While our KGI community focuses on a busy and successful fall semester, we recognize the importance of communicating as soon as possible about the spring.  

Based on the current spread of the coronavirus and the continued uncertainty of the pandemic, we will proceed with the same hybrid model for the spring semester. All of KGI’s courses will be offered online, with in-person labs and research opportunities available in a limited capacity. 

We are committed to a positive student experience. As you know, some local universities and colleges are attempting to bring students back to campus in the spring. However, after obtaining input from our community and from our analyses, we have determined that the pandemic—with limitations on gatherings and other necessary public health measures—would negatively impact the KGI student experience on campus. In addition, the risk to our community’s health and safety would be significant.  

We will continually monitor the public health situation and update you as changes occur. KGI’s COVID-19 Task Force, which consists of faculty and staff leaders, meets weekly and regularly consults with local public health officials, KGI’s Board of Trustees, and alumni on the frontlines in the fight against the pandemic. 

We also continue to align our planning with the guidance of the LA County Department of Public Health (LADPH). In LADPH’s most recent scenarios for spring 2021, a full reopening for colleges and universities is not on the table. 

Our community’s ability to adapt and shift to a hybrid model for fall 2020 has helped prevent any widespread transmission of COVID-19 on campus and within the KGI community. 

Before we look ahead to spring, let’s reflect on the progress and innovation that we have achieved together this fall:

  • Online learning
    • Over the summer, faculty participated in a nine-week series of workshops called the Teaching Learning Academy to prepare their courses for online delivery. Innovative approaches were developed and shared to heighten the student learning experience. The Teaching Learning Academy is again offered in the fall with even more creative ideas being developed for spring 2021 course offerings.
  • Henry E. Riggs School of Applied Life Sciences (Riggs School)
    • The TMP program was able to start 17 projects this fall. All projects, except for one, were scoped to be done remotely and have been progressing smoothly in this environment. The lab-based Thermo Fisher TMP team keeps current KGI lab safety restrictions in mind when in the lab. While in-person interaction between the team members and the corporate liaisons is definitely missed, a great deal of productivity and learning are being done in our current remote learning environment.
    • For the TDP, second-year MEng students have been working in three teams. They’ve already had multiple workshops with industry leaders such as Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Coherus Biosciences, Genentech, Allogene, and the FDA.
    • Some students have chosen to come to campus for lab-based classes, which are held in smaller groups to accommodate the parameters set by LA County’s Public Health Department.
  • School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (SPHS)
    • The faculty successfully delivered the curriculum using Zoom, with some on-site experiences, including Basic Life Support Training, labs, and OSCEs.
    • Students who are unable to complete the on-site activities during the semester will be able to complete those activities during the Inter-Session, January 4-15, 2021.
    • The Office of Experiential Education was able to provide clinical rotations as required by the ACPE accreditation so that no student’s graduation was delayed due to a lack of clinical sites.
    • Students in our genetics programs were able to complete fieldwork and internships in their respective programs.
    • Interprofessional education sessions with UC Riverside, Azusa Pacific, and Claremont Graduate University were completed using Zoom.
  • Research
    • KGI has maintained research throughout the pandemic by utilizing safe working standards within the labs. This has included using spatial and temporal methods to maintain the needed social distancing, and by using the appropriate PPE and cleaning procedures. We have successfully continued our research endeavors with our students, staff, post-docs, and faculty.
  • Career Services
    • Fall 2020 Career Services events and activities increased from 96 to 124, and our virtual student attendance has increased by 240% compared to fall 2019 in-person attendance. More students are reaching out for 1:1 advising sessions, and employers are more engaged with KGI, sending over job leads and collecting KGI resume books from Career Services.
  • Industry talks
    • Corporate Partnerships hosted seven industry speakers this fall as part of the virtual speaker series, which was delivered over Zoom and streamed live on Facebook every other Thursday throughout the semester. KGI students were able to interact with our speakers in the question-and-answer session. Speakers included leaders from Regeneron, Sage Therapeutics, Takeda, BD, Veracyte, BioMarin, and Roehm.
  • Health and wellness / Academic success
    • Students participated in Academic Success Seminars with topics that ranged from Overcoming Imposter Syndrome and Building Effective Team Communication to Developing Research Skills. KGI Peer Mentors were also able to attend training workshops to continue building their skills in various areas of support such as recognizing signs of mental health distress. Student Affairs will continue to host a virtual Fresh Check Day for students and create pre-finals week and finals week activities to reduce stress.
  • Student Government, clubs and organizations
    • In the fall of 2020, Student Government organized its fall retreat to manage their goals for the student community, facilitated a Welcome Back social event with more than 173 participants, created a Black Lives Matter Student Committee, approved 36 club applications, and onboarded five new program representatives.
  • Development of new programs
    • In early October, L.A. Care Health Plan committed $5 million to KGI for the launch of the KGI School of Community  Medicine. Now KGI is preparing to enroll its first cohort in fall 2021 for the Master of Science in Community Medicine. To align with the needs of the healthcare industry, two other programs—the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and the Occupational Therapy Doctorate —will begin in fall 2022.

