you recent updates from L.A. County health officials and related updates for College operations. The county told area colleges and universities earlier this week that Los Angeles is expected within days to move from the most-restrictive purple tier of the state’s color-coded regulatory framework, to the less restrictive red tier. This has also been reported publicly in local media. For the county at large, a move to the red tier allows a number of businesses and activities--including gyms, movie theaters, malls, and indoor restaurant dining--to resume activity on a limited basis while continuing to follow applicable health and safety measures. 

So what does this mean for Oxy? In its update this week, the county gave a preview of the red tier guidance they intend to put in place for higher education. While the final published guidelines are not yet available, we do have a sense of what the changes will be. Before implementing anything, we will thoughtfully consider our needs and operational requirements, as well as our own health and safety procedures, and discuss options with leaders in relevant departments. You can expect additional updates next week at regularly scheduled staff and faculty meetings.

What we have heard so far is promising for summer and fall planning. However, the county has made it clear that the current restrictions for colleges regarding congregate living will stay in place for the duration of the spring. This means our current mode of remote learning will remain in place for the rest of this semester.

Other related planning updates:

  • Commencement: No final decision has been made. Updated guidance from the county regarding outdoor events has increased the potential for some level of in-person activity. A senior survey fielded in February, and a town hall with seniors on March 2, have been helpful in gathering student input. Laura Crescenzo, in the President’s Office, has been diligently preparing for multiple options and keeping the Commencement planning team involved with recent developments. We hope to have a community-wide update next week. 

  • Vaccinations:  Faculty and staff may have seen last night's communication from Sara Semal regarding vaccinations. The College received its first limited allocation of vaccine this week, and Emmons has reached out to staff, faculty and student employees to invite them to be vaccinated on campus. In addition, Emmons worked closely with the office of City Councilmember Kevin de León to get 300 appointments last week for vaccines to our essential workforce. We will continue these efforts and build partnerships that bring our community greater access to vaccines, both on and off campus. The College continues to encourage everyone to get vaccinated wherever you can. 

  • Facilities reopening:

    • Library: Although all library services, materials, and resources will continue to be provided either remotely or through curbside pickup, the library building will partially reopen to students for individual quiet study on March 22. More information will be provided next week. 

    • Athletic facilities: In addition to the tennis courts, which were opened earlier this semester, Jack Kemp Stadium reopened on a limited basis to current Occidental students, staff, and faculty on March 8. An announcement regarding the opening of De Mandel Aquatic Center will follow next week.

Please continue to check our COVID-19 website for additional updates and answers to FAQs.

Thank you,
Marty Sharkey

COVID Operations Group:

Rob Flot, Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students

Amos Himmelstein, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

John Lang, Faculty Council President & Associate Professor, Sociology

Sara Semal, Senior Director - Emmons Wellness Center

Marty Sharkey, Vice President of Communications & Institutional Initiatives

Wendy Sternberg, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College

James Uhrich, Vice President for Information Technology Services & Chief Information Officer