ELA campus fully shuttered once more, classes to start remotely as planned

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Media: Iwan Baan

The Emerson Los Angeles campus.

By Alec Klusza, Assistant News Editor

Emerson’s Los Angeles program will begin remotely on Jan. 21 amid escalating COVID-19 cases and a failure to acquire permission from L.A. County to reopen residence halls.

The program’s spring semester classes shifted fully online in November as a result of exploding COVID-19 case numbers in Los Angeles County. The seven-day daily average test positivity rate in L.A. County is 18.1 percent, more than double that of the state of Massachusetts, according to the Department of Public Health of each jurisdiction. L.A. County remains in tier one for coronavirus risk classified by the state, meaning infections are considered “widespread.”

ELA, which was conducted remotely in the fall, is a popular program among students that offers classes alongside an internship in the students’ field of study. In October, administrators told students enrolled in the program they expected most internships would also be conducted remotely during the spring semester. 

The college was hoping to reopen residence halls for the spring semester but were unable to secure the proper clearance from L.A. county officials. The inability to reopen residence halls will likely further harm the college’s financial position after Vice President for Administration and Finance Paul Dworkis announced a positive financial outlook for the 2021 fiscal year.

“The ELA campus has not been given approval to open the campus for in person classes or residence hall occupancy,” Associate Dean of Students and Chief Operations Officer for the ELA program Timothy Chang said in an emailed statement. “When we are allowed to open we will welcome students who would like to live on campus.” 

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On the Boston campus, President M. Lee Pelton announced last week the start of in-person classes would be postponed by a week in response to state guidance regarding the expected dramatic impact of the winter holidays on the spread of the virus. 

Registration for the program was at an all-time low in the fall, according to the college’s annual factbook. 114 students were enrolled in the fall, compared to the four-year average of 192, a 40.6 percent drop.

In order for the college to reopen the Los Angeles campus, L.A. County needs to move into tier two—“substantial spread”—of California’s reopening risk tiers. Just one county in the state of California is in tier two.