Westmont administration anticipates a similarly restricted spring semester

For+Westmont+students%2C+the+masked+life+is+becoming+normal.

Ella Jennings

For Westmont students, the masked life is becoming normal.

Chloe White, Staff Writer

A new semester and recently-updated statewide COVID-19 guidelines bring renewed uncertainty for the future at Westmont. In what is possibly both the best — and worst — case scenario, the college is preparing for a semester that looks very similar to the current one.

Throughout the fall, as the coronavirus numbers and corresponding restrictions shifted, Westmont has had to adjust its plans accordingly. Next semester will be no different in this regard; however, Governor Gavin Newsom’s most recent amendment, a regionally based stay-at-home order grouping Santa Barbara County with other Southern California areas like Los Angeles County, has caused some apprehension about Westmont’s plans to stay open for the rest of the semester and into the spring.

Dr. Edee Schulze, Vice President for Student Life, commented on the upcoming restrictions, saying, “The governor reiterated that schools that have been operating in person may remain open. Therefore, Westmont will remain open with no changes to the current institution guidelines, which we expect will be in effect for spring semester.” This means that Westmont will not see a loosening of restrictions in the spring, as some anticipated before COVID-19 trends started to rise again in California.

Although Westmont is committed to staying open for the spring semester, Christmas break poses some natural issues. According to Jason Tavarez, Director of Institutional Resilience, “We are going to have to be even more diligent and ask even more of our community during the break in terms of being prepared to go home safely and doing the steps necessary to come back to campus in good shape.” Tavarez anticipates that the college will “absolutely” need to maintain its same level of strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols in the spring. 

As long as the SB County Department of Public Health require[s] distancing and mask use, we are going to adhere to that.”

— JASON TAVAREZ

There are additional elements of Westmont’s current situation that will need to be addressed for the spring term. Dr. Schulze stated that the number of students housed on-campus will remain the same and that three-person rooms are still off the table, despite an anticipated increased number of students doing in-person learning this spring.

The Dining Commons (DC) is perhaps the most glaring evidence of the continuing effects of the coronavirus restrictions. According to Dr. Schulze, “The DC will continue to function as it has this semester until we are able to move inside for dining or make some changes.” In essence, seating for the Dining Commons will still be entirely outdoors until Westmont is permitted to host indoor dining.

Even with the impending arrival of a vaccine, Westmont must continue strictly enforcing its policies until the school is authorized to relax its restrictions. Tavarez commented that, “as long as the SB County Department of Public Health require[s] distancing and mask use, we are going to adhere to that … until we get the thumbs up from our health officials to lay off the protocols, we will stick to them.” 

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