As we look ahead to spring 2021, there are many areas that will continue to thrive through collaboration and innovation:

  • Online learning
    • KGI will offer the curriculum in a hybrid format, using Zoom for didactic class sessions or Minerva depending on the program.
    • Students who are unable to participate in on-site activities during the semester will have the opportunity to complete the activities at the end of the spring semester to remain on track for progression or graduation.
  • Riggs School
    • The TMP program has been running very smoothly in the remote setting since the spring of 2020. Final presentations went well last spring in this environment and often resulted in more industry guests in attendance given the virtual setting. Plans are being crafted to evaluate options for students to visit their corporate sponsors, if requested, in spring but will depend on the recommendations of KGI’s COVID-19 Task Force.
    • Team Design Project Presentation Day will be held remotely this coming April 2021. This model was very successful last spring, allowing many more industry partners and ABCAB Board Members to be available to attend as they provided great thought and feedback to the Class of 2020 students. Multiple TDP Workshops with industry partners will be conducted in the spring.
  • SPHS
    • The on-site sessions will include:
      • P1-Immunization Training (1-2 days), Patient Assessment Practicum (1-3 sessions), OSCE-P1
      • P2-Lab and OSCE (2-3 sessions)
      • P3-OSCEs (1 day)
      • Specific dates will be forthcoming.
    • PharmD Interprofessional Education (IPE) will utilize Zoom and is scheduled as follows:
      • P1- April 9, 2021, 12:30 – 4 p.m.
      • P2- March 12, 2021, 12:30 – 4 p.m.
    • The genetics and pharmacy programs will continue to maintain and acquire additional clinical, fieldwork, and internship sites for students to complete their program requirements.
    • Co-curricular activities (e.g., Career Fair, NORD Day) have been scheduled as virtual events for the spring 2021 schedule.
  • Career Services
    • Career Services will be hosting 20 virtual events. In the spring semester, we will focus on helping students secure internships and jobs through one-on-one career advising, interview prep with Interview Stream, and negotiation strategies. Career Services will continue to post resume drops and share job leads with all students.
  • Industry talks
    • Corporate Partnerships will continue its Industry Speaker Series this spring with an additional seven industry guests. Our mission is to help students explore career options in the life sciences industry by leveraging the expertise of our corporate partners. Hosting our speakers virtually has allowed us to recruit speakers who may not otherwise have been able to make it to campus.
  • Health and wellness / Academic success
    • Student Affairs will be hosting six events focusing on health and wellness and five Academic Success Seminars. The Spring Academic Success Seminars will focus on helping students assess their study habits, daily activities, and environment to ensure they are maximizing their time and practicing self-care. We will also continue the conversation around Imposter Syndrome and building their self-confidence and soft skills that will contribute to their success in the classroom and in their personal and professional lives.
    • Peer Mentors will continue having the opportunity to grow their knowledge in support areas with four workshops on Stigma Reduction and Motivational Interviewing. Throughout these virtual events we will also provide raffle prizes to continue to increase student engagement. On a weekly basis we will continue to engage with 471 registered students via our #StudentAffairs Slack channel.
  • Student Government, clubs and organizations
    • Student Government will be hosting 15-20 student activities and social events. Our 36 clubs and organizations will also be hosting a variety of fundraising programs, networking opportunities, and social events.

We understand that many members of our community will have questions based on their specific situations. We will provide more information as soon as possible, and we plan to hold several virtual Q&A forums for students, faculty, and staff in the next two weeks.

Employee Meetings

  • November 12 from 3-5 p.m. (will be recorded and sent out by email afterward)

Student Town Hall

  • November 6 from 12-1 p.m. (will be recorded and sent out by email afterward)
  • Future dates to be scheduled as needed


Q: What is the plan for Commencement 2021?

KGI plans to celebrate its graduates on May 15, 2021. We will be following guidelines from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and will host a virtual ceremony if an in-person celebration is not permitted.

Q: For some courses, is cross-registration possible with other Claremont Colleges?

Cross registration with CGU will continue; please reach out the KGI Registrar’s Office for guidance on registering for CGU courses. Cross-registration with The Claremont Colleges’ undergraduate campuses will not be possible in the spring due to heavy impact of COVID-19 on scheduling and delivering their science and other courses.

Q: When will I be able to complete in-person lab assignments?

Students who are unable to participate in on-site activities during the semester will have the opportunity to complete the activities at the end of the spring semester to remain on track for progression or graduation.

Bioprocessing lab-based classes are meeting on campus, following all safety guidance from LA County Public Health Department and CDC, to allow necessary lab training and instruction. Hybrid activities are being offered to students unable to attend, deferring hands-on sessions for critical activities to a future date.

Thesis, independent research, medical device lab, and other lab courses will continue with the same arrangements as the fall semester. Research will continue to be dependent on safety policies and protocols as established by the PI and instructor.  Students are encouraged to reach out to their PI or lab instructor for additional information. 

PhD program: Laboratory research in pursuit of a PhD is dependent on the policies for laboratory safety and operations established by each PI’s lab. Inquire with your PI regarding any potential changes for the spring semester.


Sheldon Schuster
KGI President and Professor

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