California colleges awaiting state guidance to finalize reopening plans

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Just days before the fall semester is set to begin, California colleges and universities are scrambling to finalize reopening plans that affect thousands of students as top leaders say the state’s lack of guidance for weeks has frustrated efforts to bring back limited in-person learning and dorm living.

Many campuses, including USC and Claremont McKenna, say the lack of clear and timely state guidance has caused them to spend enormous energy and money preparing for varying reopening scenarios — without knowing what will be allowed amid a surge of COVID-19 infections.

The uncertainty has resulted in a “wild array of different configurations of approaches and solutions” among campuses, according to Hiram Chodosh, president of Claremont McKenna College.

A spokesman for Gov. Gavin Newsom said the guidance will be released by the California Department of Health on Friday morning, but did not respond to questions about the delay.

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