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By Lauren Chavez, Feb. 15, 2022

After two years of mostly virtual learning, and a three-week delay to the start of the spring semester, Cal Poly Pomona made its long-awaited return to predominantly in-person classes starting Feb. 12.

The confirmation that in-person instruction would commence following the three-week stopgap was sent out on Feb 8. to the Cal Poly Pomona community, citing the decline of COVID-19 positivity rates in Los Angeles County.

Hospitalization rates have declined within LA County. As of Feb. 10, 2,307 county residents are hospitalized with COVID-19; this is a significant reduction from a 2022 peak of 4,706 on Jan. 23, according to LA County public health data.

Students begin to make their way around campus on Friday, Feb. 11, the day before the campus is officially beginning its return to predominantly in-person instruction. (Nicolas Hernandez | The Poly Post)

As students return to Cal Poly Pomona, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Iris Levine reminded the campus community in an email that “we must follow all guidelines set forth by Los Angeles County.”

Levine could not be reached for an interview before deadline.

The Safer Return Task Force sent out a weekly news update on Feb. 9 to staff, faculty and students with a reminder of requirements before coming to campus such as completing the university’s daily health screener, wearing a mask indoors and compliance with one of the four requirements mandated by the California State University’s interim vaccination policy if they have not yet done so.

Associate Vice President of Student Health & Wellbeing Leticia Gutierrez-Lopez could not be reached for an interview before the deadline.

Despite a restriction on university events, both on and off campus, of 200 or more participants until Feb. 28, students can once again attend smaller in-person event after most of them had been virtual over the past two years.

“It kind of got a little bit lonely doing everything sort of virtually,” said applied mathematics student Noah Reef. “It made it harder to kind of build those deeper connections with people and starting conversations with people was kind of awkward as well. I’m definitely looking forward to being able to make those sorts of connections again, especially those that I was able to make my first year here right before the pandemic.”

According to Vice President for Student Affairs Christina Gonzales, Student Affairs will maintain a balance between promoting student experiences and safety by following guidelines from the county and by trying to keep activities to a minimal number of students at a time although there are no social distancing requirements.

The university will continue to prioritize the health and safety of the campus community as students return and experience activities and classes in-person once again. In the Feb. 8 email, Levine stated that the decision to return in person was also based on ongoing consultation with the LA County Department of Public Health.

“I hope that they (students) experience being in person again for whatever their class mode is, and also, that they experience some in-person activities and are able to access any of the resources that they have,” said Gonzales.

Gonzales emphasized the information that is available on the Safer Return website students can refer to for updated information of vaccines and resources that are available across campus.

KN95 masks, which are now mandated for campus employees, will also be available for students at the University Library, the BRIC service desk, the Games Room and other locations at no cost. According to Gonzales, they will also be available in classrooms if students need one and want to switch out their mask.

Although some students experienced a hybrid component last semester, this is the first semester since the pandemic began, students will have a mostly an in-person instruction.

“I’m kind of looking forward to it because I feel like in person, it’s just easier to learn,” said biology student Manas Pandey. “But I have a feeling from what I’ve seen on campus from the previous fall semester, people aren’t going to follow the rules.”

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